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7 ways you can empower yourself at work and in life

Elle Kaplan, Contributor

It can be easy to fall into a routine that doesn't bring out the best in you. There will always be ups and downs in life but you can initiate important changes to point yourself in a positive direction.

Often, all you need is a few important habits to jump-start your day. At other times, an ambitious plan or overall strategy will make the pieces to fall into place.

No matter what your situation, you can follow these 7 actions and attitudes to empower yourself to move forward.

1. Take action to seize opportunity

Business owner, investor, and philanthropist Richard Branson is known worldwide for his many successful ventures. His net worth totals over $5 billion dollars. Less known is the story of how his airline, Virgin Airways, came into being.

Branson was in his late 20s, waiting for a flight to the Virgin Islands, when he found out that his flight was being cancelled. Not having any other options, he took the initiative, writing "Virgin Airlines $29" on a blackboard and walking around the airport. Using the money to finance it, he chartered a plane then and there and took himself and his happy passengers to their destination.

When you encounter a problem, consider a direct solution, even if you haven't worked out all the details. You may be surprised at what you are capable of.

2. Open up your mind

"The first thing I do in the morning is retreat to my den and meditate. I meditate twice a day for 20 minutes ... sometimes, I'm wrestling with an issue before meditation, and afterwards, the answer is suddenly clear." –Roger Berkowitz, CEO of Legal Sea Foods

The benefits of meditation are numerous and have been investigated in countless studies. Meditate and you will find yourself more relaxed, with a better memory and focus.

You don't have to travel to a faraway retreat or make on any special preparations to reap the benefits. Begin simply by closing your eyes and observing your breath for 90 seconds. Using a timer, do this immediately before you begin work. You will notice the positive changes throughout your day.


3. Tidy up your work space

"For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned." –Benjamin Franklin

Steve Jobs began leading Apple in 1997 and then began one of the largest-scale cleanups in history. Within a year, Jobs had cancelled 70 percent of Apple's products and turned a $1 billion loss into a $700 million profit. What soon followed was a series of ground-breaking and now-ubiquitous products: the iPod, iMac, iPhone, and iPad.

You don't have to re-make a multimillion-dollar company to start making improvements in your professional life. Begin with your office or home work space. Remember, there would be no iPhone without a clear space for its development. So clear out the clutter to make room for new ideas and innovations.

If you don't know where to start, order or pick up a copy of Marie Kondo's best-selling book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up."

4. Try something different

Have you ever been facing a problem at work where you felt like you'd explored every possibility? Did you reach the point where you were simply going over the same issues again and again? You might not be utilizing all of your brain's capacity to problem-solve.

Circumvent old ways of thinking with the simple strategy of doodling. It's not just a pastime for bored students. Doodling expert Dan Roam, author of "The Back of the Napkin," conducts seminars with Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Navy.

5. Pick up a self-help book — and read it!

"Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions." –Tony Robbins

Reading is always time well spent. It expands our understanding of possibilities and therefore influences our overall outlook and life choices. There are now countless books on career development, personal change and personal growth.

Browse a bookstore or read online reviews to find something that speaks to you. As soon as you get your hands on the book, spend 10 minutes flipping through it to find a single thing that you can apply to your life right away.

Would you like to integrate this guidance into your regular routine even more easily? Download a podcast or audiobook to get a motivational boosts and insights on your commute to and from work. Tim Ferriss, best-selling author of "The 4-Hour Workweek" has a highly successful podcast that has enriched the lives of countless listeners.


6. Meet someone new for coffee

Move beyond your immediate social circle and take the initiative to network. Gain new professional ideas and input by setting up a casual "coffee meeting" with someone who you admire in your field. You may be surprised at how willing most people are to talk about something they are passionate about.

Be friendly and concise in your initial email. When you meet, be prepared, listen attentively and know what issues you'd like to explore.

7. Take a look at your finances

Know your current finances in detail from your assets to your expenses. Equally important is a question posed by author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss: How much does your ideal lifestyle cost each month? It's important to know where you want to be, in order to get there.

Elle Kaplan is the founder and CEO of LexION Capital , a fiduciary wealth management firm in New York City, serving high-net-worth individuals. She is also the Chief Investment Officer at LexION Alpha , her systematic hedge fund. It is one of the only women-owned and run hedge funds in the nation.

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