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It’s Not Too Late: Resolve to Have a Successful Year

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The New Year’s celebrations may be behind you, but it’s never too late to focus on mastering the tactics and skills that will lead to success. Here are 10 tips for developing the attitude, intention and presentation that will help you reach your goals:  

The Right Attitude

1. Take yourself seriously. Not seriously like in an egotistical way but seriously like your choices have consequences. If you aren't taking yourself seriously right now, I guarantee it has to do with the logic of depression, meaning that you tell yourself things like this: "I tried before, and I failed." If this is you, understand that your mind isn't functioning right. You're going to have to retrain your brain, even if you have to stand there in front of the bathroom mirror in the morning and make accurate statements to yourself repetitively. Not phony affirmations. Sentences such as this: "I can't control the past. I can control what I do right now."

2. Stop being irrationally afraid. Sometimes we think, "If X happens, I'm screwed." Sometimes we live our whole lives that way. We don't speak up when we should. We don't leave a bad job or a bad relationship. We don't break ties with toxic friends, or family. Because we have this terrible cloud of fear hanging over us, an all-purpose sense of doom. Of course this isn't to tell you in some magical way that everything will be all right no matter what. It isn't to prescribe unrealistic choices. Sometimes you have to live with things you just don't like. But at the very least, you should say to yourself, "What is the worst thing that can happen if I act?" And then consciously decide to go one way or another. If you find that you are just paralyzed or consumed by fear, or anxious thoughts bubble up constantly, try writing the following sentence down, staring at it, saying it out loud (as above), and even putting it up on your bulletin board: "I am a survivor. I have survived a lot already. I am much stronger than I think."

3. Surrender. This is for the control freaks who can't prioritize, can't delegate, and can't take anything off their plate because they somehow think the weight of the world rests squarely on their shoulders. Don't believe in God? Just call it the Universe; do your best and then hit the "Let It Go" button.

4. Be generous. There is no rational reason to be nice to other people. Most of the time, they won't pay you back, and it's time you could have spent advancing your own self-interest. But somehow, when you give, the Universe does give back to you. It changes your mood and your attitude; it gives you a sense of purpose. That doesn't mean you should ignore your own needs, but it does mean that selflessness yields intangible dividends.

Intention Matters

5. Adopt a posture of success. If you can pick one thing to focus on, whether professional or personal, and then see that through, it will balance you. Remember it doesn't have to be an outcome-based goal (lose 30 pounds); it can be a process-based goal (walk half an hour a day). The point is not really to achieve the goal, but rather to develop a genuine sense of belief in yourself.

6. Be accountable. We all know an excuse when other people use one, but it's all too easy to justify our own bad behavior. We avoid seeing things as they are and instead manipulate ourselves into believing that we are right, almost at any cost. How many arguments, how many accidents, how many crimes, how many lawsuits, and how many wars could be avoided if people simply asked: "That was a screwup on our end. How can we fix it?"

7. Pay attention to time. Make it a habit to be on time. This is not so much about the hands on the clock as it is about demonstrating respect for other people. It also forces you to be present at the meeting instead of thinking about other things or playing games with your cellphone. Similarly, keep an eye on how much of other people's time you are spending. Respect their need to get things done, and that time is very limited—it is the most valuable commodity on the planet.

Presentation Counts

8. Improve your verbal communication skills. I recently watched a video that had gone viral. It was amazing to me that the person featured on the video—essentially a spontaneous street confrontation—was so incredibly articulate, without any preparation or prompting. Regardless of your profession, regardless of your career level, and regardless of your educational achievements, you can impress people by demonstrating powerful rhetorical skills. If that seems like an overwhelming task, you can join a group like Toastmasters, which is specifically aimed at helping people improve their ability to speak in public. If you don't have the bandwidth or desire to take on yet another activity, a very simple way to start is by practicing with your cellphone. You can record yourself answering a question, and then view the video to see where you did well, and where you didn’t.

9. Dress better. I did not say "dress well," or "dress expensively," or "dress in ways that are considered fashionable." Rather, I'm saying you should up your game, or in the words of Chef Emeril Lagasse: "Kick it up a notch." Your focus needs to be on things that are doable and authentic—you, only better. Believe me, people will notice.

10. Improve your LinkedIn profile. Here are two simple things you can do: 1) add two to three sentences under each job to explain what you did there (no typos!); and 2) you need recommendations. Not just endorsements, but actual words from people who know you and can say something nice. My personal preference is to reciprocate first, meaning go to a connection's page and recommend that person. To do this, click the down arrow next to "Send A Message," then click "Recommend." You can also ask directly for a recommendation—in person, by phone or by email. To do this, from your profile page, look underneath and to the right of your photo, where it says "View Profile As." Click the down arrow, then click "Ask To Be Recommended."

Good luck.

Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of her employer or any other organization or entity.

Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D., is a federal communicator with 20 years' experience in the private sector, academia and government. Best known for her work on branding, Dr. Blumenthal now focuses on the discipline of management, particularly the intersections between identity, culture and communication. She has lectured at a variety of schools including The George Washington University and the University of Maryland University College. In her spare time she is an independent community activist, focused primarily on raising awareness about child sexual abuse and domestic violence. All opinions are her own.

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