Small Steps are Key for Big Changes

No doubt the start of 2021 encouraged you to make some big resolutions. After all, many of us were quite happy to see 2020 and its year of challenges come to an end.

But just wanting 2021 to be better won’t make it better. For that to happen, you have to get clear about what you want in 2021. Doing this gives you clarity, which lets you start to break your expectations down into smaller, digestible components. This is the key to a successful 2021.

As Stephen Covey so clearly shared in Habit #2 of his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “begin with the end in mind.”

So take some time to get clear about what you want this year. The guidance I offer my business and life coaching clients is to select 3 or 4 things you want to achieve. Why only 4? Because more than 4 will inspire burn out and, most likely, you’ll give up.

So choose 3 or 4 meaningful things you want to achieve and make them clear and measurable so you can assess whether you are making progress.

These things to achieve could be anything, like read 10 books this year to focus on learning instead of watching television.

It could be to lose an inch or two in waist size or improve blood pressure through better eating and exercise.

It could be to develop greater passion for work by changing jobs by the end of the year to a job that needs what you do and like best.

Get clear of your destination.

Then, build your journey. Start to create the smaller steps that will help you arrive at your goal. What is one thing you can do in January? Do it all month long to help it become a habit on which you will build stronger and better habits as you move through the year. Based on the examples above, the smaller steps could be to create your reading list, purchase your first book and start reading. It could be to stop buying crackers and cookies in your weekly food shopping. It could be taking time to get clear about what a job that inspires you could be.

Then, add to those steps. What is one more thing you can do in February, then March, then April?  Small changes consistently done can result in significant results over time. Each month builds on your success from the previous month.

As you develop the new habits and discipline, you can do more significant things to achieve your goal, such as joining a book club to increase your reading, committing to eating as a vegetarian for a month to improve your eating habits or updating your resume and submitting it to 3 job opportunities in the month.

Each step required earlier fundamental change and action to be ready for this more advanced step.

Finally, enlist an accountability partner. My role as coach frequently has me serve as my clients’ accountability partner – someone on the outside who helps them achieve what they say matters to them by regularly checking in on their progress and holding them accountable for its achievement. The same happens with fitness trainers and their clients.

But it doesn’t need to be a coach; a friend, partner, spouse or colleague all can be great accountability partners. Give them the authority to hold you to your word and to your plan. We all can find reason why we don’t want to do what we commit to doing, so let others help you stay on track.

Take Action
Small steps over time are the key to great achievements. When we start with small steps, we don’t feel overwhelmed by the step or the change. We can build it into our routine and it soon becomes our routine. Then, it prepares us to take a larger next step – to build on what we have created. And over time, we find ourselves sticking to our plan and achieving things that we wanted.

A new year doesn’t make things better. Clear goals and a reasonable plan does.

Dream big for 2021, then divide the dream into smaller achievable steps. Then the dream can become your reality.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Why Everyone Needs a Snapshot

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Why Everyone Needs a Snapshot

At The Forte Factor, we start all of our coaching relationships by helping our clients get to know themselves better. We guide them through activities and tools to better understand what they are good at, what they love and what they value, as well as helping them identify their triggers, blind spots and biases. Knowing themselves at a deeper level enables and empowers them to get clearer about what they want and need, and, ultimately, how to make wiser decisions everywhere in their lives.

After all, you can’t work toward achieving big goals or even identifying real dreams until you know who you are and where you’re starting from.

We use the same approach for ourselves.  As coaches, we make time every day to continually expand our understanding of who we are. This encourages us to show up and be the best versions of ourselves in not only our daily lives but as your Coach.

One of our tools is a free online assessment called 3About Me. We provide this because we believe that everyone should know at least three of their talents and strengths, which can help you start to identify the places in work and life that fit you best.

So, as I was thinking about moving into a new year, I decided to revisit my 3AboutMe Talent Assessment results. Here’s the word cloud of my results from the 3AboutMe assessment I took in June 2019 (my 3 core talents are Caring, Decisive and Results-Focused; the other words are words that further explain my core 3):

My 3AboutMe word cloud

I remember looking at this a year and a half ago and thinking “pretty accurate.” My family and closest friends would say the same.

I know our world can influence changes in us, but regardless of COVID-19 and how our world has basically been flipped upside down, my 3 core words still are accurate today.

