How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Welcome to another new year; another chance to renew yourself, grow, and spread your unique influence. Some may feel it is cheesy, but the new year represents rebirth for us all. A new page for us to write in our books of life. Many feel motivated by this fresh beginning to set goals, resolutions, words, or whatever else to develop themselves and improve their lives. I am personally of the opinion that you can do this year-round, but the new year usually motivates the masses towards bettering themselves.

We at The I in Team series want to challenge you; set one goal for this year that encourages you to grow. Your goal can be as simple as an intention through a word to something more complex and robust. This year, The I in Team series’ “word” is influence; this word will guide all of our other goals and subsequently our actions. In every moment when you are reaching for your goals, you are both your number one supporter and worst enemy. Only you can control the willpower needed to reach your goals; will you choose to stick it out or give up on yourself? Please join me in bettering yourself this year so that everything you influence will benefit from the best version of you. Below are our top tips for achieving a successful new year’s resolution (or intention/word/whatever you like).

Related Blog: How to Build Healthy Habits


Any goal or intention must go through the S.M.A.R.T. process. This is because all goals and intentions are more easily reached when they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. One of the best things about laying out all your goals in this process is that it makes it super easy to review what may or may not be working down the road. A few weeks into achieving your goal, you may find that your goal isn’t as specific as you need it to be, or you may find that the measurable actions you set for yourself are not attainable within the defined time frame. Last year when we wrote our new year blog post, we centered it around this S.M.A.R.T. goal development process. Check it out to discover some questions you can ask yourself in each part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal development process.

Slow Down

It’s easy to give up on your goals because it doesn’t take any effort to stop doing or reaching for something. When you start feeling burnt out, slow down but don’t give up. Slowing down will allow you to reevaluate your S.M.A.R.T. process and determine if you need to update your goal. Remember, your goal grows with you! Don’t be afraid to reexamine it and change the way you approach reaching the goal. As long as you stick to your original intention or end goal, the way you get there doesn’t really matter. The point of setting goals or intentions is to grow and become better in yourself and your unique influence. If the goal becomes too much or too draining, evolve it to be something you can work with. Slowing down will allow you to reevaluate with ease, give you some breathing room, and hopefully restore your willpower.

Believe in Yourself

If you don’t believe in yourself, you become your own worst enemy. End the self-criticism and negative self-talk; uplift yourself by believing you can reach your goals, develop yourself, and grow in your positive influence. This is known as having a growth mindset, and you need a growth mindset to reach any goal or intention you set for yourself. Believing in yourself can sometimes be compromised when you experience burnout or have willpower depletion. So, if you feel these negatives start to creep into all the progress you’ve made, slow down and consider some things that can give you energy. For some, that may be making a cup of tea or watching your favorite movie; for others, it might be going on a hike or inviting guests over for dinner. Whatever it is that gives you power and restores your energy, write those things down, keep them close, and perform them when you need to so you can stay on track for reaching your goals.

Whatever it is you choose to work on this year, we challenge you to choose at least one thing. Life is about growth and development; if you aren’t taking these moments to learn more about yourself and the world, then what are you spending your time on? You deserve to find yourself in this life, be the best version of yourself that you can be, and build your positive influence so that those around you can benefit from all that makes you uniquely glorious. Make your goals (or intentions/words) S.M.A.R.T., slow yourself down to regain your willpower, and believe in yourself. We certainly believe in you.

What is Inclusive Language?

What is Inclusive Language?

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Our gratitude group just celebrated one year of showing gratitude together every week, so we reviewed everything we have learned together over the past year. One of the topics we learned about was inclusive language. With our world growing in ways to connect and modes for communication, it is important to open your mind and do your best to remain inclusive, both in your actions as well as your words. However, culture dictates the language we use so it becomes first nature—we don’t question it. In this blog, we are going to discuss what inclusive language is and why it is important, some examples of inclusive language, and how you might implement it in your life.

What is inclusive language?

