Image by ducktourer via FlickrAs you may know, I made resolutions in January: Nine for '09 and then provided a January update: January Update: Nine for '09 Resolutions. As we are now just in March, its time for the February Update.
If I did not have Total Leadership, I would have written off February as a disaster.
Does anyone know if there is any scientific data to document when people lose their way with their resolutions? Well, I'm willing to guess anywhere after the 4th week. In fairness, there were some really good reasons for the derailment. But, the bigger story is how I got back on track. And that is where Total Leadership comes in.
Just to recap, Total Leadership is a whole new way of living. It's about integrating the all 4 domains of life - "work", "home", "community" and "self" . It's about developing and implementing experiments to make change.
So let's look at my resolutions and my progress:
Resolution 1. Read at least one non-business or non-political book per month.
Progress: I read not one book. Nope, not one. I read several last month. But not one this month. Not one of any kind. I borrowed a photography book and never even opened it. I had an opportunity to integrate with Resolution 2 and I never took it. So what went wrong? Well, I became super busy this month with work and with Resolutions 2, 5, 8. Photography consumed me this month (which I will get into later). Blogging became my entire evening every evening (which I will also get into later). But I was way off track with this resolution - and I knew it. And because I had made a Total Leadership experiment out of it, and written down this goal (for everyone to see), I was determined to get back on track. So, what did I do? I looked for a non-business and non-political book. A local bookstore was having a reading about Outliers, and hoping to make a social event out of it, I started Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I like it, but haven't finished it. I'll finish it this month! :)
Resolution 2. Undertake at least one significant photography project for the year.
Progress: Resounding success! Beyond my expectations. From the very first class I was totally happy. I learned so much from my instructor and my classmates. I've made new friends. I've fallen more deeply in love with my Nikon D300. I see so many possibilities for this hobby now - some just artistic, others to earn money, and frankly, the majority just to make me happy doing something for myself. In terms of integration with other resolutions, look at Resolutions 1, 4, 5, 6, 8. There are tons of awesome photography books - I never have to struggle to find a non-business non-political book again; photography increases my earning potential so I am prioritizing personal finances; photography is a new skill; photography provides tons of opportunities to do something nice but unexpected for my family and images are powerful communication tools in blogs. Amazing! Total Leadership at its fines, folks - integrating work, self, family, and community. Photography has potential for all. As for next steps: I am going to miss the class immensely, but my classmates and I are going to keep in touch, keep sharing our work thanks to Flickr, get together when we can, and maybe even arrange for an advanced class and/or Photoshop. In terms of my resolution, this one is completed - I did one major photography project for the year :)
Resolution 3. Be consistent with my exercise regime and dietary habits.
Progress: Disaster. What happened? Well, let me be frank. After a number of years of making it through allergy season unscathed, I managed this year to suffer from the absolute worst sinus attack. Really dragged me down for two weeks. So I had a hard choice to make - 1) continue doggedly at my resolutions no matter the cost or 2) rest. Because Total Leadership stresses all domains - not one domain at the expense of the others, it was clear what my choice was - I chose to rest. So there went half the month in terms of exercise. Then, next problem? I've met my weight goal. So it's a wee bit harder to be motivated. :) Thank goodness, I actually love exercising with the Wii FIT, and when I don't exercise I'm very cranky. My dietary regime became less strict as I met my weight goal. I think this is more sustainable for the long run. How is Total Leadership integration achieved here? This is primarily the "self" domain, and health and strength are the foundation of achieving progress in all other domains of life, and therefore achieving all other Resolutions. Total Leadership is focused on the intention, not the details of the experiments. So, I've cut down on my exercise time in an effort to achieve a daily workout
Resolution 4. Prioritize personal finances.
Progress: This continues to take off. Still doing research for my own personal purposes, and the family's. Increased the knowledge sharing through talking with friends, and using social media. Still a part of my daily routine. Again, consistent with Total Leadership principles, I have achieved integration with Resolutions 1, 5, 6 and 8. I've been so busy here with the following:
- reading articles and blogs and expanding my knowledge base immensely
- conducting personal finance experiments and have found new ways to earn, save and invest. Developing, implementing, monitoring and measuring experiments are critical tools of the Total Leadership framework to achieve real change
- improving my blog - Financial Security: Tips + Tools - and writing almost every day.
