Don’t Be Defeated Again | Quality Digest

19. Get more learning through your earbuds

Whom do you need to seek out for guidance or direction?

24. Be soil… not dirt

What is one activity in your day that consistently takes more time than it should?

While seeking advice can sometimes be uncomfortable, it’s an incredibly effective way for us to improve at almost anything. We have so many blind spots that others can help us identify. It doesn’t have to be anything formal. Just start the conversation by saying, “This year, I’d really like to improve on ____. Do you have a couple of insights on how I can do better?” Just start the conversation by saying, “This year, I’d really like to improve on ____.” 

With that frame of mind, here are 24 ways I believe you can move your work and life forward this year.

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‘Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.’—Margaret Wheatley

May this new year be so much better than the last one!

Who are three people you want to invest in this week?

Can’t implies that the resources aren’t available, or the issue is so difficult it’s almost impossible. Won’t reminds us that we too often don’t want to make ourselves or others uncomfortable to make something happen. For a deeper dive into this concept, read “What’s the One Word That’s Really Holding You Back?” 

5. Intentionally invest in at least one person each day

9. Set boundaries

17. Have three ‘its’ per day

However, someone has to pay for this content. And that’s where advertising comes in. Most people consider ads a nuisance, but they do serve a useful function besides allowing media companies to stay afloat. They keep you aware of new products and services relevant to your industry. All ads in Quality Digest apply directly to products and services that most of our readers need. You won’t see automobile or health supplement ads.

10. Be a fanatic about finishing

What’s one thing you need to reduce your desire to control?

What’s an it for you tomorrow? This week?

What type of environment are you creating as a leader? How can you help your team members grow this year by the way you work with them?

12. Start with being instead of doing


Don’t Be Defeated Again

24 tips to make 2024 better than last year

1. Plan for all three rings of your circus

What actions can you be taking right now that will start you feeling better today?

What skills or insights are you looking to strengthen this year?

3. Spend more time ‘becoming’ instead of simply doing

What tasks do you need to more closely quantify to see how much time they are taking up in your day?

Getting face-to-face time with people (or even phone calls) is more rare than ever. However, it’s these moments that often tell us volumes more about a person’s thoughts, feelings, and fears than we could extract from a hundred emails or a thousand text messages. Make it a personal goal to remove or minimize any distractions to having a deeper conversation. Reflect on everything from your body language, voice tone, ability to listen, and even putting down that electronic device that is normally glued to your hand. For more about being a better listener, read “Strong Leaders Need to Be Level 3 Listeners.” 

Who do you (or will you) invite into your life this year who will help you keep a healthy perspective on your work and life?

You can read more in-depth about the concept in this article, but a simple definition for humble bragging is making a self-deprecating statement to draw attention to yourself, like saying, “I only got four hours of sleep last night because I was finishing the proposal,” or, “My weekend is so packed I don’t know where I’ll find any time for myself.” When I hear comments like those, I question the people’s willingness to make better choices with how they are using their time. If someone wants to impress me, they can say things like, “Last week I started handling interruptions better, and I doubled my productivity,” or, “I was so tired of not being present with my family in the evenings I started leaving my phone in the car for at least two hours after work.”

4. Ask for help more often

7. Stop trying to control everything

I saw this one in a post at Just because you’re tired at the end of the day doesn’t mean you filled the day with meaningful activities. A good litmus test of your daily success is to ask, “Do I feel gratified by what I did today… or empty?” Finding something to be grateful for in each day becomes easier with practice. So don’t stop!

We cripple our brain’s ability to think clearly when we imprint so many possibilities on it and leave it to work on all of them. Before taking on any task, ask yourself, “What does finished look like?” and allow yourself enough time to complete the task when scheduling it. If you can’t finish it, at least schedule time on your calendar when you will come back and get it done. Your brain will thank you.

23. Stop the silence

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Several years ago, every few days I had the privilege of caring for my 95-year-old aunt. I could have a million things running through my head and feel like I truly was juggling elephants—until I sat down with her. All of those “first world problems” just no longer seemed so important.

15. Manage your minutes as intensely as you do your hours

14. Use ‘won’t’ more and ‘can’t’ less

Which is better—practicing avoidance behaviors, or working through the tough stuff to get the results you want?

What are some “humble brags” you should stop using to try and draw attention to your unwillingness to better manage your time?


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Who needs more than a simple no from you?

