New Year, New You

A new you calls for a new approach. Releasing and discarding things and thoughts that no longer serve you will free you to be more productive, creative and happy.
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A new year -- ah, a clean slate to start from. Wait, what is all that stuff following behind you? Old ideas, regrets, unresolved issues, physical and mental clutter, and maybe even some extra weight on your literal behind? A new you calls for a new approach. Releasing and discarding things and thoughts that no longer serve you will free you to be more productive, creative and happy.

Relax, you can do it. No matter if you've made resolutions before and didn't follow through, this is a new year. Like young kids who fall down frequently when learning to walk, we're all toddlers in life; let's greet this year with enthusiasm, optimism and expectation. This is the year to live full out, stretching, growing and thriving being your best. Below are five steps to ease the development of the new improved you.

In Chinese tradition, much of the work to prepare for the new year happens in the last month of the old year. It is a way to ensure that we can start the year fresh and ready. In our Western world, we make resolutions in the new year to launch us with good intentions. The basic premise is the same; with conscious thought and effort we can achieve what we dreamed about, happily and healthily.

1. Clean up clutter.
This includes physical clutter in your workspace, personal area, home, and in your emotions and mind. In other words, scan your entire world to see where you have left things unfinished, and papers and objects that you know you will not actually read or use. Finish the projects if they are worthwhile, or discard them along with the papers and items that are just taking up room. Review your relationships, including the one with yourself: Are you clear, honest and kind? Much more can be done with love than with recrimination and blame. Do what you can to resolve issues, forgive, let go and move on. Donate, give or throw away things that you don't use any more.

2. Review what is important to you.
Are you living in alignment with what you value? Shift your to-do list, priorities, resources and time to better reflect what means most to you. Start with small steps; the bigger ones will come as you make progress.

3. Make a short and realistic list of goals.
Instead of a daunting dissertation of how you wish to dramatically change your life, put down fewer than seven things you wish to accomplish for the while. You can always add to the list as you attain them. Jot down measurable and achievable goals. For example, instead of putting down that you want to look like a super model, write you plan to exercise five times a week for 30 minutes each and to eat some fresh fruits and vegetables with every meal. Or that you will join a professional affinity group and attend a networking meeting once a quarter instead of saying that you want more business contacts. Concrete, measurable and doable steps will help to keep you encouraged, motivated and moving forward.

4. Be your own best supporter.
Acknowledge yourself for noticing that you have areas where you wish to improve. Your awareness and desire to change is already a step in the right direction. Each thought or small step towards your goals, be it to exercise, eat healthier, spend more time with loved ones, work smarter, etc. already move you closer to what you want. Instead of judging and berating yourself and being tense and in fear of breaking your "shoulds," listen to your inner voice. Your innate wisdom can guide you. Pause and reflect before you make decisions, and base them on whether or not it brings you closer to what is most important for you.

5. Get a mentor, be a mentor.
Mentoring is sharing, coaching and learning. Whether we are mentoring or being mentored, we are learning and growing. Seek out people in your work, professional and social systems to broaden your know how, support and add to your contribution in the world. We deepen our knowledge and expertise and broaden our network when we reach out to absorb new skills and information or to guide others; besides, it's fun! Explore and expand the many ways in your work, professional circles and community on how and where you mentor and get mentored.

One more word: Please be kind with yourself. We can accomplish much more when we are encouraged, healthy and happy. The five ideas above are tools that you can use again and again. Think of them like exercise for your life, you need to do them regularly to survive and flourish. New year, new you: Your greatest moments and work are still ahead of you. Enjoy and celebrate the opportunity to live, learn and grow. May this year be your best year yet!

Marilyn Tam grew up as an abused and neglected child in Hong Kong. She found her life purpose at age 11 when she found out as bad as her life was; she was much better off than her classmate, Rebecca. Wanting to help others and to right the wrongs, she left home as a teen to come to America alone to study. She became a business leader (CEO Of Aveda, President of Reebok and Vice President of Nike) and a global humanitarian. She shares in her latest book, "The Happiness Choice" how you can live a life of happiness, health and success. It's her way of giving back to the world for all the blessings she's received.

The Happiness Choice tells the stories and insights from Marilyn and many experts, including, Jack Canfield, Joan Borysenko, Harville Hendrix, Arielle Ford and others on how to live the life of your dreams. The book was #3 top business book in March, and won the Silver Medal in the Global eBook Awards 2013. Her radio show, The Happiness Choice on FMG Network is broadcast globally to over 30 million listeners. Marilyn is a regular blogger on Huffington Post.

You can get more free gifts and insights and find out about Marilyn on her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

Marilyn Tam is an international selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, humanitarian and former CEO of Aveda, President of Reebok Apparel Products & Retail Group and VP of Nike and the Founder and Executive Director of Us Foundation.