While I am a big fan of vision and goal setting, I’m not typically a New Year’s resolution kind of gal…until this year, apparently.
On New Year’s Day my husband was out of town, so I took our girls (ages four and eight) on a coffee shop date to introduce them to the magic of reflection and intention setting. Roll your eyes if you will, but that’s what happens when your mom is a leadership coach. For the record, my eight-year-old ate it up (she’s a mini-me).
We used this short, creative, and beautifully designed worksheet from Magnolia to guide the process and conversation.
I was excited to reflect on what had been one of my favorite years yet in terms of work. While sipping my chai and in between chatting with my girls, I began to complete the “looking back” pages in the guide. Words like joy, purpose, confidence, gratitude, and freedom filled in the blanks. I was soaking in the goodness of 2019 all over again as I turned to the “looking forward” pages, ready to stir up even more goodness in the coming year.
But a few steps in, I was stopped by this question regarding rhythms: What habits do you want to trash? It sounded harsh (which was likely quite purposeful). One habit came to mind quickly, but it’s a habit I’ve sustained for years—one that I’ve argued has been too hard to break due to external factors; one that I’ve promised to break eventually, just not now. I tried to rationalize it away yet again, but it planted itself in that moment, unwilling to budge. And then a profound recent conversation replayed in my head.
A few months prior, after putting the girls to bed, I followed my typical weeknight routine of grabbing my laptop and settling back into work. On this particular evening though, as I started typing away, my husband turned toward me and calmly said, “You know, I’m still here.” In other words, our children aren’t the only ones who want time with you. It wasn’t accusatory, not even passive aggressive; no, just honest. It’s important to note that my husband has cheered me on through every stage of my career. He’s made it clear how much he admires my ambition and values my desire make an impact through work. Sadly, overtime, I’ve started to interpret this as a ‘pass’ to work as much as needed (or, let’s be honest, as much as I wanted).
Fast-forward back to the coffee shop on New Year’s Day. What habits do I want to trash? I took a breath and wrote it down: stop working at night.
Don’t get too excited yet. It was still a secret at this point—and we all know how easy it is to ignore secret goals. For three days I didn’t tell him. Then finally, on day three, I nonchalantly mentioned it (which felt much safer than boldly claiming it as a firm, distinct goal). I expected to feel anxious, but after my cautious moment of sharing, I actually felt excited and more confident.
Contrary to much of the research on how to drive sustainable change, for this particular shift, I just needed a New Year’s resolution—sometimes we simply need to decide to decide, if you know what I mean.
Since then, I’ve shared the resolution with many others—friends, colleagues, clients. Each time I share, it feels more attainable. Each time, it feels like I’m giving myself permission to make the adjustments needed to succeed. Each time, excited anticipation grows for the transformation that’s sure to take place in my life and marriage. And each time, my commitment to it deepens.
What’s the thing in your life where you need to decide to decide? And with whom will you share it?
Almost weekly in client coaching sessions I hear, “Well yes, I did [fill in the blank] because I knew you’d ask me about it today.” Remember, secret goals are easy to ignore, but shared goals are not. So here I am sharing. There’s no turning back now. I’m all in.
[One small disclaimer: I reserve the right to work at night when my husband is on travel. After all, I do love my work.]
P.S. — On night two of me not working, I panicked a little, unsure of how to make use of all this extra time. So, true to form, I pulled out my collection of sticky notes and convinced my husband to do some family strategic planning. He may have been hesitant at first, but deep down he ended up loving it. We modeled Patrick Lencioni’s “rallying cry” method and came up with a solid plan for one specific, prioritized focus area for the next few months. If you’re interested, check out Lencioni’s recent podcast on creating a rallying cry for your team or family—it’s a great listen.
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