Many of us jumpstart the new year with a positive outlook and a laundry list of to-dos and resolutions. 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 fender benders, annoying colleagues, mortgage payments, a lingering flu bug, or something more serious,” says 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, says Gordon, is that positivity isn’t just another feel-good buzzword. It has the power to infuse 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, says 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 time and energy 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 says. “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 is 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.”