- maintaining the Facebook group - Earn and Save More Money Facebook Group (which is affiliated with Financial Security: Tips + Tools) with 311 members at the time of this post
- developing strategies for the family based on new trends and innovation
- and much more
Resolution 5. Learn a new skill/Do a refresher course.
Progress: Resounding success! Really. I spend a lot of time everyday in my own study of blogging and the world of social media. I experiment with the layout and content of my two blogs: Reasoning the Reasons, Financial Security: Tips + Tools. I am learning to use the analytical tools and services, so I can understand how traffic, links and all those other technical matters work. I am really getting into the nuts and bolts of how to become a truly skilled blogger. And I am having a ball doing it! I even went to a fantastic all day seminar on Social Media Marketing.
So blogging has really opened the door to other forms of social media, so I am actually learning more than one skill. And talk about integration? I took my photos (another skill I'm learning) and turned it into a Youtube video: Sweet Sweet Jamaica on my own channel. Amazing! See the images at the banner of this blog? Those are mine! I took them in class and for homework. Again - I'm thrilled at how much I've learned to take better pictures, and incorporate them into the blog. I had no idea how to do either a few months ago! Again, through Total Leadership principles, I am achieving integration with Resolutions 2, 4, and 8. The blogs continue to be a work in progress.
Resolution 6. Do at least one unexpected nice thing for my family every month.
Progress: Still doing nice things. But could always do more :) Again, in keeping with Total Leadership principles, this resolution achieved integration primarily with Resolution 4, although the activities were much broader than that.
Resolution 7. Watch at least one new movie every month - DVD or at the cinema.
Progress: I just barely made this one :) Because I had made my resolutions, I made a point of borrowing two movies: Madagascar 2 and Under the Hedge 2. But, I did not find the time to watch them. I had an escalation with work responsibilities, and a complete throw off my schedule with my 2 week sinus attack. I really wasn't sure I was going to make this one. But then, thankfully, the girls arranged to go see a movie at the cinema one night in the week: "He's Just Not That Into You". It was perfect. Light and silly. Just want I needed. So resolution fulfilled. Again, in keeping with Total Leadership principles, this resolution achieved integration primarily with Resolution 4, as movies are an affordable yet fully enjoyable mode of entertainment, as well as keeping my creative juices flowing for work.
Resolution 8. Blog.
Progress: Ok, confession here. I think all I ever do is blog now. Seriously. This is so much fun. When I don't write, people ask me what happened. So I try to write everyday. I have a schedule - before and after exercise. And that helps. But as my other responsibilities increase, and now I want to make more space for photography, I need to have a look at my approach to blogging. I am significantly advanced in the learning curve, and in fairness, what has taken so much time is tweaking this and that. The writing itself does not take that long, and I love writing. So, this month's project is to devise a plan to deliver the same or better quality output in both my blogs in less time. I know Total Leadership has provided me the tools to figure that out. Blogging provides me integration with all domains, as well as Resolutions 2, 4 and 5
Resolution 9. Maintain my gratitude journal.
Progress: Missed just a few nights. But Total Leadership brought me right back on track. Again, integration principles at work since all of the above Resolutions are some of subject matters I write about.
Stretch Target: This would be 10, but let's call it a Stretch Target (a marketing term for an extremely ambitious goal): Start writing a book.
Progress: I've actually made some headway here. And seriously I did not make this one up. A former classmate contacted me because he wants to write a book. We've had a preliminary chat and have agreed to see how we can collaborate. But here's the collaboration: He will provide me exposure to the process - agents, manuscripts etc. And I have offered him assistance with blogging. Now, is that integration or what? And it gets better. The topic of his book is completely integrated with my resolutions and one of my blogs. :)
As is typical, not all resolutions will go exactly as planned. But some exceed your expectations, and others need a helping hand to get back on track. What Total Leadership does is help you to see the forest through the trees -help you to celebrate where you have exceeded; and give you the tools and framework to recommit. Total Leadership also makes it OK to tweak the experiments, because it is the achievement of the overall goal and vision for yourself that is of the ultimate importance. Total Leadership has programmed me to think "vision" and "integration" - that's my roadmap. I don't have to do every single thing a specific certain way. The point is that I get to the top of that mountain you see in the image at the top of that post. And am I getting there? For Sure!! :)
If you want to see a video of me explaining Total Leadership in this New York Times piece, click this link: "A Catchy Title and Contagious Formula for Leadership"
If you are a blog follower, Professor Stew Friedman's Total Leadership Blog Link is here.
Tell me how you are doing! See you in April for the March update!