Inclusive language is when we use words, whether verbally and written, that attempt to include everyone who will read and/or hear it. It is language that aims to not exclude groups inadvertently. Traditionally, it is meant to be inclusive of underprivileged or minority groups. When implementing inclusive language, the goal is to bring harmony to speech and writing through avoiding demeaning or offending people or groups. Additionally, using inclusive language is important because you never know if someone who is seemingly included may have strong ties to or a passion for any given underprivileged or minority groups. Those who work on developing their inclusive language, while not always perfect, show an open mind and willingness to understand that which they are not part of.

Why is inclusive language important?

Communication is powerful; whether it be our internal thoughts or thoughts which we put out into the world through spoken word or in writing, communication is how we interact with and respond to the world. So, the words we use are important and they tell people who we are on the inside. Using inclusive language creates spaces for those that may otherwise feel uncomfortable or unwelcome for individual characteristics, many of which they often have little control over. We are all born as we are. Therefore, acknowledging the vast diversity and beauty of humankind through inclusive language is one way we can demonstrate our acceptance of different perspectives, identities, and ideas.

Examples of Inclusive Language

First, I will discuss the difference between person-first and identity-first language in terms of those who experience disabilities. Then, I will provide some examples of ways in which you can change your language to be more inclusive for all in today’s society.

Person-First Language

Person-first language (PFL) is when you acknowledge that the person you are speaking to or about is first a human being and second has a disability. This shows respect for that person and allows them to be seen as a whole, a human, rather than a singular part, their disability. For example, using inclusive language, you would say “a person who has a disability” rather than “a disabled person,” or, “a person who is blind or visually impaired” as opposed to “a blind person.” PFL aims to acknowledge individuals as humans first and foremost and seeks to eliminate the practice of reducing an individual to a defined disability.

Identity-First Language

Identity-first language (IFL) is the opposite of PFL; it puts the disability before the person. While this is likely self-explanatory by now, an example of this would be describing someone as “a bipolar person” rather than “a person with bipolar disorder.” It is noteworthy to say that when you meet someone who has a disability, it is kind and compassionate to ask them if they prefer PFL or IFL. This shows that you care, recognize their worth as an individual, and would like to use language that makes them feel comfortable and included. In some cases, that person may prefer IFL. This has been found true with a larger population of the Deaf/hard of hearing and Autistic communities. Don’t make assumptions; use person-first language if you aren’t sure and if given the opportunity to ask their preference, ask!

Examples of Inclusive Language

Below are some examples of inclusive language based on underprivileged and minority groups.

inclusive language

Developing a Habit of Inclusive Language

Like all habits, you must show patience and compassion for yourself as you work to develop and improve your language. Because a lot of the language we use is cultural in nature, for example, “Hey, you guys!” (when talking to a mixed-gender group) it can be harder to recognize when we do it and therefore more difficult to change that language. Additionally, you may find that some women don’t mind being called “one of the guys” but you will also find that some do mind. It’s best to err on the side of caution to ensure everyone feels included by you in the spaces you create and occupy.

To develop this habit, start with one sector you know you can work on with room for improvement. It may be that you want to be more inclusive in your religious or gendered language, or perhaps how you refer to families or perceived class status. Choose one to start with and work on incorporating that language into your everyday thoughts and speech. It would be beneficial for you to come back and review these examples or conduct an internet search of other examples to keep the new vocabulary you hope to instill at the forefront of your mind.

Overall, the goal of developing more inclusive language is to ensure that your audience, no matter how small, feels included and safe with you. The safer you make others feel, the more your positive influence grows. We all show the world who we are each day through our interaction with each other, and how we respond to positive and negative situations. By developing healthy habits in hopes of making others feel included, we demonstrate our ability to value and appreciate diversity. Like with all habits, have patience and compassion for yourself as you grow. We believe in you!

How to Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

How to Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. One of the main topics in my weekly conversations with team members and clients is emotional intelligence. They want to learn more about it and develop habits to increase their emotional intelligence abilities. Emotional intelligence encompasses two huge aspects. The first aspect is the self; being able to accurately identify and manage emotions is a key part of emotional intelligence. The second is with others; being able to accurately identify and respond to the emotions another individual is feeling. Some researchers even believe that emotional intelligence, or EI, is more important for leaders and managers in the modern era than IQ. If you’re looking to control your influence, here are some ways to cultivate emotional intelligence.


