There’s something about January that brings out my worst inner critic. We see and hear things like “It’s time for a new you” and “Out with the old, in with the new”. In turning that calendar page, it’s easy to forget the good of the past and focus only on the long list of goals yet to be achieved.
What happened to Lagom?
Contrary to my best intentions, I was lured towards this trap just this past weekend. At least once a year, I resolve to go through the guest bedroom closet (aka our “attic” as we live in a condo), to curate the collection I’ve amassed over the previous year. As this also involves handling everything else we've kept over the years, the exercise usually proves to be a pretty significant undertaking – physically, mentally and emotionally.
This involves making a LOT of decisions – to keep or not to keep? If I’m not keeping, what to do with it? If I’m keeping, how can I put it back in a way that’s organized and easy to access? In the process, it's inevitable that I will get caught up on all the things I didn’t do from last year. I’m anxious and ready to get going on my list for 2018, yet I’m stuck on what is left over from 2017. And, if you’re anything like me, you get to a certain point after taking everything apart, only to realize you just don’t feel like putting it all back together. Did I really think I would get it all done in 2 days?
I needed to shift my thinking. What did I do instead of work on the projects / hobbies / things I never got around to last year? The answer is quite a lot. Taking that closet (and subsequently other areas of our home) apart, I was reminded that 2017 was actually a pretty successful year, and the important thing is how I define that success, and perhaps even more importantly, that I take time to celebrate on a regular basis.
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, celebrations are deviations from routine, observations of occasions, times to praise and honor. There is no right or wrong way to do this. And what makes an occasion special enough to celebrate? This is completely up to you.
As leaders, we have a tremendous opportunity.
Consider what happens when things don’t go as planned. There is a dissection process that occurs. What was in or out of our control? Who was responsible for each part? What could have gone differently? What do we think should have happened and how can we prevent breakdowns from happening again? It’s easy to get stuck in a loop of continuous replay, wishing the clock would rewind and we could do it all over again, this time, the “right” way.
On the flip side, when things go well, it’s often not quite “good enough” and we quickly shift to the next challenge. We might chalk up the success to good luck. Why not go through the same dissection process here? What went well and why? Who contributed? What specific direct and indirect actions and behaviors led to the outcome? How can we ensure it does happen again?
This is where celebration comes in. Take the time to pause, reflect, articulate and recognize what happened and who played a part. Bring people together - have a good time! Celebrating generates positive energy that can be used to build confidence and fuel the team towards the next challenge. Our brains are wired to use these memories as motivation to repeat the experience.
Take a look at your photo collections. I noticed as I was going through mine to write this entry, there were a lot of celebrations. Time with friends and family, birthdays, weddings, and simply getting together because we could. These are experiences we want to remember, so much so that we capture them when we can, and we often refer to when we need a little boost to keep going.
As I write this, there are still several piles around our home – some in the guest room, a little in the living area, things spread across the dining room table. With a little (ok, a lot) of help from Matt, we made significant progress, got through quite a few decisions, and now have a list of things to tackle to get through the rest of it. I also made time for some personal care, and treated myself with a visit to a local museum. It’s important to recognize that I’ve made a start in the first place. It will all get done, and when the surface areas are once again clear, I’m sure we’ll find another way to celebrate.
I’d love to hear more about your favorite ways to celebrate -- when, where, how and with whom. Please share in the comments!
btw… You might have picked up on this... the title of this week’s blog was inspired by Kool & the Gang. Maybe you’ve already started singing in your head (or out loud!) – hope this brings a smile, happy memories, and inspiration to plan your next celebration.