Culture

5 Keys to Make 2016 Your Best Year Ever

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Did 2015 punch you in the face? Maybe it didn’t go that far. Maybe 2015 just invited you to come up to its room so you could “watch Netflix and chill.” Then you woke up at the end of the year wondering how it all went so wrong. Maybe none of that happened. Maybe you blew up like Donald Trump in 2015 and now you’re thinking, “How do I top that?”

Here’s how you top that!

1. Take some time to really think about what you want to do.

I know you’ve already made your New Year’s resolutions, but did you ask yourself WHY those are the resolutions you picked?

Why do you want to lose weight? Is it really to get healthy or because you think you’ll get laid more? Is your goal really to find a new job or to find a new job where you can fulfill your potential? You want to find new friends this year? Okay, how many? Do you want close friends or friends you can hit the bars with once in a while? Really think about it and get a good understanding of yourself, your motivations and your dreams.

I semi-regularly have writers and colleagues ask me for advice about what they should do next and the first question I always ask is, “What are your long term goals?” Sadly, very few people seem to know.

Don’t be that person. Take the time to get to know yourself. Become introspective. Make a bucket list.

Once you truly know yourself and what you want out of life, you will often find you can make enormous decisions at pivotal moments because you’ll have a true understanding of what you do and do not want in your life. Once you have that kind of clarity, your life will change for the better.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

2. Get some accountability going.

It is easy to make promises, make resolutions and swear off bad habits, but actually doing those things is hard because our emotional state changes. When you’re all fired up and motivated, you’re ready to train like Rocky. That works for a couple of days and then you get 4 hours of sleep, you have an argument with your girlfriend or you just get real comfortable on your new couch and suddenly, you want to goof off instead of work.

When you get to that point, if the only answers you have are “willpower” and “try harder,” you’re probably going to come up short.

That’s why you need to build in some accountability. Do you want to get in shape? Hire a trainer or sign up for regular classes where you’ll be missed if you don’t show up. Find a life coach, tell your friends and family what you’re doing, get a buddy or join a group that has the same goals.

When you don’t feel like doing anything but sinking down into the couch, that desire not to look like a failure in front of someone else will keep you moving toward your goals.

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3. Make a commitment to get outside your comfort zone; do what you fear.

Human beings are creatures of habit and comfort. We enjoy talking to our favorite people, doing our favorite things and watching our favorite movies.

Unfortunately, if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves using our love of the familiar as a crutch to avoid trying new things and we can allow ourselves to have our lives limited by fear.

If you go to a party you’d normally skip, you might end up standing by yourself. If you try a new restaurant, you might not like it. If you do something new, you might not be very good at it. However, to continue growing, you have to try new things. If you want to be a better person, you cannot allow fear to keep you from doing what you need to do.

You NEED novelty, challenge and growth in your life to be happy and to have those things, you have to commit to regularly challenging yourself. If there’s anything you should be doing that you’re not because of fear, then you need to do it. If you get an opportunity to try something new and you think you might enjoy it, you need to consistently jump at the chance.

It’s a mentality you have to adopt and if you do, it’ll make your life richer than you ever imagined.

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4. Chart It!

Not only does progress tend to be slow and uneven, but human beings are habitually lazy thinkers. We take a generalized thought like “I work out hard” or “I’m good with money” and accept it as the truth without ever testing the assumption.

Then, next thing you know, five years later you’re in exactly the same spot without even realizing it.

You fix that by charting your progress.

Want to increase your bench press? Chart it and make sure your reps or weight are going up every time you lift. Are you having trouble saving money? Write down everything you spend and you’ll quickly find anywhere you can cut. Don’t think you relax enough? Chart your relaxation. Want to meet more people? Log it every time you start talking to someone you don’t know.

Then, you don’t have to guess about whether you’re performing better than last month because all you have to do is look at your own charts.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MgBikgcWnY

5. Create new habits.

We like to delude ourselves into thinking that the key to success is “heart” or huge bursts of effort, but in actuality it’s all about what we do day to day. Put another way, the quality of your life is dependent on the quality of your habits.

By the time he was four years old, Tiger Woods came in second place in a tournament against 10- and 11-year-olds. Mozart started composing at five years old. H. P. Lovecraft was writing long poems at five. Show me someone who’s really good at anything and you can be sure he has spent an inordinate amount of time practicing his craft, learning from people who are better than he is and he is habitually trying to become better.

Does that mean you’re too far behind to ever catch up? Maybe, if you want to golf as well as Tiger Woods or make music like Mozart. If you want to become a master at anything? Supposedly, it takes 10,000 hours to get there. On the other hand, if you only want to develop passable skills at something? For most things, it only takes 20 hours of practice.

What do you want to learn to do in 2016? What do you want to get better at? Want to get more flexible? Do a set of stretches when you wake up in the morning and are still in bed. Want to learn to shoot? Go to the range and fire off some rounds every other Saturday. Want to read a book a week? Spend an hour per night reading before bed.

Create those habits and those habits will create a better you in 2016.