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Starting the New Year Right

Starting the new year right is probably more important this year than ever before. After all, 2020 was one of the most annus horribiles of the last century, and its aftermath continues to make its presence known. Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to push the reset button and embrace the new year. Here are some ideas for starting 2021 off with renewed focus and clarity.

Reaffirm your purpose. 

When change is as constant and intense as it has been, it’s easy for any organization to lose its focus and muddle its message. That has real costs, such as inefficiencies, lost opportunities, under-met needs, and misunderstandings that can damage even the strongest working relationships. Take a minute to reassess what you do best relative to what’s needed most and reaffirm your focus on it. For example, you may have taken on meeting a need that someone else is already addressing. If it’s not your core competency, move it off your plate and onto theirs.

Rethink your lists. 

Most of us keep lists of things we need to do, research, decide, or say. But beyond the tactical, two other lists may help you rock 2021. In his book, 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, Peter Bregman writes about the need for a Focus List (the road ahead) and an Ignore List (the distractions). Just like we can become nose blind to smells, you can become blind to the distractions that plague us every day. For example, our U.S. Elections and the pandemic anxieties may have led some of us to continually play the news in the background. It might be a good one for the Ignore List.

Reimagine your people. 

Spend some time thinking about what your world will look like when the vaccine has reached the majority of people. What will be like the good ole days? What will be slightly different? Radically different? Try to get into the heads of those your messaging reaches and consider what they may want and need to hear when that day comes. As always, remember to include your employees in that mix as well. For example, what kind of support may they need as their children return to school?

Review your vibe. 

No matter what your message is about, it has to have an emotional component (unless, of course, you don’t want people to believe, remember, or embrace it). But what emotion is right? The best place to start is with your organization’s personality attributes. If it were a person, what adjectives would you hope people use to describe it? If you identify the characteristics that make your organization unique, you’re well on your way to finding the emotions that will make your messaging sing. For example, if one of your attributes is optimistic, look for ways to imbue that concept into your writing.

Resist the temptation to look back.

Boy did 2020 suck! And, as we mentioned, its residue will be here for a long time. However, resist the temptation to relive the horror. What’s done is done. Focus instead on the new year that is unfolding. For example, yes, we had to cancel countless events in 2020, but instead of talking about the cancellations and the way events used to be, think about what future events will look like and how they will benefit from what we’ve learned about working virtually.

Starting the new year right also requires recommitting to staying positive. Attitude is everything. It’s essential to have faith in ourselves, knowing that we will figure out whatever new challenge comes our way. As author Roy T. Bennett says, “No amount of regret will change the past, and no amount of worry will change the future.”

Focus on the positivity of each moment.

Douglas Spencer

Douglas Spencer is founder and president of Spencer Brenneman and an independent consultant with the 2GO Advisory Group. Douglas is a brand strategist who helps mission-driven organizations reframe their focus and remaster their messaging to thrive in any environment. He has more than 30 years of branding and marketing experience, working with professionals from around the world in verticals such as financial and professional services, high tech, higher education, healthcare, and not-for-profits. He has worked with professionals from around the world in verticals such as financial and professional services, healthcare, biotech, media, and nonprofit. Before starting Spencer Brenneman he was most recently Vice President, Global Head of Brand Management for Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of intelligent information with offices in more than 100 countries worldwide. In that role, he guided the migration of the multiple Thomson and Reuters businesses to form the new Thomson Reuters brand which consistently ranked within the top 50 of Interbrand's Best Global Brands survey. Douglas is also the author of Do They Care, a book that shows business leaders how they can create meaningful connections with customers, employees, and others. He is a frequent speaker on how strong brands improve business performance through strategic alignment, employee engagement, brand governance, verbal and visual identities and more.

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