Your New Headline
Reading the annual headlines about new year's resolutions has me thinking about personal growth. The time has come again when we're all making promises to ourselves. "This is the year I'll lose weight, quit smoking, save money, stand up for myself, end the relationship, enjoy the moment, etc."
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, about 50% of us make new year’s resolutions and almost all of us fail. January goes well, we begin to slide by February and by the time December rolls around we’re back to our slovenly ways. I was sitting around with some girlfriends on the weekend and the subject turned to the latest juice cleanse as one friend declared she’s given up dairy for all time. Yawn. I’ve seen her next to the cheese plate and I give her until…yesterday.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for self improvement. But in my opinion, most resolutions miss the big picture. By focusing on small details like, say, weight loss, they become totally unrealistic. Yes, I said small detail.
Like it or not, the world sees each of us a certain way. We’re all judged and most of us judge. Maybe you’re a ballbuster, or a nice guy. A philanderer, housewife, uptight, intelligent, or not. And with that label comes a list of assumptions about our personalities. Absolutely everything we do, from what we wear to what we post on Facebook, even to the tone of our voice will contribute to others putting us in a box. Do you care?
Some people do, and put significant effort into their personal “brand”. Usually this relates to one’s profession. Google “personal branding” and most of what you find is career related. But on a truly personal level, I don’t think most of us bother. We just bumble along from one point in life to the next.
But perhaps that’s what a new year’s resolution should be about: The opportunity to write a new headline for yourself. Have you ever asked the people around you how they see you? Over the years I’ve heard I’m stand off-ish and tough. At first it shocked me because it is so not how I saw myself! I always thought I was being polite and when the time called for it, direct.
I have a good friend who is a professional, a wife and a mother. She is also highly energetic, loves white wine and is usually the life of the party. At some point she realized that “life of the party” is what was predominant in the way the world perceived her, and she didn’t like it. Over the course of 2012 she rewrote her headline. By shifting her mindset from what the world saw to what she wanted the world to see, it changed a few behaviors and she has rebranded her image. It really didn’t take long. And Victoria Beckam? Hello? She went from silly Spice Girl to seriously influential and highly respected fashion designer.
Perhaps by considering one’s whole self and who we want the world to see, ticking off the more specific things we want to change like losing weight or getting a promotion will flow naturally. If you decide you want the world to see someone who cares about leading a healthy lifestyle, and it’s a genuine desire, eventually smoking just won’t make sense. It won’t happen overnight, but at some point you’ll pass by the Tim Bits and find yourself reaching for a kale salad without any effort. It’s all about a mind set.
So, who do you want to be this year?