What Do You Want in 2019?

By Jay Forte

“Begin with the end in mind.”

This is habit #2 of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This means focus on what you want to achieve. You can’t make progress if you first don’t define what success looks like.

With the arrival of a new year, it is a great time to take a moment to reflect on what you want in 2019. What do you want to achieve, learn, develop or become? What do you want to create, support or change? What will make the year great for you?

The best way to focus on defining an end goal is to make the time and space to reflect. Here is a great question to help you start to reflect on what you want for 2019: Let’s say you are now at December 31, 2019 – you are at the end of the new year. You look back over the year and think “what a great year this has been.” What happened this year that would make you think this?

Take the time to be thoughtful and honest with yourself. When you have a clear understanding of what it was that made the year so great, you can more easily define what you want (end goal) and why you want it, enabling you to create an actionable process to get there. It’s important to remember the “why” associated with your end goal because as things interrupt your progress in achieving your goal (because that is how life can be), your “why” becomes the fuel and the energy to keep you moving.

Here are a couple of examples.

  • I want to complete my degree in 2019 (my what). I am doing this to improve my career opportunities and to align myself to roles that need what I am best at (my why).
  • I want to think and act like a coach with each member on my team (my what). I am doing this to improve my relationship with each person to improve their engagement, performance and retention (my why). 

With this information, you can start to define your end goal – what you want for 2019. You are clear. You have focus. This means you can be intentional.

Take Action

Take the time to get clear about what you want for yourself in 2019 – personally and professionally. Things don’t just happen – you have to make them happen. This starts by defining what you want. Be optimistic. Be creative. Believe that great things can happen. Stay clear on this.

Then, build a plan to close the gap from where you are to what you want. Work the plan each day and you will see this is how great things happen.

Consider reading The Post-It Note as a Mindfulness Tool

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What’s Your Red Nose?

By Kristin Allaben

There’s been a lot of talk about the Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” specifically about how he was bullied and how there are bad messages for kids in the movie.

But quite frankly, I think it is a powerful story that teaches us that many times, others don’t understand, support or appreciate what makes us different, unique and amazing. Their comments come from the constant pressure that we should all look, act and think alike, instead of discovering, developing and using our true abilities.

Think about it. Christmas was going to be canceled because of the bad winter storm, but Rudolph’s vibrant red nose was just the right amount of light to guide the sleigh.

Imagine if you hid your unique attributes — the things that you, for some reason, believe others won’t appreciate. What could come from sharing that with the world? How might your ownership of who you really are bring something remarkable to your world, your life and the people in it?

Prompted by watching Rudolph this year with my kids, I asked myself this question and held myself accountable to be honest. Turns out, my unique attribute that I often try to hide or tone down is my need to organize. People love to point out how organized I am (in both a loving and not-so-loving-or-appreciative way) and I realized I started to diminish it or even apologize for it. I stopped organizing family events, parties and outings. I didn’t want to be seen as being a micro-manager, obsessed about seeing things done a specific way, so I stepped away from it, convinced by the comments of others that something was wrong with me.

And you know what I realized? It made me miserable and it made others around me confused and unsettled. Being organized — and keeping things around me organized — is my red nose. People didn’t realize how much they needed my organization until it wasn’t there, or until a big event required a unique approach to managing every element. In fact, a family member once said, “Thank God you’re here! We can’t get this game started without someone to take charge.” And in a previous role, one of my managers referred to me as the person who “keeps the trains running on time.”

We each come equipped with great gifts and abilities that are part of who we are. Don’t cover the brightness of what makes you great, even if others don’t understand or support it. Go be you.

Take Action
Take 5 minutes to ask yourself about your red nose. What is the one attribute that makes you uniquely you that you feel like you need to hide or diminish? Why? How different would you — and your world — be if you were truer to yourself and less concerned with what others think and say?


Consider reading Your Personal Board of Directors

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What Pasta Can Teach You About Having a Great Life in 2019

By Jay Forte

My family is Italian. In an Italian house, all good life lessons involve food. Here is one…

Life is like pasta because no matter how you serve it, it is always good. But with a little information about the shape of the pasta (what makes it unique) and the sauce that fits it, it can change the dish from good to great. This requires a quick pasta lesson.

Pasta is a “carrier” – the shape of the pasta is used to deliver, appreciate and celebrate its sauce. There are nine types of pasta – short/long, smooth/lined, flat/round, straight/cupped, or filled. Pasta – good. Pasta with the right sauce – great.


  • Chunky sauces (think marinara, Bolognese, vegetable or meat sauces) require pasta with lines, edges and short lengths so they can carry the chunky sauce with each bite.
  • Oil or butter sauces (think pesto, garlic and oil, cheese and butter) require smooth or filled pasta of any length or size because they just need to be evenly coated and light to allow the taste of the filling to shine through.
  • Cheesy sauces (think alfredo, béchamel or any creamy sauce) require shorter pasta with large openings, curves or scoops to bring more of the sauce with each bite.

Think about the American favorite – spaghetti with meat sauce. A meat or tomato sauce does not stick to a slick, long and thin, slippery pasta. The result is when you finish the pasta, the sauce is still in the bowl. Unforgivable for an Italian! Instead, if you love meat or tomato sauce, use a lined ziti, penne, mostaccioli or rigatoni – you’ll enjoy the sauce and the pasta together. With this little bit of information, we can now better match the sauce with the pasta and go from good to great.

