Are you 2017 ready?

Head into the year with a goal-setting mindset and a daily plan to help you achieve success.
Contributed by Gary Epstein

The beginning of a new year always heralds change and gets us thinking about the bad habits we need to break and the good ones we want to cultivate. This type of thinking can be channelled into your work life to get your year off to a great start.

Be realistic
Unrealistic goals will almost surely doom you to failure. Picking a small, realistic goal for every day and a larger, ultimate goal for the year, is more likely to deliver results. Someone who never exercises, for example, won’t be able to run 5km every day, but they might be able to manage a ten minute walk. This is an achievable daily goal that can then be extended as they feel stronger and fitter.

Choosing a goal you can get excited about will make it easier to stick to your plan. If you need a little more encouragement, look around for someone who is knowledgeable about your goal and ask that person for support.

Make real connections
Because of the technological age we live in, where we have access to everything and everyone through social media, we need to be more deliberate about who we spend time with and make sure that we are making real connections with real people, both in our business and personal lives.

Fostering deep and meaningful relationships is important and connecting with like-minded people can help you maintain your motivation and focus. Identify those individuals amongst your colleagues and friends or acquaintances who share your values and interests and make it a priority to connect with them, whether it is calling them on the phone, inviting them to dinner or doing something together that you both enjoy.

On the other hand, taking the time at the beginning of the year to recognise the relationships that don’t serve you and then making a concerted effort to cut them out of your life, will make space for the good relationships worth nurturing.

Stay calm
In all aspects of life, a calm and measured approach will always deliver better results than a panicked, stressed-out attitude. As you navigate the new year, make a conscious decision that no matter the situation, you will always endeavour to stay calm and consider the problem logically. It may not be as bad as you think and even if it is, once you know what you’re facing, you can formulate an appropriate game plan.

Don’t dwell on the bad
In business and in life, we all know that a positive attitude is the key to achieving success. We have all had our share of challenges — the important thing is to focus on the good and not dwell on the bad. After all, a day spent worrying is a day wasted.

Choose your own path
The only expectation you have to live up to is yours. Instead of worrying about whether your choices live up to the expectations of your friends or family, choose your own path, stay true to it and the rest will fall into place.

Know your goals
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to jot down your personal and financial goals for the coming year. In addition to goals for your business and work life, it should also include aspects that focus on enjoying your life more fully. If you are not balancing your work and lifestyle goals, it is easy to get bogged down in work and to lose your passion, energy and drive. Making time for personal activities will help you stay positive in the face of work and personal challenges.

Having a clear vision in mind for your year and implementing these small daily changes will help you stay on course to achieve your goals. Make 2017 the year of good daily habits and a positive attitude and success will surely follow.

Now that you have a vision for your year ahead, what daily goals can you implement to help you stay on course? Remember, the way you start your day will determine how productive and positive it will be.

1.    Checking your emails and voicemail
While working through emails and voicemail messages seems like the right thing to do first thing in the morning, by doing so you are actually giving away control. Before you know it hours will have passed or a meeting demanded your attention and suddenly you’ve lost control of your day. Do at least one vital job on your to-do list before you attend to the demands of your email and voicemail messages.

2.    Doing the easiest jobs first
Ticking simple tasks off your to-do list might make you feel as if you’re being super-productive but the problem is that you may get to the end of your day and find that you’ve not achieved anything important at all. Do things differently this year and take on the most challenging tasks first. When you feel pleased with yourself for completing a high-value task, your body releases serotonin, the natural feel-good drug, which makes you feel happier and more productive so you can power through the rest of your day knowing that you have completed your most important task.

3.    Easing into the day with coffee, a croissant and the news
Being in a state of readiness is key to how your working day will play out, so get breakfast (preferably something healthy) and anything else that falls into your morning routine out of the way. When you sit down at your desk, or walk into a meeting, you want to be 100 percent focused.

4.    Enjoying a long chat with colleagues 

Your mind is most alert first thing in the morning, so rather than chatting away with colleagues, use this time to tackle jobs that need creative brainpower. Friendly relationships are key to workplace happiness, but keep your morning chats short and save your longer catch-up chats for later, as a reward for a job well done.

5.    Some cheese with that whine?
Tempting as it may be to have a big moan about all the little things that frustrate you — the traffic, your workload, annoying colleagues — falling into a negative state of mind will not inspire you to productivity. To have a fabulous, productive and amazing day you need an attitude to match. Saying “Yes, there’s lots to do, but I’m managing things really well,” will serve you far better than a long, pointless whine.