It’s the New Year, that time when everyone looks forward to a fresh start. Many people make resolutions such as lose weight, exercise more and eat better. Those are all worthy goals, but what if instead you focused on being a better person? A person who made great first and lasting impressions and who was more likeable? Seem daunting? Sure, if you had to make a bunch of changes all at once it would be overwhelming and it would be hard to be successful. Instead, I encourage you to focus on one change each month. At the end of 2015 I guarantee you’ll be a better, more likeable person.
January: Be Courteous
For the month of January we’ll start with a relatively easy goal to be courteous. Hold the door open for others, let people get on the elevator first, give an older person or pregnant woman your seat on the bus. Say please and thank you. Smile at others. These things may seem small, but they have a big impact on others.
February: Be Nice To Everyone
February’s goal is to show the love to everyone you meet. You may feel someone is not important to your career but when you treat everyone with the same respect and kindness no matter their title, job, physical condition or popularity you will be memorable.
There is a man with Down syndrome who hangs out at the community center near my house. The two times I’ve seen him, he has jumped up and excitedly greeted me while telling me his name is Larry. I always smile, as do most of the others Larry greets at the Center. He doesn’t care if people are rich, poor, old, young, friendly or standoffish; he gives everyone the same warm greeting. What if you did the same thing? What if you gave the janitor in your building the same level of attention as the CEO? Give it a shot for just 28 days. You’ll be as popular as Larry.
March: Spruce up Your Wardrobe
Spring is in the air in March, so let’s focus on some wardrobe spring cleaning. Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit, is out of style, is worn out or just doesn’t flatter you. Take an inventory of what you need to take your wardrobe to the next level. Whether you shop at the Goodwill or Neiman Marcus, purchase some quality items that flatter you and make you look your best. And, if you could use a helpful second opinion many stores have personal shoppers who will guide you for free. Or, hire an image consultant. I can personally attest that it’s money well spent.
April: Don’t Gossip
April showers bring May flowers, but raining people with gossip only flourishes bad will. For the 30 days of April, I encourage you to avoid sharing and participating in gossip. While it may seem people love when you gossip with them and you may feel all-knowing and all-powerful for having “the dirt”, people will lose respect for you faster than you can say “Have you noticed how much weight John has gained?” When you gossip people wonder what you’re saying behind their backs and don’t trust you. If someone shares gossip with you choose to not participate. Simply say, “I’ve always just noticed what a nice guy John is.” And then change the subject or find an excuse to graciously leave the room.
May: Remember Names
Dale Carnegie wrote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Isn’t it wonderful when people remember your name? Don’t you feel important? You can make people feel important by remembering and using their name. Here’s the trick, you have to really pay attention to that person when you’re introduced to him. You also need to repeat the name in your head as well as speak it three times to help cement it. And, don’t give yourself a pass by saying you’re bad at remembering names. Anyone can be good at if you put your mind to it.
June: Let Others Have Their Moment
When your neighbor tells you she’s traveling to China don’t jump in and talk about your upcoming trip to Croatia. Let your neighbor share her excitement before bringing up your “me too” moment. Ask her about her trip itinerary, what she’s looking forward to seeing and doing and what made her choose China as a vacation destination. In other words, focus on her and not on yourself. Encourage her to bathe in her moment of glory before sharing yours.
July: Don’t Brag
Following on the heels of June’s focus is July’s adherence to not bragging. To brag is to talk about yourself, your achievements, your family, etc., in a way that shows too much pride, according to Merriam Webster. While you can certainly share your successes if asked, don’t volunteer them. Let others brag for you. I am always impressed when I meet someone who is modest and later I learn of her achievements.
Here’s a good rule to follow. If what you’re going to share doesn’t add to the conversation, rather it suddenly takes the conversation from we to me, you are bragging. Keep it to yourself.
August: Don’t Judge
August is the month to stop being judgmental, and that includes judging yourself as well as others. Judgment comes from fear – fear of not being liked, fear of being hurt and fear of not fitting in. Acknowledge your fear and then stop your judging thoughts. In fact, spend the first half of the month halting that negative little voice that picks on you, is never satisfied and finds fault, to one that is kind and forgiving. Rather than berating yourself for forgetting someone’s name, praise yourself for being a good friend. Find the good in yourself; then, and only then, focus on not judging others for the rest of August.
We all want to be loved and appreciated. When you look for the good in yourself and others, you’ll find it.
September: Be a Good Listener
Have you ever walked away from a conversation with someone and thought, wow, that person was really interesting? And then you realized you did most of the talking while the other person listened, asked good questions and showed a true interest in what you were saying. The most fascinating conversationalists are the ones who are sincerely interested in you.
For the month of September, try listening more than you talk. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, focus on being curious about the other person and ask question that allow you to learn more about her.
October: Appreciate Others
Each day this month, find one person to acknowledge. Say thank you to the person who makes the coffee at work, let a friend know how much you appreciate his friendship, express gratitude to your mail carrier for braving the elements day after day to bring you your mail. At the end of the month, you’ll have brightened 31 people’s days by taking a moment to express your appreciation.
November: Keep Your Opinions to Yourself
November is election month, a good month to not force your opinions on others. People do not like having the opinions of others pushed on them. Your sharing about why your candidate, your vegan diet or home schooling your kids is better will not convince anyone to see things your way. In fact, it usually does the opposite. So, even if you know for a fact that a vegan diet will prolong your coworker’s life, keep it to yourself. If someone really wants to know why you do what you do or thinks the way you do, they’ll ask.
I say this as someone who often has strong opinions. If you see tape over my mouth in November, you’ll know why.
December: Be Patient
When the person in the check-out line can’t find her discount card and apologizes for taking too long tell her to take her time. If the car in front of you is slow to get moving at the green light, don’t get upset. One or two extra minutes will not ruin your schedule. By being patient with others you are being thoughtful. You’ll also feel more relaxed. And in the busy month of December that is a wonderful gift for everyone.
There you have it, 12 months to a better you. I’ll be posting reminders about each month’s focus on my Facebook page and LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. I hope you’ll take the 12 month challenge with me. Even if you focus on just one or two changes I guarantee you’ll benefit.