Before you attempt to understand and respond to others’ emotional states, you must understand your own first. One of the hardest things to do is transparently evaluate yourself with 100% honesty. Something our mind tends to do to protect us is to lie and tell us a story that fits into the reality we want, but these stories don’t serve us in our ability to be truly emotionally intelligent. Instead, challenge yourself. Ask yourself how others may perceive you and your ability to be emotionally intelligent. What might they say? Would you agree with them?

There is no need to judge yourself in this process. Judgment will only hinder your growth, not help it. Instead, evaluate yourself with compassion and try to understand where your emotions come from, what they are triggered by, how often they come up, and if you feel they are appropriate responses to your environment. If you struggle to understand what your emotions are, where they come from, and why, try starting with an emotion wheel. When you feel an emotion, try to correctly categorize it. Doing so will lessen the negative effects of negative emotions as giving a name to something often makes it more manageable. Once you know what the emotion is, consider where it comes from and in what other situations it has presented itself.

Observe and Listen

A key part of emotional intelligence is observing our mind without judgment to better understand where emotions come from, as well as observing how our words, actions, and emotions affect others. To cultivate emotional intelligence in both ourselves and with others, we must slow down, observe, and listen. Those who are emotionally intelligent know how to respond to others who are feeling emotions as well as how to handle their own emotional response to dealing with the situation. They do this by observing, correctly analyzing the emotions, and listening for opportunities to help alleviate the emotional suffering. Conversely, they know when there is nothing they can do to help and call upon their skill of empathy, which will allow them to respond to the situation without creating a barrier.

Those looking to build skills of emotional intelligence should spend twice as much time observing and listening than talking. The more information that is discovered, the easier it will be to respond accurately. The same is true for our own emotions; the more we observe and listen to the emotions we feel—correctly categorizing them—the better we can challenge or have compassion for our own state rather than immediately acting upon them. Again, the better you become at understanding yourself, the easier it will be to observe and listen to others who need you. It’s akin to the classic airplane safety tip: Always put your mask on first before helping others (or always understand your own emotions first before helping others).

Curiosity Over Judgment

Leaders and managers must choose curiosity over judgment when dealing with themselves and their team. Curiosity allows us to explore, ask questions, gain a better understanding, and meet ourselves or the other person where they are in the process. If we immediately choose judgment, we create a barrier between us and what we want to understand. Judgment will always hinder your ability to be emotionally intelligent. In my experience, judgment tends to come from a place where we don’t feel good about ourselves, so we project that onto others (or ourselves) as a means to alleviate our stress without self-reflecting on what is truly wrong.

Conversely, choosing curiosity is a form of emotional intelligence in that we accept that not everyone is perfect, and we continue to want to respond in a way that is helpful. When we have curiosity for ourselves and others, it becomes easier to explore the complexities of emotions as we train ourselves to want to explore them. If you are used to judging yourself and others, you will need to challenge yourself to grow the habit of being curious and asking questions. In doing so, you may find that your own stress is alleviated as this tends to help soften the judgment of yourself.


Perhaps the largest component of cultivating emotional intelligence is self-awareness, but self-awareness doesn’t come out of nowhere. It takes patience, observation, and curiosity to develop an awareness of oneself. You must become aware of your emotions, how they feel in your body when they arise, how you respond to them, and how you project them into the world. But your self-awareness doesn’t end with your emotions.

To be truly emotionally intelligent, you must be wholly self-aware. You must understand your strengths and weaknesses, your preferred communication style, how big your tank of willpower is, what leads you to burnout, and so much more. Self-awareness is born out of transparent self-evaluation. The more truthful you are, the more self-aware you will become.

If you wish to cultivate emotional intelligence because it is something that doesn’t come naturally to you, the key will be to have compassion for yourself. This is not an easy process, but it is worth it. Only you have the power to control your mind and change the way you see and respond to the world. In doing so, you will not be perfect. Most emotionally intelligent individuals understand that imperfection is part of the human condition, and it is having compassion for yourself and others that allows us to enter a world of true emotional intelligence. Controlling the mind is a journey and one that must be forgiving. Always choose curiosity over judgment and continue showing yourself compassion as you grow.

