New Year, New Habits

With both a new year and new decade upon us, the whole world seems to be in that resolution spirit this weekend.  I made a stop at Borders earlier today and was overwhelmed  by the crowds checking out all the fitness and self-help books.  (I was actually there in search of a Weimaraner calendar).  I thought I’d do a post on resolutions.

Let’s start with my own resolution for this year- 12 new habits.  A year ago I started in on a book called The Power of Focus and one of the concepts was around establishing new habits & also replacing bad habits with new better ones.  The idea being you should talk to highly successful people and get some good habits from them to incorporate in your own life.  It takes around 30 days to learn the new habit and to solidify it as a habit- something you do automatically without the conscious effort.

For 2010 I’m making a list of habits I’d like to change, take on, etc and then choosing one or two to implement each month.

Now some habits are easy for me to put down…floss my teeth every day, not dump all of my stuff on the dining room table when entering my house where it never seems to leave, and go to bed earlier.  The search for ideas for more interesting habits has been more fun.

Almost four years ago I met a leadership coach at a Society of Women Engineers conference in the bay area named Jo Miller.  I’ve had the privilege of watching her grow her coaching business over the past few years and have attended her sessions at numerous conferences as well as her webinars.  She is currently writing a column for the Anita Borg Institute and aptly had a column on  resolutions (

Jo’s column has a wealth of information in it.  I picked out a few items that were the most applicable to me and added them to my list of habits:

  1. Work Less (under her ways to ensure you are promoted).  My to-do list always seems to be 20+ items deep and I have a horrible tendency to work on all the little items first to get the satisfaction of crossing them off.  But it just adds stress and more work time because at the end of the day I haven’t gotten to the big three gnarly items that would help propel my career.  It’s easy to self-promote when you’ve implemented a new technical issue tracking tool, and not so much when you’ve just answered every email you received since 8am today.  So for one month in 2010, I’ll be focused on trimming down that to-do, prioritizing the big three items, and working less. (like being ok with not doing 15 items on my list…or better yet, delegating!)
  2. Delegate without micromanaging.  As a program manager most of my job is coming up with the plan of how the team will accomplish something, breaking it down into executable parts, and then delegating out.  I know I don’t delegate all that I can- both with my projects at work, and my volunteer endeavors, and even chores around the house.  A great new habit for one month in 2010 will be to ask myself “can this be delegated?” often each day, and when I do delegate to not ask “is it done yet?”…at least not nearly as much as i feel the urge.
  3. Adding key people to my Network.  I like people, I like talking, and I like socializing. (not very engineering like, huh?)  As a result, I have a pretty big network.  The item Jo is driving at in this resolution is- do I have the right people in my network, and do I make a concerted effort to foster my relationship with those people.  I really do not know if I have the right people in my network.  I haven’t stepped back and figured that out.  I do know that I do not do enough to foster some of my relationships.  So, for a month during 2010, I’ll take an assessment of my network and each day do something to either get a key person into the relationship or strengthen my connection to an existing key person.
  4. Improving the my skills of self-promotion (and promotion of others).  I think this an area where I am ok, but could be alot better.  I can say there are guys at work that are constantly self-promoting and it drives me crazy.  One guy in particular sounds like a five year old, “I’m running this really important task force”, “I just found and filed a critical issue into the database”, “I just got off the phone with Mr. Hot Shot at Hewlett Packard”.  He might as well be letting us know he put on his own clothes, made his own lunch, and made a new best friend.  One thing is for certain, you always know what he’s doing.  There is definitely an art here and I’ll need to find a few mentors who are good at it to coach me along the way.  The people who are good at this essentially tie their personal branding to good business results, products, events, etc and their name comes to the top of the list when new positions open up.  I think a key item in self-promotion is promoting others.  I think the statements are even more powerful when coming from another person.  So each day during a month in 2010 I will either self-promote or promote another person (and let them know I did) until it become a good habit.

Looks like I have a lot ahead of me in 2010.  Good thing I’m only taking on 1-2 habits a month so as not to get overwhelmed and have a better chance of succeeding at each.

Here’s to hoping your resolutions withstand 2010 as well!


One response to this post.

  1. Thanks for posting this Allison. I truly believe program managers and project managers are the unsung heroes of corporate leadership — the job is all about influencing others without having direct authority. It is leadership in it’s purest form.

    All the best with your new years’ resolutions!


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