Here’s why: I remain true to who I am. I know when to turn up my strengths and when to turn them down because I know what my greatest strengths are. I know when I need to lean in to my liabilities (the other side of my strengths and the things that don’t come easily) and push myself out of my comfort zone because I know when a situation needs those attributes for the greatest or most successful outcome. I know I feel happiest, successful and accomplished when I’m doing something that is directly aligned to my natural talents because I know what my talents are and how to use them in today’s world.

You’ll find the people who are happiest with who they are the ones who know who they are and build their work and lives around what they do and like best. They are intentional about finding their fit.

I was reading a great article about the evolution of the celebration to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s landing and came across this quote: “History isn’t a tree, it’s a meadow. It’s a million individual threads twining and unraveling in the wind. When you’re in the midst of it, it’s chaos. It’s only from a great distance that you can discern the shape of it…”

How perfectly this sums us up as human beings. We forget to take the time to step back, to process what’s happening, to reflect on our response and emotions and get caught up in the every day mess. But when we know who we are and can step back and fully appreciate our world, we can then connect what is best in us to that world – we can see where and how our talents can best be used. We gain greater insight into how we can show up to our world as who we really are.

Take Action
Take time to get to know the real you, the you that sometimes get pushed aside to handle the priority item(s) for the day. Especially right now, coming off a very challenging 2020. We’ve adopted mentalities and behaviors that aren’t necessarily true to who we are, but became a way of being. Recognize where those are not the true you.

A way to start is to take our free 3AboutMe Talent Assessment. It is a great place to start to develop the language around your talents and strengths, and then start to ask yourself, “where are the places in work and life that let me fully employ my unique abilities?”

Imagine what you could accomplish when you know you are aligned to your natural talents and strengths and know how to manage each of them in a way that lets you be who you really are.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Tune Out to Tune In

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Staying Optimistic and Hopeful in Down Times

Many of us believe that if we are good, good things will happen to us. Be kind, be honest and life will work out. But hard work doesn’t always lead to prosperity, and bad behavior isn’t always punished. Great and kind people can get ignored. Lousy and mean people can get ahead.

This is not a discussion of why not to be good, kind and honest, but rather how to stay hopeful and optimistic in a world that doesn’t always seem fair or go according to plan.

As we look to rebuild a new year in a better and more successful way, I find the greatest wisdom comes from the Chinese Confucian philosopher Mencius (Mengzi). He shared: though we would like the world to be stable and predictable, we find it is actually in perpetual disorder and needs constant work.

Don’t be upset by this. Rather, therein is our solution. A world that is capricious and unpredictable creates the continual ability to make things better. This empowers us to look at this moment in time and ask ourselves, what can I do to make this better – and feel empowered that there is always something new, good and exciting on the horizon. This is the key to shifting from despair and anger to optimism and hope – to build things better out of the ashes.

So, if it is your habit to feel defeated when things aren’t working right or when things are not going to according to your definition of “good,” how do you shift to see the good? How do you focus on what is possible and stay hopeful for change when things around you are dark, heavy and seemingly out of control?

Try these two ideas:

1. Take an inventory. I encourage my coaching clients to get clear about what is contributing to your current feelings by creating a visual display of what’s working and what’s not. On a page of paper, title the left side, “What’s Going Right” and on the right side, give it the title, “What’s Taking Me Down.” Here is the rule. For every item you add to the “Things Taking Me Down” column, you must provide at least one item in the “What’s Going Right” column. So if you have 10 items listed on the “What’s Taking me Down” column, you must provide at least 10 items on the “What’s Going Right” column.

See, many times we just have a partial view of how things really are, and in down times, we seem to focus on fears and concerns – the negative. Find a quiet moment and challenge yourself to see the other side of your life. Notice your relationships, the holidays, your health, your new habits, your blessings. It’s only when you can see a balanced and accurate picture that you can start to get control over your thoughts about this moment. Remember Mencius’s wisdom: because life is messy, the mess provides places for us to get excited and committed to making things better. So, regardless of how many things are in your right column, they provide the daily opportunity of learning, growing and getting better. This is truly something to be hopeful and optimistic about.

2. Start small, but start. From the clearer view you now have around what is affecting you, where is there something small that you could improve? It could be making one change about something you eat/don’t eat, spending 10 minutes each morning with a gratitude journal, making a call to a friend, turning off the news reminds you of what is not working in your world, or spending 10 minutes out in nature. It is your choice.

