New Beginnings from Past Successes
As we start the New Year, you may be one of the millions around the world who have made resolutions about your career or work life. I’ve had several conversations the last few days with friends, who have told me about their “vision boards” for future career goals, hopes for change in their current positions, or practical steps to avoid past mistakes. The American obsession with novelty and change is woven into the fabric of our culture. It always has been. I think this is one of our positive defining characteristics. And this desire to see change and progress shows up in the many ways we think about work as well.
As you think about your career related resolutions and what you want to see different and new this year, I want to encourage you to also think about the things that are currently working and have worked in the past. Change is exciting, and the promise of something new is alluring to us all. It’s why gym memberships spike in January and fall in March. But if you’re like me, you have a tendency to want to uproot and plant new seeds when the plants you already have are ripe with life, needing more nourishment and attention.
Resolutions remind me of the main argument of Strength Finders; we are at our happiest and most productive selves when we focus on strengthening our strengths instead of improving our weaknesses. Resolutions are usually centered on the things we feel we are doing wrong, or not enough of: read more books, eat more fruit, eat less ice cream, exercise more, etc. Our weaknesses tend to stick out and overshadow our strengths. Our strengths go unnoticed, until someone points them out for us, because they are what get us through our days and move us along. Our weaknesses grab our attention because they form the obstacles that we promise to overcome.
Should we work on our weaknesses? Of course. Should we make resolutions to do so? Absolutely. But we should equally remind ourselves in the New Year about all of our past year’s accomplishments, the strengths that got us through, and our unique skills that will carry us forward. Not everything needs to change in the New Year. In fact, it may bring you faster success in reaching your resolutions to focus on what worked in 2013 and not just what didn’t.
This month at LTAW, we will be focusing on several aspects of starting a new working year on the right foot. But before we do, it’s important to also recognize and appreciate the old and the constant. Our strengths from last year may not need to be uprooted and replaced, but replenished, nourished, and refined.