Discover Your Core Values

Discover Your Core Values

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Recently, my team and I were discussing core values and their importance in leading our moral compass, but many of them inquired as to how they know what their core values are when they value so much. We all hold several values in our lives, but there are a few that are considered our core values. These values can guide our decision-making, help us in crisis, and give us a foundation to come back to when we are feeling unsure of ourselves. My hope is to help guide you to discover your core values, as well as discussing the benefits of doing so.

Choosing Your Core Values

You may value many things in your life, creating a list so long you may not even remember it. Even looking up images of values on Google produces hundreds of potential results for you to choose from. It can be overwhelming to glance at these lists and think, “I value almost all of these in my life!” While it’s great to value so many positive things in life, it’s vital to discover your core values. Your core values are your top three to five values that guide your moral compass every day. They are your set of beliefs that influence how you treat yourself, how you treat others, and how you influence overall.

Nobody but yourself can choose your core values for you; they must resonate with you at your core and feel like second nature. These values support who you are as a unique individual. To choose your core values, first you need to look at a list. Consider your life experiences (both beautiful and painful), your accomplishments, how you behave naturally every day, who you want to be as you continue to grow, and people you admire and look up to. Can you identify any patterns? Maybe some of your core values are born out of some of the most painful moments in your life, or maybe you aspire to be more like your favorite mentor and want to hold their deepest value at your core as well.

If you struggle to figure this out, here is a free personal values assessment. Remember, with all assessments, you will need to determine how true the end result is for you. Keep a notepad next to you with all the values you hold and compare with the assessment result to see if you agree on these top five as your core values. I took the assessment result and found the assessment rang true for my core values: 1) Compassion 2) Health 3) Curiosity 4) Peace 5) Love.

Benefits of Identifying Your Core Values

As mentioned, the benefits of identifying your core values are vast. Along with guiding your moral compass and decision-making process, identifying and acknowledging your core values can help you achieve the following:

  • Find your purpose in life: What do you want to do and who do you want to be?
  • Guide behavior: When pursuing habit building and identifying your growth opportunities, discovering your core values makes it easier to behave authentically. Additionally, your core values will serve as your moral compass when dealing with difficult situations or people.
  • Increase your confidence: Your core values will make you feel more secure in yourself; the more you know yourself and the more you feel guided to make the right decisions in life for you, the more confident you will feel in yourself and those decisions.
  • Better decision making: This was mentioned, but your core values will help guide your decision-making, helping you make decisions that are best for you.
  • Establish your individuality: While there are certainly others who will share your values, chances are they won’t share all of them. You can further solidify the unique individual you are by fully knowing yourself, and that means you need to discover your core values.

Pursuing Your Core Values Daily

Once you have your core values, you should pursue them daily. Every decision you make, conversation you have, and thoughts you allow to permeate your mind should always come back to your core values. You can ask yourself every day if you are staying true to yourself and upholding your values. As we always say at The I in Team series, your influence is your single greatest responsibility as a human being. To pursue your most positive influence, strive to inject your core values into your thoughts, words, and actions.

When you discover your core values, you discover more of yourself. While we all value several things, the ones at our core become our guiding compass in life and allow us to make the best decisions, be confident in ourselves, and find our most positive influence. No two influences are the same, as no two people are the same. Grow into your individuality and own it authentically when you find, be, and build your core values.

Fixed vs Growth Mindset

Fixed vs Growth Mindset

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. I have mentioned a few times in past blogs fixed versus growth mindsets and it seems to be a topic that many people are curious about (which is awesome!). At The I in Team series, we strongly value a growth mindset and believe that a growth mindset is imperative to securing your positive influence.

The growth and fixed mindsets are terms coined by Stanford psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck, who studies human motivation through psychology and sociology. Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, expands upon her theory of the growth versus fixed mindset. The brain is just like any other muscle in the body; it can be grown and developed with some patience, hard work, and mindfulness. However, if you convince yourself that you cannot grow your mind, then you won’t.

