How to make – and keep – New Year’s resolutions

happy-new-year-business

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?

If you’re like me, these are the “things I said I would do,” including my goals, desired accomplishments, behavior changes, and so on. Contemplating the bold new world of 2017 deserves some focused thought leading to action, right?

The challenge is the “leading to action” part. Wishful thinking and “desired” results will take us just so far.

What’s on your resolutions list for 2017? How do you plan to turn your intentions into reality? Are your commitments realistic and achievable, and what will you need to do to make them happen?

By the end of 2017, if we look at our list of unfulfilled resolutions, we’ll probably move them into the “items to trash” bucket. We might resurrect them for the “new” new year. Time marches on.

Perhaps we should create a smaller list of “to-dos.” Let’s identify the key ideas worthy of our attention. Things we can and should do – and actions that will make a difference to others.

At the top of my list is blogging more. I will continue to share insights with followers on ways to become a more confident, effective speaker, and offer some best practice tips for writing.

Stay tuned and welcome to 2017!

 

About 2017

new-year-hope

Poverty and homelessness in Dallas

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Perception isn’t always reality. In spite of all the DFW corporate relocations and business expansions – good news – in Dallas the homeless population increased 21 percent over the past year due to a combination of high rates of poverty and shortages of affordable housing.

Among the findings presented to the Dallas City Council’s Housing Committee by the Dallas Commission on Homelessness, Dallas has the highest number of people living 185 percent below the poverty line of any American city. It has the second highest number of people living 100 percent below the poverty line.

Along with homelessness, a recent post in FrontBurner by the editors of D Magazine also focused on the city’s community development needs. Some of the facts:

  • Dallas’ median income has declined since 1989.
  • Over 27,300 residents live in poverty despite having full-time employment.
  • Over half of Dallas households make less than $50,000 per year, and 28.6 percent make less than $25,000.
  • Compared to other Texas cities, Dallas has the highest percentage of individuals without a high school diploma and the lowest percentage of residents who hold college degree.
  • 38 percent of Dallas children live in poverty, 20 percent have no health insurance, 28 percent have inadequate food and nutrition, 160,000 children are obese, and 60,000 have asthma.
  • Less than 20 percent of jobs are accessible by transit in less than 90 minutes, and more than 70 percent of HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) assisted properties are unaffordable when housing and transportation costs are combined.

Is there any good news? Between 2011 and 2016 the city of Houston reduced chronic homelessness by 76 percent thanks to a collaboration with HUD. As the Frontburner article suggests, there are successful models in place to address the issue of homelessness. Dallas just needs to find the leadership and funding to implement it.

 

At the intersection of caring

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Today’s wake-up call arrived in this email:

The other person is always right

Always right about feelings.

About the day he just experienced.

About the fears (appropriate and ill-founded) in his life.

About the narrative going on, unspoken, in his head.

About what he likes and what he dislikes.

You’ll need to travel to this place of ‘right’ before you have any chance at all of actual communication.

This is the synchronicity of the universe. This is the message I needed to hear today from Seth Godin, the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world. Seth writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip and Purple Cow.

And here’s a related blog post from Seth worth reading today, If not now, when?

Embrace caring. Imagine what you can do through change.

How to spot “fake news” on social media

Although the topic isn’t new, the recent election has recharged the discussion on “fake news” in social media.
fake-news-in-your-newsfeed

 
What is fake news?

It’s information or data appearing on various social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter or other social sites – that readers often accept as real. Sadly, it isn’t necessarily true or factual.


What makes this “news” incredibly troubling (other than the fact it’s “fake”) is that a majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get their news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

Now consider students. As a former college professor teaching public speaking, I explained why key points and messaging in presentations required  – no, demanded – the use of evidence. Objective data and facts from reliable sources. We covered how to source that information. Yet effectively evaluating source and site credibility was an issue for many student researchers.

In a Stanford Graduate School of Education study cited in an NPR article:

Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there, the researchers wrote. Our work shows the opposite.

Gone are the days of “depending” on others to vet sources, according to Stanford researcher Sam Wineberg, a professor in the Stanford University Graduate School of Education cited in the NPR news story.

The kinds of duties that used to be the responsibility of editors, of librarians now fall on the shoulders of anyone who uses a screen to become informed about the world. And so the response is not to take away these rights from ordinary citizens but to teach them how to thoughtfully engage in information seeking and evaluating in a cacophonous democracy.

We can do better. And we must.

Give from the heart on Giving Tuesday

 

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As everyone recuperates from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, today is #GivingTuesday, a great opportunity to give back to your community. You can search for nonprofits in your neighborhood, explore volunteer opportunities, or donate to a charity or organization that has impacted your life.

One of the organizations I support is Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs. And through today, every donation made will be matched dollar for dollar up to the first $20,000.

Now’s the time to help others! Find out more at Give a Dog a Job and check out Giving Tuesday

 

Finding my way

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Love. Orbit belongs to Dawn Thompson, CCI puppy raiser. Holiday shopping is tough!

I’ve been struggling to make sense of what’s going on in our country today. Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is approaching. Yet I see so much hatred. So much division. What can I do?

Here’s my plan. Listen. Love. Act. I’ll do what I can to make the world we live in – together – a better place.

I’m volunteering to support causes I believe in, including refugee assistance. I’ll continue my work with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support.

We can’t all see eye to eye; I know that. I probably won’t change minds or hearts. I know that, too. What I can do is show love to all, regardless of personal opinions. I’ll hug my dog Levi more often. I’ll continue to speak up for what I believe in; to do otherwise would damage my soul. I refuse to succumb to spoken and written words of ugliness.

I’m praying for peace and kindness. Join me.

Speaker anxiety? Try this

Levi reads

 

Here’s a winning combination and it makes perfect sense to me. Connect “audience dogs” with speakers to help alleviate speaker anxiety! I love dogs and teach public speaking.

I’ve already shared this information with my friends at Canine Companions for Independence – an organization helping people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs. They opened a new CCI training facility just last year in Irving, Texas.

Communication is easier with a friend. Watch this video.

Woof!

P.S. The picture you see here is my dog Levi, an adopted terrier mix. In the interest of full disclosure, he isn’t a trained audience dog.

 

 

Animal abuse, domestic violence are connected

dog-abuse 2Beating a dog can indicate even darker tendencies

Hopefully the young man in this Dallas News story – a college football player – gets help. I couldn’t watch the video as part of the story.

College grads, employers want these skills

COMMUNICATION 3

A recent article in Forbes discussed the skills bosses say new college grads don’t have. Writing proficiency and public speaking skills were among the top “hard skills” graduates lacked, according to a survey conducted by PayScale, an online benefits and compensation information company.

Sadly, I wasn’t surprised.

My experience as a marketing director in the corporate world – reviewing job applications and interviewing recent college graduates for entry-level marketing and public relations opportunities – was eye-opening, even years ago. Many emails, resumes and cover letters had typos, incomplete sentences and other grammar errors. And even when a job candidate was selected to come in for an interview (based on their resume, job app, and phone screen), their basic communication skills could be disappointing. (Yes, I know it can be really stressful as an interviewee – I’ve been there, too – but you’ve got to be prepared to handle an interviewer’s questions with confidence.)

Whether you’re a recent college graduate looking for a challenging job, an employee seeking advancement opportunities within your company, or a career changer, additional training or instruction may be needed to enhance your communication skills. For current employees, many organizations offer education/training programs for skills development or continuing education. Take advantage of these opportunities.

Read the Forbes article