Replace Your New Year’s Resolutions

Replace Your New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!

Sick of New Year’s resolutions that fizzle up by January 31? Go for a fresh start instead.

Have you heard of the ‘fresh start effect’?
Research states occasions like New Year’s, birthdays, holidays or even the beginning of a week or month are associated with increased aspirational behavior, These ‘temporal landmarks’ help people split their perception of time into “before” and “after,” and help you bounce back from any previous failures, real or imagined.
Fresh starts or ‘performance resets’ generally follow less-than-stellar periods of personal/professional performance. If this is your experience, give yourself time to recover and grace to ensure a more resilient mindset coming into it.

Although I’m not a fan of resolutions – it feels like a lot of pressure to put on one year – I love the idea of fresh starts. It seems more optimistic to work on something new than to reverse a habit, or continue to brood over what might have been or regrets about missed opportunities.

My yearly reset always includes making something – whether it’s a series of fabulous dinners, a beaded bracelet or a ceramic vase, creativity gets me out of my head and back into the flow of life. For years, I have marked late December and the darkest time of the year by bringing my inner gardener, well, inside, and planting Paperwhite, or Narcissus, bulbs.  While most flowers lay dormant through winter, Paperwhites rise and shine, an act of both courage and optimism.

Here’s a quick tutorial, if you’re new to indoor gardening.

While those tender green sprouts shoot up, I emerge as well, ready to sow seeds to new projects and new relationships as a nurture the old ones.

Although I’m not a fan of resolutions – it feels like a lot of pressure to put on one year – I love the idea of fresh starts. It seems more optimistic to work on something new than to reverse a habit, and if you start small, those fresh starts can feel less overwhelming.

Ready for a fresh start? Here are a few suggestions to get started.

  1. Plan your goal and set up specific, measurable and actionable steps to achieve it. It’s not how big the goal is, it’s your commitment to it.
  1. Start with a clean slate. Er, make that clean desk and computer. I waste more time looking for a misplaced file than it takes me to do the actual work. Organize. Prioritize. Purge what no longer serves. Even that ridiculous to-do list that never gets smaller. Simplify.
  1. Organize your time. We often spend time jumping from one task to the next, never completing any of them. We’re busy but not very productive. We can do it all at once. So set a time limit for each task, turn off distractions and get ‘er done. Are there tasks you can delegate to someone who can do them better? Do that!
  1. Talk to your people. Those are Human Resources, vital to your success, mental health and social life. I’m a big fan of one-to-one Zoom sessions and small networking groups. The coffee meet up is a favorite as well. However you connect, just connect.
  1. Explore new ideas. Novelty, innovation, different points of view. They all provide that spark of inspiration, lead to new paths. Let go of the fear of failure and revel in curiosity and possibility. Have a conversation with a stranger. Go to a museum. Take up soccer or ballroom dancing  or soccer. Fall on your butt. Then get back up again.
  1. Chill. You know that thing about all work and no play. Play. Break out the tunes. Take a hike. Take mini breaks during the workday. Even a 30 second walk around the house/office is a good reset after sitting all morning. If I’m standing at the mic for a couple of hours at a time, I enjoy some yoga stretches and deep breaths. Only you can prevent burn out. Be kind to yourself and relax.

Plant those seeds/or bulbs and see what emerges. And please, tell me about it.

Remember, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.


Want Better Conversations? Get a Dog.

Want Better Conversations? Get a Dog.

As a voice actor, I receive a lot of auditions that request a ‘conversational read’. The style requires voice talent to sound relatable, likeable and empathetic. It’s the voice of a good friend or trusted adviser. As if you’re in, you know, a conversation.

It strikes me that in a time when the marketing version of conversation is so popular, our real-world conversation is decidedly not. Genuine, engaged conversation – that give and take of ideas information and feeling – is often absent in a world filled with noise and hit-and-run commentary.

Over the last two years I have advocated better conversations to understand each other, to see each other as human beings rather than opinions. Or punching bags. Find common ground.
We have much more in common with each other than we think.

So, in the spirit of better, more connected conversations, I propose this solution: Get a dog. (more…)

Arts and Culture: What It’s Worth

Director, choreographer, and playwright Michael Bobbitt has dedicated his professional career to arts leadership. As Executive Director of the MA Cultural Council, Michael is the  highest-ranking cultural official in Massachusetts.  Before he  joined the Council last year, he served as Artistic Director of the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown, MA, and the Adventure Theatre-MTC in Maryland. He has served as an Associate Professor of Theatre at both the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Howard University.. (more…)

Banish Fear and Comparison, and Lead

Pauline Cheung is a confidence coach works with people to transform the fears that can hold one back to the unwavering confidence to move forward in life and career. From an early age, Pauline herself unconsciously picked on messages it was not safe to be herself. It wasn’t until after she graduated college she decided to figure out what she wanted to do and who she wanted to be. 

What she learned through her experiences, and through piecing together advice from mentors and coaches, is that the fear is normal. Fear shows up when we’re on the cusp of stepping into something big, whether it’s a stronger presence in meetings, shifting into a new role, or promoting our personal brand. The solution wasn’t to get rid of fear (which never worked for long), but transform her relationship to fear, which lead her to a successful career that includes international marketing for The Disney Companies. 

Our two-part conversation can be heard on my Embark podcast.  Many thanks to Pauline for sharing her story, and for answering these five questions. (more…)

Publishing, Healthcare and Ghosts

Author Elizabeth Splaine has had several lives: hospital administrator, opera singer, vocal coach, audiobook narrator and writer. As a guest on my podcast Embark, we talked about her latest novel Devil’s Grace, the healthcare system, unexplained phenomenon and the power of forgiveness. If you’re looking for a summer read, check out Devil’s Grace. In the meantime, get to know Elizabeth a little better as I pose five questions following our recorded conversation.  (more…)

Speaking Gigs, Humor and TMI

The ultimate multitasker and ‘parallel’ entrepreneur, Bobbie Carlton is an award-winning marketing and PR professional and founder of Innovation women. Often called ‘Boston’s Innovation Den Mother’ and ‘the Startup Fairy Godmother,’ Bobbie’s on a mission to introduce women speakers to more audiences and change the dynamic of the ‘manel,’ the all male speakers panel. We spoke last week on my  Embark podcast.  She graciously answered a few more questions here.  (more…)