Don’t try to change everything; simply focus on one small thing. In it you see that you have influence and impact. You don’t wear yourself out or fuel a greater disappointment. We know the world is messy and complicated. So make small, little improvements. In the aggregate, not only do they add up and make a larger change, but they fuel your sense of hope and optimism as you see your ability to make improvements to things that matter.

Life is as it is. Mostly, it is complicated, messy and unpredictable. If we think it should be orderly and stable, we will be constantly disappointed and down. Instead, see the trouble spots and challenges as opportunities to improve things. Let that get you excited, optimistic and hopeful.

As you reflect on 2020 and prepare to launch into 2021, remind yourself that things won’t change overnight. But also understand that as you stay upbeat, positive and hopeful, and use those energies to see and make improvements, you will be part of the greater effort to improve our days and our world.

Take Action
Take your inventory and ensure it is balanced. Start small but start right away. Notice what you can improve and go do it. Encourage others to do the same. As we start a groundswell of hope and optimism, we give ourselves the energy to show up to our messy world, committed to always making it better.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading The Key to Really Good Relationships (When Winter Brings You Back Inside)

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A Lesson from Kids: Finding the Good

It might be that kids aren’t yet jaded with the cynical world we live in. They don’t know how to dwell on the bad. They aren’t ashamed to express their emotions in the moment they feel them.

Kids can teach us all a lesson.

Here’s a real story: A little over a year ago, one of my little guys face planted into a book shelf just as we were wrapping up our bedtime routine (it sounds as gross as it was). His immediate response was a scream of agony followed by noises of complete frustration with me as I tried to clean him off to see if we needed to go to the ER (we did). But the entire time we were at the ER? Smiles. Holding my hand tightly when he was scared but letting the doctors do what they needed to do. Saying “thank you” quietly as he slurped his popsicle. Falling asleep calmly in my arms when we finally got home.

And his big brother was just as impressive. Startled when his brother started screaming. Scared when I had him in another room and confused why he was blocked from seeing it all. Calmly getting himself ready to get in the car so we could go to the ER. Keeping both of his brothers distracted. Highlighting the adventure we were about to go on (“we’re going to the ER! To see doctors! So cool!”).

Kids don’t get caught up in the “what ifs” or “could have beens.” They are literally present in every moment, fully participating and making the most of the ride.

Perhaps the greatest lesson kids can teach us is not necessarily just finding the good or making the most of every moment, but really being present to each of those moments, excited to see what it brings, and allowing yourself to be whomever you need to be at the moment.

I can think about how often this is a lesson I need to share with myself. How about you?

Take Action
At this point, I know it’s cliché to hear someone say “just find the good!” or “make the most of every situation!” But I think there’s a reason why it’s cliché – it works. To make the most of any situation you have to be really part of it.

So, when it happens next, ask yourself, what would the child version of me do in this situation?

You just might realize you don’t have to search for the good or how to make the most of the situation because it might be right there in front of you.

We really like this list of 5 ideas to help you increase your gratefulness.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Ready or Not, 2021, Here We Come!

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A Recap: Five Rules for A Really Great Life in 2020

Last year, we shared our 5 rules for a really great life in 2020.

Then 2020, well, imploded.

But our guidance still stands and, perhaps most importantly, these rules really did apply to all the challenges 2020 brought with it.

Let’s review.

Rule 1. Life has its ups and its downs. Expect them. Use the ups to help you deal with the downs. Never stay down long.

Well we certainly hit the nail on the head. Though we may not have been able to anticipate the severity of the down associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, you are equipped with the tools you need to overcome challenges in a productive and intentional way. Experience every emotion. Be fully present in each event. This is how you can celebrate the great ups and learn from the downs.

Rule 2. Never compare yourself to someone else. They are different on purpose and are better than you at some things and you are better than them at other things. Focus more on just being your best self.

This rings particularly true for working parents. How many times did you think, “how could they possibly be getting that much done with their kids at home?” Each person’s experience is different. You don’t know what’s happening behind their doors. Perhaps they have a live-in relative who was able to watch the kids. Perhaps they sought out babysitters who could be trusted to be safe and follow COVID-19 protocol. Perhaps a spouse lost their job and now they’re the primary (or possibly sole) breadwinner. Comparing your life to someone else’s is unproductive. Instead, just focus on you and what is happening in your life.

Rule 3. Make the time to know what makes you happy and stay focused on it. Get clear about your goals and stay focused on them, regardless of the distractions and interruptions you encounter.

