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How to Make 2015 the Best Year Yet: Tips from the Pros

Compiled from emails by Madison Fisler Lewis

Dec. 31, 2014. With the new year beginning tomorrow, many of us are thinking about resolutions and making plans to make 2015 our best year yet. Around this time, High Country Press is flooded with emails and press releases giving information and advice on how to achieve success in the new year, so we decided to post some here.

The following articles were sent to us courtesy of veteran business journalist and author Geoffrey James and bestselling author Jon Gordon. Tell us what you think in the comments. What is your resolution this year?

Nine Bullsh*t Habits to Avoid at Work in 2015

By Geoffrey James

With a new year coming, this is an excellent time to expunge work habits that irritate coworkers and make you less effective.

          “Achieving success requires more than just doing the right thing,” says Geoffrey James, contributing editor and award-winning blogger at Inc.com and author of Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. “Success also means changing the behaviors that hold you back.”

          Here are nine habits you can do without in 2015:

1. Doing the bare minimum.
If you accept a task, you owe it to yourself and to others to make your best effort. If you don’t want to do something, have the courage to refuse the task. Doing a half-*ssed job is just being passive-aggressive.

2. Telling half-truths.
Honesty is the best policy. However, if you’re afraid to speak the truth, it’s cowardice to tell a half-truth that’s intended to mislead but leaves you “plausible deniability.” Either tell the whole truth or tell a real lie—and accept the consequences if you’re found out.

imgres3. Finger-pointing.
Few human behaviors are more pointless than fixing blame. In business, it’s usually irrelevant who’s at fault when something goes wrong. What’s important is how to avoid making the same mistakes again.

4. Bucking accountability.
Finger-pointing is common in business because some people aren’t willing to admit their mistakes. If you’re going to take credit for your accomplishments, you must also take credit for your failures. The two go hand in hand.

5. Hating on successful people.
When you direct your hate at success, you’re telling yourself that being successful means being hated. Since nobody in their right mind wants to be hated, you’ll subconsciously sabotage yourself so that people will continue to like you.

6. Schadenfreude.
Taking a secret pleasure in the failures of others makes your own success less likely. You end up gloating over what other people did wrong, rather than doing whatever it takes to make yourself more successful.

7. Workplace gossip.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” When you spread gossip, you’re identifying yourself as small-minded and also showing that you can’t be trusted to keep secrets.

8. Creating your own stress.
While work may be stressful, you make it worse when you fail to disconnect on a regular basis. Rather than answer yet another email, take a walk, read a book, or listen to some music. Turn off your phone when you go to bed; whatever it is, it can wait.

9. Giving or accepting flattery.
An honest compliment is always welcome, but flattery truly gets you nowhere. When you flatter, everyone knows that you’re brown-nosing. Similarly, when you accept flattery, you’re marking yourself as gullible and self-absorbed.

Adapted from Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know by Geoffrey James.

About the Author:
Geoffrey James is a veteran business journalist who now writes a daily column for Inc.com. His latest book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, won the following praise from Publishers Weekly: “The author’s pithy and frank style matches his title…a quick, impactful primer for anyone wanting to be more effective on the job.”

18 Habits to Make 2015 Your Most Positive Year Yet

by Jon Gordon

Sure, most of us start each new year intending to make it a good one. But even when the Universe is helping out by providing things like a growing economy and job security, creating a positive life for yourself is easier said than done.

“A Pollyanna outlook just isn’t enough to sustain us through life’s slings and arrows, whether they come in the form of a fender bender, annoying colleagues, mortgage payments, a lingering flu bug or something more serious,” said Jon Gordon, author of The Wall Street Journal bestseller, The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy.

“It isn’t enough to want a positive attitude. To develop and sustain one throughout adversity and challenges, you have to cultivate habits that lead to resilience and mental toughness.”

The best news, said Gordon, is that positivity isn’t just another feel-good buzzword. It has the power to influse your life with purpose, creativity, accomplishment and energy. When you live your life with positive energy, he says, you attract positive opportunities and people.

Here, Gordon shares 18 real-life positivity tactics you can put into practice throughout 2015 – and beyond.

Become a selective listener and focus on the positive. You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible, said Gordon, or you can trust that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible. Yes, this really is a choice you make for yourself every day.

Zoom Focus. Each day when you wake up in the morning ask, what are the three most important things I need to do today that will help me create the success I desire? Then, tune out all the distractions and focus on these actions. “Often, we allow our attention to be captured by each new shiny ball that rolls by, or by each minor fire that needs to be put out, and we end up channeling our energy and time toward tasks with smaller rewards,” Gordon notes.

Watch where you’re directing your energy. We all have a finite amount of energy. Don’t waste yours on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. “Instead, invest your energy in your purpose, people and the positive present moment,” Gordon suggests.

Focus on “Get to” vs. “Have to.” Each day, focus on what you get to do, not what you have to do. For instance, think I get to go to a job that utilizes my talent and strengths and that is full of opportunities, instead of, Ugh, I have to go to work today. “Life is a gift, not an obligation,” Gordon said. “This may seem like an insignificant mental shift, but it will have a noticeable impact on your happiness and satisfaction.”

