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How to make (smart) decisions without all the stress

person with difficulty and questions in studies
What to do? How to do it?

Oh this is going to be a goodie. 

Typically I send a new year message out to clients, but this year I have decided to write a post which has reflected the calls, emails and enquiries that I have responded to over the last 4 weeks.

They go a bit like this… 

Should I start my own business this year? 

How do I grow my business?

Should I find another job? 

Is this a good time to re-train and change careers?

What is a good strategy for my next 1-3 years considering… (insert life/business event)? 

What subjects should I study at university to get me the job of my dreams?  

Heavy. 

So many possibilities. So many answers. So many results depending on the decision. 

How do You make big decisions? How do You decide what is the best course of action? 

Here are some of the factors I’ve found contribute to ‘sound’ decision making. Because, we all know that you can’t objectively really know if you are making a smart decision at the time. 

What I mean is, time needs to pass to experience the outcome of the decision to evaluate how ‘smart’ it really was. And even that is subjective – right!?

We all know this, yet why do we toil, lose sleep and stress about these decisions? Yes they are life altering, yes they are ‘big’ and have the possibility to change everything, and yet, it is all in our heads. 

Here are some things I’ve found that contributed to a more pleasant and less stressful decision making process (if that is indeed possible!)

  1. Be Brave

Sounds a bit too simple yet, by cultivating this quality, bravery is the number one factor I’ve noticed aids us make decisions. 

Notice I didn’t say ‘good’, ‘sound’ or ‘smart’ decisions, just ‘make decisions’. 

Sometimes stress comes from not making any decision at all. Too many options, too many choices, too many possibilities yet having the guts/balls (whatever you need to be brave) pushes you to action. Bravery pushes you to make a choice because the alternative is …. Nothing. 

Yes, doing nothing is also a decision. A passive one. Yet someone who is brave, willing to just see where things take them (good or bad) are willing to take the steps needed to get them to their goal. It may take a bit longer, they make take some side steps but they are moving, trying, experimenting and above all else – learning.

I recently talked to a client who was just out of school and struggling to work out which university to go to. Due to poor grades, he just missed out on their first preference, and the 2 other options were so wildly different it just left him with a big decision headache. 

What jobs could he get if he completed either degree? How could he get back onto the path of the initial career he wished to pursue? He came to me exhausted, “What should I do?”(pulling hair out emoji). 

Reminding yourself of times when you have been brave and things have turned out okay, pushing yourself to be a little more brave in smaller things everyday was one of the ways this individual made a decision. And I can tell you, that moment of insight and clarity was the beginning of a journey.

Can being a little more brave help you take the leap and make a choice?

  1. The Pro-Con list dilemma

Faced with a decision point or a fork in the road, most people will suggest you try making a pro/con list.

Not a fan. I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes every time someone suggests this to me.

Pro’s of the pro/con listCon’s of the pro/con list
1. Highlights the pro’s and the con’s of the situation/opportunity1. Highlights the pro’s and the con’s of the situation/opportunity
The pro’s and con’s of pro/con lists

Unless there is  a glaringly obviously ‘con’,  I’ve found this a pretty useless tool.

Don’t get me wrong – they have their place. They’re great for having a discussion or talking to someone about why you have made the decision but in actually making one – sorry*. 

*Apologies to all those ‘pro/con list advocates.

A better way I’ve found is to do an ecological check on your decision. 

Ask yourself some of these questions instead. 

  • Is this decision outcome going to adversely effect my Team, Family, those important around me?
  • Is this decision outcome aligned to my values as a person?
  • Is this decision outcome something I’m willing to live with?

If you answer ‘Yes’, to the first question and ‘No’ to the last two perhaps you need to re-frame your decision.

Alternately, if you answered ‘No’ to the first question and ‘Yes’ to the final two, uncovering what is actually stopping you from taking that leap is your next obstacle.

Keep in mind there may be reasons as to why it may not be the right time to make a decision. Timing may be a legitimate factor.

  1. Research – but like Goldilocks

That’s right. Not too much, and not too little. 

We’ve all been there. Researched something to the end degree. 

You’ve looked at what your competitors are going, did all the training, did some more, read some books on the subject, Googled it, talked to people, asked people for other people to talk to that may shed some insight you need to make a decision. And then, you may even do a pro/con list!

