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5 Ways to Focus on What Really Matters in 2015: Yourself

5 Ways to Focus on What Really Matters in 2015: Yourself
Image credit: markus spiske | Flickr

As we turn the corner from 2014 and enter 2015, many of us will use this moment to clear the decks and think about changes we want to implement -- personally and professionally -- in the year ahead.

From a business perspective it is a natural point of reflection. In my role at Porch.com, a home improvement network, I will work with my team to assess our progress from 2014 and set a strategic roadmap for 2015. But as important as the business perspective is, I will also take time to ensure everyone on my team is taking care of themselves.

To help everyone set their year up for success, here are five ways you can keep the right level of focus on YOURSELF in 2015.

1. Set attainable goals

Every year I see people set goals that are unrealistic. It is tempting to wipe the slate clean and attempt an “all in” mentality. But the reality is you need a far more pragmatic approach.

Related: Advice From a Recovering Workaholic: Make a Shift to 'Less Is More'

How do you do that?

  • Set both near and long-term goals. If you think about where you want to be in six months, what do you need to do in the previous months to get there?  You can’t eat an entire steak with one bite. Goals are the same way. Give yourself a chance to make “bite-sized” progress.
  • Share your goals with others and set check-ins to keep yourself honest. Provide plenty of transparency, so they can help motivate and calibrate your progress.

2. Try to live in the present

I believe people need to find a way to live in the present. I realize this is easier said than done, but if you can find a way to maximize each day across the things that matter most -- family, health and work, to name a few -- you will find yourself in a happier, more productive, and more fulfilled state of mind.

How do you do that?

  • Manage your day so you can make the most out of it. Set routines and give yourself the flexibility to live within a schedule.
  • Give yourself more credit. Not every day will be perfect. Maybe you don’t have time to go on a five-mile run. If you can find time for a 30 minute walk instead, great. Give yourself credit for establishing good habits and behaviors.

3. Make your health a priority

If this were easy to do and sustain, it wouldn’t be something everyone feels the need to do at the start of every New Year.

Related: 11 Tips to De-stress Your Life

How do you do that?

  • Think about the areas you really need to focus on. Perhaps it is diet, exercise or getting more sleep. The best thing you can do is to get educated. For example, don’t jump into a hardcore diet. Instead, try and meet with a nutritionist to develop a program that is tailored to you.
  • Don’t try and do too much too soon. Doing so may create setbacks that not only hamper your progress but demotivate you. If you are not a runner, work yourself up to big runs (vs. waking up tomorrow at 6 a.m. to try and run 10 miles).

4. Leave behind negative influences

Years ago I started living in what I call "The Bummer Free Zone." I know my triggers. I know the types of people, situations and mediums that negatively impact my mood.

How do you do that?

  • You know people who are negative, always complain, are overly skeptical and generally don’t support an ongoing positive attitude. Ignore them. Don’t spend your energy with them.
  • Learn your triggers and deal with them. For me it was listening to too much mainstream news. Now when I drive to work in the morning I don’t listen to talk radio, I listen to instrumental jazz instead. If you can zero in on your triggers, you can make immediate and impactful changes.

5. Pace yourself and make all 365 days count

If you can find a way to make all 365 days count in 2015, you will have achieved something huge. If you are looking to make sustained career or lifestyle changes you need to pace yourself.

How do you do that?

  • Leverage the seasons. For example, if you are focused on your health make the winter a time when you focus on diet. Leave the spring to get into running shape, so by summer you will be rolling.
  • Think about the principles you want to reflect every day. Write them down and read them every day. If you can give yourself regular reminders, by the 365th day of 2015, you will have turned your desired changes into permanent ones. 

Related: 5 Morning Routines for Family Harmony and Business Success