5 clarity boosting ways to feel happy and productive this year.

There’s no doubt that we are in challenging times. Uncertainty surrounds us, and it can sometimes all feel a little overwhelming. Not only at work, but in our personal lives too. It’s a universal truth that we have all spent a little too much time cooped up this last year.

Alarmingly, a recent Gallup poll states that our mental and emotional wellbeing are at their lowest level since 2001. A 2020 CIPD survey also found 60% of respondents reported an increase in common mental health conditions, plus 37% had experienced stress-related absence from work.

What can we do to reverse these trends and improve our overall happiness? It’s not easy but if you follow these 5 simple steps then feeling more positive about life in general, and work in particular, will undoubtedly follow.

1. Take risks

As Goethe once wrote, ‘The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.’ We all know the comfort and security of routine. Knowing what the day holds can be great for some, but stifling for others. No matter what your personality type, if you want to achieve in life, you are going to have to step firmly outside your comfort zone.

A plethora of feelings can swamp us when we decide to take a risk. Am I going to fall flat on my face? Will I embarrass myself? What if I lose money? We need to turn all this questioning on its head and learn it’s okay to fail sometimes. Making a mistake is part of how we learn – it’s an essential tool in building resilience and a hardened skin in both life and business. Taking a calculated risk that you have thought through will be worth it in the long run.

Persistence and a refusal to give up characterize many successful endeavours:

  • Decide on one major risk you are going to take this year.
  • Work backwards through each step to the beginning.
  • Now you know how to take the risk and the steps needed to succeed.

What if I fail, I hear you ask? Don’t worry! Look at your steps. Where did you go wrong? What could you have done differently?

Work this out and you have worked out your mistake and know how to put it right. Take the risk and reap the rewards, both on a life level and a psychological one too.

2. Streamline planning

This is tricky. Life has a habit of throwing spanners in the works when you least expect them. But having a clear strategic plan to focus on your success is vital here. There are a few key hacks you can use to make sure you are ahead of the game:

  • Work out your most important end goal. Shorten your cycle so that you can achieve parts of this goal in chunks. This will boost your confidence no end.
  • Work from one platform if you can. Working from one central system, such as a cloud-based planning system, allows you to share what you’re doing with others.
  • Collaborate with smart partners. Network online to see who you can support and who can offer you advice when you need it.
  • Develop strategic skills. Spend a little time on ‘what-if’ scenarios to prep you for any eventuality. This will future-proof your planning and save time when something unexpected occurs.

3. Feel that gratitude!

When you are caught up in your life, your thoughts circle inevitably around the daily grind. How can you tap into appreciation for life, nature and others? Try these easy ideas to expand your horizons and feel the benefits of enjoying the great things about life:

  • Think bigger than yourself. Become involved in a charity or cause so that you can help those who are less fortunate than you. Help others with your knowledge so that they can get ahead too.
  • Practise present moment awareness. Be fully present in what you are doing right now. Notice the small things – what are these adding to your life? Try not to think about the future or the past. Now is good.
  • Turn negative thoughts into positive ones. Everyone has moments when they wish their house was bigger or they had more money. Turn these on their head. Look at what you have and see the great benefits they bring to your everyday. A gratitude journal where you write 3 things you are grateful for each evening can help open your mindset to the possibilities of life.

4. Focus on solutions

Solving a problem is innately positive. It feels great to have that control. Zooming in on the opportunities in a problem or issue to find a solution is the way forward. It means opening your mindset so that, instead of feeling frustrated at an issue, you can start to use the situation practically to stop yourself wasting time on negative emotion. Use that time productively to come up with a step-by-step plan to resolve the issue. Winning has never felt so good if you use your strategic skills to carry you there.

5. Compete less

Doing whatever it takes to win is ineffective and exhausting! A good motto to live by is, “The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” Always looking at what others are doing means less time focusing on you.

There’s nothing wrong with checking out your competition now and again – that’s natural and healthy. But if you want a happy, successful life, you need to focus on your goals and your easy step plan to get there. Being yourself and doing your best while keeping half an eye on the marketplace – that’s how you will smash your goals and keep smiling all the way through 2021.