Jacksonville Bar Bulletin: Stay positive and make 2016 your best year yet!

By Giselle Carson, Esq. – President – The Jacksonville Bar Association, and Immigration attorney at Marks Gray, P.A.

The new year is slowly approaching and with the holiday season already upon us, many are re-evaluating some of their life choices. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity to start making changes now, rather than next week, month or year.

“A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.” — Karen Lamb

At the beginning of every year, one in three Americans resolve to better themselves in some way. Unfortunately, few actually keep up the enthusiasm to maintain these goals after the New Year’s confetti is swept away. It may be difficult to keep your New Year’s resolutions, but it’s not impossible.

Here are four tips I learned during my JAX Chamber Leadership Trip to Oklahoma City to help you make 2016 your best year yet.

1) Raise your expectations

In 1995, when Oklahoma City was benefiting from an economic recovery, it suffered from the terrible bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The explosion killed 168 people, injured hundreds more and destroyed several buildings.

This tragic incident did not deter Oklahoma City’s leadership or citizens. Instead, they raised their expectations and set out a wild vision for the city — transforming itself from a cow and oil bust town to a big-league city.

With ambitious expectations, tireless work, public-private partnerships and great civic attitude from elected officials, the resulting changes to the city’s Downtown are plentiful and stunning.

Today, Olympians kayak on the transformed Oklahoma River; fans cheer the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dodgers; residents and visitors enjoy the Bricktown entertainment district; and children attend top-notch public schools.

For 2016, aim for the big leagues. Give yourself the gift of dreaming big for yourself, our association and our city.

2) Transform your surroundings

The things we surround ourselves with are a critical part of our success.

As part of its renaissance, Oklahoma City took on an extraordinary anti-obesity campaign and its citizens lost more than 1 million pounds.

To help them get there, citizens engaged in targeted tax-backed initiatives and created parks, redesigned sidewalks and built bike lanes and walking trails across the city. Oklahoma City transformed its surroundings and has become a laboratory for healthy living.

In her “Habits Manifesto”, Gretchen Rubin, a New York Times best-selling author, reminds us it is easier to change our surroundings than ourselves.

For the new year, take a look at your surroundings. Ask yourself how you can maximize the time you spend with people and things that bring positive energy into your life.

How can you change your surroundings to fulfill your goals?

3) Break your routine

By switching up our routines, we force our brains to create new pathways, which allow us to think more creatively and improve our lives.

In 2007, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett broke his routine and inspired citizens to do the same. Mayor Cornett had gained about 10 pounds of fat a year since he was elected and also learned his city was one of most obese cities in the nation.

He knew something had to change. The mayor took the lead on making health and fitness a priority. He cut his daily caloric intake from 3,000 to 2,000; engaged in physical activity every time he could; and did push-ups every morning.

His new routine led him to lose 40 pounds, which also vastly improved his level of energy and productivity.

This new year, consider alternative ways of doing things. Here are some ideas: take a different route to work, call or meet a client in person instead of sending an email and make health and fitness your priority.

4) Walk around more

Most professionals sit an average of nine hours a day — at least two hours more than what most sleep each day.

Sitting for more than six hours a day is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, decreased metabolism and increased appetite.

A 30-minute walk will make you feel great. Consider taking a walk around your office, the block, a park or the Downtown bridges.

Let’s ring in the new year by resolving to walk more. Steve Jobs (Apple), Jack Dorsey (Twitter) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are well-known for their love of walking meetings. Be on the lookout for the 2016 JBA Walk and Chat.

Sticking to routines is very possible. Forget any past attempts and say to yourself, “I can” and “I will.”

Stay positive and plan to set and achieve small goals one step at a time.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to be your president and look forward to continue working with you to make the JBA and 2016 the best it can be.

Originally published in the Jax Daily Record