Meanwhile 6 – 12 months have passed and you are no where nearer making a clear decision.  

Paralysed by information you can’t seem to take actionable steps forward.  You have however,  become a subject matter expert on the topic and can confidently talk to others about the process or subject without actually making any sort of decision! This is a skill unto itself!

Sound familiar? I liken this to knowing you need to start/finish a really important piece of work, yet unpacking the dishwasher seems more appealing. 

The big question – How to get around this?

Firstly ask yourself what is your comfort level in making a decision today? (Scale your answer objectively  from 1-10?)

If you answer less than 5 – follow up with, “Why wasn’t it lower?”

If you answer higher than 5 – follow up with, “What information do I need to get me up just one point?”

Work through these questions to work out a point in time when you just need to stop, be a little brave, and make a decision. 

So, there you have it. My top 3 tips, if you can call them that, in making decisions this year.

I congratulate you in advance, for making an important decision this year because sometimes just making it is the hardest step of all. 

I would love to hear below in the comments your decision making process and what factors you use to make informed ‘smart’ big decisions in your business, careers and lives. 

If you want some help in working through some big decisions this year, don’t hesitate to reach out and have a chat. I have a bailiwick full of tools and processes to interactively grow, stretch and flex you into the space you wish to fill. 

admin@elizabethpouret.com

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Reinventing Yourself? – Now might be the time.

person using macbook pro on white table
What do you want to do? If you don’t know – how will you find out?

People who know me and haven’t seen me in a while ask, “What are you doing these days?”.

I don’t know what to say.

So much has changed, so much has been learned, unlearned and evolved I can’t begin to express the magnitude of how the choices I’ve made have fundamentally changed the way I look at life, work and where I find joy.

With so many people transitioning roles, careers and finding themselves in situations they never thought they’d be in – there’s a lot of time to ponder. On where you are, and where you are going and the answer to the question, “What are you doing these days?”.

Confinement again in Europe, job changes including redundancies and stress on small businesses have all provided a unique time to pause and reevaluate. 

What are you doing these days, and are you really okay with that?

The last 6 years have been tough. From a promising career in professional capacity in Australia I took a year-long sabbatical and then, made the decision to immigrate to a country where I didn’t speak the language. I returned ‘home’  this year completely changed. Professionally, personally and ideologically.

It’s easy to summarise in a paragraph the geographical journey but the reasons I made the choices, the logic, why I I wanted take these leaps which pushed me to some extremes is not so simple. The rewards for embracing change, the hard times turning good, and the experiences (good and bad) are all a part of this story. So here I go…

The choice to take a sabbatical was a no-brainer for me. It was something I had planned for a very long time – even if it was a surprise to many colleagues. I had planned the gap year or as I called it ‘pressing the reset button’, and reconnect with my values of freedom and creativity.

I left behind security and comfort to explore how others lived and how I could learn from them. Security and comfort came into my life automatically having a great job out of university but these values were not inherently what kept me going. I wanted more…something was missing and I was going to find out what.

That year I took was for me. I will always remember the people, experiences and time I took to think, reflect and just be. No regrets. I stated a travel blog ‘My Manifesto’ to begin writing again and document my encounters with our beautiful earth. I visited places as a tourist, stayed a while like a local and tried to embrace this gift of time.

I learned a lot about myself during that year. A year of doing what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. Complete and absolute freedom. Yet, it is funny how that wears off after a while. I began to crave a ‘home’, some of my ‘things’ (comforts) and naturally, my friends and family.

After 10 months I was ready to ‘go back’ to a life more ‘normal’. More of what it was like before. Before the 15 hour bus rides in South America, before the bed bugs in Cambodia and before the earth tremors in Chile.

It was when life took me to France that the foundations of who I thought I was became cracked.

My husband’s work took us to Paris, where the plan was I would find work after spending a few months getting the lay of the land. In short, this didn’t happen.

I was demoted from my french class, cause my french was ‘that bad’ and the countless applications I submitted I competed with bi or tri-lingual professionals who could write and converse in fluent english, french and *insert another language here.

From a confident, English speaking subject matter expect I was thrust into French speaking scenarios which rendered me useless and pushed my personality and expertise to the background.  I became mute, unable to express my personality, my words, my experience. Unless you have been in this situation, you cannot begin to empathise how tiny you feel.

