With the New Year upon us, many experts dish out advice on how to drop 50 pounds by bathing suit season, meet and marry the man of your dreams, get rich, etc. Although one might be enticed and motivated given the time of year, I've learned in my many years as a therapist that lofty hardly ever works out. In fact, it's pretty much a formula for failure. What does work is keeping it simple and that's often the best path toward success.  

In my revamped and newly released book, Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days (January 9, 2019), I provide readers with pragmatic tools to develop a positive mindset, create a clear and realistic action plan, develop a supportive team, and lead a healthy lifestyle.  Rarely have I seen success occur without these basic elements in place.  

Here are four tips to help you as you move toward your goals in the New Year:

1. Make social media less significant in your life. 

Sadly, social media and technology have become emotional pacifiers for many. While there's no doubt that technology and social media have made life easier by affording many conveniences and instant access to the world, they've effectively also made us more reliant on machines and less reliant on our own brainpower. I'm in no way suggesting you part with these, but I am urging you to be more aware of how they might be hurting rather than helping your brain and look at ways to strike a balance between social media life and real life.  

While at social and professional events, get back to good old-fashioned communication and have a conversation, sans phone, and don't let your desire to send a text or snap a picture prevent you from enjoying a priceless moment in time that can only be captured with your naked eye in the moment.

2. Say no more often.

By saying no more often, you might actually feel better. So often we prioritize other people's needs over our own--and that's sure to lead to anxiety, resentment, and falling behind on what's truly important to you. So be selfish and put your needs first rather than those of the person asking you for something. If you prioritize that person's needs over yours, you'll find your productivity will suffer and resentment will mount. Perhaps we can learn from Warren Buffett, who said, "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything."

3. Optimize your time. 

By making a distinction between tasks and activities that are vital and those that are optional, you'll be able to optimize your time. Schedule your day by doing the important tasks first--the time you are freshest and most energetic. Make it a priority to get up 15 minutes earlier than you normally do. This will provide you with an extra 75 minutes in your workweek. How we think about time can have an impact, too. For example, "I'm so busy" and "I don't have time for anything" are negative comments that are sure to keep you feeling overwhelmed, while "I will make good use of the time that I do have" or "I can only do so much in one day and I will make sure I accomplish what is reasonable today" will likely lead to better productivity.

4. Gain control.

Sometimes it's as simple as recognizing that there actually are things that you can change and control. Be realistic. One person can't single-handedly change the economy, but, perhaps there are things you can do to ensure you stay financially sound, such as being a smart consumer, saving, and investing wisely.

Rather than feeling victimized and helpless in certain situation, open your mouth, take action, and do something. Think about the practical steps you can take to safeguard yourself and move from powerless to powerful, and fearful to fearless. As with many situations, perception is key and that begins in your mind. So next time you find yourself in a situation where you feel you have no control, take some time to change your thinking. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the changes that will follow.

Remember, there's nothing magical about January 1 and New Year's resolutions. Every week, and every day, presents a new opportunity for change. So get started today.

Published on: Jan 7, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.