Money & Career

Five ways to achieve your goals in a single year

Make 2014 the year you get everything you want. Make health and fitness a priority, win kudos from your boss and improve your state of mind with these tips.

Photo by Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

Photo, Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images.

1. Slim down, get healthier and stop counting calories
“Stop counting calories and start eating more,” says Jonathan Bailor, author of the new book The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More and Exercise Less with the Science of Slim. “We’ve gotten sicker and heavier while trying harder,” Bailor says. Rather than focus on how much you’re eating, think about the quality of the food (whole, natural, unprocessed versus heavily processed and convenient) you’re ingesting, he explains.

2. Get stronger by exercising less
Forty-five minutes on the elliptical, an hour-long spin class, a 10K run — if you enjoy these activities, great. But if you don’t, and you’re not seeing the results you want, then it’s time to “exercise less — but smarter,” says Bailor. “Exercise, like eating, is about quality not quantity,” he explains. Increase the effectiveness by participating in resistance-training exercises, “Think weight lifting and interval training.”

Shorter and more intense workouts save on time and “cause the hormonal change that leads to long-term fat loss.”

3. Lay the groundwork for a promotion at work
If you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder this year, lay the groundwork for a promotion or raise by making a solid career plan. Business coach Eileen Chadnick suggests you start by asking yourself if you’re doing enough to get the kind of acknowledgment you’re looking for from your superiors, and, if not, get to work. Her new book Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of “Crazy Busy” is full of ways to help make 2014 a better year for you, and your cortisol levels.

4. Research your raise in advance
Before you set up that nerve-racking meeting with your boss — the one in which you make your “I deserve a raise pitch” — do your homework. First establish firm facts related to your work performance. “Results speak the loudest, so prepare a concrete list of your accomplishments. Ideally if you exceeded expectations in tangible ways that serve the company’s goals you will have a stronger case,” says Chadnick.

Second, research salaries in your industry to see if they square with what you’re asking for. “Is your hope aligned with others in similar roles in the company and/or the industry standard?” she asks. Find out what other employees in similar positions are earning and research your own company’s financial reality to see if it’s in a position to offer raises.

Armed with credible facts about industry standards, as well as your own conviction that you merit acknowledgment, you may not come out of the meeting with exactly what you want but you will reveal yourself to be a smart, savvy professional worthy of respect.

5. Think happy to be happy
Chadnick urges you make thinking positively a goal for 2014, “Research has proven that people who develop authentic, positive mindsets are more likely to be happier, healthier and successful. They lean in more assertively towards goals, are more likely to reach them, and success generates success.”

Reduce negative thought patterns first by noticing them, she explains, “Pay attention to your thoughts and catch yourself in a moment of negativity and see if you can switch to something more positive. Instead of being upset that you have to work an hour later, focus on the positives of having a job, the learning you are gaining and something else that is authentic to the experience.”

Begin to increase the number of positive thoughts you have by becoming more attuned to the good moments in your life no matter how “micro” they are, she adds.

“Just like you wouldn’t eat all your veggies in one meal on only one day, you need positivity nutrients to fuel you throughout your week, and the best way is to create, notice and savour those positive moments.” Rather than dwell on your gruelling commute, be grateful for the fact that you get the chance to read on the bus or listen to an audio book. To deepen your feelings of gratitude, start a journal, she concludes.

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