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5 Steps to Improve Your Personal and Professional Life for the New Year

Hustle and bond


Every New Year presents us with the opportunity to be a better person, and everybody’s resolution is different. Some want to lose weight, spend less money, learn a new hobby—the list goes on. People set out with high expectations about how the coming year will be the best yet!


But let’s be real here. How many people actually follow through with their New Year’s resolutions? The answer: less than 10 percent. At least now you know you’re not alone if you’ve failed at yours too.


What if you tried something new for a resolution, something more comprehensive and even more involving? After all, bigger commitments yield bigger rewards. That’s why you should spend 2018 improving your personal and professional life.


I know—that’s a tall order for a New Year’s resolution, right?


Maintaining your work-life balance may feel hard enough as it is, but there are ways to improve that balance, as well as the the quality of both your career and personal life. Ultimately, this resolution will help you find success and happiness like you’ve never known, but first you have to work for it.


Just remember, anything that isn’t worth fighting for isn’t worth your time. Now, if you’re ready, here are the five steps to a better life.


1. Foster new relationships.


Relationships are crucial to your quality of life no matter who you are or what your job title is. They can even improve your health and longevity.


In business, every relationship is a bridge to new opportunity. That’s why networking is invaluable to your professional success.


Whether it be finding a new job, landing a client or working on a team project, how you interact with others will determine the outcome. That’s why you should take any opportunity to get to know someone and form quality bonds. In fact, you should even start right now.


With all the holiday parties, now is the perfect time to put yourself out there! Make the effort to attend social events, no matter how tempting a night of binging Netflix in your pajamas may seem. After all, you can’t pursue happiness and success from the comfort of your couch.


Seek out new experiences to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. If nothing else, novelty alone is proven to enrich your well-being.


Either way, when it comes to developing new relationships, you’ve got nothing to lose—and everything to gain.


2. Nurture old ones.


That said, don’t forget about the relationships you already have. Spending more time with family and friends helps reduce stress, which in turn will make you more productive at work, more sociable, less likely to burn out, healthier both mentally and physically and much more.


You need to find balance, and that requires discipline. Consider carving out time in your schedule for date nights, family outings, lunch with friends—anything that breaks up the monotony of your week. These activities are a great way to unwind and will help you make the most of your time at the office.


You may be thinking, “Well, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to balance work, family and friends.” It certainly feels that way sometimes, but there are simple ways to maximize your time.


For one, you could try cutting down on phone time. Research shows that adults spend roughly a third of their waking hours on their phones. Reallocate those hours that you’d spend with your eyes glued to a screen, and spend them with the ones who matter most.


If even after that, you still feel like there isn’t enough time. Remember that when it comes to nurturing your relationships, quality time matters more than quantity.


3. Take care of yourself first.


People always say, “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself.” Turns out, it’s not just a sappy cliché—it’s scientifically proven.


The idea isn’t limited to love and intimacy either. How you perceive and treat yourself determines the quality of all your relationships and interactions.


It may sound selfish, but, for the sake of your sanity, you need to take care of yourself first. While putting others before yourself sounds and feels good, doing it too often can take a huge toll on your life.


Prioritizing yourself helps you achieve balance. That way, you can care for the people in your life, without all the feelings of exhaustion, stress and guilt that comes from bending over backwards at every request.


One way to do this is to say “no” more often. Ladies, this tip goes for you especially. Though men and women both struggle with this, women are twice as likely to overexert themselves because they’re too afraid to turn down requests.


Asserting yourself in the workplace is crucial to your success. If you play the role of office sponge, absorbing everyone else’s work, your own performance will suffer. Establish yourself, your role and your control by being honest about your limitations.


Saying “no” to unrealistic or inconvenient requests will make you more motivated, more productive and happier at work and in life.


4. Show gratitude.


Finding more reasons to be thankful can totally change your life. Seriously, research shows that gratitude makes you happier, reduces stress, boosts your immune system and can even help you live longer.


It plays a huge role in your mental and physical health, as well as your relationships. One study even showed that gratitude is the key to a successful marriage. Really, it’s the key to any successful relationship, regardless of its nature.


Gratitude not only improves the quality of your relationships but has also been shown to help others in profound ways. When you show someone appreciation, it gives them a higher sense of self-worth, increases helpful behavior toward others, makes them feel more socially valued and more.


At work, when you show gratitude toward a colleague, it’s a huge motivator for them—even more so than a paycheck, if you can believe it.


Do yourself and everyone around you a favor, and start saying “thank you” more often.


5. Never be afraid to ask for more.


People fear asking for what they want because they don’t want to come off as aggressive or needy, but when you want more, you have to ask for it.


If you feel like you deserve a promotion at work, ask your boss what it will take to earn it. Sometimes, all it takes to get what you want is to show interest.


Being more assertive in yourself and what you want is the fast-track to success. In fact, when it comes to leadership and earning respect, people believe assertive individuals are more competent than those with good judgement.


The workplace, and life in general, isn’t a meritocracy. Sometimes the people who work less get rewarded more. Sometimes the people with less knowledge and experience climb higher. It’s unfair, and that’s exactly why you need to ask for what you deserve.


Don’t be afraid to ask for more from others, but also don’t fear asking more of yourself.


Pushing your boundaries is the only way you can grow as an individual. When you let yourself get comfortable, you lose your drive. Though you may not be taking your hands off the wheel, you’re flipping on the cruise control to sit back and relax.


That’s why if you want to live a better life, you need to take charge and work at it. Nothing good in your life comes without effort. After all, happiness is a pursuit, not a waiting game.


Never stop striving for more in every aspect of your life—because only you have the power to determine what you’ll achieve in 2018 and beyond.


About the author Mac McDonald