Happy 2014! While most people make New Year’s resolutions, sticking to them can often be difficult. Today’s column outlines two very simple resolutions that can change your life and your business.

Your No. 1 resolution: Eliminate tolerations
If you do nothing else in 2014, eliminating tolerations is one of the best ways to improve virtually every aspect of your life. The late Thomas Leonard, founder of business coaching, believed that, “Tolerations are the universal access point for all coaching.”

In case you are not familiar with this concept, tolerations are the little annoying things that draw you off focus by wasting your time and energy. Tolerations can be something as simple as a button that has popped off your shirt, a dirty car, or all those stacks of paper in your office.

Tolerations become energy drainers when you don’t deal with them. For example, you may have a stack of business receipts that you haven’t scanned. Every time you look at the stack you think, “I’ve got to handle this.” Each time you delay in handling the toleration, you waste energy by first noticing it, second by reminding yourself that you need to handle it, and finally, feeling guilty for not taking action.

Since most people have at least 100 tolerations in their lives, many coaches have likened tolerations to dying by 100 paper cuts. While a single paper cut/toleration can be aggravating and sometimes painful, the cumulative effect of 30 or 40 tolerations can have a profound negative effect on both you and your business.

The great news about dealing with tolerations is that it makes no difference where you start. A simple goal to set is to eliminate one toleration each day. It can be sewing on that missing button, cleaning up one stack of papers, or whatever is easiest for you to do. Again, it’s the cumulative effect of ridding yourself of these energy drainers that produces profound results.

Moreover, if you want to attract more business, the perfect romantic partner, or simply just want more time for you, eliminating tolerations creates the space for these other possibilities to appear.

To illustrate this point, my husband and I decided that we wanted to attract more clients in 2014. I went on a closet-cleaning spree and have also been aggressively cleaning up space on my computer and email. My husband tackled getting the books completely up-to-date and handled some serious cleanup in terms of stacks of stuff in his office. Like clockwork, the floodgates seemed to have opened for new client leads.

If you don’t believe this will work, test it yourself. We have used this approach personally, as well as with clients since 1996, and it really does work.

2. Extreme self-care
The first step in engaging in extreme self-care is to be willing to say “no.” How much of your day is wasted by other agents at the office, buyers who won’t buy, or others who want a piece of your time each day and give nothing back in return? These folks are more than just tolerations, they’re psychic vampires who literally drain your energy to support their agendas. Say “no” to them and mean it!

The reason this is so important is that when you take on too much, your body releases excessive amounts of adrenaline. The result is increased stress resulting in increased cortisol levels. Long-term exposure to cortisol results in damage to your immune system, which can ultimately lead to heart disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses.

There are two simple steps that you can take to lower your cortisol levels. The first is to reduce the amount of adrenaline in your life. Your body releases adrenaline when you drink coffee, when you’re late for an appointment, when you are stuck in traffic, or even when you or one of your clients become angry.

What’s surprising is that creating space in your schedule (this links back to eliminating tolerations) is usually enough to drop cortisol levels substantially. A simple way to do this is to use the 80-20 rule. This rule says that 80 percent of the benefit for your business comes from the top 20 percent of your activities. The bottom 20 percent produces less than 1 percent of benefit. Consequently, eliminating the bottom 20 percent can take off a huge amount of pressure resulting in a more relaxed you.

The final step is to create a regular appointment everyday with yourself to do at least two things that support you. Whether it’s reading, working out, taking a long bath, or playing a round of golf, by caring for yourself you will have more energy, less stress, and all those other grouchy people in your life will probably just go away.

So here are your two New Year’s resolutions for 2014: Eliminate one toleration every weekday and do two things to take great care of yourself every day. You may be pleasantly surprised to see how happy 2014 can be!

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.

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