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December 22, 2023

Reflections and Resolutions: Looking Back to Move Forward:


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Another year-end dose of reflections and resolutions? There’s no better time for some of it. The past few years have been a whirlwind and there are many lessons to be learnt. Join us as we look back on 2023 and beyond and share our ideas for a better 2024. We can create positive change and make a better world for ourselves and those around us. 

As our planet makes another turn around the sun, let’s take a little time for reflections and resolutions. We have a timely opportunity to pause, ponder and set intentions for the future while gleaning insights from the past.

Reflections offer the invaluable gift of introspection, allowing us to assess achievements, setbacks and lessons learned, paving the way for informed goal-setting and continuous growth. Meanwhile, resolutions can provide a sense of purpose and direction, motivating us to strive for self-improvement and positive change.

It's time to set some goals for the year ahead based on what we've learned from the years past.
It’s time to set some goals for the year ahead based on what we’ve learned from the years past.

With an eye on the past, let’s look at five areas (covering a mixture of the personal and the professional) where we can do better for the future. 

Integrate sustainability

If you haven’t already, now is a good time to integrate sustainability into your business practices and strategy. The world is grappling with the increasingly dire consequences of climate change and resource depletion.

Here in Australia, we experienced firsthand the worsening bushfires and floods in the past couple of years, while ocean acidification and habitat loss are driving the extinction of many native species. Beyond being a moral responsibility as a citizen of the planet, running your business in a sustainable manner ensures its longevity and resilience in the face of environmental challenges. Moreover, consumers are increasingly environmentally conscious, making sustainable business practices not just a choice but a market demand. One piece of research from 2020 showed that nearly six in 10 consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. Nearly eight in 10 said that sustainability is important for them.

In the coming year, resolve to run your business sustainably, which will be friendly toward our environment and better for your bottom line in the long run.
In the coming year, resolve to run your business sustainably. It will be friendlier toward our environment and better for your bottom line in the long run.

Additionally, adopting sustainability can result in significant cost savings through waste reduction, resource efficiency and energy conservation. Besides minimising the impact on the environment, implementing eco-friendly processes and green technologies also improves operational efficiency and reduces long-term expenses.

Furthermore, businesses that integrate sustainability into their operations are more likely to adhere to evolving regulatory standards. Governments worldwide are enacting stricter environmental regulations, and companies that proactively comply with these policies will be in a better position to navigate legal landscapes with minimal disruptions.

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Invest in people

One of the lessons that the Great Resignation hammered home is that there is more to life than work. And when we do work, there are better and more meaningful ways to do so. Employees clamoured not just for favourable work arrangements, but better work-life balance, mental wellbeing and worthwhile career growth.

So, in the year ahead, resolve to prioritise and invest in your people. One of the best ways to do this is through professional development. A study by Deloitte of nearly 3,900 workers worldwide found that only 34% are happy with their organisation’s investment in improving their skills and performance. Nearly half of all workers surveyed are prepared to leave their organisation if offered a buyout or severance package. Such studies make it clear that more employees are seeking career development and opportunities for professional growth from their employers rather than just piecemeal perks.

This year, have a plan to develop your teams through coaching, training and skill enhancement.
This year, have a plan to develop your teams through coaching, training and skill enhancement.

Providing professional coaching or mentoring for key employees have demonstrable benefits not just for the individuals but the organisation as a whole. The payoffs become clear when employees apply enhanced problem-solving, creative thinking and leadership skills to their work. Besides improved performance, the company will see a return on investment from more engaged employees and better retention of staff.   

Be agile

Reflections of the past few years will remind us that change is a constant. We witnessed a global pandemic, a war in Europe and the Middle East, inflation, unemployment, supply chain disruptions, and lives and businesses completely upended. We saw retirement savings shrink, jobs cut, businesses downsize or close completely, and families requiring government handouts to get by.

On a personal and professional level, we realise that resilience and agility are necessary qualities to carry us through turbulent times. Resilience will give us the strength and will to dig deep and weather the storms. Agility lets us shift gears and pivot quickly to adjust to changing circumstances.

Being agile means being prepared for and able to navigate through turbulent times to emerge relatively intact.
Being agile means being prepared for and able to navigate through turbulent times to emerge relatively intact.