I was forced to just listen to words I couldn’t comprehend, watching gestures and tones in voices just to laugh when I thought the topic was funny, or frown when the group moved to a more serious tone. All this to feel like I could just fit in.

But I didn’t fit in. Not at first. My stubbornness refused help with translation. I didn’t want my colleagues and friends to repeat, stall or slow down the conversation on my part. I wanted to feel part of the group, the team, the culture. So I persevered.

I recall going home in tears after a meeting which resulted in being ‘talked to’ for 30 minutes, with the only word I could get in being “Oui”,  and only picking up that I needed to be somewhere, next Tuesday at 2pm. WTF!

I was in over my head. My usual confident self had taken so many knocks that I was defeated. I started to refuse to answer my phone if the number was a local French number. I just refused to speak French.

Until.

I started to think about how strong I really was. How fearless I could be. How far I had come and how much further there would be to go. Different challenges, different scenarios and how different I was becoming.

In the 5 years in Paris, I interviewed and got 2 jobs. I met CEO’s of billion dollar companies and helped them with their business English. I became a mother and I started my life as an entrepreneur in France helping others gain the confidence and skills to do what they wanted to do.

I won’t gloss over the hard parts. These are some of my favourites:

  1. I very closely avoided a scam by a ‘chimney sweep’ which would have cost me 200 euros and resulted the building’s Guardian calling the police to my apartment.
  2. The time I found 3 firemen in my apartment at midnight when the ‘babysitter’ thought she was having a heart attack.
  3. When learnt to inject myself with new medication (in French)  after being re-diagnosed with Chron’s.
  4. I can’t forget the numerous times I risked my life cycling around the ‘Arc de Triomphe’ at peak hour or;
  5. The time I was tear-gassed in the Metro during the ‘Gillet Jaune’ riots.

All quite stressful at the time – let me tell you.

What’s the secret? Special sauce?

Just getting out of your head and doing IT. What ever IT is for you.

Trying, failing, trying again. Putting yourself in vulnerable positions. Learn to swim in a feeling of depletion, give up hope and then come to the realization that’s just not you (that’s not who you are) and trying something different. Talk to different people. Get creative. A combination of it all.

At some point I realized that I was already vulnerable.  Not knowing the language, being an outsider, deer in headlights in all work or social related conversations but I knew this would sort it self out – eventually. I had some optimism.

What I hadn’t taken into account is that although everything around me had changed, my values of freedom, creativity, curiosity, generosity and more importantly courage had not.

I roamed the streets of Paris, talking to Uber drivers when I would go to Clients, asking questions in French, apologizing for it being so bad and having a laugh with anyone who I would strike up a conversation with.

I invited existing and new people in my circle out for wine or coffee to talk about opportunities and how I could help them and, I kept on going. Courageously and sometimes, stupidly fearlessly, driving into scenarios which would test me. Sometimes, it would result in  frustration and tears, other times joy and a renewed feeling of ‘I can do this’.

Funnily enough it is now the stories that make me giggle. The more difficult the scenario, the crazier the position I put myself in, I now look back and smile.

What I valued and what I stood for became clearer. It was always me –  just amplified.

So no matter what situation you’re in right now, think about who you are. What you stand for and how you show up in the world – it could make a big difference in what you do today, tomorrow and the day after that.

So when people ask me, “What do you do these days?”, I smile. Because, I’m not defined by what I do, but who I am – and who I am is okay.

Tell me your story of courage, I would love to hear from you. admin@elizabethpouret.com

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Shiny New Ideas are Hot

sticky notes on board
Lots of ideas – but what are YOU going to do about them?

Have you purchased something recently that you love? A new car, motorbike, jacket, dress, timepiece? Have you changed into a new role, left your job or taken a break to learn something new? The excitement, the anticipation the joy and then…it’s back to normal. That shiny new thing just becomes a bit less shiny, till the next thing comes around.

But what about new ideas? New habits? New friends? New homes? New lover? A little bit more at stake, right?

Talking to ambitious and talented leaders, I’ve found that the desire to try out shiny new things is amplified. “Yes, let’s give that a go!”. “That’s a great idea, I want to try that too”. “I love it, but how about we tweak it and try it like this?”. [Draws a picture].