Its are “important things” as described in my book Getting to It (Harper Business, 2013). As you plan your day, always identify your three its. They may be three work its, or a combination of work and personal its. Discover them by saying to yourself, “If I only get three things done today, they would be….” This helps you focus your energy for the day and ensure you go to bed that night with fewer regrets. You may get more than three done, but you know what has to be done.

What are two tasks you need to finish that would free up your brain’s resources for other things?

18. Stop the humble bragging

Whether it’s on how long you have for a work conversation, number of times you will check your email per day, the number of notifications you allow on your smartphone, or how available you are to others, know and communicate those boundaries. Too often we are so accessible in the moment that we are inaccessible to the deeper work that needs to be done. An illuminating read on the subject of boundaries is Henry Cloud’s Boundaries for Leaders (Harper Business, 2013).

When people request your time, don’t miss the chance to educate them on the priorities, commitments, or obligations that cause you to say no. It helps them more clearly understand your motives, conditions that might cause you to say yes, and possible availability in the future.

21. Gratifying exhaustion vs. empty fatigue

As Les Brown says, “Ask for help, not because you’re weak but because you want to remain strong.” There are going to be those times when you just can’t tackle it all, all by yourself. Sometimes you might need to reach out to a co-worker. But asking for help isn’t always easy. This article from Indeed offers some great tips on how and when to ask someone for help. 

Where would a consistent routine help you with your time management?

8. Seek advice and really listen to it

Where would established boundaries help you better focus on other tasks?

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Building capacity in those around you helps ensure you have the team you need to accomplish your professional and personal goals. Remember the African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

What’s one area of your life where you’re holding yourself back because you won’t do something?

Published: Thursday, February 1, 2024 – 12:02

16. Be boring

6. Pre- and post-quantify any task

What is one activity you should start doing to improve your personal wellness?

In case you’re new to my work, I co-authored a book called Juggling Elephants (Portfolio, 2007) that suggests you need to manage your life like it’s a circus. At the heart of the model is that you have three rings: work, self, and relationships. The question that always tells the tale is, “Which ring do you neglect most often?” We somehow believe that we can be our best at work by consistently sacrificing our personal wellness and relationships with others. Sound familiar? For more about managing your life in circus mode, read “Balance, Blend, or Blur: Keep Your Eyes on the Big 3.”

By now you will have already broken one or more of your resolutions for the new year. You didn’t mean to; it was just so hard to keep that major commitment. While I do believe in setting worthwhile and measurable goals for a new year, I prefer identifying small changes I can sustain throughout the year as opposed to vague or emotionally driven resolutions. For example, using the quote, “Do creative work first, reactive work second,” was a small yet powerful change I made in my daily plan a few years ago, and it served me much more effectively than saying something like, “I resolve to be happier.”

11. Deliver a more educational no when needed

In his enlightening book Meaningful Work (TarcherPerigee, 2017), Shawn Askinosie shares his experiences of spending time with monks and how he learned to use his insights to create his own rhythms for work and life. He highlights how monks move from being to doing and then back to being, while we so often start from doing and rarely take time to be. I see this play out in how most people handle their mornings. Instead of using those first few minutes of the day to reflect and nourish their body and soul, they spend it in a hurried rush to get to work and the next task. This year, challenge yourself to use the first and last 10 minutes of the day to simply be in the moment, not focused on getting something done, but on the person you are and who you want to become.

22. Compare yourself to… yourself

What are the small time ticks draining the life blood out of your day? We tend to discount the value of five minutes here or there in a day, but over the course of a year, five minutes a day adds up to more than 30 hours.

20. Don’t wait to feel like taking action

How will you spend the first 10 minutes of your day? Being or doing?

To free up mental (and physical) time for more important things, develop routines for everything from choosing what to wear to the food you have for breakfast. Make every Tuesday dinner at your house “Taco Tuesday.” The goal is to minimize the time spent on the less important stuff so you can focus on the bigger picture.

What’s an area of your life where you have been avoiding feedback?

As Kelly the gardener says in my book Always Growing (Elucidate Publishing, 2017), “Dirt is what you get on your pants.” In horticultural terms, soil provides the structure and nutrients to help seeds and plants grow. As a leader, you have a similar opportunity to help those around you grow. And while formal training courses and job assignments are a part of that process, nothing has a greater effect than your day-to-day engagement with your team.

What’s one item on your calendar each day that represents an activity that will help you become more of the person you want to be?

Published Jan. 8, 2024, on Jones Loflin’s blog.