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This year has been a beast for many, if not most of us.  The combination of the global coronavirus, the lockdowns used to control the spread of it and the endless political disinformation of the last 10-12 months would weaken the strongest of us.  By the time this column reaches you it will probably be early in December and you may be toying with your specific resolutions of 2021.  Let’s be serious about your page full of specific resolutions.  In my experience, most people can’t tell you about more than one or two resolutions by the first of February.  Let me suggest a different approach to the process.

Here’s what I propose: Decide to take control of your life and change your attitude.  Let’s agree to adhere to some “TECHNIQUES FOR LIVING LIFE WELL”.  I am indebted to an unknown author who compiled this list of techniques.  Apparently s/he felt that this list would help us live our lives better. Here are the nine techniques; each with a little of my own commentary.  Hope you find it valuable.

1.  KEEP YOUR LIFE SIMPLE.  This four word motto will no doubt lessen the pressure that we feel on a daily basis.  Many of us will tightly schedule our lives and unwittingly overload our bodies.  In essence, we have written checks that our body simply can’t cash.  Booking every minute of the day is probably not as productive as many of us think; we need some down time.  Medical professionals are convinced that a very high percentage of hospitalized patients are there due to the stress load that they are carrying.  Perhaps the expression, KISS (keep it simple stupid) speaks of great wisdom.     
2.  PRACTICE BEING SATISFIED.  Haven’t you heard the common expression, “He is just never satisfied”?  Experts tell us that achieving perfection by completing the last 3% of any significant project probably costs nearly as much as the first 97%.  Surely some of our readers will debate the 97% figure.  Okay, make it 92%; which is an A in most grading systems, so why not declare victory and move on to the next challenge.  Perhaps an exception to this rule is when you are building a very complex product or device.
3.  BE DECISIVE.  As my drill instructor said to me several times, “Just don’t stand there, Fitzgerald, do something”.  His challenge was not intended to force me to make a bad decision, but rather to make me execute some decision.  If my original decision was wrong, I could modify it and move on.  General Colin Powell said, “Once the information is in the 40 to 70% of certitude, go with your gut”.
4.  BE CHEERFUL.  You always have an option, you can choose to be cheerful or let yourself become a tiresome old grouch.  Dr.Viktor Frankl, who was a prisoner in a German concentration camp, said that you always have the option to decide how to deal with extremely negative behavior; you can accept it or reject it.  Practice being cheerful (aka optimistic) even if down deep you don’t really feel cheerful.  As some people say “fake it until you make it”.  Optimism generates energy.
5.  LIVE AND LET LIVE.  I have strong opinions on many (some might say, most) things.  Some other person may have very strongly held opinions different than mine.  Do our differences really warrant going ballistic with the other person?  Thomas Jefferson summed this one up when he said “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock”.  Wouldn’t we both be better off if we simply said, “Let’s agree to disagree and go have a beer?”
6.  DON’T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY.  Realize that there are a lot of smart people in the world and the person you are arguing with may be one of them.  Work on the operating premise that the other person may be right, so don’t bet the farm based upon your point of view.  Haven’t you found that occasionally your memory has failed you?
7.  HAVE A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR.  I am sure that most of us have found that a good sense of humor can diffuse even a rather unpleasant situation.  Believe this concept goes in hand with #6.
8.  PRACTICE OBJECTIVITY.  Before racing to a conclusion, which many of us do in a discussion, try to maintain your objectivity.  Ask questions.  Ask for a definition of terms that will be used.  Are you and your protagonist talking about the same thing?  Many of us belong to the “Ready, Fire. Aim” club.  Would practicing #6 and #7 facilitate your practicing objectivity?  Does a discussion have to be contentious?  It seems to me that far too many discussions quickly become arguments.
9.  FORGIVE YOURSELF.  We all know people who have never forgiven themselves for some past mistake.  Some silly incident plagues them for years after it happened.  Find a way to forgive yourself for your past indiscretions.  There are many good books that could help you do that.  Please come to the recognition that what’s bothering you was in your past: leave it there.  

Perhaps you don’t buy into each and every one of the above techniques, that’s okay.  But maybe adopting one or two of these techniques will serve you well during the New Year.  Please let me know if the process worked for you.  CARPE DIEM.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2021.  And have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!  God Bless

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:  “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past”. President Thomas Jefferson.
“If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles”. Carl von Clausewitz, author of ‘’On War’’

James F. Fitzgerald is president of James F. Fitzgerald & Associates, Inc.; a Naperville, IL based senior executive coaching and career transition firm.  Jamesffitzgerald.com   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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