What is the Proximity Principle, and How Can it Help?

Katie Corbett holds the book "The Proximity Principle"

By Katie Corbett

If you are trying to switch career fields, learn a new skill or move to a new state or country, it can be helpful to talk to those who have gone before you and accomplished what you wish to accomplish. Putting yourself in the places where you can learn and with the people you plan to learn from is taking advantage of a principle known as The Proximity Principle.

I have encountered this principle many times in my life, but didn’t give it much thought until I read “The Proximity Principle,” by Ken Coleman. The book encourages readers to think about what goals they wish to achieve and where they need to be to achieve them. I’ve put together a list of questions to help jump-start your brainstorming so you can decide what to work on next. After you make the decision, you can use the proximity principle to make your dreams happen!

1. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
2. If money was of no concern, what would you do with your life?
3. If you had all the time you needed, what would your goals be?
4. If you knew you only had one month to live and could spend that month doing any career you chose, what would it be?
5. When you introduce yourself to people, what do you wish you could tell them you do for a living?

Taking a shot at answering questions like these might help you get a start thinking about your plans. I still use questions like this when I’m deciding on my goals for future career and self-improvement goals.

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The Importance of Having An Accountability and Celebration Buddy

Katie Corbett holds the book "The 12-Week Year"

By Katie Corbett

At the end of each 12-Week Year, there is an extra week, called The 13th Week. This week is a time to look back over your progress, celebrate, and decide what you’d like to work on next. This is more interesting to do if you have an accountability partner to keep you on track and celebrate with you along the way.

In “The 12-Week Year,” Brian Moran talks about the role an accountability group can play in your progress. I’ve put together a list of questions I used to find and evaluate my own accountability buddy. Think of a potential friend or coworker and ask yourself these questions:

• Does this person take commitment seriously?
• In what concrete ways can I be assured of this?
• Do they show up on time to meetings and other appointments?
• Do they do what they say they will when they say they will do it?
• Will they get in touch with me if I forget to tell them my goals for the week?
• Are we both in a similar place in terms of what we need from the partnership?
• Do I feel comfortable telling this person about my struggles as well as my successes?
• Do this person share themselves with me?
• How would I describe this person?
• Do I enjoy spending time with them?

If you like the answers you get about the person in question, feel free to approach them, explain you are looking for an accountability/celebration buddy, and see what they say. Give them space to ask questions, and make sure they know it is OK to say no to you. You won’t want to have a buddy who isn’t really interested in the partnership.

I’ve been formally working with an accountability partner for a few months now, and am enjoying it so far. She lets me commiserate about what’s not going well and encourages me to be my best. It’s fun comparing notes, brainstorming solutions to challenges, and, of course, celebrating our wins together. I hope you find someone like that for your life and career goals, too.

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Beat Procrastination: Prepare Thoroughly Before you Begin

Katie Corbett holds a book

By Katie Corbett

When working on a project, we have all had the experience of getting halfway through and needing to stop because you don’t have something you need. I have done this occasionally and find it time-consuming and frustrating. I started looking for a solution.

When I read the book, “Eat that Frog,” by Brian Tracy, I learned it can be helpful to prepare in advance and gather everything I need before starting. I decided to test this with social media writing I needed to do for work.

Before I gave preparing a try, I would sit down to write posts for Facebook and Twitter and would have to stop in the middle of writing to gather information, such as links, hashtags and quotes, for my posts. My writing took a long time and it wasn’t very creative, since I kept getting interrupted by the need for information. Things had to change, so I developed a new plan. Here’s what I’m doing now, which works much better.

I try my best to write social media posts on Wednesdays. Wednesday morning, I gather all the materials I need for each post I plan to write that day. I put everything – links, notes, hashtags, photo ideas – into a text file so it is all in one place. I then take a break for lunch and come back that afternoon refreshed and ready to get my creative juices flowing.

Working this way over the past couple months, I have noticed being able to get more done in less time, working with fewer interruptions, greater clarity on what I should be writing, and the ability to separate the writing and the research.

Whatever your project might be, from a book you are writing, to a business you are building, to an event you are planning, to a cake you are baking, I recommend making a list of everything you will need and gathering as much of it as you can in advance. Let me know how it goes in the comments. I hope it will help you be more efficient and get things done faster.

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Make Success Possible: The Art of Prioritizing

Katie Corbett holds a book

By Katie Corbett

No matter who we are, where we work or whatever else is going on in our lives, we are all only given 24 hours each day. Learning how to determine what is important can help us spend those hours well. It’s all about priorities.

