Happy New Year! Looking ahead at 2018, our team is inspired to take a step back and double-check our intentions for our work.

In December, I talked to Paul Cummings on the #WorkTrends podcast, and I’m still thinking about the strategies and tips he shared for living a more intentional life.

If you have a big idea for 2018, or just want to reset your day, try out Paul’s tips.

Build Your Intention. Ask Yourself These Questions

Ask yourself: “What do I really want?”
The answer might be very simple. Paul says that when he asked himself this question years ago, the answer was “I want to leave it better than I found it.”

Then ask: “How?” and “Who?”
Paul wanted to improve the world around him by teaching, and he wanted to work with anyone who was seeking a more compelling journey.

And finally: “What will I do?”
It’s important that the “what” of Paul’s business didn’t come first. He started with his goals and his intentions, and then figured out how to make it happen and what nuts and bolts he needed to gather in order to build his business. In the end he landed on building a better learning management system, which led him to checking off all the boxes above.

Push Out Negative Influence

Paul shared an idea that I really love — inside every negative circumstance is the seed of something good. Instead of focusing on something bad, you just have to change the questions you ask about it. If you’re feeling stressed by a negative person at work, or bogged down by an overwhelming problem, ask yourself questions like “What can I do differently next time to make it better?” “What do I need to do less of to have more of what I want?” “What can I do to make this moment better?”

“You can’t imprison yourself in negative circumstances,” Paul says. “I think outlook has a lot to do with output.”

It’s important to keep your outlook clear and positive by limiting the impact of negative people. “Be careful about who you put in your circle. If you invite people who have a negative outlook then you’re going to get exposed to that.”

Amen! I’m a huge proponent of watching who’s around you and what energy they bring. Guard yourself against the negative and look for the windows of positivity and growth instead.

Start Every Day with Intention

Setting goals is the first step to building an intentional life. But instead of thinking about goal-setting as a one-time event, Paul explained that we have the chance to set mini-goals and set ourselves up for success every morning.

A morning routine is about getting disciplined. “I think the best way for people to get unstuck is to make sure they start every day with something that’s positive that can be repeated, that can be developed into a winning habit pattern for themselves,” he says.

“I think that goal-setting has been misunderstood for a long time. A goal is not a wish. It’s a commitment with a deadline. So many people talk about, ‘I know I should do that. I know I should do this,’ and they should, should, should, so they should all over themselves,” he says.

Instead, start your morning with statements like “I am” and “I will.”

“I will be the most enthusiastic person today.”
“I will be open-minded to ideas, and to conversations with other people.”
“I will operate today with self-discipline.”

Lose the Baggage

Looking ahead to a new year, I’m working on cutting ties to the baggage that brings me down. We all struggle with it, so I asked Paul how he leaves the bad stuff behind and moves forward.

His insight? “When you look back with regret, you look forward with worry and you destroy all your present moments.” Instead of fretting over the past, he’s learned to ask “What’s the lesson? How do I turn it into a stepping stone?” And instead of looking at the situation as baggage, he tries to turn it into an accelerant.

“I try to make it fuel for future fire.”

Embrace Every Day

Finally, Paul says he tries to embrace and use every single day. “I look at every day as if it’s the only one I have,” he says. He knows he can find promising minutes and moments in the day today — and tomorrow he’ll re-commit himself to embracing the day again.

At the end of the day he asks himself a few positive questions:
“What did I learn today?”
“What did I give today?”
“What impact do I want to have tomorrow, and how do I best achieve that?”

Thanks, Paul! I’m personally inspired to follow your advice to make 2018 my best year ever.

Stay tuned for more inspiration on the #WorkTrends podcast, every Wednesday: http://bit.ly/2DjCkja.

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