We cannot prepare for every eventuality. But, there are steps we can all take to be more flexible and reduce the impact of negative outcomes. One trait that experts frequently recommend is to innovate. Foster a culture of innovation, and continuous learning and improvement within your organisation. Whether it’s in technology, processes or people management, innovation will help you to roll with the punches. Just take digital disruption as an example. Companies that were quick to realise it wasn’t just a temporary trend and changed course to adapt soon surged ahead of their competition.

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Another step to achieve resilience is one that fund managers like to advise their clients: diversify. This can be applied not just to your organisation but also to your personal investment portfolio. The old adage of not putting all your eggs in one basket holds true, especially when markets and the business landscape get unpredictable. Diversifying will help reduce your overall risk.

Get healthier

As cliché as it sounds, health really is wealth. Without health in body, mind and spirit, you are hampered from living your best life and doing your best work. This becomes all too clear when a common cold causes you to take double the time to complete a straightforward task. Plans are cancelled because you’re stuck in bed, or when stress and anxiety lead to sleepless nights and poor judgment. To be in a better state of health frequently tops the charts when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, and for good reason.

Whether it’s to lose weight, exercise more, or quit (enter the vice of your choice) , these are all respectable goals. And while chances are high that we will be unable to sustain our health resolutions for the entire year (a survey by Forbes found that the average resolution lasts just 3.74 months), look at it this way: you would still be striving toward better health for at least three months of the year!

There are innumerable benefits to having better health and fitness, and it's never too late to start
There are innumerable benefits to having better health and fitness, and it’s never too late to start

The key is to look beyond the coming year and to turn your health resolution into a part of your life; a habit, if you will. If you want lasting change, short-term measures won’t cut it. As an example, a huge amount of evidence has shown that diets don’t work. One can follow the current fad diet for a few weeks. But eventually, he/she will fall off the wagon and regain the pounds. However, if you choose to build a habit instead of tackling just another New Year’s resolution, you will approach your goal differently and increase the likelihood of having real change. To start, why not read our article on how to build good habits?

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Make room for contentment

Note that our reflections and resolutions are not about “how to be happy”. While it’s something that is universally sought after, there is no magic pill, no step-by-step guide to true happiness. The very idea of happiness is deeply personal and subjective for each individual. However, what we can work towards is being content. Contentment can perhaps be defined as an ease of mind, a certain serenity. 

Reducing social media

One of the most significant ways to bring peace of mind is to get off social media. Or at least cut down on it. In 2023, an estimated 4.9 billion of us across the world are on six to seven social media platforms every month. They are spending an average of 145 minutes every day. It is not doing us any favours. Numerous studies (like this, and this) have found that social media can lead to tremendous stress. It pressures you to compare with others. It increases sadness and isolation and aggravates mental health problems.

For the year ahead, let’s resolve to not partake and contribute to the cesspool of human behaviour that is often found on social media platforms. We can do much better with 145 minutes of each day – read more, scroll less. Stop comparing with others. Stop buying more to make yourself feel better. Our self-worth is not tied to our stuff. And it’s definitely not tied to showing off how much better we are than our neighbours.

Gratitude

On a related point, one of the top ways to discover contentment is to cultivate gratitude. We all have something to be grateful for, from loved ones to good health, from a stable income to the items we already own. Consider keeping a gratitude journal and jotting just one thing a day you are grateful for. A daily recording of reflections and resolutions for a better tomorrow is a good habit. Look back on it at the end of 2024 and you will realise you have more than you imagined.

We can find contentment in our loved ones, our circumstances and our surroundings. There's always something to be grateful for.
We can find contentment in our loved ones, our circumstances and our surroundings. There’s always something to be grateful for.

Have an awesome year ahead!

As we enter the new year, armed with our reflections and resolutions, we have another opportunity to cultivate a life rich in purpose and meaning. Yes, the uncharted waters of the future can be daunting and we will never know what the coming year might hold. But by learning from the past, we can build confidence for the future. And remember that you are not alone on this journey; help and guidance are always available. Our expertise can help motivate you and keep you on track to achieve your resolutions. Get in touch with us.

Cheers to a better, healthier, more rewarding 2024!

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