Happy New Year! High hopes for 2020!

January 15th, 2020 By Catherine Hanna

“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”

‘Tis the season. . . for goals and resolutions! Many people scoff at those of us who make New Year’s Resolutions, claiming they don’t work. That attitude may be accurate for many resolutions – even if we do lose those pounds, aren’t they more likely than not to come right back on? In fact, the trend these days, is to come up with goals or intentions for the year.
I am one of those people who see the new year as an opportunity to revisit and reevaluate my professional and personal goals and for the last few years, I have enthusiastically embraced the idea of a yearly “intention,” despite the skeptics. True, over the course of a busy year, my focus on goals can wane, but being able to refer to a one-word theme for the year can help revive flagging motivation,
My intention for 2020 is positivity. After I came up with it, my husband pointed out that the most fitting goal for 2020 would have something to do with vision, but it was too late for me to revisit my plan, hindsight being . . . oh, you know where that was going.
Why positivity? The practice of law reinforces our natural mammalian tendency toward negativity. In the wild, we had to always be on the lookout for predators. Litigation is similar. In order to protect our clients, we must anticipate and prepare for the worst-case scenario. But as important as it is to be on the lookout for those who might harm our clients, it is also important to not let high anxiety dominate our lives. Stress is bad for your health. Research shows that happy people are healthier. They are also more productive which means that positivity is good for business!
What does this positivity intention mean for me? It does not mean wearing rose-colored glasses. I am not going to suddenly turn into Pollyanna Hanna! As Mary Chapin Carpenter observed, “Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug.” The question is how to make bug juice into lemonade? If you are me, you start by reading about it. The field of positive psychology is thriving and there’s quite a bit of research about how to be happier and healthier at work. There are also a lot of tips and tricks I will be trying out throughout the year. Expressing gratitude and appreciation is a common suggestion – I can do that – as is mindfulness – I’m a work in progress in that regard. One website suggested asking everyone who comes into your office to tell you their favorite joke. I’m skeptical of that suggestion, but that same site also suggests office dogs and I can vouch for the efficacy of that strategy. We’ve wholeheartedly embraced the doggy ethos at Hanna & Plaut. In addition to providing a bright spot in your day, office dogs are also good for getting rid of any crumbs that might reveal you’ve blown your “no unhealthy afternoon snacks” resolution.
So, get ready for 2020 – my year of positivity. I’m still going to zealously advocate for my clients, and I may not always be diplomatic when I tell you that your negotiating position stinks, but I’m not going to go home and complain about it to my family. Instead, I will relate the antics of one of the cute puppers who came to play that day. And if that doesn’t work? My associates should maybe brush up on their stand-up routines!