Hey 2020! See ya! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!
As happy as we all are to see the backside of 2020, the question now is – how can me make 2021 a better year? What will we do differently to be happier, healthier and more successful in the months ahead? Here are three secrets to having a better 2021.
#1 – Engage with (vs. stuff down) your anger and frustration
In 2020 we heard a lot about stress, anxiety, depression…but not a lot of people talked about anger.
My consulting calls were full of business people who were frustrated and angry. They were angry at their boss (that was a big one), frustrated with unrealistic expectations and angry at the behavior of the people around them.
When I asked how they were handling their anger, the answer was usually some form of “I’m sucking it up.” Anyone who has ever stuffed down their anger knows it can lead to the crockpot in your head, where you stew in frustration and resentment.
So what’s the solution? For some it is to vent their anger. Be careful. This can feel good at the time, but can destroy relationships and reputations. The other option is to address your anger.
What NOT to do: Assign motivations. “He just doesn’t care.” “She’s only out for herself.” “My boss has no idea how hard I work. He doesn’t value me.” The motivation you assign to others may or may not be true. Ask yourself, is there another explanation for that person’s behavior?
What to do: Focus on the problem, not the person. A very wise husband said, “When my wife and I fight, I remind her I am not the enemy. We are on the same side.” Picture yourself standing side by side with the other person. Get clear on the actual problem you are both facing. Discuss solutions that feel fair to both of you.
The key is to address the situation instead of just stuffing down your anger and frustration. It can be scary to speak up. You may worry your relationship or job may be at stake. But if you focus on the problem, not the person, you give yourself a better chance of being heard.
#2 – Ask yourself, “Is it true?”
“My business is gone.” “I’ll have to start all over.” “No one needs my skillset.” “I’m too old to switch careers.” “I’ll never feel financially secure.” “She is the worst boss ever.” “My spouse doesn’t care.” “I don’t have a purpose for being here.”
We’re all struggling with negative thoughts right now. But are our thoughts true? This is a question to ask before we speak out loud and also to challenge the thoughts in our head.
There is so much unnecessary suffering in this world because we tell ourselves stories that are NOT true.
If you’ve binge watched dozens of Christmas movies (something I know absolutely nothing about), you’ve noticed every single plot includes a misunderstanding. That misunderstanding drives the couple apart. It is only in the end when the truth comes out that they come back together for a happy ending.
So if you’re upset about something or upset with someone, ask yourself if what you think is true.
What NOT to do: Get yourself all worked up because of a story you are telling yourself about a situation or a person…a story you have not examined.
What to do: Challenge yourself. Is this truly as bad as you think it is? As we discussed before, have you assigned a motivation to someone they do not have? Could there be other options you have not considered? If you were an outside onlooker, could you get a better perspective on the situation?
#3 – Give less advice, ask better questions
This may sound counter intuitive. Your members, employees and colleagues value your expertise. But is it advice they truly want?
Again, with all the struggle and upheaval of 2020, some well-meaning advice may miss the mark. I’ve talked with many business owners who say they are sick of people telling them to “just pivot.”
People are way more likely to value your advice if they believe you truly understand their situation. Now more than ever people are craving to be heard and understood.
And let’s face it. Most of us don’t want to be told what to do. What we actually want is help to make better decisions.
What NOT to do: Jump in and start offering suggestions.
What to do: Start by asking better questions. Here are some examples:
What decisions are you trying to make? What criteria matters most to you? What are the skills you bring to this situation? What’s your worst case/best case scenario?
Great sales people know the most important thing isn’t what you tell clients, it’s what you get your clients to tell you. That’s how you can make relevant recommendations.
Use these secrets to help yourself and to help others have a brighter, better 2021.