With Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and the rest of the holiday season coming to a crescendo, people tend to reflect on the past year as well as what they can look forward to in the year ahead.  I know I do.  Some people think it’s corny to talk about gratitude and appreciation, but capturing and cataloging moments we appreciate or the things for which we are grateful puts us in a positive frame of mind so we will be poised for future success. This is where the science comes in.  According to Barbara Frederickson, author of Positivity, “The first core truth about positive emotions is that they open our hearts and our minds, making us more receptive and more creative.”  By practicing gratitude and appreciation, we can leverage the positive emotions generated as a springboard to success as we plan for the future.

Frederickson’s “broaden-and-build” theory is based upon the idea that “unlike negative emotions, which narrow ideas about possible actions, positive emotions do the opposite:  They broaden people’s ideas about possible actions, opening our awareness to a wider range of thoughts and actions than is typical.”  In addition to her own studies to support her idea, also she quotes a meta-analysis of nearly 300 different scientific studies of positivity, including laboratory and longitudinal studies (studies of people’s lives over time), that concluded that positivity produces success in life as much as it reflects success.  This provides scientific substantiation for the “broaden-and-build” theory, but what does it mean practically for you as you reflect on 2013 in preparation to spring toward a successful 2014?

If you sit down and list categories in your life like professional/business, personal, family, health, etc… and then write down things for which you are grateful in these areas in 2013, before writing your goals for 2014, it will help open your mind to the possibilities for achieving what you deem success in your life.

Professionally, I am excited about the new agents who joined One Horn.  It is great to see our business flourish.  We had our first national agent meeting in October, and meeting people in person created great camaraderie, and enabled us to understand what made people tick and how we could help them grow their businesses.  We also had a lot of fun. But as I look back on the few agents who left because it was not a good fit, I still look for the positive in the situation, so I can see what I can learn from what happened.  Maybe their expectations were different from our offering, and so we improve our communication during the interview process.  Thinking about the positive first, enabled me to find the good in the bad things that happened as well, so we can improve our process and spring forward to more successful recruiting in 2014.

Personally, I am happy that owning my own business has enabled me to control my own destiny and vacation schedule, so I got to spend more time having fun with my family, compared to during my life in the corporate world as an employee.  My work/life balance is definitely moving in the direction I want it to move, and I am grateful.  While on vacation, I am thankful that I can reduce my tasks to a minimum if I choose to do so as an entrepreneur.  We can work from wherever we are with all the great technological advances that are available today.  For freight agents, this can be true as well, since as entrepreneurs, you have the freedom to choose how much you want to work in any given week, so you can get the work/life balance you desire, vs. being an employee with set hours. Our agents use our software on their laptops, tablets, and phones when they need to have family time, but still keep in touch with customers.  But to turn even the negative about the work needed to be done on vacation into a positive, by writing down everything we had to do for our business while on vacation, my husband/business partner Louis figured out what needed to be automated next in order to free up our time even more.

So in planning for success in 2014, I first look at the things I appreciated from 2013, the things for which I am grateful. Then I try to find something positive in the less than favorable outcomes.  Finally, armed with my positive mindset, I spring forward to identify my goals for 2014 and plan the strategies that will enable me to achieve them.  In my next blog, I will write about Setting Goals for 2014.  Happy Holidays!

– By Cheryl Biron, President

*Positivity by Barbara Frederickson.

Click through for full references on books that inspired us:  http://onehorn.com/agents/get-inspired