I tacked a picture of it up on the bulletin board right by my desk so that I would look at it every day. Every single week I revisited that statement and thought about its meaning. Every month (usually following the GRAVA workshop), I would set aside a bit of time to think about it and reflect upon it. It became a regular part of my debrief process. Whenever I completed a volunteer project or activity or initiative I would ask myself: did I work smarter? How did I work smarter? What else could I have done? What can I do next time? What feels different when I work smarter instead of harder? Why does it even matter?
Hard to believe it’s December and the year’s almost done. I have spent the last twelve months meditating on what it means to work smarter, not harder. And what, if anything, have I gained in the process?
1. It’s good to have a mantra! There’s a lot of research emerging about the power of setting intentions, and that’s what my mantra did. It focused my thoughts, gave me a lens through which to assess my actions, oriented me toward the accomplishment of a goal, and forced me to think about it in concrete, action-specific terms. Along the way, I also spent plenty of time thinking about valuable things like terms and definitions and measurements, about balance and quality and priorities. It’s good to have a mantra!
2. It’s a work in progress! Twelve months of thinking and reflecting and meditating and assessing and revisiting and defining have not, alas, brought me to a state of perfection. Have I made progress? Yes. Have I spent many minutes thinking about it? Yes. Do I work smarter than I did a year ago? In some cases yes, in others not necessarily. But as least I am aware of it almost all the time, which is a big and necessary step in the growth process. It’s a work in progress!
3. Everything is connected! This simple statement has stimulated so many interesting thoughts and conversations and opportunities to wonder and dream and discuss and imagine. It has been just like a small stone tossed into a pond, setting expanding ripples of possibility into motion that, at any given moment, can and has included anything and everything. Even after devoting twelve months to this goal, I feel like I’ve only just begun to discover all of its weird, profound, and non-linear dimensions. Everything is connected!
So, the year is almost done. What was your mantra for 2014? What progress did you make? How did it figure in your professional and personal growth? Are you still working on it? Or are you ready to move on to something new? The new year is just around the corner! Don’t miss the opportunity to set your intention for 2015. You never know when a small stone will create a huge ripple!
At Your Service,