In “What the most Successful People do at Work”, time management expert Laura Vanderkam suggests spending time each day to plan what you will get done. I have found this helpful when I get to the office; here’s how.

Tip 1: I don’t check email until I have set my to-do list for the day. That way, the priorities of others don’t interfere with what I need to get done.
Tip 2: I delegate tasks that I need finished, but don’t have the time or capability to do myself. I recently needed some research done in an archive not accessible to my screen-reading software, so a volunteer was enlisted to look up the information for me. I could spend my time working on other projects, and the research got done.
Tip 3: At the end of each day, I reflect on what I have accomplished and make sure it is in line with my work priorities for that day. This gives me an opportunity to check and be sure I’m on the right course, and correct if needed.

Creating priorities in your work can be as simple as sitting down and making a list of what needs to get done, then ranking the items by importance. Try it out and see how prioritizing your day could make a difference in your career.

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Turning Failure and Mistakes into Success

Katie Corbett holds the book, "The Power of Who"

By Katie Corbett

You might have heard about the importance of failure and learning from your mistakes. Often, it is our greatest failures that teach us how to be successful. In the moment, especially after a grueling defeat, it can be hard to keep that in mind.

“The Power of Who,” by Bob Beaudine, asserts that being able to move forward in the face of failure is an important characteristic of a successful person. Some questions I try to ask myself after failure are:

• In what ways did I cause or allow this to happen
• What happened that was out of my control?
• What have I learned about myself as a result of this experience?
• What have I learned about others, if applicable, after this experience?
• Is there something I can do differently next time?
• What are positives I can take from this situation?
• How has this situation made me stronger?
• What will I need in order to move forward?
• Who can I ask for help and advice?
• What could I learn more about so I can avoid this happening again?

It is my hope that by asking yourself these questions after a setback, it will be easier and quicker to move forward. Failure and mistakes are, unfortunately, a part of life. The sooner we can learn to work through them, the better it will be for our physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being.

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How To Turn Failures into Success

Katie Corbett holds "The Magic of Thinking Big" book

By Katie Corbett


When I got fired from my data entry job at the end of 2013, it could have been easy for me to think my career—and my life—was over. Luckily, I picked up “The Magic of Thinking Big,” by David J. Schwartz, and found some ways to overcome this challenge and move forward. No matter what setback you’re facing, I know these suggestions will help you, too.


Step 1: Study Setbacks to Pave Your Way to Success: After I lost my job, I thought long and hard about why that happened. One thing I regretted was not approaching supervisors sooner when I was struggling. I continuously remind myself that it’s OK to ask for help and that I don’t have to do everything on my own. What lessons can your failures teach you? How can you do things better next time if you find yourself in a similar situation? Are there ways you could avoid putting yourself in a similar situation altogether?


Step 2: Have the Courage to Be Your Own Constructive Critic: When I’m trying to do something and it’s not working—or I wish there was a better/easier way to get it done—I take the time to stop and think about why things aren’t working out. I give an honest assessment about the parts I’m responsible for, what else is going on in my workload, and how I could do things more efficiently. What things are you doing now that could be done better? What would it take to improve on your processes?


Step 3: Stop Blaming Luck: When I lost my job, it was important for me to remember that everything happens for a reason. Blaming my job loss on chance or fate wouldn’t take away from the people—including me—that caused my job loss. Why do you think your setbacks happened? Who is responsible? (Be sure to take on any blame that’s yours. None of us is perfect.)


Step 4: Blend Persistence with Experimentation: Sure, I’d lost one job, but that didn’t mean I was doomed to fail. I realized that data entry wasn’t for me—three months into the ten months I was in that job, if I’m being honest. I’ve since tried many other career paths before finding coaching: camp counselor, freelance writer, DoTerra Wellness Advocate, Web Content Specialist, Administrative Assistant. There are tons of career paths out there. If one doesn’t work out, what else are you good at? What else do you enjoy doing? Don’t be afraid to try!


Step 5: Remember There Is A Good Side In Every Situation: After I lost my job, my first realization was, “Yay! I don’t have to enter another purchase order ever again!” Then, I realized this experience gave me something in common with other people who had been fired. I could empathize with them and help them on their journey toward healing and a new career. Throughout my recovery and job search process, I learned many tips and tricks I can now share with other people—hence this blog. What are the bright sides to your most recent failure? What can you do differently or better because of this failure?


I hope that by following these tips you can see your failures as opportunities to learn, grow and keep trying. I know I have, and I wish the same success for you! You can do it!


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