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The Most Important New Year's Resolution You Could Make

01/02/2014 05:17 EST | Updated 03/08/2014 05:59 EST

This is the time of year when people are most likely to set goals. Get in shape, eat better, budget smarter, work wiser, and live better.

How about you? Are you declaring goals that will help you step up your game in 2014 to be a better version of yourself?

Nothing wrong with that. I'm not going to bash goals and resolutions setting here. Taking responsibility and setting meaningful, achievable goals to help better ourselves is a good thing. Of course, how we pursue our goals is what matters most. But I'll leave that for another post, another time. Right now, I want to talk about an essential item that I think is likely missing from most people's lists.

Boost your daily positivity habit.

I bet dollars for donuts (well, let's make that apples) that developing a robust positivity habit is not on your list.

But it should be.

Positivity has been scientifically proven (over and over again) to be an essential ingredient that can bolster our capacity and potential to thrive and become better versions of ourselves.

People who develop robust positivity habits are more apt to reach for and achieve bigger goals. They tend to experience greater well-being (mental, emotional, physical and social). They are most apt to thrive.

But don't take my word for it. Instead, trust the army of scientists who have been in the lab testing out this hypothesis for well over a decade. Recently, I had an opportunity to participate in a special eight-week class lead by none-other than Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity and Love 2.0 and the pre-eminent scientist on positive emotions.

Fredrickson connected with a global group of participants (coaches, therapists, etc.) and shared from mounds of hardcore research, compelling evidence that positivity "broadens and builds" (her term) our minds, capacities, success experiences -- and more.

What does this really mean for you?

If you want to be a better version of yourself this coming year, by all means set goals. But make sure you include positivity as part of your personal growth plan. Because without a robust positivity habit, you are less likely to stick to your goals; maintain resilience when the going gets tough; be open to new learning and growth -- and much more. Why miss out on that?

People often look for a magic bullet solution in the New Year to feel better, look better, live and be better. While I'm not a proponent of 'magic bullet' solutions, I am utterly convinced that positivity is a pretty potent ingredient that should not be overlooked. Authentic, regular doses of positivity can be created -- even in times of challenge -- and this can contribute substantially to your success and well-being.

But we need to get enough positivity into our daily diets. According to Fredrickson, we need a minimum of three positive thoughts to one negative to reap the rewards of the positivity advantage. Most of us tend not to achieve the 3:1 ratio often enough. It's far too easy to spiral down when we have set-backs or allow our self talk and limiting beliefs to dominate. Most of us can do better.

So how can you ramp up the positivity habit?

Oh let me count thy ways! There are endless ways to build your positivity habit -- many that take only seconds or micro-moments at a time. I've written about a few of those ideas in this article: Stay Positive, It Really Works. It highlights the importance of: committing; diversifying your 'positivity portfolio'; savouring the moments; connecting with others; and tapping inside (vs. relying on external forces).

And there's so much more. But let's start with the first one:

Are you ready to commit to developing and/or improving your positivity habit?

If you are game, then declare it (to yourself and perhaps others). Then immediately start paying diligent attention and being open to any moment -- no matter how small -- to notice and embrace the opportunities to experience a positive emotion.

It could be a pleasant exchange with a friend or even a stranger; it might be taking stock of all that you are grateful for at any given moment; perhaps enjoying pride in an accomplishment; or maybe a moment of joy upon hearing some good news. Notice those moments and capture them (write them down; talk about them). Far too often, we zip by those experiences and don't give them their due attention. That's a lost opportunity.

You might also pay attention to the moments of negativity. Don't dwell on them but do catch yourself in midst of a negative stream of thought and try to re-frame gratuitous negativity to minimize the downward spiral effect. The idea isn't to eliminate all negative thoughts (that wouldn't be realistic or human). But we can all rein in the excess that doesn't serve.

There's so much more! I am BIG on my goal of championing positivity in the coming weeks/months, I will be offering more ideas, resources and support for those who want to ante up their positivity game.

Stay tuned for more. And in the meantime, note that with my new book Ease I devote a good portion of the guidance on developing the positivity advantage.

Back soon! In the meantime, here's to a positively, amazing New Year ahead.

Eileen Chadnick is a work-life and career coach and principal of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto. She is author of a new book, Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of "Crazy Busy". Follow her on Twitter at: @Chadnick.

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