If you let out a sigh of exasperation when you think about setting New Year’s resolutions, you are not alone. Last year when I jotted down my resolutions they sounded just like any other year: try to lose a few pounds, get up earlier, be a better parent. Quite frankly, they bored me!
It was then that I started to rethink, what might my resolutions look like if I were to live a fearlessly positive life? How might my goals look different? Honestly, if my resolutions were fearlessly positive, I wouldn’t just shed a few pounds, I would aim to be in the best shape of my entire life. At work, I wouldn’t just try to reach a certain sales goal, I would aim to be at the top of my game at in every area, constantly innovating and learning new skills.
The challenge for 2021 is how to move both you and your teams beyond just the mundane and average and begin to think about what it looks like to be fearlessly positive outliers.
Crisis provides opportunities
Once you go down a path of fearless positivity for your organization, the possibilities open up in unexpected ways. You realize you are constantly selling yourself short. It is so tempting to think about setting SMART goals (after all you stand less chance of failure, right?), but often this leads to being just like everyone else and far from reaching your full potential.
Particularly in light of the recent pandemic, a lot of global shifts (work, travel, digital) have provided extra opportunities – but we have to seek them out. One of my favorite statistics is that 50% of the Fortune 500 actually came out of recession of the 1980s. Those organizations who are able to find new ways of looking at change are more resilient in the long run. However, pushing through periods of upheaval and uncertainty requires both fearless positivity and strategy. Goals can’t just be pipedreams; they need a plan to become a reality.
Strategies for fearlessly positivity
To set fearlessly positive resolutions for you and your teams in 2021, try these strategies:
- Refocus on the positive. Fostering a positive mindset in the midst of a challenging situation does not mean being oblivious to risks and concerns; rather it means scanning your environment for new information. The human brain receives 11 million bits of information every single second, but can only process 50 bits at any given time. This means that if you focus mostly on the negative, you have no brain power left with which to process the positive. In other words, allowing your brain to ruminate on stress is a waste of mental capacity. Instead, focus on salient and potentially more useful information. Such an approach has been linked with three times the levels of creativity, 31% more productivity, and 23% less stress.
- Reframe the situation. While changes in routine can be a major source of stress, they can also be a catalyst for new positive habits. In the past year public hygiene habits have improved worldwide, people are saving valuable hours in the day by working flexibly and distance education is rapidly making learning more accessible. 2021 is the time to double down on mindfulness and connection rather than dwell on how difficult things are.
- Rethink stressors. As I explained in my last blog, research shows that thinking about stressors as a challenge rather than a threat causes the brain to use a different region to process the information. In other words, it is possible to actively re-route your neural pathways.