Everyone seemed to let this go first. But the reminder is that we each have to make our lives happy, something that is independent of the events going on around us. Each moment of each day is ours to define how we want to be in it. Know what being happy means for you and commit to going after it. Make this a major goal for 2021.

Rule 4. Take nothing personally. As the expression goes, “What you think of me is none of my business.” Everyone can and will have their perspectives. Never let what others think and say distract you from being your best and truest self, and from focusing on what makes you happy.

See rule 3. Get focused on what you define as happy and successful. No one else can define that for you because it’s based on your experiences and your life situation. Once you know what happiness is to you, you’ll find other’s thoughts can’t affect you as much. In today’s comment-about-everything-and-everyone world, learn to shut off the social media noise and spend that time more focused on going after what makes you happy.

Rule 5. Make everything you touch better. My dad used to say, “It is not up to you to improve the world, just the part of it you touch.” Each day make where you are – your relationships, your work, how you show up to your world – just a little bit better. Overtime, you will make things significantly better.

This all starts with you. Get in the habit of paying greater attention to you, others and your world. Then, with expanded awareness, ask yourself, “what could I do to make this better? Make the focus on always making things better part of who you are and your approach to 2021. Own your impact. Raise your game. Believe in the value of helping others and helping our world improve.

We all need guidance. There is always going to be something we need to figure out or overcome to be sure we’re living a life that matters.

So, though these were our 5 rules for a great life in 2020, we’re sharing them again because these are 5 rules to have a great life. Period.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading 3 Ways to Help Your Team Start 2021 Strong and Focused

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I’m Feeling Good

I’m going to be honest: I didn’t mind the quarantine.

There were days when it was overwhelming, sure, and there were certainly days when I thought steam would truly come out of my ears. But having my family at home, watching my boys develop amazing relationships with each other, and knowing my family was safe together, was pretty amazing.

But as I sat down to write out the Christmas cards this week, it hit me: we’ve missed so much.

Maybe it was because Thanksgiving seemed like just another day. Maybe it’s because my husband and I were reminiscing with the boys about what we each used to do as kids around the holidays. Maybe it’s because it’s my littlest guy’s first Christmas when he’s aware enough to understand what’s going on. Maybe it’s because Christmas shopping just felt like a chore this year instead of something exciting.

Whatever the reason, I found myself in a low energy for a bit. I just felt sad. I felt sad for my kids. I felt sad for my parents and in-laws. I felt sad for my husband. I felt sad for me.

But I didn’t dwell there.

Feeling sad or frustrated is human; it’s normal to feel every emotion. I’ve written quite a bit about allowing yourself to really feel and experience every emotion you have. They are yours so you get to feel them.

Some emotions are productive and make you feel amazing. Others are unproductive and take your energy down to zero. For those negative emotions and energy (we call them “unproductive”), visit, don’t move in. Staying sad or frustrated about things you can’t control will lead to days of unhappiness.

But here’s something to think about: even difficult days can be happy. For that to happen, we just need to acknowledge the unhappy and look to replace it with something better.

So, I got refocused. I got re-centered. I played some music and one of my favorites came on: Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good.”

“It’s a new dawn,
It’s a new day,
It’s a new life for me
And I’m feeling good”

And I found myself agreeing.

Every morning, regardless of how chaotic it is or hangry the participants are, is a new day.

And 2021 has the promise of a new year, the chance to rebuild and redefine the life we want to lead.

So, I’m feeling good.

Take Action
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the changes to your life this year, let yourself feel every emotion. Frustrated? Absolutely. Sad? Probably. Anxious? Yep.

Write down what you’re feeling and why. Putting words to the emotions you feel helps you wrap your head around what’s going on and can help you to literally see how to move forward.

Then, write down one good thing that happened today. Just one thing. Maybe your coffee was absolutely perfect this morning. Maybe the kids gave you an hour of uninterrupted time during the day. Maybe the weather was stunning. Maybe you didn’t hit snooze and got up with plenty of time for a workout and am nice, unrushed hot shower.

What’s the one thing that made you feel good today?

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Why Presence Really Matters Most This Year

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Try, Try Again

Re-emerge. Rebuild. Stronger. Better. More focused.

These are the things we say to people and they’ve gone through tough times, or when they find themselves in the middle of it.

“You’ll come out better than this.”

“You’ll be stronger after all of this.”

