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101 tips to make 2016 your breakthrough year

New year, new start.

A chance to refocus and crack on with your life and career with a bunch of positive intentions. As far as your career is concerned I’d love to help stoke the motivation, offer encouragement and suggest 101 ways that you can make 2016 your breakthrough year.

  1. Start the day with a BANG – write down 2 things that you MUST do before you leave the office tonight.

  2. End the day with a BOOM – don’t walk out the door until those 2 things are done. But remember to…

  3. Eat frogs – don’t put off tricky, complex or unpalatable work till later. Get them done first.

  4. Set goals – some large, some small, maybe even some macro or micro. Having goals gives you purpose, but take time to think about the balance of making them achievable yet challenging, and then…

  5. Announce your intentions – professor Greg Whyte OBE:

‘successful people don’t go it alone. Whatever your goal, you need a good team around you to succeed. Let family, friends and work colleagues know what you’re doing and when. When people know it’s important they’ll support you and allow you the time and space to complete your goal.’
  1. Take a risk – stuff doesn’t just fall in your lap by luck. In order to make significant progress, and break away from the norm, you have to put yourself out there. You have to take a leap of faith and step outside your comfort zone.

  2. Learn a new skill – keep yourself stimulated by swatting up on a topic that interests you, read a book, take a course, then practice!

  3. Measure yourself (put the ruler away, I don’t mean that!) – take some online tests to see how resilient you are, what your IQ is, or even a personality test!

  4. Keep the simple things simple – we are very good at overcomplicating simple tasks and conversations by getting bogged down in the detail when it’s not required. Raise it up a level and get stuff resolved the easy way.

  5. Be true to yourself – do everything you can to keep your integrity in tact.

  6. Work on one thing at a time – multitasking just ain’t a real thing after all…

  7. De-clutter your desk – tidy desk = tidy mind. Less distraction = greater productivity.

Do some exercise – in 2004 researchers at Leeds Metropolitan University found that ‘workers who used their company’s gym were more productive and felt better able to handle their workloads. Overall, they felt better about their work and less stressed when they exercised. And they felt less fatigued in the afternoon, despite expending energy at lunchtime.’
  1. Touch people – physical contact forges stronger bonds between people (yes even at work hugs are OK (groping is not))

  2. Put yourself in their shoes – try to see things from the other persons / people’s perspective.

  3. Don’t take crap from anyone – life is too short to be belittled or bullied at work. Don’t stand for it.

  4. Work hard – you have to put the effort in to get the reward, but remember this can also be achieved working smarter, not just longer.

Drink more water – if you feel thirsty, drink. GOPINATHAN PM. et al, 1988: ‘Dehydration is a reliable predictor of impaired cognitive status. It affects both short and long-term memory, and also can be linked to inducing fatigue.’
  1. Do more of what you love – you want to be happy? Do stuff that makes you happy.

  2. Do less of what you hate – what makes you grumpy? Sack it off!

  3. Don’t judge – everyone has their our own private battles and demons they face each day. Be compassionate rather than judgemental to your colleagues. However…

  4. Don’t waste time on knob-heads – some people consistently prove over time that they are knobs, in which case they aren’t worth your time. You can’t change them, so avoid them.

  5. Use social media sparingly – don’t waste days of your life on that crap. Turning it off will help you to…

  6. Stop comparing yourself to others – you are unique and so is your journey.

  7. Embrace technology – it’s the present and it’s the future. Embrace it or become a Neanderthal.

Smile – not for other people’s sake but your own. It’s scientifically proven to improve your mood. In 1990, Ekman’s research showed that adopting a “Duchenne smile” – a full smile that involves facial muscles around the eyes – produced a change in brain activity that corresponded with a happier mood.
  1. Avoid jargon – use clear simple English to cut through corporate bullshit.

