From resolutions to vision boards, from feelings of fear and anxiety to excitement and hope, the start of each new year for many brings with it the same conversations and feelings. With my birthday in January, the new year has always been associated with being one year older. I’ve always had goals and objectives in my head for what I've wanted however this year is the first year that I’m putting them to paper and the planning for what I wanted in 2017 began back in 2016.
As you begin thinking about what you want out of this new year, here are the three most valuable lessons I learned that I believe that will not only help me articulate my goals, but also stay committed to them throughout the year. I hope you find them helpful as well!
Balancing Gratitude and Goals
It’s human nature to want more and be more, however often times in our quest for “more” we forget what it is that we already have and how far we have come. Being able to enjoy and relish the failures, successes and the emotional highs and lows that come along with each, is key to being able to value the journey you are on. What once seemed like a great accomplishment can easily become normalized as nothing significant. Don’t ever forget the challenges and opportunities you have been up against before. Remember how what once seemed impossible is now normal and know that whatever lies ahead may seem impossible now, but can also be possible if you put in the time, effort and relationship building to get there.
So before you sit down to make a list or a vision board of everything you want out of 2017, create a list of everything you have accomplished and everything you are grateful for. I particularly enjoyed this post on how to do this on a professional level.
This year, during our annual door decorating competition at USC, instead of going the traditional route, we decided to decorate our door based on what the holidays symbolize and we created our own gratitude and goals tree. Unlike most decorations that come down after the New Year, this one is here to stay as a constant reminder throughout the year for us to reflect upon - a constant motivation to turn to when things seem impossible or overwhelming. One of the highlights of 2016 has been using Snapchat to capture my day to day stories, and in this story you can take a quick inside look into our Gratitude and Goals Tree at USC.
Begin with Empathy
I spent a lot of time talking with schools and organizations last year about how design thinking can be used to address the challenges and opportunities we see around us in the field of education and beyond. This year I’m taking the focus one step further and placing emphasis on how we can use the design thinking practice in our own professional lives to address the challenges and opportunities we face as individuals. Design thinking is unique as it asks the user to view challenges and opportunities through the lens of empathy. When we talk about empathy, we often use it in reference of empathy for others, however sometimes we need to take a step back and be able to empathize with our own selves. What do we think, feel, see and do? What drives us, what motivates us, what do we want to do with our lives? Taking these thoughts and ideas from our minds and onto paper, is a daily practice that allows us to be more self-aware about who we are what we want to do.
Last year, I integrated a design thinking approach to digital portfolios when working with students. At Keck USC, all of our students are there because they want to be healthcare providers, however being able to truly understand their “why” is what will differentiate each and every one of them from each other. We don’t wait until one month before graduation to begin building digital portfolios and professional learning networks, it begins on day one and it begins with having empathy for oneself. While there are many different activities that we do, one of my favorites is having students conduct, “interest interviews” with one another using the following three questions:
If you are interested in building a digital portfolio and personal brand, you can join Mikhail Alfon, of 7Twelve Marketing and I in this free webinar.
The greatest gift given to us by social media, is the ability to develop a professional learning network with the best minds around the world and I can honestly say that nothing has been more humbling. One of the primary reasons for developing empathy for oneself is to become more self aware.
Being able to say “I don’t know…” used to be a sign of weakness, a sign that you aren't good at what you do. Today, being able to make that statement, recognizing our strengths and weaknesses is a symbol of utmost confidence in who we are and what we are able to do. It’s remarkable how much further we can go in life when we realize that we don’t have to know everything and we don’t have to pretend we do either. To truly understand where your strengths lie, what you are really good at, what you bring to the table and to focus in on that is the greatest gift you can give yourself this new year.
Creating a network of people who each bring their own individual strengths allows us to all enhance and develop our craft and be the best version of ourselves. This mentality opens the door to what will be one of the defining factors of the next decade and that is collaboration and partnership building.
In a world that is constantly changing one from one moment to the next, the one constant that remains is that there will always be challenges for us to solve and opportunities for us to embrace. Being grateful for what we have, identifying goals for what we wish to achieve and strengthening our empathy and humility, towards ourself and others, allows us to build a solid foundation for what we can achieve in 2017.
Wishing you all peace, prosperity and beautiful partnerships in 2017!