“You’ll rebuild.”

“You’ll be more focused.”

It’s basically a mantra. We (as humans) try to find ways to make someone feel better for experiencing something hard.

2020 was not an easy year for anyone. Jobs were lost. Friends and loved ones were lost. We had lots of confusing and conflicting leadership and guidelines. It was a year that really tested all of us and pushed many of us to our limits.

So, we can all remain disappointed about what happened or didn’t happen in 2020, or we can see a chance to shift our mindset to change what we can change, or, if we can’t change it, change how we think about it.

So, in that light, 2021 is a year to rebuild. It’s a year to be stronger and better. It’s a year to be more focused. 2021 is the year we come out of the ashes. We re-emerge to be a better version of ourselves and inspire those around us to do the same.

We will find a way forward. Gracefully and gradually, we will come out of all this. After all, life always finds a way. It starts with your personal commitment to get yourself moving forward, no matter where you are.

Get up.

Get clear.

Get moving.

Take Action
Here’s an activity for you. Take a few minutes today to set yourself up for a focused and better you 2021.

Answer these questions:

  1. What are three words you’d use to describe your past year?
  2. What are three words you’d identify as descriptors for your 2021?
  3. If you could accomplish one big thing in 2021, what would it be?

Start with the end in mind: a great, remarkable and amazing 2021.

2020 certainly challenged us, but the way we move forward, the way we emerge out of the ashes, is to know where we’re going.

So, where are you going this year?

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Seeing Through the Fog

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The Key to Really Good Relationships (When Winter Brings You Back Inside)

The [forced] time together has just moved past the 9-month mark. Summer weather gave us the chance to get a little more space from each other, but now that colder weather is back, we’re all back inside and many people are struggling in their relationships.

Though we are social creatures, we don’t really do relationships all that well. Think about it: when things are going well, relationships seem to thrive. But when we get stressed by something like today’s pandemic, our worst behaviors come out, putting strain on every relationship we have. I don’t think it’s uncommon to observe that time spent with each other can start to look and sound more like professional wrestling than a loving household.

So, knowing winter will keep many of us in a tighter space with each other for the next several months, how do we relish our relationships instead of retreat from them? As a coach and a passionate believer in the power of relationships, here are four ideas to building and sustaining great relationships.

  1. Manage your emotions. The key to any great relationships is being able to stay calm even when situations around you are aggravating, frustrating or even irritating. Though you can’t control every situation or other people, you must be able to control and manage yourself. Staying calm lets you to access your best thinking and helps you see things more clearly because you’re not automatically looking for a fight. When you’re in that calmer frame of mind, the small things don’t get to you and the big things seem more manageable because you can sort through them and develop options to solve them. We find the best way to manage your emotions really starts with understanding the things or people that trigger your anger, fear, anxiety or frustration, among others. We call these unproductive emotions. Then, develop a particular technique to stay calm when confronted by these triggers, like focused breathing, writing in a gratitude journal, chatting with a friend, reading something inspirational or spending time with a hobby. These are distraction techniques that help you to not react to the trigger. Being aware of the trigger and then having a plan to deal with it is a great way to start managing your emotions.
  2. Tell the truth. All great relationships require a solid foundation – trust. Trust is built by listening to each other, showing mutual respect, being considerate, being dependable and being supportive. And when you have trust in a relationship, the people involved are able to talk to each other to do more of what works and improve the things that don’t work well. As a suggestion, have a conversation with those you are in relationship with and assess the level of trust in the relationship. Discuss ways to increase it to build a stronger foundation and a more lasting relationship. Remember to manage your emotions so you can stay calm and present in your conversations.
  3. Help others be their best selves. So many relationships require each other to be who the other needs them to be – not who they are. To be in a real relationship with someone is to want to help them discover, develop and live their potential – to find their way, to be who they really are and to live their best life. This can’t happen if we continually direct or control them into our version of a great life for them. I have realized in my many years of coaching and my own self-discovery process that finding my way is up to me but getting support from those who care about me is essential. Their support helps me stay focused and encouraged because the process of being yourself in a world that is so quick to tell you who to be is hard work. Knowing we have people who care about us encouraging, guiding and supporting builds a relationship.
  4. Always be kind. You don’t have to agree with each other to be in a good relationship, but how you disagree is what builds or destroys the relationship. The one clear rule that belongs in a relationship is to always be kind. Be kind in how you act and in what you say. Even difficult news is better received when it is delivered with kindness. Kindness is about the feelings behind the interaction. It is possible to be disappointed with a friend, client or partner and share that disappointment in a loving and kind way. After all, you are likely disappointed with a behavior or an action, not with the person. Without kindness, you can unintentionally trigger each other, launching into a battle of unproductive emotions. 