  2. Turn up on time – a great habit to have in all aspects of your life.

  3. Learn the art of not giving a f*ck – hands down the best article I read in 2015

  4. Embrace change – it’s the only thing that is guaranteed.

  5. Be kind – to others and to yourself. It’s very easy to be nasty and bitchy – but it’ll kill your ambitions stone dead. Kindness opens doors, so consider…

  6. Helping someone – it’s one of the best ways to ensure your own survival. It takes you out of yourself. Become a rescuer, not a victim. ‘No one has ever become poor by giving.‘ Anne Frank.

  7. Get more sleep – it’s the most important damn thing for your physical and mental health. 7-9 hours per night is optimal.

  8. Look people in the eye – not at their shoes or boobs (at least not when they will notice :-))

  9. Don’t over analyse – take stuff on face value, and deal in facts, not emotion.

  10. Say thank you – costs nothing, feels good, win:win!

  11. Don’t gossip – ain’t nobody got time for that.

  12. Seek clarity – don’t make assumptions about anything. Ever.

  13. Email less – face to face communication or talking on the phone is quicker, easier and provides more clarity.

Oh and don’t check it regularly either – A new study released Jan 2016 by the University of California,  co-written with United States Army researchers, found that ‘people who do not look at e-mail on a regular basis at work are less stressed and more productive.’
  1. Buy some new shoes – just because everyone feels good in a new pair of shoes – right?

  2. Time box – even for simple activities this works wonders for productivity.

  3. Keep perspective – your job is not your life, its supplementary. You life is waiting for you on the other side – don’t forget about it, go to it!

  4. Know your worth – recruiters worth their salt can tell you what the average salary is for someone in your role. Find out and make sure you’re not being undervalued.

  5. Drink more coffee – a natural stimulant with more antioxidants than green tea? With 13 science based health benefits? Have it!

  6. Be present – when people talk to you, listen. When you’re in a meeting stay off your phone. When your on a conference call, close the internet. We spend too much time distracted and not really here, even though we’re here. P.S. feel free to…

Doodle – Research published in 2009 found that participants who doodled while listening to a phone call were able to recall 29 percent more information afterward than those who simply took notes. Although if you are a note taker…

Write notes on paper – ‘Using pen and paper for note-taking helps boost memory and the ability to understand, more so than laptops.’ Association for Psychological Science. 2014.
  1. Pick your battles – not every fight is worth the effort. Sometimes you have to suck it up and save your energy for another day. Or you could…

  2. Ask for help – no man is an island, nor should they try to be. If you are struggling, reach out to colleagues for support. We are all in this together.

  3. Talk more – Don’t bottle things up. Let it out. Use that voice to express your opinion.

  4. Listen more – Stop. Listen. Can you hear it?

  5. Let people in – Tell them about your life, wife, kids, chihuahua, hobbies. Connect with them as a human.

  6. Be decisive – Don’t dither and delay, just make your mind up and get to it.

Swear more – Studies at Keele University and published in the journal Neuroreport found ‘those who swore when their hands were submerged in icy water felt less perceived pain.’
  1. Power nap – Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.

  2. Snack better – crisps and chocolate no, nuts and fruit yes.

  3. Don’t reply all – send emails only to people who actually need to know.

  4. Flatter your boss – can’t do any harm can it?

  5. Praise others behind their back – has a subtle yet powerful impact.

  6. Praise others publicly – has an even more powerful impact

  7. Embrace your strengths – a giraffe should never try to be a penguin, it should just try to be the best damn giraffe it can be.

  1. Work on your weaknesses sparingly. Know what they are, look for opportunities to improve, but don’t waste time trying to master them.

  2. Tell jokes – you like to laugh, I like to laugh, everyone likes to laugh!

  3. Get your teeth whitened – with all this extra smiling you’ll be doing, you may as well be flashing some bright pearly whites.

