5 ways to start as we mean to go on in 2015

2015 goals

Many of us like to make New Year’s resolutions, such as keeping on top of our ‘to do’ lists, but very often they fall by the wayside when our old habits begin to creep back in. How lovely would it be if we could rewire our brains to a new, productive and efficient way of working, so that we can truly take control over the way we work, rather than letting our work take control of us?

While old habits die hard, the good news is that with a change of mindset and a healthy dose of determination, it is possible to make a break from our overwired lives and make positive long-term changes. Here are our top five ways to rewire, which we hope will ensure you begin 2015 as you mean to go on:

1. Be aware of your negativity bias
Our brains are naturally wired to scan for bad news. Our ancestors lived within harsh conditions, and this negativity bias was a part of their survival mechanism, which we’ve inherited. This mindset was important for surviving in the wild, but we don’t really need it in the workplace, and it can actually be the thing that often holds many of us back.

Try to not dwell on negative experiences. If you receive 10 pieces of positive feedback at work, but one bit of constructive criticism, the brain will naturally want to focus on the negative unless we stop ourselves. Instead, try to acknowledge moments of positivity, so that your brain begins to recognise and learn from that particular activation of synapses. Over time, this will help you to consistently have a positive attitude towards work, which will impact everything you do.

2. Unwire regularly
If you work in an office, it’s entirely possible that you are suffering from a condition known as Divided Attention Disorder. DAD is a symptom of the digital age, and the constant stream of information could actually be affecting the way in which our brains are wired. Ultimately, it could be impacting the quality of your work and productivity if you are finding that you are struggling to complete a task or activity without being distracted by the array of connected devices around you.

Try to break the habit of continually having a connected device in hand. Instead, try to get into the habit of unplugging for five minutes or so every hour. Take a phone-free coffee break, go for a quick walk outside or sit down to read the paper or a book for five minutes. Additionally, try to begin your day unwired by having your shower and breakfast before you pick up your phone to check email, or to catch up on your social networks.

3. Establish your goals for 2015
Write your list of goals for the year ahead. These are distinctly different from New Year’s resolutions, as they can be a lot more focused and can realistically be achieved through sheer hard work and determination.

Goals are important as they draw out the best in us and help keep us on the right path. They increase our self-confidence and help us focus on the longer term.

If you really want to stick to your goals, it’s important to be clear about the outcomes you want and what it will take to achieve them. It can be a good idea to have long-range goals, which can be broken down into weekly goals. A marathon begins with running that first mile. Set actions in your calendar for each week that are focused on the end goal. Setting aside regular increments of time will help you get where you want to be by the end of the year.

4. Devote your attention to things that energise you
Now is the time to be honest about the things that are draining your time, energy and attention. It might be people, technology, gadgets or personal commitments. Things that negatively encumber you are the very things that make you ‘overwired’. Aim to give your life a spring clean and remove the things that are an unnecessary distraction. Some habits might be difficult to break, but choose to make 2015 the year where you fill your life with people and things that inspire and encourage you and make your time fruitful.

5. Become a person of action
“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Use all of the above tactics to become a person who does what they say they’re going to do. Devise a system of action that will enable you to execute your goals and aspirations. Otherwise it can be easy to get bogged down in day-to-day stuff and lose sight of the bigger picture.

One trick for staying on track is to write yourself some scheduled emails, which are dated to arrive every other month. This will mean that every so often, you’ll get a reminder from your motivated self of the goals that you’ve set yourself, and you’ll be able to evaluate how well you are progressing.

If you have additional tips on how to rewire for 2015, please let us know by adding a comment below.


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  • Zvikomborero Matiza

    Be realistic and adaptable/flexible

    • Michele Lionnet

      Be rigorous not rigid could be added to your list.

  • Sue France

    This is my 2nd entry of the same paragraph as my first entry had errors in it – please use this one. Many thanks.

    When you are trying to change your habits you should think of your old habits as for
    example a trodden path in the forest – you have gone down this path so many
    times it is worn away through the grass and weeds and it becomes easier and
    easier to walk this way the more you walk down the same path. So when you
    have a habit the more you do it, the easier it gets and then it becomes
    automatic and you hardly have to think about it (like driving). So
    therefore to change a habit you have to consciously think about what you are
    doing, be mindful, be in the moment and say STOP to yourself. Think about the
    new way you want to go and start treading that path down. At first it is
    difficult and you may have to hack your way through until you start to form a
    new path and again the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the old path
    (the old habit) begins to grow again with new grass growth and new weeds and now
    you are less able to walk down that path again. Therefore you have formed a new
    habit. It is about repetition of the new behaviour and being focussed on what
    you do as our minds are naturally lazy and will follow the easiest path unless
    you remind yourself to take the path you really want by concentrating,
    focussing and perseverance.

    Sue France FCIPD INLPTA
    Trainer & Author of “The Definitive Personal Assistant& Secretarial Handook” and
    “The Definitive Executive Assistant & Managerial Handbook”

    • Gemma, Citrix Interactions

      Thanks for the comment Sue. You’re right – it is so easy to continue doing the same things again and again, especially with regards to time efficiency. We have to take ourselves out of our comfort zone and try new things now and again. It’s good for the soul :o)


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