Talk to yourself instead of listening to yourself. We all know what it’s like for our fears, worries, and what-ifs to completely hijack our minds. These negative trains of thought can hold us back, wreck our self-esteem, and impact our health in a very real way. The good news is, you have the power to change the conversation happening inside your head. “Instead of listening to your complaints, fears, and doubts, talk to yourself and feed your mind with the words and encouragement you need to keep moving forward,” Gordon suggests.

Choose faith instead of fear. Faith turns adversities and dead-ends into detours to a better outcome than you thought possible, Gordon points out. “That’s not to say you’ll never feel fear—you will,” he comments. “You can use it as a tool to make smart decisions and to manage risk. Just don’t use it as an excuse to quit. Believe that everything happens for a reason and expect good things to come out of challenging experiences.”

Don’t chase dollars or success. Decide to make a difference and build meaningful relationships, and success—specifically, lasting, meaningful success—will find you.

Take a morning walk of gratitude. Weather permitting, wake up your body and mind by taking what Gordon calls a “Thank-You Walk” each morning. As you walk, challenge yourself to list things you’re grateful for: blessings in your life, events you’re looking forward to that day, and opportunities that have come your way. “Even a five-minute walk around the block will help create a fertile mind ready for success, but if you have the time for a longer stroll, the physical and mental benefits will be even greater.

Switch up your portion sizes. Make your first meal the biggest and your last meal the smallest. After all, you need the most fuel at the beginning of the day! “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card,” Gordon suggests.

Get more sleep. “You can’t replace sleep with a double latte,” Gordon notes. “When you’re well rested, your brain, body, attitude, and relationships will all operate at higher levels.”

Tap into the three greatest success strategies of all: love, serve, and care. “Experience has taught me that these strategies are every bit as valuable as those taught in top business schools,” Gordon states. “Build your life and career around them, and never forget that people and relationships are at the heart of everything we do in every aspect of life. When you love, serve, and care about those around you, you’ll attract greater success, and you’ll stand out in a world where most people don’t love, serve, or care.”

Focus on your purpose every day. Remember why you do what you do. Think about your purpose and the legacy you want to leave. Try to distill this idea down as much as possible—perhaps even into one word that’s clear and easy to remember. “We don’t get burned out because of what we do,” Gordon observes. “We get burned out because we forget why we do it.”

Remember, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. This is easy to forget in a world that’s increasingly built around instant gratification. (Think overnight shipping, fast food, video streaming, and more.) “While more and more things are available to us the moment we want them, I don’t think personal and professional success will ever be on that list,” Gordon says. “Don’t forget that there’s no substitute for hard work.”

Implement the “No Complaining Rule.” Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Complaints are full of negative energy and fail to enhance our lives in any way. They don’t offer strategies, solutions, ideas, or encouragement. “If you are complaining, you’re not leading,” Gordon says.

Read more books than you did in 2014. The more you feed your mind, the stronger and more agile it grows. The more ideas and viewpoints you consider, the more innovative and empathetic you’ll be. “Focus on reading books that help you learn, that inspire you, and that push you to consider life from new, unexplored angles,” Gordon advises.

Don’t seek happiness. Yes, you read that correctly. The truth is, the things we think will make us happy often don’t. “Overall, remember that lasting happiness rarely comes from ‘stuff’ or accolades,” Gordon states. “Instead decide to live with passion and purpose, and happiness will find you.”

Do a “positivity assessment exercise” each evening. Gordon suggests completing the following statements, either mentally or in a journal, each night before you go to bed:

  • I am thankful for __________.
  • Today I accomplished____________.

“Going to bed in a positive mood will improve the quality of your rest,” Gordon observes. “This exercise will also train you to place your focus on what’s good in your life—something that, unfortunately, doesn’t always happen naturally!”

Smile and laugh more. There’s no need to be stoic and serious at every turn. “In fact, smiles and laughter are natural anti-depressants,” Gordon says.

“My final piece of advice is to enjoy the ride,” Gordon concludes. “You have only one ride through life, so make the most of it and enjoy it. Sure, there will be stressful situations and challenges you’ll have to overcome in 2015. But those things don’t have to define your year. So, how will you choose to make 2015 more positive?”

Jon Gordon’s best-selling books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. His principles have been put to the test by numerous NFL, NBA, and college coaches and teams, Fortune 500 companies, school districts, hospitals, and non-profits. He is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller The Energy Bus, The No Complaining Rule, Training Camp, The Shark and the Goldfish, Soup, The Seed, and The Positive Dog; he is also coauthor of One Word That Will Change Your Life. Jon and his tips have been featured on Today, CNN, Fox & Friends, and in numerous magazines and newspapers. His clients include the Atlanta Falcons, Campbell’s Soup, Wells Fargo, State Farm, Novartis, Bayer, and more. He and his training/consulting company are passionate about developing positive leaders, organizations, and teams.