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Your 2018 Theme: Making A Difference

Originally posted: January 2, 2018 on TrishMcFarlane.com

For as long as I can remember, watching the Tournament of Roses parade on January 1st is how I kick off each new year.  It’s not just the parade, it’s the months of preparation and the ability to make amazing floats from natural materials (flowers, buds, seeds, grasses, etc) that intrigues me.  I also have a fascination with making something new from unexpected pieces.

We’re also at the time of year where every blogger is stating their “Trends for 2018”.  That’s fine for some, but since I don’t own a crystal ball, nor do I claim to have special powers of prediction, I prefer to approach each year with my feet planted firmly on the ground.  I think about how we all work and the realistic steps we can take to make the new year a little better, not to follow the so-called trends.  I do this by embracing a theme for the year.  This is where the parade comes in because each year, they have a theme and they tend to be applicable to the world of work.

If you’ve been following the blog, a few years ago the parade theme was Finding Your Adventure.  I gave a little spin to this from a business standpoint and shared practical ways to make that reality in your workplace.  This included use of productivity apps, breaking processes, seeking to inform ONE mind, and focusing on becoming a storyteller with data.  Another year, the theme was Just Imagine, and it set my whole year in motion by imagining all the things I could accomplish in my work.  This year, the theme is even more exciting……Making A Difference.

How many days do you head into work with the simple approach of how you will make a difference that day?  My guess is you’re like the rest of us, and there are not many individual days where we think about this.  Sure, we all want to make a difference on the overall success of our company and what we’re doing, but we often get bogged down by the requests of people who are well-intentioned, but have their eye off the ball.  These are the people who fill your schedule with tasks that do not lead to making a difference with your skills, nor your ideas. 

My challenge to you is to approach this year with the intent of making a difference EVERY day.  How can you do this?  Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Mindful Approach- You have to make the idea front-and-center of every day.  Whether you write it on a Post-it note taped to your computer, put a note on your bathroom mirror or in your car, make seeing the theme part of every day.  In fact, put the theme in a few places. Write it in your planner, add an auto-reminder in the middle of each day to keep you on track.  There are many ways to make being mindful of your approach a part of your day.
  • Test for Tasks- The next step is to review every ask from a colleague with the lens of will this task make a difference to our goals.  If the answer is no, or unclear, either don’t do the task (if that is an option in your job), or find ways to work with that colleague on determine what tasks would better lead to the goal.  Many of us spend so much time on busy work that we don’t have enough actual thinking time to focus on what will ultimately reach the business goals.  Make 2018 your year not to get sidetracked!
  • Connect the Dots- This relates to the last suggestion.  For all those times when you think you should focus your time and attention somewhere else, inform others.  Let people know how and why you’re connecting the dots the way you are.  Then, be open to discussion.
  • Articulate the Vision and the Wins- Once the new focus has paid off, be sure to share the vision and the associated wins with colleagues.  This brings things full circle and hopefully, all your efforts have made a difference (like your original theme planned).

Like anything, this is a practice.  We’ll all have days where we don’t measure up to our own standards, and some where we don’t measure up to the standards of our colleagues.  That’s ok.  But, by focusing on the same theme each day, all those little “differences” you make should add up to something you’ll be proud of in 2018.

Happy New Year!

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