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There’s something about new beginnings. They tend to fill us with hope, energize us, and drive us to make positive changes (whether minor or major). The new year is the perfect time for a fresh start and a new outlook. Whether you’re trying to set goals for yourself, making positive life changes, or simply attempting to start the year off on the right foot, committing to the new year with an optimistic outlook is the perfect way to stay motivated.

The truth is, it’s easy to be dragged down by negativity or everyday annoyances (a flat tire, a poorly timed illness, a co-worker that can’t seem to turn in their assignments on time).

But it’s important to remember that dwelling on the bad can exacerbate your problems and pull you into a negative downward spiral. Marque Medical reports that people with high levels of negativity are “more likely to suffer from degenerative brain diseases, cardiovascular problems, digestive issues, and recover from sickness much slower than those with a positive mindset.” That, alone, should be reason to adopt an optimistic attitude!

Another reason to practice positivity is tied directly to productivity and performance. Those who see the glass half full tend to perform better in their jobs and in life, in general. Amazingly, this applies to companies as well. Companies that tend to be more optimistic have been found to be more productive.

How to Adapt a Positive Outlook?

Committing to the new year with a positive outlook means keeping your attitude in check, recognizing that one setback doesn’t define failure, and understanding that you will go through seasons of success and adversity. It also means being aware of your thoughts and prioritizing positivity by actively looking for the good in each situation.

Use the new year to set yourself up for success and become more optimistic. Here are a few tips to help you do that:

1. Identify your biggest fears and insecurities and make a plan for how you can address and conquer them.

2. Make time to do something that you enjoy thoroughly—take a walk, go to the gym, paint, bake cookies.

3. Look for something to be grateful for every single day, like strong relationships, career opportunities, or simply your own health.

4. Practice self-care and positive affirmations. Remind yourself that you are capable and strong.

5. Look for opportunities to learn from failures and mistakes—and use them as growth moments.

6. Focus on solutions rather than problems.

Starting the new year with a positive outlook can be a challenging, but rewarding, undertaking. It requires dedication, self-awareness, and actively looking for the good in every situation. By embracing these steps and striving for optimism, you can better equip yourself for a successful year, both personally and professionally. Positivity often brings with it greater productivity, improved relationships, and even improved physical health. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to kick off the new year with a renewed sense of optimism!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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You might be immersed in holiday stress right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a few minutes to ponder the year ahead. After all, it is right around the corner, and it’s better to be at least a little prepared than to have it sneak up on you. By putting in even 10 minutes of planning, you can add a little focus and direction to your year, rather than having it lead you around by the nose!

Take charge of your year by sitting down (perhaps with a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine), pondering the year ahead, and going through the following 8 steps. You could undertake this activity in about 10 minutes, but I encourage you to take all the time you need.

1. Write down all your goals

Jot down whatever comes to mind. Don’t edit; don’t pause. Just write down everything (big and small, personal and professional) you would like to accomplish next year.

2. Rate your goals

Once you have your list, go through it and consider which items are the most crucial and which are not. You could give each entry a 1, 2, or 3 rating with 1 representing your most important goals/aspirations, 2 being goals of middling importance, and 3 representing less important goals.

3. Focus on your “1” goals

Take a look at your most important goals (i.e., the “1s”). Hopefully you only have two or three “1” goals (if you have much more than that, consider relabeling some of them) so you can place your focus on these particular objectives. You can still accomplish your 2s and 3s, but they might not be the center of your focus.

4. Work backwards

For each of your top goals, set a specific date for when you’d like to accomplish them. From there, work backwards on your calendar. How can you break up your goal into bite-sized pieces? What are some of the major milestones you need to accomplish? Fill in your calendar accordingly, working backwards from your deadline.

5. Highlight important milestones

Once you’ve completed step 4, consider your important milestones. What needs to be done by certain dates to accomplish each milestone? Starting thinking about the support/resources you’ll need, the tasks you’ll have to accomplish, and the time you’ll devote to reaching each milestone.

6. Create a derailment plan

Life happens. If you don’t happen to meet one of the deadlines for your milestones, what will you do? What’s your derailment plan? Will you sit down and rethink your schedule? Will you commit to working one evening each week (or part of the weekend) until you get back on track?

7. Think of an accountability partner (or several)

List a few people who would make good accountability partners—people who could occasionally check in to help keep you on track. Be sure to list people who will not necessarily let you off the hook if you miss a deadline or are getting sidetracked. Rather, choose people whom you respect and do not want to let down. Once you have your list, reach out to one person at a time until someone agrees to be your accountability partner for the year. If they ask, be sure to return the favor.

8. Set a “go” date!

You have a plan. You’re ready to blast off into the New Year. Now, all you need is a “go” date—a time to begin your launch. This could be the first of the year, or it might be a date further down the road—whatever makes sense with your plan.

Too many people get bogged down by day-to-day life instead of stepping back and taking a bird’s eye view of their work or personal life. It can be immensely helpful to see the forest, instead of staring at the trees. By planning the year ahead, you partake in big-picture planning. You chart your course through the forest, instead of getting tripped up by the roots and brambles that everyday life tends to deliver.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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When you’re faced with a task that you’d rather not do, procrastination is the easiest thing in the world. You suddenly find a thousand ways to keep busy that are not the task at hand. You might clean out your email spam folder, work on a low-priority project, browse social media, or do the dishes/laundry/dusting (if you work from home). We’ve all been there!

It can be extremely difficult to overcome the mental barriers we tend to put up for ourselves. We see the undesirable task as a 20-foot wall, and we know it will take a huge amount of effort to even begin climbing.

What to do?

One method you could try is a simple 5-minute technique for combatting procrastination. This method involves confronting the task and saying to yourself, “Okay, I’m going to do it for just five minutes. That’s all I’m obligated to do right now.”

Then, you get started.

The reason this very easy method works is because we can do just about anything for five minutes. Whether you’re tackling a tedious task, writing an email you’d rather not send, calling a difficult client, or writing the first sentence of a very long report, five minutes is doable.

And, here’s the thing: Once you get started, you might find yourself spending 10, 15, or 20 minutes (or more!) on the assignment. The key is getting started. This is the same mentality as putting on your gym clothes to motivate yourself to work out. Getting dressed and lacing up your shoes is a huge part of the battle. You’re starting your engine, you’re making an effort, and hopefully these small initial actions will give you the momentum you need to get going and follow through on the rest of your task.

The “just five minutes” approach will also help you become less intimidated by large projects. There’s no pressure to do everything right now. You just have to get started and begin chipping away at it. This is a great approach to goal-setting, in general. It’s easy to become intimidated by large projects or lofty objectives, but if you break them down into bite-sized pieces, set goals for reaching those mile markers, and keep chipping away (and occasionally rewarding yourself for progress!), you’ll eventually reach your goal. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

The next time you’re feeling burnt out, stressed, or reluctant to work on a particular project, try the five-minute technique. Set aside this time, commit to do nothing else but the work (no checking your phone!), and dive in. Setting a timer could work for some, but it might feel like a “hard stopping point” for others (which could stifle momentum).

Adapt the technique in a way that works for you, and get started! You might be surprised by how much you can accomplish in five minutes–and how that five-minute push was just the thing to drive you forward.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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