Consider a Re-Boot.

When an electronic device is misbehaving, the first rule of thumb is to re-boot --- turn it off, let it rest a moment, then turn it back on.  Usually this simple step helps clear out the static and return things to good working order.

As we move into a new year, it’s a great time to consider a personal re-boot:  an intentional effort to pause, shut down, think about priorities and decide what you want to start, stop and continue doing in 2018.  This can apply to any aspect of your life. 

Pausing to take stock helps you gain clarity on what matters most to you.  In essence, it helps you clear out the static and start with a fresh perspective.

Re-booting needn’t be complex or time consuming.  All it takes is a quiet space, a couple of hours of uninterrupted time, and a commitment to venture inward to consider what you want to leave behind, change, or carry forward in this new year.  Consider these questions in the context of your work life, your home life and personal relationships.  Write down your decisions and keep them in a visible place to serve as a daily reminder. Go through your calendar and place reminders or action steps throughout the year to help ensure that you fulfill these important promises to yourself.

Today, commit to spending some focused time re-booting to make the most of 2018!  

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Find your happy.

Now is a good time to consider what makes you truly happy.  What makes your heart sing and your soul feel content? What would it take to manifest more joy day to day, versus pinning your hopes on events or “things” to bring you happiness and delight?

For us to be truly fulfilled, we need to find our happy – understanding what we need in life to feel peace and inner joy, and then courageously stepping up to it. Through this self-awareness and commitment to be happy, we are better able to lead, support and love others.

For some of us, this may require a fundamental shift in perspective – from glass half empty to half full.  It may mean spending more time helping others or giving back to the community.  Maybe it’s about empowering ourselves to eat differently; releasing a grudge; spending more time in nature, or with loved ones; shutting down our technology earlier to get better sleep; or deciding to lighten up and laugh more.

For others of us, finding our happy may require deeper changes:  walking away from a toxic relationship; making a career change; confronting and reprogramming the beliefs that are holding us back; or taking big steps to simplify our lives.

Whatever it takes, finding your happy is the most significant gift you can give yourself and those around you.

The philosopher Lao Tzu said it best: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the moment.” All you can control is the present moment, so give yourself the gift of a lifetime this holiday season, and find your happy! 

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Look for the good.

Do you believe that you live in a friendly or hostile universe? Albert Einstein asserted that this is the most important decision you can make, and we agree. 

This basic belief frames our perspective, our reactions, our behaviors, and drives the emotions we feel every day.

A pessimistic person believes they live in a hostile world where they are surrounded by adversaries.  They begin with a negative mindset and focus on the downsides of people and situations.  Disappointments send a pessimist into a downward spiral, even a depression.

An optimistic person believes that they are surrounded by essentially friendly and well-intentioned people, and seeks to find the best outcome and greatest good from the circumstances around them. An optimist perceives setbacks as meaningful and uses these situations as an opportunity to grow.

In the workplace – and at home – there will always be challenges and imperfections. It is easy to let them eclipse all that is good.  If you allow this to happen, you transmit a steady stream of negative messages and emit negative energy, which has a significant impact on those around you – never mind your own health and wellbeing!

Optimism can be learned.  Begin by challenging yourself to find meaning and purpose in every situation – especially the difficult ones.  Resolve to have a more balanced perspective, taking stock of the positives as well as the negatives.  Remind yourself to express your appreciation for the things that are going right.

Today, look for the good around you, and wake up the optimist inside! 

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Don’t sweat the small stuff.

This motto is as relevant to our work life as it is to our personal life.  It’s so easy to get caught up in inconsequential details and meaningless drama that have no bearing on the big picture.  Before we know it, days, weeks and months have passed and we’re tired, stressed, and no closer to our endgame.

As a leader, being able to keep perspective - deciphering big stuff from small stuff and then letting go of the small stuff - is essential.  Sometimes this comes down to delegation; having someone else manage the minute details.  Other times, it comes down to a choice about whether or not you are going to invest precious energy in “small stuff” – petty power struggles, trying to prove you’re right, complaining about deadlines or bureaucracy or the challenge du jour.

What are some strategies to help keep perspective?

Remind yourself that you work to live.  Keep a visible list of your personal priorities and goals and take stock regularly to see how you’re doing.  Remember that you are in this job by choice. Commit to making every day count, and acknowledge your daily accomplishments.  Give yourself permission to say no.  Make peace with chaos.  Learn to deal with negative people and resist feeding into their drama. Recognize when you are telling yourself a negative story, and stop the downward spiral.  Let go of battles that cannot be won.  Commit to taking the high road and being the bigger person.  View challenges as bumps in the road, not roadblocks.  Stop beating yourself up when you make a mistake.  Make allowances for incompetence. (Face it, incompetent people are all around you; build that reality into your expectations.) Accept that at any given time, someone will be mad at you. Most importantly, remind yourself that you are in charge of how you react to things; you are in charge of your life!

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Up-Level Your Image.

A wise executive once said, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

The idea of dressing for success is as old as most boardrooms, but still, we often forget the power of curating an image that helps move us toward our goals.  Your appearance can affect how your co-workers treat you, how your team views you, and how your boss and others in the senior ranks perceive you.   

Don’t let your image get in the way of your next promotion.  Avoid anything that can be described as "too.” Too short, too tight, too revealing, too old, too frumpy and too flashy are all styles to avoid if you're hoping to advance to the next level.  As a general rule of thumb, think polished.  Classic.  Tailored.  Slightly understated.

Also, be mindful of your office/organization culture.  Workers whose style of dress doesn't quite fit can be seen as less serious or effective than their better-dressed peers, and can be passed over when it's time for a promotion. 

What about your hair, face and other grooming choices? Even the classiest suit can't dress up an unkempt, unruly, frumpy or too-young hairstyle, glaring roots, chewed-down nails, visible tattoos and unusual piercings, excessive facial hair or overdone makeup. Your image includes the whole package, so assess your grooming style and see if fits your career aspirations.  Remember, you serve as the face of the organization, and managers will be looking for someone who has “the look.”

Time is in short supply these days.  People draw conclusions about us based on snippets, soundbites and quick visual impressions.  What kind of an impression are you making?  

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