  4. Delegate – where possible and appropriate share work with colleagues.

  5. Be yourself – don’t compromise your identity and individuality in order to fit in.

  6. Turn up the volume – play your favourite tunes to energise and lighten the mood.

  7. Stop complaining – focus on the positive. Even the crap stuff that happens presents an opportunity to learn and move forward with more knowledge and understanding. You create your world with what you pay attention to. There are a million things happening right now: some good, some bad. Focus on the bad and life’s not going to seem so hot. Focus on the good and whaddya know — the world’s suddenly a much better place. But even before bad stuff happens…

  8. Be optimistic – if you’re optimistic, you’ll have more energy. If you’re pessimistic, you’ll be more stressed. It’s all about how you interpret what is going on, not what is actually happening.

  9. Train yourself – if you want to be able to concentrate for longer, to get tasks done quicker, to time-box tasks, whatever – you have to work at it, be consistent and build it up over time. You don’t become good at it overnight because you want to.

  10. Post an article on LinkedIn – (like my mate Andrew) it shows balls and increases your reputation as an authority in your area. As does…

  11. Writing a blog post – you don’t need to start your own blog, most bloggers would happily accept guest posts or be willing to collaborate on a good idea (hint, hint).

  12. Schedule your breaks – it’s critical you have them at regular intervals.

  13. Demand more – of yourself and of your colleagues. This may mean that you need to…

  14. Turn the intensity up a notch – yes, you should try to approach work and life in a calm and balanced way, but sometimes the pressure is on and you need to reflect this in the way that you and your team work.

  15. Take more shots – you can’t score a goal if you don’t shoot for goal.

  1. Trust your gutespecially when you’re frazzled 

  2. Finish stuff – even small wins create a surprisingly strong positive effect.

  3. Document your journey –  to be clear about where you end up (and how you got there), you need to document where you are, and what happens along the way.

  4. Keep evidence – not in a ‘I can use this to screw someone over’ way, but in a ‘I can prove that the right people were involved in this decision’ way.

  5. Remain dignified – don’t loose your rag. Stay cool. Stay professional.

  6. Over communicate (but not by email, obvs) – be open, honest and share your experiences and knowledge with colleagues. I hate people that hide information.

  7. Win an award – or at least put yourself forward as a nominee

  8. Back a Crowdfunder, Plumfund or Kickstarter project – we live in an exciting and innovative age. Get involved.

  9. Watch TED videos – stimulate your brain by watching these short and informative talks, or even better…

  10. Attend a seminar – seeing it in person has a stronger impact than watching it on TV. Seek inspiration and knowledge from experts on topics that excite and interest you, or…

  11. Attend a meetup – find local people to you to share something, learn something, do something with

  12. Join a movement – become part of something you believe in.

  13. Use stress to your advantage – take power from the adrenaline of a tense situation and use it to resolve the issue causing the stress. Fast. This is also known as…

  14. Flipsiding – the concept of making the best out of any situation you find yourself in

  15. Ask yourself – “What gives me a feeling of control?” Anything that increases your perception of control over a situation (whether it actually increases your control or not) can substantially decrease stress levels.

  16. Savour the moment –  Take some time to really enjoy the journey. Research shows savouring — appreciating the good moments — is what separates the happiest people from the average Joe.

  17. Have a conflict strategy – Thinking about and planning for what you’ll do in the worst case scenario makes you feel prepared and ready for anything.

  18. Sit somewhere different– a subtle way to change your perspective of the office and team. Literally.

  19. Practise your banter – makes work more fun and can immediately diffuse tense situations.

  20. Colour in – the new (old) craze of colouring books for adults is incredibly relaxing and helps promote mindfulness.  Here’s one you can print and try for yourself:

Valentines Colour A4
  1. Introduce yourself – see someone new? Go say hi and find out what they do. They may become an important ally one day.

  2. Believe in yourself – ordinary people can achieve extra-ordinary things when they put their mind to it. Why should you be any different?

  3. Just start – even if you feel daunted or think you’re not ready – just start.

  4. Don’t give up – there will be bumps in the road. There will be good days and bad. Stick with it. Be resilient, and make this your Best. Year. Ever.

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