It is the same in life. To set the stage for a great and happy life in 2019, remember that we are each like a shape of pasta – we are unique in our personal combination of talents, interests and values. This combination works great in some places and not so well in others. When we know ourselves and connect ourselves to the places in work and life that fit us, we are like pasta connecting to the rights sauce – things move from good to great. When we align ourselves to what we do and like best, we become more capable, competent and confident. We have found our “thing.” We feel more successful and happier. Everything is better.

The more you know and appreciate what makes you unique, the more I am reminded of what my mother told us as she taught my five siblings and me how to cook, “When you know your ingredients, you can always make something great.”

Know your ingredients – your talents, strengths and passions – then select the things in life that need your amazing (and unique) ingredients. This is how to go from good to great in the kitchen, and how to have a great and happy life in 2019 and beyond.

One of my favorite pasta recipes: Ziti with Spinach and Olives

In a large sauté pan, sauté a finally chopped onion, pancetta (or smoky bacon) and crushed red pepper in olive oil. When cooked, add black and green olives (I’m Italian – I don’t measure things; we go by look and feel. Add as many olives as you like). In a separate pot, cook ziti (smooth, no lines; this is an oil-based sauce). Drain ziti and add to it to the pan with onion, pancetta and olives, and return it to the (low) heat. Add a small handful of fresh gently-chopped spinach for each person being served and stir until the spinach is wilted and the ingredients are blended. Pour into a large warmed pasta bowl to be set in the middle of the table. Top with fresh ground black pepper and freshly-grated parmesan cheese.

Total time – about 12 minutes.

Swap out the spinach for swiss chard, beet greens, arugula, kale or whatever is fresh. Serve with a salad.

Tutti a tavola!


Consider reading Embrace Your Face

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Have a Great 2019

By Jay Forte

A new year is just ahead. The best way to continue your successes, or make important changes, is to reflect on 2018 and to use its lessons to see and do things differently in 2019.

I personally find the best way to reflect on most things is by asking questions. Questions guide you to explore and investigate, both of which are important to give you the information you need to determine your direction and plan for a new and great year.

Here are three questions I spend time with at the start of the new year that help me develop greater clarity and a plan to make the most of my time, effort, energy and impact.

1. What are my strengths?

We each come equipped with unique and amazing abilities. These abilities help us to be great at some things and not great at others. Having a successful year requires that I know and lead with my strengths. This knowledge helps me identify the areas in work and life that need what I am best at – I feel capable, confident and competent. Without this information, I may find myself in areas I struggle in, which leads to disengagement, disappointment and frustration – not the way to have a great 2019. Discover, develop and live your strengths in 2019.

2. What is a good day for me?

Each day, we get a blank canvas to add to it in a way that matters to us. We own our choices. Taking the time to reflect on what a good day is for me prepares me; I know what makes a good day for me so I can intentionally look to achieve it. Without this information, I move through life with less intention and therefore don’t make the things happen that really matter to me. Notice the language there as it means I take accountability for having a good day. I work to make good things happen for me, on purpose. Only you know what makes a good day for you; work with intention to make it happen, resulting in a better 2019. Define what makes a good day for you and build a plan to have it.

3. How can I make a difference?

I believe we are here to do more than just show up each day. We are not here just for ourselves; we each have a higher purpose – a requirement to know ourselves and to bring our best to our world to make a difference. Our uniqueness is what enables each of us to contribute something that only we can contribute, and by its contribution, we make our world better. It may be in how we teach, coach or parent. It may be in our ideas or thinking. It may be in our empathy and in the quality of our relationships. It is ours to discover and to live. Reflect on what difference you are here to make in 2019.

A new year is a great time for reflection, and questions are a good way to start the thinking and reflection process. Having a plan helps you navigate the speed and amount of daily change.

Be aware of what you want for yourself as you approach a new year. You are your life’s owner – you have the ability and responsibility to define what you want and the abilities to go get it.

Take action
How will you use these three questions to prepare for – and have – a great 2019?


Consider reading Want to Change the World? Engage a Coach.

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To Do Something New, Make it Difficult to Do The Old

By Jay Forte

You say you want to change. You want to eat better. You want to be more fit. You want to read more. You want to get more sleep. You want to save more money. All are noble. And if they make life better for you, great. I hope you do them. But even when you say you want to make these changes, how committed to those changes are you really?

The reason so few of us actually stick with making those changes is simple: our habits stop us.

Our brains default to our habits. It takes a lot of energy to run our brains so the brain is always looking for ways to be efficient; doing things out of habit is efficient. However, this locks us into some behaviors that don’t align with what we say we want or need to live wisely, safely or intentionally. Knowing this, a way to interrupt an unproductive default habit is to make it difficult to do.

Take grocery shopping, for example. Each week, you buy a couple of bags of chips, possibly unaware you’re even putting them into the cart. Then, once home, you have a supply of chips easily accessible to you, making it hard to eat better.

Another example: working out. You say you want to work out before you go to work each day, but when the alarm goes off, you hit snooze several times. By the time you get out of bed, there is no time for a workout. And now you’re rushing to get to work on time.

So how can you make these default habits difficult to do?

If there are no chips or junk food in the house, it is more difficult to default to mindless eating. If the DVR no longer has hours of recorded shows for you to watch, you have time to do other activities, such as working out, reading or going to bed at a more reasonable hour. If you have money deposited directly from your check into your retirement or savings account, it is not available to spend.

Look through your life and identify the unproductive habits. As you find behaviors that take you away from where you want to be, assess what changes you need to make. Then, start by making what you currently do so difficult that it naturally forces you toward better and more successful behavior.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. What is one unproductive habit that you need or want to change?
  2. What could you do to make doing this behavior more difficult?
  3. What is the first step you will make today to shift to a new and more productive behavior?


Consider reading The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 5

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