By discussing the possibilities and options, then timing and execution, ideas get turned into reality. Tested, prototyped and either relegated or pushed forward.

Give it a go. A try. See what happens.

Those of us more risk adverse may cringe at this way of leading or doing business, but unfortunately in a world that is constantly changing and evolving, new and innovative ways of thinking and doing things all must start with and idea and it’s either YOU that is going to kick it off, pick it up off someone else and run with it or, be the one who thinks it up and drops it.

It’s too hard, too big, I don’t know where to start, it’s a bit crazy – are almost always the thoughts that run through ones mind before they embark on exploring an idea.

I’m all too familiar with these feelings being an idea creator myself. Recently, I had a crazy idea for a new article and thought, “This is brilliant and so many people will enjoy learning and reading about this, but, it’s too big to do. I need help”.

So, I went and sought out help. Unfortunately, for me, the wrong way.

I contacted a connection on LinkedIn who, I honestly don’t remember how we knew each other or exactly when we hooked up on the professional network. I thought she would be perfect to collaborate with, as unlike me, she was interested and played in the space this article would be about – she ticked a lot of boxes that I could have filled but decided not to. How could a little message hurt? After all, collaboration is key, we all want to feel included and sought after.

One quick message later which briefly explained my idea and why I thought it would be great to collaborate, I got a message back saying, “Thanks, but this is not on my radar”.

Not expecting much more than this reply, I just took my ‘great idea’ and shelved it. No more action, no more exploration – zilch. It just sat on my shelf of ideas.

1 month later she had published an article which was exactly the idea I had shared.

To say I was surprised when I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed was an understatement. Finding the article, the title almost identical to what I had proposed was a real stab in the guts. I thought about it, between sips of my morning coffee but couldn’t be mad for long enough to do anything about it. Why? Because where I had just given up on the idea, she had taken it, worked it and delivered upon it. Accident or on purpose, the idea was out there in the world and even though I acted upon it (by sending an email to action), I didn’t actually DO anything about it. I shared it without first qualifying the person I am sharing it with. I didn’t have it worked to the point of getting other input to share, no IP was actually on paper. Just the idea.

Shiny new things, especially shiny new ideas are hot.

Too hot for some, and up for the grabbing by others who actually will do something with them.

I wanted to share this somewhat depressing tale of shiny ideas once had, and gone. I may serve as a reminder to you (and my future self), to not underestimate the power of ideas.

Your shiny ideas. Just waiting to be tried. Waiting to be built into something with substance and worth.

Share cautiously before you have the meat on the bones, talk about them with the right people who can make them happen but don’t feel too bad when you see them out there in the world when you didn’t do anything about them. Anything smart, that is…

Back to the drawing board.

Sign up to receive news, and more insights on www.elizabethpouret.com.

Or just send me an email to give me your views – I love to hear back from you – my readers!

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If only…I had the time…

gray double bell clock
Time

Some time ago I came across the daily blog of musical creator Karl Hyde from Underworld. He’s been posting online every day for the last 20 years! It may be only a line and a picture per day but 20 years is a pretty amazing feat of dedication, discipline and habit.

Imagine posting creative content on the Internet 365 days a year for 20 years! *Mind blown!*

Discipline and habits are always on my mind. These two singular words run into the subjects of ‘what if’s’ and ‘time’ – mainly the lack of it. Recently, I’ve been thinking how I can learn from those who manage to make the time each day to do what they want to do. No excuses, no buts, just starting and biting at it every single day.

Because the truth is – we have the time. If only we carve it out of our busy days, even hide away, like we are having a secret liaison or affair, only just to spend an hour of time with that passion/business idea/project that we can’t seem to find the space for. 

I have imagined making up an elaborate lie in order to hide away and work on my passion. Hiding your secret passion to make it more alluring, more seductive, and the end result being – more likely to spend the required time to make dreams into a reality was suggested by international best seller: Elizabeth Gilbert’s – Big Magic. She suggested this hack: secretly working on your passion whenever you get a chance comparing it with sneaking out to meet a secret lover at a cafe during your lunch break!

You would think it would come naturally – the desire and dedication to do what it takes to get what we want, and yet, it’s rarely there. Comfort prevails.