Relationships don’t have to be a challenge, despite what we’ve seen in movies and tv shows. Turn off the drama and focus on building or rebuilding the important relationships in your life. They start with you. They need you to be able to manage your emotions, tell the truth, be kind and support others. As you do this, others will learn, follow and return the behaviors.

The new year is just around the corner. This is a perfect time to rebuild or repair some damaged relationships that may have been a casualty of the election, or of being quarantined for the past few months. Regardless, the greatest gift in life is the gift of relationships. But like everything that is really valuable, they take work and effort. What helps in this is understanding what to do and how to do it. From there, all things are possible.  

Take Action
Think about the people you have a relationship with. Choose one where the relationship is not where you’d like it to be. Visualize how you want the relationship to be and do the following:

  1. Get calm by managing your emotions. What emotions are you feeling when it comes to that relationship? What is triggering those emotions? Are they productive or unproductive?
  2. Assess the level of trust and your behavior in the relationship. It’s important to remember that there are two parts to every story, and the same goes for relationships. Be aware of your role and behavior in the relationship, and be honest with yourself. What’s working? What’s not working?
  3. In a loving and kind way, invite the other person to rebuild or repair the relationship by sharing the work you’ve done so far to identify areas that are working well and areas that could be better. Engage in a conversation, not an argument. Manage your emotions.

By following these steps, you’ll see the quality of life improve for both of you.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Don’t Go Back to Normal. Instead, Focus on Becoming Better

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Seeing Through the Fog

Yes, it has been difficult to imagine what next week will look like, let alone thinking about a new year. So how do we start to focus on rebuilding and rethinking what we want to accomplish, achieve or create in 2021?

Visualize.

Visualization is the process of picturing what you want. The ability to visualize helps create clarity. Stephen Covey shared in Habit #2 of his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “begin with the end in mind.” Getting clear about what you want or what success means to you is a key part of building a plan and achieving it.

But how can you get clear when your world is still so covered in so much uncertainty by the unresolved pandemic? Here is where another great coaching skill can serve you well – imagining.

Imagining is the process of allowing yourself to create, dream or invent whatever you want. It has no regard to what is currently possible, ignoring any restrictions or unknown factors. It simply allows you to focus on what you truly want to be, achieve, etc.

Think about it this way: you are walking along a beach and you see something shiny. You reach down to pick it up and realize it is an old lamp. You rub it to see the exterior more clearly and a genie appears. The genie offers you one wish.

So now ask yourself: if you could have whatever you want, what would it be? (This is a great activity for a family, a couple or a workplace team, as well.)

Imagining is important for two reasons.

First, it reminds you that no matter how tough things are, you are still the creator of your life. Though you may have to revise some of your imagined ideas when it comes time to implementation, you still have more control over this process than the fog makes you think. The fog robs you of your ability to feel empowered, engaged and in control, taking away your energy. With no energy and a feeling of no control, it limits your ability to dream, stay focused and achieve the things that matter. The fog makes you give up.

Second, imagining gets you excited. When things are dark, obscure and uncertain, imagining a new beginning, a better outcome or even a new direction amplifies your energy. You get charged up and it inspires a feeling that all (or at least more) things are possible. That energy is necessary to see through the fog so you can start building your plan to achieve what you want.

Take Action
Seeing through the fog is your key to landing on your feet and building something great in 2021. This starts now. You’ve spent enough time in the fog. Now it’s time to have a strategy and a plan to see through it to a new, better and healthier year. Visualize what you want. Imagine it’s possible. And with that clarity, back into the things you can start today that will get you moving and achieving.

A year from now, you will look back at this moment and feel energized that no matter what work or life sends, you have the tools to see your way through it to a place that matters to you.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Ready or Not, 2021, Here We Come!

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10 Ways to Make a Zoomtastic Holiday

Face it. This year will likely not have many of the face-to-face holiday events that generally punctuate this time of year. The caroling, the office parties, the family reunions, the open houses – all will be reduced or postponed.

But it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great holiday. It just means you will have to see and do things differently.

