In the month of December, I’m writing five essays on my New Year’s Resolutions that I’m committing to for 2017. Read the first essay “More Art,” the second essay “Do What I Said I Would… And More,” the third essay “Focus on Growth,” and stay tuned for one essay each on what I want to give back and my 2017 challenge goal. I encourage you to join me in reflecting on your goals for the New Year!

In this fourth of five essays, I’m focusing on what I want to give back in 2017.

I’m the first to admit that as a busy person with lots of projects, I don’t always think about other people as much as I should. Plus, as someone who struggles a bit with emotional intelligence, it’s not something that really comes naturally to me.

In my mind, that’s all the more reason for giving back to be a focus of my 2017 resolutions. The more I plan it, the better off I’ll be and the more likely it will be to happen. There are also so many ways to give back to those around me that are small, yet meaningful.

Here are some areas that I hope to be giving back more in 2017:

More compliments and affirmation. Compliments and verbal affirmation are the easiest and least time consuming things to do, but I know I don’t do them enough. I’ve also gotten out of the habit of regular hand-written notes, which is something I used to do each semester to recognize the people around me and how important they were to my life and work. I’m committing to at least two hand-written notes each month in 2017.

More time and space. When you’re busy, one of the worst things that can happen is that other people don’t think that you have enough time for them. Although this is something I’m careful about, I want to use 2017 to build in more opportunities to interact with people where they don’t feel like they are interrupting my other work. I’m toying with some open office hours at work and I’m going to try and better use my vacation time. For example, a conference trip in June is taking me back to Boston where I lived for about five years. I’ve added on an extra day to the trip to spend with a good friend while I’m there.

More attention. Like many others, I’m pretty easily distracted by email, social media, my to-do list, and a million other things when I’m supposed to be focusing on someone right in front of me. In 2017, I’m planning to focus more on keeping my attention in check through closing down my email during meetings in my office, turning my phone face-down during meetings outside of my office so I can’t see notifications, and not looking at a screen (phone, computer, or otherwise) when I’m supposed to be talking with someone in my office or in my home.

More intentionality. In the rush of moving from project to project, it can be easy to let intentionality and purposefulness fall to the wayside. However, it is intentionality and purposefulness that help people to see that you really care about their well-being and/or the success of the project at hand. In 2017, I’m committing to upping my game with emotional intelligence to ensure that I’m thinking carefully about what I can give to make a person feel valued or for a project to have the most successful outcome possible. I’m also committing to read a book on emotional intelligence this year to help myself meet this goal (this book is at the top of my list).

To think on:

  • What gifts can you offer to those around you? What are your areas of strength and abundance?
  • How do you plan to give back in 2017?