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One Free Thing That Will Make Your Life Better In 2012

Posted Wednesday, January 4, 2012, at 12:41 PM

I confess -- I'm a resolution maker.

I've found that I'm significantly more successful if I stick to just one realistic resolution. Case in point, "I'm going all organic" in 2003 was a total bust. I was back to Quik Trip corn dogs by mid January.

I've found the best resolutions, those where I reap immediate and lasting benefits, are when I set goals for improving my side of an important relationship.

Here are my 6 favorite high impact resolutions. They don't require any fancy equipment or organizing products. They're free. Pick one, stick with it for thirty days, and you'll find the life improvements astounding.

1. Find something to appreciate about your spouse.

Once you get a negative lens on someone, it's hard to see their finer qualities. I'm sure your spouse has flaws; they may even be big ones. But instead of trying to fix the things you don't like, which rarely works, find something to appreciate about him or her. Your spouse may not change, but when you can change your own inner dialogue, you'll experience a more satisfying relationship.

2. See the world through your boss's eyes.

This one comes from my Dad. Early in my career, he told me, "Find out what'simportant to your boss and make it your business to get it done." Most people come to their boss with complaints. The boss's boss gives them orders and the boss's employees give them obstacles. Be different. Ask your boss what his or her most important goals are and make them a top priority to help the boss achieve his or her goals. You'll likely be the only person who does.

3. Say hello to your neighbors.

It seems small. But it elevates the way you experience your community. When you go to the mailbox or take out the trash, instead of just smiling and nodding, make a point of actually greeting your neighbors. Studies show that people who have meaningful connections with their neighbors enjoy their homes more, and have a better support system in emergencies. None of us is immune to disaster. If you need help in the middle of the night, it's easier to call your neighbors if you know them.

4. Make eye contact with your kids when they talk.

Endless monologues about middle school social lives or what happened at preschool can be, dare I say, boring. But you can turn it into a meaningful experience by giving your child your full attention. When a child, or anyone, experiences your undivided attention the conversation steps up a notch. The speaker, even a young child, subconsciously registers the attention and they become more clear, and thoughtful in output.

5. Don't check email when on the phone at work.

It's tempting, and I'm certainly guilty. But if you can give people on the other end of the phone more attention, your calls will be shorter, and you'll get more done. Even if you only improve by 25%, it will make a big difference, especially with direct reports.

6. If your parents are still living, call them every week.

Very few people regret being kind to their parents. There will be a time when they're not around. They probably weren't perfect, but they're the only parents you've got. Give them a call. Ask about their childhood or ask what they had for dinner, and thank them for bringing you into the world. It will make your day and theirs.

Lisa Earle McLeod helps organizations win the hearts and minds of customers and employees. She is the author of three books included the best-seller, The Triangle of Truth: The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Resolving Conflicts Large and Small, A Washington Post Top 5 Book for Leaders.

She is an international keynote speaker and consultant who has been seen on The Today show and featured in Forbes, Fortune, CEO Read and The Wall Street Journal. You can reach her at www.LisaEarleMcLeod.com.

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Angst is in the air: Be careful it's catching
Lisa Earle McLeod
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I can't take any more. The economy is tanking, the election is endless, and now it looks like I might have to sell my blood if I want to keep my kids in mac 'n cheese. Oh, and did I mention that, thanks to falling house prices, I probably owe more on my home than it's actually worth? I want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and have somebody wake me up when my 401(k) bounces back. I don't know about you, but I'm finding myself so jittery about, well everything, that it's all I can do to surf the net. Kind of ironic, isn't it? I should be working more, but I'm so anxious about my finances that I'm actually working less. Alas, such is the world of grown-ups - stress, anxiety, depression. And to think that I wasted much of my childhood wishing I could be in charge of my own life. Why in the heck did I ever think that was a good idea? Give me a few cookies, a blankey and a nice place to lie down and I swear I'll never complain about an early bedtime again. These are tough times indeed. Even if you're still OK, you'd have to be one cold, hard, rich person to stay immune to all the angst in the air. So how do you cope? How do you get through today when you're so worried about tomorrow that you can't see straight? I overheard a news commentator say that people are thinking twice before they go out to eat or buy new clothes. I'm guessing that those are the people who still have jobs. Because the people without jobs aren't spending a nickel on anything except cheap carbs and keeping a roof over their heads. Yet as depressing as our collective and individual situations may be, the last thing we need to do is let our fear get the best of us. If you spend all day quaking and anxious, guess who wins? The fear. Yes, I know FDR had a roof over his head when he said "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," but he was right. Every moment you waste paralyzed with fear is a moment you could be doing something, or resting up so that you can do something tomorrow. It's been said that there are only two emotions, love and fear, and all the other emotions are derivatives of those. So I'd like to make a suggestion. Let's chose love. Let's decide to love each other and to love ourselves, no matter what happens. And if you're really a Pollyanna, perhaps you'll join me in deciding to love the fact that this crisis is serving as a call for us to become our better selves; a call for us to look within and rid ourselves of consumerism, greed and the need to keep up with the Jones; and a call for us to have more empathy for those who are struggling. Maybe this is a chance for all of us - and I include myself - to decide that we love our country and we love our fellow human beings more than we love our stuff. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey. But you don't change your circumstances until you change the thoughts that created them. Cowering under the covers in fear may feel safer. But in a crisis, the truly powerful response is love. (c) Copyright 2008, by Lisa Earle McLeod. All rights reserved. Lisa Earle McLeod is a keynote speaker, author and nationally syndicated columnist. Her books include "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear." Contact her at www.ForgetPerfect.com.