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Five Ideas for a Visionary Year in 2020

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By Liz Hruska and Courtney Barrette

We are well into the new year, and that means revisiting those pesky resolutions to see how you’ve been doing. Maybe you’re not quite as far into your plans as you had hoped. You’re not alone! Did you know that by the middle of February, more than 80 percent of people have given up on their resolution for 2020? Even if you’ve given up, or put them off, it’s not too late. Here are five ideas from Engagement Director Courtney Barrette and Career Advisor Liz Hruska to set you up for a visionary 2020.


1. A New Perspective on Something Old

Do you have a professional association you’re a part of or a conference you attend every year? Consider taking more responsibility and participation to refresh your perspective! Courtney did just that when, after attending an annual advancement conference for two years, she challenged herself to submit a proposal to present at the conference. She landed the speaking opportunity! After three years of presenting, Courtney even went one step further and joined the conference planning committee. These new professional challenges gave Courtney fresh perspective on a routine conference, ultimately expanding her professional network!


2. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Liz recalls an employer at a recent career panel encouraging all students to take an improv class. All new professionals need to be able to react meaningfully and on-the-fly to the unexpected, and that’s what improv teaches. Whether applied in a presentation, handling objections in a meeting, or navigating a potential workplace conflict, the “Yes, And” improv technique can enable you to be more effective in your role. Why not take classes through HUGE Improv Theater or even invite a local improv teacher to lead some activities at an upcoming work retreat? Stepping out of your comfort zone feels good. 


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3. Practice Mindfulness Everyday

There are small, simple ways to practice mindfulness at work to improve your well-being. Courtney has three ideas: 1) Personalize your workspace by adding soft lighting, hanging meaningful artwork, and decluttering your desk; 2) leverage resources to create a more stress-free work environment, such as using ergonomics to adjust your chair or get a sit-stand desk to make your space feel more comfortable and productive; and 3) instead of responding immediately to an intense email, take a walk, do some stretches, or pause to think through a mindful reply. You’d be amazed at what all these small things can do for your well-being.


4. Reflect on Your Habits

Reflect on your habits and ask yourself, what’s one habit that you’d like to change? It turns out those small changes can really add up! Liz experienced the power of changing a small habit with big results: After having her second baby, Liz decided she had to stop indulging her habit of shopping at thrift stores as a way to relax and unwind. That habit was costing her a lot of money while adding clutter to her house. One day, instead of shopping, Liz used a free-week pass to a local yoga studio—and she loved it. That change in a habit resulted in Liz moving through the challenges of being a working mom by stretching, strengthening, and breathing on her yoga mat every week. 

5. Simplify Your Obligations

Both Liz and Courtney love the Oprah Winfrey quote, “No is a complete sentence.” Yet sometimes in the heat of being asked or “voluntold” to take on a responsibility, saying no can feel blunt or even disrespectful. Many of us are socialized to lean into yes, especially when a task or responsibility is being presented as an opportunity, but knowing your limits and remembering that it’s okay to assert yourself in the negative can be liberating. It takes practice to feel confident with this new mindset, and when you’re feeling shaky, a script can be helpful. One that Liz and Courtney love for an email response is: “I appreciate you reaching out. I will have to decline at this time. Thank you!” 


The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to do all of these things at once. You don’t need to accomplish these in a week, or even in two months. Bookmark this page or put a few friendly reminders in your calendar to check in with yourself on a weekly basis and see what you can adjust and work on each day. One small step at a time will make 2020 a visionary year.