Looking Up or Looking Down?

Feb 3, 2014 03:59 PM
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Jay Seifert, Guest ColumnistJay Seifert is the co-founder of LoneStart Wellness. He is a pioneer in applying established principles of social neuroscience and behavioral economics to individual and organizational “wellness.” His strategy is specifically designed to improve the health and well-being of those individuals most at risk for preventable chronic illness but least likely to participate in traditional “diet and exercise” programs. He is a monthly wellness guest columnist and you can see his columns in the first NCHN e-News of the month or right here on the blog.

Looking Up or Looking Down?

It’s February 4th which means, among other things, that January is already history.  Did you know that January is named after Janus, the ancient Roman god of beginnings and transitions?  He’s usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. 

So on January first we all made like Janus by saying goodbye to 2013 and looking to a new year of fresh beginnings and positive transitions.  (The comedian George Burns said, “I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.”) 

A month ago we talked about giving ourselves the gift of a good start by deciding what’s important and setting goals that are consistent with what we value.  By behaving with intention, we become mindful of our moment-by-moment opportunities to engage in behaviors that will enable us to reach those goals.

So now that we’re 34 days into our year of living with intention, how’s it going?  (I mean, beside the fact that it has been ridiculously cold, the groundhog saw his shadow, the Super Bowl had too little excitement and the ACA has way too much.)  Other than that, are things looking up, or down? 

Personally and professionally, are you still energized to elevate your intentions and your actions? 

Remember, intentional living isn’t about setting projections for future behavior.  It’s about setting “smart goals” (that means they are specific, realistic, measurable and attainable) and then “transitioning” toward those goals.  Here’s how:   

  1. Be Mindful Just be aware of what’s happening.  Most people move through transitions on “automatic pilot.”  Be conscious, focused and deliberate.  Slow down, take a step back to observe and think about how your actions support your goals.
  2. Be Specific.  What do you want to transition into?  What specific changes do you need to make to get there?  Organizationally, do you want to improve communications, reduce conflict, boost morale or encourage team-building?  Personally, do you want to find a better work-life balance, reduce some of the stressors in your life or improve your lunch-time eating habits? 
  3. Be Positive.  Many of us focus more energy and attention on what we want to avoid than what we want to create.  Reframe the conversation you have with yourself and others.  Replace the negatives (“I don’t have enough . . . I can’t . . . This will never work . . .) with language that reflects a positive, but realistic expectation of success “We have the resources we need . . . I am improving . . . this will be successful . . . ).  
  4. Take Ownership.  Now that you know what you want and have the opportunity to get it, decide what you are going to do to make it happen.  It’s easier to identify what you want others to do than it is to figure out what you must do to reach your goals.  Your power comes from owning what you want to do and doing it.  
  5. Take a Deep Breath.    Anxiety decreases when we take action, so identifying and focusing on what you are going to do will help move you from a state of worry to a state of empowerment.

Next month we’ll focus on two NCHN member networks that are acting with intention in order to give the gift of a good start to their members, their partners and the people and communities they serve.  

For them, on this fourth day of February, things are definitely looking up.

If you have questions or issues you would like us to address in this column, contact: Jay Seifert at 512-894-3440 or   

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