The new car smell of a new year

Today is the first day back to work for many people who took off last week to celebrate the holidays. Regardless of when our fiscal year begins, January offers us another opportunity for a fresh start. I started a new tradition of washing my car the first week of the new year, and it sure looks good. It smells good too.

The car wash business included a new car scent with the wash, so it engulfed me on this morning’s drive to work. The clean car inspired me to drive a little differently this morning. I drove a little slower in order to see what was coming up in case my route needed to be adjusted. I drove around puddles, which took me only a few feet out of the way each time. And, I was more mindful of other drivers who might splash on my clean car.

I wonder if we could bring that new car-inspired behavior to our work.

This year, could we stop rushing in order to improve our ability to anticipate what’s coming? Could we recognize errors, mistakes, and miscues sooner and adjust quicker? Could we stay focused on our goals (e.g. a clean car) and not let others distract or deter us?

I am going to get my car washed more often, and each time that new car aroma will remind me to keep my car clean and keep my focus sharp. While a car wash might not be the most ambitious of resolutions, those three behaviors are essential for a successful year.

Happy New Year, Everyone! Let’s make this our favorite year yet!

Can you afford baggage fees?

Last week, J.D. Power released the 2014 airline satisfaction survey, which showed a record high for the U.S. industry. Considering how the fees have increased, the survey results surprised me. The biggest surprise was a quote from the head of the division that conducts the survey:
“It isn’t that passengers are satisfied with fees; it’s that they are simply less dissatisfied because they realize that fees have become a way of life with air travel,” said Rick Garlick, head of J.D. Power’s travel and hospitality practice.
So, let me get this straight…
Passengers are not truly more satisfied. They are just less dissatisfied because they are used to the fees?

When it comes to personal baggage, do we feel the same way?

We carry personal baggage about past jobs, bosses, coworkers, and relationships, into every day. Do we care how much it costs to haul that baggage around? Or, are we just used to it so we don’t notice the expense anymore?

When flying, passengers used to be able to carry as much baggage as they wanted for no charge. In life, those are people who never forget or forgive. They want all their baggage with them so they don’t gather more while on life’s journey. But, it is costly in one way or another to haul so much baggage around.

In recent years, airlines adjusted their fees to include $25-$40 for checked baggage and no fee for two carry-on items. In real life, some over-packers realized the cost for so much baggage was not worth it, so they crammed everything into the smaller carry-on sizes. Or, they packed more selectively. That might be like letting go of events from the past, ending one-way relationships, or even forgiving oneself. Downsizing our baggage is always a worthy exercise.

The most recent airline fee changes include charging for carry-ons. Maybe it is time passengers select what they bring carefully, only taking essential items along their journeys. Maybe we need to do that in real life too. Baggage is getting more and more costly. We don’t want to get to the end of our life’s journey and think, “Well, it wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible either.”

Make this the year you stay off the treadmill

Happy New Year!
It is fitting that the first month of the year is named after Janus, the god of transitions and beginnings. Janus is often represented with two faces: one facing to the left, looking back on the past, and one facing right, looking to the future. As a new year begins, most people reflect on the previous year and set goals for the new one.

According to the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62% of Americans set annual resolutions. Their research says 64% of those keep their resolutions past the first month of the year. Yet, by the end of the year, only 8% of those who set new resolutions accomplish them.

Only 8%?!

There seems to be an awful lot of time spent on setting goals that aren’t kept. If you’re one of the 82% of people who don’t set or keep their annual resolutions, how about employing a novel approach to setting goals this year: don’t do it!

In 2006 I met a consultant who shocked my socks off with his philosophy of goal-free living. Stephen Shapiro, whose book, Goal-Free Living, was published that year, said he had achieved more in his life by living without goals than when he was obsessed with setting goals.

I nearly hyperventilated at the thought of a life without goals. After all, how would you know if you accomplished anything? I was the aunt in the stands keeping score while five-year olds played basketball without a scoreboard. The thought that you wouldn’t keep score in a game, much less in life, was stunning to me and I was skeptical of Stephen.

As Stephen explained his philosophy further, and I read his book, goal-free living made sense. He told me about his constant struggle to achieve and how it distracted him from his daily life. Stephen referred to it as constantly being on a treadmill. After a while, you’d get bored on a treadmill and not work hard enough to get anything out of it. So, he stays off the treadmill of goal setting by using the following eight tips (copied from the book):
  1. Use a compass, not a map—have a sense of direction, and then let yourself wander and try new things on the way to fulfilling your aspirations
  2. Trust that you are never lost—every seemingly wrong turn is an opportunity to learn and experience new things
  3. Remember that opportunity knocks often, but sometimes softly—while blindly pursuing our goals, we often miss unexpected and wonderful possibilities
  4. Want what you have—measure your life by your own yardstick and appreciate who you are, what you do, and what you have . . . now
  5. Seek out adventure—treat your life like the one-time-only journey it is and revel in new and different experiences
  6. Become a people magnet—constantly seek, build, and nurture relationships with new people so that you always have the support and camaraderie of others
  7. Embrace your limits—transform your inadequacies and boundaries into unique qualities you can use to your advantage
  8. Remain detached—focus on the present, act with a commitment to the future, and avoid worrying about how things will turn out
If you are tired of the goal-setting treadmill and discouraged at the thought of another resolution failure, use Stephen Shapiro’s philosophy of goal-free living and stay off the goal setting treadmill for 2014. It turns out, success can happen without keeping score the old-fashioned way.

Link to Stephen Shapiro’s book on amazon:
Goal-Free Living: How to Have the Life You Want NOW!

Quote du jour:
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed 
is more important than any other.
Abraham Lincoln