After some time of just floundering and just weighing up what we want, with what we’ve got now (the comfy status-quo), often we find ourselves beginning to question if it is, indeed, actually what you want.

If it takes making up ‘secret liaisons’ with your passion to carve out he required time, or it has become a mental feat of epic proportions to pull yourself up from the couch in the evening to take the little baby steps to reach your goal – then wow, maybe it is not really worth doing …right?!

When, in fact,  you could be one step, one word, one click, or a phone call away from that dream becoming a reality.

Why does it seem to take superhuman strength to make these small steps? Is it really a lack of passion? Or does it come back down to dedication, discipline and habits?

Coaches are onto something. Pick the smallest step you need to do to reach your goal and make a commitment to do it in ‘X’ amount of time. Set Goals.  

The steps to reach our goals are within ourselves and we know what we need to do to make it happen so why don’t we, like the NIKE slogan, ‘Just do it’?

Mantras and affirmations only get you so far. Once you have landed on one – it still takes a habit to remind yourself to repeat it in your mind when you begin to mentally or physically waver. 

So between, the ‘smallest possible step’ approach, mantras, secret hideaway mind tricks to ignite passion to reach your goals to sharing your goals with people to keep you accountable, to the study where it advises not to share your goals with people, there seems to be so many ‘non useful’ and conflicting ways to motivate you to get what you want.

Just look at the countless motivational quotes, craftily designed GIFS posted on Instagram. Hashtags like #inspo #lifegoals #livelive #youcandoitifyouonlytry #believeinyourself – we are all craving for that piece of inspiration that will get us off our arses and into action!

Whatever that action is for you, we are looking everywhere get the #inspo to get started, keep going, or pick it back up again after a long break – as if we forgot ourselves for a while and realised ‘oh yes, I forgot, this is what I want in life’.

This is what I want for myself, my world. 

‘Liking’ these quotes, reading books and posting illusions of self motivation are all great in theory, but when do we, how do we, get into gear?

Move.

When do we say enough is enough with posting and ‘hashtaging’, reading and searching for the person or contact which will provide that ‘piece of advice’ that will make all the difference?

When did we (collective “I”) become so soft* (lack of a better word) that we feel the need to post all about #inspo and reaching for the stars when the energy it takes to select, crop, filter, hashtag we instead, could have been focused and taking steps each day? Don’t get me started on mindless scrolling – filling our minds with other peoples dreams.

In the end, these goals, passions become like a love hate relationship that we hate to miss, love to complain that we don’t have time for, and are a niggling thought in the back of our minds that we long for, pine after, and use excuses like time and circumstance to avoid the process, avoid the outcome – which we, deep down, yearn for.

Non sensical hey?! If you’re anything like me you get to a stage when we say enough is enough and then what? That seems to be the time when fear creeps in? 

Fear, in some form or another, is what is holding us all from being happy, from taking those small steps. From stepping away from posting about our ideal life and actually sitting on a chair, or getting out of your home to make it happen.

Day by day, action by action after 20 years – imagine what YOU also could achieve. 

So does paying someone, like a coach or motivator, help you reach your goals faster? In the end, you’re the one who has to the work in the end – push through your own limits and self boundaries to get what you want.

I’ve personally experienced how coaching can help verbalise those fears, guide you to a place where you can face tham and move on to a more productive state.

By remaining focused on your end game, remaining fearless and setting a plan you will be able to build the habits and discipline and to get what you want. Day by day, week by week, year by year.

If you haven’t given coaching a go, why not try? Contact me for a discovery call where you can experience it for yourself.

Action is the cure

Cinderella’s Hand – Karl Hyde 20 Year Diary.

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Say ‘hello’ to change and ‘au revoir’ to the rest

Hello and a big welcome to 2020!

I wanted to write a note to all my Clients – past and present to wish you all a wonderful 2020 filled with health, happiness and prosperity in all that you will endeavour this year.

2020 is a big year for EP consulting as my family and I have made the decision to move from Paris, France to Perth, Australia. After 4 amazing years here in Paris, the time has come to say ‘au revoir’ to the baguettes, pain au chocolates and charcuterie (all of my favourite things) and ‘hello’ to sunshine, beaches and a whole lot of space.

