How to Be More Successful in Your Career and Relationships

Sometimes, having someone telling you what to do is the kick in the butt you need to make a change. And since New Year’s resolutions tend to be centered around health and fitness, you’re likely in need of some trusting voices to help you get ahead in your career and relationships, too.

Enter the advice of experts—therapists, career coaches, business professors, book authors—who know what it takes to have the partnership you’ve always wanted, push through doubt, and wind up with the career of your dreams. All you have to do for now? Read on.

How to Be More Successful in Your Career and Relationships

1. Face Your Feelings

“Think of a difficult conversation you’re not having. Now consider why you’re not having it. I bet you have all the knowledge, skills, time, and opportunity you need to have it. It’s the same with any risk you want to take but haven’t. Because if you follow through, there’s something you’ll have to feel—maybe conflict or anger or the other person’s hurt or embarrassment. Since you don’t want to feel those things, you don’t have the conversation. If you’re willing to feel everything, then nothing stops you from moving forward. Building your ‘emotional courage’ is the most important thing you can do to improve your career and your relationships—personal and professional.”
Peter Bregman, CEO of leadership firm Bregman Partners

2. Work at Your Relationship

“A lot of people are under the impression that a good relationship is simply a matter of finding the right person—and that if you just find that person, everything else will come easy. The truth, however, is that good relationships aren’t easy. They take work—a lot of work. Take a growth-oriented approach to relationships. Recognize that problems and conflicts can and will arise, but that this doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship is broken or isn’t meant to be. Research shows that people who are open and willing to work through tough spots tend to have happier and longer-lasting relationships in the end.”
Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., a research fellow at The Kinsey Institute and author of Tell Me What You Want

3. Be Helpful, Ask for Help

“Men prize self-reliance. Independence is a valuable attribute, but it’s possible to take it too far. Over-emphasis on self-reliance harms our careers, health, and personal relationships. To avoid this trap, remember to generously help others while learning to ask for what you need at work and at home, tapping both personal and professional allies.”
Wayne Baker, Ph.D., a professor at The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and author of All You Have to Do is Ask

4. Become a Big Lunch Guy

“Pick a couple days a week where you don’t eat anything after 3 p.m. You’ll wake up with less brain fog and take a lot more energy and focus into your work day. Studies are showing that narrowing your eating window to six hours a day (with dinner before 3 p.m.) improves health in big ways.”
Scott Noorda, D.O., family and personalized medicine physician and co-author of Power Couple Habits

5. Know What You Want, Picture It Happening

“From decades studying what it takes to lead the life you want, this much is clear: You have to know what’s most important to you and have a vision of the future that’s better than today. Lives of significance are built on this foundation, which should be grounded in your actual history. A good starting point is to identify the few critical episodes in your life that have shaped your values—what happened and how you were your changed—and explain, first to yourself and then to people who matter most to you, the connection to your drive toward your ideal future.”
Stew Friedman, Ph.D., an organizational psychologist at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of Parents Who Lead

6. Have Sex Once a Week

“Studies have shown that couples who maintain their sexual connection once a week are more satisfied overall in their relationships than couples who don’t. Sex produces a positive ‘after-glow’ that’s linked with relationship quality over the long term. Regular sex has also been found to improve problem-solving skills, heighten creativity, and foster better cooperation by releasing dopamine and oxytocin.”

Ian Kerner, Ph.D., a therapist and sexuality counselor

7. Learn How to Talk About the Tough Stuff

“Communication involves both verbal and nonverbal methods: expression (talking) and comprehension (listening). Intelligent communication is the ability to fluidly switch between these methods and fuels your ability to connect meaningfully with others. Knowing how to communicate under stress results in the ability to repair ruptures that occur in relationships, at work or home, so that you can feel more connected—and more valued. When you’re upset or overwhelmed, take a pause and have healthy tools to self-soothe. This may mean taking a break until you can come back to the table to talk and listen calmly. In any communication situation, be sure to minimize criticism, stonewalling, and defensiveness. Ultimately, it’s always best to turn toward, rather than away or against those in your life.”
Karen Bridbord, Ph.D. a licensed psychologist, organizational consultant, and a Gottman-certified couples therapist

8. Stop Trying to Do Everything Well

“To be great at what matters most, you’ve got to ignore and say no to many demands and distractions but every job and relationship involves obligations that you can’t escape or that aren’t worth blowing off completely. Devote ‘minimum viable effort’ to such chores. Last year, after completing a three-hour consulting job for a client company, administrators informed me that I wouldn’t get paid unless I took a 30-minute online ethics class required of all vendors. I wanted to get paid but the class was annoying and useless—so I paid scant attention during the class and was delighted to get the lowest possible passing score.”
Bob Sutton, Ph.D., a Stanford professor and author of seven books including Scaling Up Excellence and The No Asshole Rule

9. Think About Your Partner for 5 Minutes Every Day

“Think about how they look that day, something they’re struggling with, anything that makes you feel a little more connected. Write it down. You can share it via text, call them, or save it for when you see them. In my experience, many men show their affection physically or through specific actions. They’re less likely to express how they feel or what they appreciate about their partners with words. This often leads to our partners feeling emotionally neglected and, eventually, more hostile in relationships. If you take five minutes out of your day every day, your partner will notice the difference and you’ll find that it carries over to other times. It’ll become more natural for you to notice things you appreciate about them and put that into words. It just takes practice.”
— Avi Klein, LCSW, a New York-based therapist

10. Follow the Platinum Rule

“The Gold Rule, of course is to do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. That’s cool, but the Platinum Rule is even more evolved: Do unto others the way they really want things to be done unto them (even if it doesn’t make any sense to you or doesn’t come naturally). For example, if she hates surprise parties—even if you love surprise parties or would love to be with a woman who loves them—don’t throw her a surprise party or pressure her into being a person who loves them. By doing this, you’re fundamentally accepting your partner as she is—not as you want her to be. If there is any greater predictor of success for a long-term relationship, I don’t know what it is.”
David B. Wexler, Ph.D., executive director of The Relationship Training Institute in San Diego, CA and author of When Good Men Behave Badly

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