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Make 2017 Your Year of Living Dangerously, and More Tips For January

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SHE WASN’T ADVOCATING you stick a finger in a power socket each morning or stake the staff’s wages on black 7 in Vegas. She was referring to things that are scary because they are important, either to your self-view or personal development, and to trying to make your default approach to such fears one of embracing them rather than shying from them. That, however, requires coming to terms with our cautious human makeup. “We seem predisposed to anticipate regret wrongly,” writes Oliver Burkeman in The Guardian newspaper. “Faced with some fear-inducing opportunity, we habitually believe we’ll regret acting more than not acting, when studies have shown the opposite is true.” In addition to our wired cautiousness, we also have an innate ability to reframe “bad experiences” as positive. So, in 2017, try Eleanor’s advice. Make “yes” your default response. Sign up for that improv class, accept that speech invitation, say hi to the person next to you in line at JCK, call to ask about that vacant building on the corner of Main Street. And trust that the outcome will — ultimately — turn out for the best.

Save $1,400 Easily Next Year

Want to easily save nearly $1,400? Take Lifehacker.com’s 52 Week Money Challenge. You start by putting $1 in a jar or account and adding a dollar to the deposit amount each week. So in week 3 you’ll be putting in $3, and by week 17, $17. Of course, by the end of the year, the amount will be $52, but by then you’ll have built up so much momentum that the sacrifice will be easy. In the end, you’ll have $1,378 to put toward a credit card bill or new laser welder.

Claim Your Refund ASAP

Tax season is upon us and identity thieves can’t wait to use stolen Social Security numbers to claim fraudulent refunds. Whether or not you’re expecting a refund, you might want to file your taxes as soon as you have all the paperwork you need.

Start a Book Club

Maintaining service standards is one of the hardest things in management. As Armen and Ara Darakjian, owners of Darakjian Jewelers in Birmingham, MI, have found out, “One bad experience can ruin a guest’s past 10 perfect experiences.” To literally keep everyone on the same page, the Darakjians started a store book club that meets every Friday to discuss a chapter of a selected business book. A recent selection: Selling Luxury by Robin Lent.

Skip Lunch

Venture capitalist Mark Suster has a rule of thumb for getting connected with people professionally: Never ask a busy person to lunch. It just takes too much of their time. On his blog, Both Sides of the Table, he urges that unless you know the person well, ask to meet for a 30-minute coffee.

Football? Who Needs It?

If your view of the Super Bowl (Feb. 5) is the real action takes place during the breaks, then why wait for Sunday night? YouTube’s AdBlitz home page (instr.us/1172) allows you to see most of the ads in the days prior to the big game.

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Fortune Cookies

Like General Tso’s chicken, you won’t find fortune cookies in China. But don’t let a lack of authenticity hold you back from a good marketing idea, especially with Chinese New Year just around the corner. Artisan Eyeworks, an eyecare center in Ashland, OR, hands them out to every patient. Everyone gets the same fortune: “Confucius say, good things come to those who recommend Artisan Eyeworks.”

Opt for the Day Before V-Day

If offering to pay for dinner on Valentine’s Day is among the marketing ideas you have for the Day of Love, a former maître d’ at The Kitchn blog advises you to think again. V-Day is a chaotic time for restaurant staff, with the tables broken up differently, possibly less competent waitstaff willing to work that night, and menu items priced up. His advice: Pick another night for a better experience.

Keep a Work Diary

Keeping a work diary of your successes and mistakes can help you professionally, but psychologist Teresa Amabile argues in her book The Progress Principle that the benefits go much deeper. A work diary can help you plan for the future, get necessary distance from emotional issues at work, and perhaps most importantly, help you keep track of all of those small “wins” that normally would come and go in the course of a day or week and can be used to motivate more success.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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