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  • Writer's pictureNicole Provonchee

Make 2019 Your Best Year Yet!

Earlier this month, Michelle Obama almost broke the Internet.

Her comments about Sheryl Sandberg's philosophy of leaning in blew up Twitter, Facebook and all my favorite news sites. I imagined women across the nation sharing a collective sly glance as they nodded in agreement: "That sh*t doesn't work."

Her comments are worth reading in full: "Marriage still ain't equal, y'all. It ain't equal. I tell women that whole 'you can have it all' — mmm, nope, not at the same time, that's a lie. It's not always enough to lean in because that s*** doesn't work."

I have to agree with Michelle - in so many ways, for women, and for men that want more work/life balance, that sh*t doesn't work!

(Editor's Update: It is worth checking out this opinion piece in Fortune Magazine by Rachel Thomas, the head of the Lean In organization. She addresses Michelle Obama's comments and many of the common concerns shared about what "Lean In" was meant to mean and where it has been taken...)

So What Can Work for You in 2019?

While it is helpful to cut ourselves some slack and acknowledge what does not work, it is inherently more helpful to lean into some strategies that actually work.

As I coach women of varying seniority across a range of industries, I have found that there are several skills that you must master to get ahead at work while not leaving your entire life behind. Here are a few I encourage you to think about trying out or revisiting in the New Year.

Manage Up (but don't suck up).

Finding out what makes your boss tick and leveraging it to your advantage may become your new superpower in 2019. Performed well, managing up can ensure you deliver what your boss needs WHILE ALSO enhancing the odds that you will get what you need. It is a win-win for both!

How to do it well?

Start with HBR's deep dive on Managing Up. If you don't have 30 minutes to spare, check out this article that summarizes common scenarios when managing up to a wide variety of boss types. And, check out this quick read with questions you can use to get started.

Read the Right Book. (or Two).

One of the best investments you can make is picking up a book that can help you be better at work and life.

Two favorites that I suggest: How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith and Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu. Sally and Marshall will teach you about the habits that may be holding you back from your own success and Tiffany will teach you about the power of dropping a few of the balls you are always juggling. Both books are smart and very empowering.

What better way to start 2019?

We all have them - a behavior that holds us back from our best self. Ask yourself: What is holding be back. What can I change that would make me more successful?

Then commit to change it.

How? You may already know the answer, but are just too comfortable (or afraid) to change it. You can start by asking two trusted colleagues how they might approach conquering this habit or limiting belief. Try out their advice for a week and see what happens.

Or, find a book or podcast that deals with the issue you want to conquer. Love podcasts? HBR's Women at Work or the Broad Experience are fabulous choices for anyone trying to manage issues common to women in the workplace.

And, you can always consider coaching (hint, hint).

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2019!

Nicole Provonchee is an executive coach to women leaders, their teams and the companies that employ them. She also works with leaders to create strategic plans that actually work and empower leaders to lead with clarity and purpose. Reach out if you wish to schedule a complimentary 30 minute coaching session.

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