This may be the biggest challenge for so many because it’s hard to see things differently. We get connected to our habits and traditions, even the outdated and unhappy ones. Sometimes doing what we know (even when it is not our favorite) seems to be preferable over doing something different.

But I’m going to challenge that perspective. COVID-19 showed us we can shift and accommodate to new things, different things and change (in general). Sometimes, we need a hard lesson to show us we are more capable than we think.

Ok, so the face-to-face events can’t happen. What could we consider doing instead that will still provide the connection, celebration and fun that we associate with the holidays?

For purposes of this post, let’s say your method to connect is through Zoom or other similar technology. Here are some out-of-the-box ideas you can consider to help you still celebrate from a distance.

  1. Holiday ZoomMaskathon. Since masks are one of the best ways to keep ourselves safe, why not have a holiday mask competition? Create some guidelines and share them with your family and friends. It could be a neighborhood block party or a holiday open house that has everyone showing up with their best holiday mask (with proper social distancing if on-site) or modeled effectively if hosting via Zoom. Have all participants share their top 3 choices for best mask. The host tabulates the scores and awards the prizes.
  2. ZoomTrim – Decorating or trimming a Christmas tree is frequently a time when neighbors and family assemble to celebrate and decorate together. Get a tripod and focus your phone or camera on the tree as you and the family do the decoration. Spend 10 or 15 minutes visiting and getting decorating advice from those you are sharing time with. Have them guide where to hang ornaments or to place decorations to help them feel part of the celebration and to have their contribution in your decorating.
  3. ZoomSong – The holidays are famous for the music. Have your family Zoom your friends and share a carol / holiday sing-along. Invite your friends – both local and distant – to share their favorite seasonal song(s) and carol back.
  4. ZoomView – Create a neighborhood or family holiday Zoom background competition (the background that shows when you are on Zoom). Give a prize for the most creative, most festive, most family involved or other category that encourages great creativity.
  5. ZoomTour – We spend time and care decorating our houses for the holidays, both inside and out. Conduct a virtual tour to walk family and friends through the inside and outside of the house to share your decorations, stories and how you are celebrating. Take a video of the tour and post it to your preferred social media channel to share your decorations with all of your family and friends.
  6. Zoomoration – Holiday pastries, particularly holiday cookies, are a tradition for many. Zoomoration is a Zoom cookie decorating call where all participants decorate cookies, tell stories, sing carols and chat, just like the way you would if you were face-to-face.
  7. ZoomRekindle – Zoom gives you the ability to engage with those you are rarely able to see right now because they live across town, across the country or across the world. Set up a Rekindle date each week to reconnect with those from different points in your life – to share how you and your family have done in 2020 and how you are celebrating the holidays.
  8. ZoomWalk – Walk through your neighborhood while connected to Zoom to share your neighborhood’s lights and decorations. Imagine that you are walking in person with those on the Zoom call, chatting about what you see, what they make you think of and how they make you feel.
  9. ZoomkeSwap – Many organizations and families host a Yankee Swap each year. Assign a number to every person participating and one by one, in order, each person can take an existing opened gift or open a new one. Done remotely, a host can assemble all of the gifts and do as each person requests – to keep an existing gift or have the host open something new. At the end, the host sends gifts to each participant. These could be done as gift cards or other electronic gifts to make it easy to share.
  10. StoryZoom – Like a story room, set up a time to share story of a tradition or holiday experience you remember, including how you celebrate, why and who is generally at your celebrations. Appreciate the wide variety of traditions and ways to celebrate. This could also be a great event for families with small children who would love to hear their grandparents read Christmas stories, like The Night Before Christmas or The Polar Express.

Which of these ideas inspired you or your family? See the opportunity to create new traditions because of the significant advancements in technology that allow us to still connect with those we love, even when we can’t be together.

Don’t let the COVID interruption dampen your celebration or holiday spirit. Focus on the feelings behind the events you used to do and replace them with new ways to evoke the same or similar feelings. The sky is the limit. Invent something new, fun and different. In the process, you may find better and more amazing traditions that will stay with you going forward.

Take Action
Involve your friends and family in ways to connect remotely that allow you to still experience the feelings of the holiday season. You will be surprised how capable you are at building something new when you focus on the feelings behind the actions. Brainstorm ideas and try them out. The only rules? Stay safe and have fun. 

By Jay Forte

This article also appeared on Thrive Global on November 17, 2020.

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