Fixed Mindset

Those who experience a fixed mindset believe that they cannot grow. They believe their abilities and intelligence are stagnant; essentially, that we are born with what we have, and we can’t do anything about it. A fixed mindset becomes a vicious cycle, one that is difficult, but certainly not impossible, to break. There are several factors at play in this cycle. It starts with the belief that you cannot grow, learn, or develop. Enter: Confirmation Bias. Once you believe something, your mind will look for information to confirm that belief and reject information that doesn’t fit. So, anytime someone with a fixed mindset fails or doesn’t live up to their or others’ expectations, their minds reaffirm that they cannot grow, learn, or develop. This pushes those experiencing a fixed mindset further into this belief.

Another reason confirmation bias plays such a huge role in the fixed mindset is because those who have a fixed mindset put limitations on themselves. They develop learned helplessness because of this belief. They cannot recognize their own deficiencies, meaning they cannot correct them. You would need to believe that you can learn and grow to correct behavior, so those experiencing a fixed mindset cannot even admit to themselves that they have faults because that would require them to do something about it.

Qualities of the Fixed Mindset

Below are some qualities of those who are currently experiencing a fixed mindset:

  • Believes that failure is an end
  • Very resistant to change
  • Rejects new ideas immediately
  • Views feedback and criticism as a personal attack
  • Less likely to take creative risks and be innovative
  • Avoids problems out of fear of failure
  • Documents and attaches self to past achievements without striving for new ones
  • Lacks open-hearted kindness, meaning they feel that encouraging others to succeed or be happy could make themselves look bad in comparison, so they avoid empowering others or being genuinely happy for their success


Those who are experiencing a growth mindset are, essentially, the opposite to those who are experiencing a fixed mindset. These are the individuals who believe, and know, that they can grow, learn, and develop. They recognize the brain as a muscle that can be worked. When individuals experience a growth mindset, they believe that they can master any skill or talent as long as they put in the effort to do so. Like the fixed mindset, confirmation bias plays a huge role here as well. When individuals believe that they can grow, learn, and develop continually throughout their entire lifetime—no matter their age, abilities, talents, skills, or intelligence—they perpetuate this belief through confirmation bias.

When those who experience a growth mindset fail, they view it as an opportunity to learn and try again. They do not become discouraged or use negative self-talk to bring themselves down. They uplift themselves, and through their confirmation bias they solidify their belief that they can grow, learn, and develop. Individuals who have a growth mindset make excellent leaders as they are the ones who are continually working on themselves and their positive influence. They know that they cannot be their best influence if they believe that they cannot grow. Additionally, those who experience a growth mindset believe that others can grow too, often encouraging others to take on challenges, fail, view things in different lights, and develop themselves.

Qualities of the Growth Mindset

Below are some qualities of those who are currently experiencing a growth mindset:

  • Believes that effort can cultivate new intelligence, skills, and talents
  • Views failure as an opportunity
  • More likely to take creative risks and innovate
  • Embraces problems as opportunities to learn
  • Views feedback as a chance to improve
  • Views life as an exciting journey for continuous growth and practice
  • Has open-hearted kindness, meaning they encourage others to succeed and find happiness while feeling genuine happiness for another person’s success and happiness

Switching Between Fixed and Growth Mindsets

It is absolutely possible to switch between these mindsets. While it is less likely for those who have a growth mindset to switch to a fixed mindset, it is possible. There are circumstances in life that could lead someone to break a belief in themselves and stop growing, learning, and developing. More likely is that someone would switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. The tricky part is that nobody can do this except for the individual. By this, I mean that those who are experiencing a fixed mindset will need to muster up the courage to face their ego and say they are wrong to believe that they cannot grow, learn, and develop. Developing positive self-talk will be imperative to moving from a fixed to a growth mindset. Those with a growth mindset can help those experiencing a fixed mindset by providing guidance, insight, and encouragement, but until those experiencing the fixed mindset change their own internal self-talk, they won’t change. It all starts with you and only you have the power to change yourself and your mind.


Our world is full of individuals experiencing either a fixed or growth mindset. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is better, but I certainly know which I think is better to perpetuate a positive influence. At The I in Team series, we believe that cultivating the most positive experience for yourself and those around you includes believing in yourself and encouraging others. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re tearing yourself down. If you don’t encourage others, you harbor feelings of resentment. These do not put any positivity into our world. You deserve to enjoy life, to laugh at mistakes, and to get to know yourself and how far you can go. Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” If you don’t allow yourself to grow, how can you truly know yourself?