For a few of you, we will be continuing our coaching via Zoom, live from the ‘land down- under’, and for the rest, I hope to hear stories of your successes and as always, I am not too far away to help and add value to your business, team or personal goals.

Starting new again is something I am all too familiar with. Moving country, changing careers, starting a family, learning a new language, finding new friends and starting a new business are all big changes filled with nervous excitement and a hope for better things. However things don’t always go the way you think (good or bad) and instead those positive feelings can too easily be replaced by fear, doubt and self limiting thoughts – yes, even I am not immune!

The good thing about continuing to push yourself to try and experience different things, is that it does get easier. The ‘no, I don’t think I can’ becomes ‘I did it’ and although you might not say these aloud (but that would be kind of cool), it is your internal self counting these wins.

I personally have found that reaching outside of your immediate comfort zone and trying something new may not instantaneously feel good but, oh man, looking back you’ll be happier knowing you at least tried something new and who knows, what might come out of it.

So, as you leap into 2020 have a think of some of the things you have be hesitating to try, do, or change, and dare yourself to try this year. Hell, I dare you.  What’s the worst that can happen (insert a wink here).

This year,  I have dared myself to take productivity to a new level.  With the move and balance between childcare, making a living, personal care and just living a little, I’ve changed a few things to ensure I get a little happier, healthier and wealthier each and every day in 2020.

I thought I would share these little changes I plan to undertake this year as it may be of inspiration to you too!

Taking your Agenda to the next level

Every night in bed I write down 2-4 simple goals that I want to achieve for the next day (and check of the ones I’ve achieved that day).  But the goals I write of are not ‘visit client XYZ’ or ‘buy toothpaste’ or ‘call mother’, which will get done anyway.

Here a few ‘wins’ I have already had:

  • Organize a virtual meeting with a training provider in Australia to see how we can collaborate
  • Talk to former manager in Australia to see if any opportunities will be coming up for coaching new IT graduates
  • Clean out my wardrobe and donate unused clothes to charity
  • Research and book 1 development course for myself
  • Plan and schedule 4 weekends away with my husband (book it in away time with your loved ones now – or it won’t happen)

Of course, you don’t have to do them all each day. You can even just do one if you want – the point is just to make sure that each day you are focused on achieving something that’s going to make you happier, or move you toward your big goals.

Come up with a Theme for the Year

2018 was ‘PASSION. Last year it was ‘WORK IT’. This year it’s ‘VALUE’. Having one word that keeps me focused throughout the year works. Ask any one of my closest friends and they will tell you I’ve been doing this for years!

Instead of New Years resolutions, I come up with at theme and then when faced with a decision, crossroad or just a lull, I think of my theme and the problem seems to solve itself.

I recommend you try it. What is your theme for 2020?

The Daily Shutdown

My business is mainly virtual and relies on me keeping contact and remaining rather flexible and contactable throughout the day.

So to keep some sort of sanity I have created a very simple shutdown routine. This is not new and I have changed it over the years but it goes a bit like this –

I close all the tabs I have open in my web browser, clean the desktop and shut down the computer. Then in my agenda I cross out my work priorities for the day and plan the next ones – then do a quick tidy around my desk which is often littered with notes, crumbs and half drunken beverages.

It sounds so simple, but having the separation between work and home has been helpful for me in 2019 and I plan to continue this routine this year.

Listen to a fantastic podcast I heard last year which prompted me to start this routine!

Work out your Net Worth

And finally … the start of the NY is the perfect time to look at your finances. I got this idea from a fantastic Australian financial coach I subscribe to yearly called the Barefoot Investor. Yes, I do pay money for coaching!

Every January, I check my net worth. I won’t look over it every week or month but subconsciously it gives me something to work towards. And knowing my net worth in the back of my mind helps me stay focused on earning and spending (!) small amounts of money wisely.

As my wise Greek mother says, a sack full of lentils won’t stay full if there is a hole in the bottom.

You can find some great online calculators to do this so take a few minutes now to fill it out. You can find the one I use here.

So there you have it, 4 things I have used and will continue to use to be incredibly productive this year. Do one or all four of these things to set the tone for the year and you will see what happens when a few small wins can compound to something huge!

Then call or drop me an email  – I would love to hear about them!