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Make life more productive and happy in 2018

In the new year, look back on the old one, review your habits and think about changing your approach to life and work, says Executive Coach Geraldine Gallacher.

Geraldine Gallacher

January 2018

Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do.” Now is a good time to review habits of 2017. What did I learn? What inspired me? What bored me? What irritated me?

If you’ve got too many answers to the latter questions and too few to the former then it’s worth thinking about what you might change in 2018. It doesn’t have to be as drastic as changing your job or life partner. It could be just about changing your approach.

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As a late Christmas present, I recommend reading economist and former McKinsey partner Caroline Webb’s How to have a Good Day, and plan how you will apply its lessons to make 2018 a great year. It’s a really fascinating book that draws on research from behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience to help you lead a more productive and, therefore, happy life.

As a serial procrastinator who would dearly love to get better on this front, I recommend her top tips for becoming more productive:

Picture the benefits

This is the opposite of the fat-photo-on-the-fridge technique which triggers a defence response in the brain. Instead, put up a photo of when you last looked great to trigger the discovery mode of the brain. Triggering the positive neural attractors expands possibilities, whereas framing goals in a negative way closes down your brain’s ability to solve problems.

Plan a short-term reward

A cup of tea, the luxury of reading a non-work focused magazine, or a quick fix on social media, whatever works for you to get you going.

Tie the first step to something you like

If you like to write then make sure the first part of the task involves writing something. Alternatively, if you think more clearly while walking, set a first step to structure the task while moving between meetings or on the way home.

Ask yourself: “What’s the cost of not doing this task?” 

I make a point of checking with coachees what would happen if you did nothing and stuck with the status quo. Most often it has a galvanising effect.

To do differently, we need to think differently, here’s to a happy and productive 2018!

Geraldine Gallacher is founding partner of the Executive Coaching Consultancy

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