A new year is upon us. It’s hard to believe, I know, but it’s here and there’s really not much we can do about it. What you can do, however, is look back on the year that has passed and take inventory of your life. What went right? What went wrong? By taking the time to sit down and write out the answers to these questions, you will make yourself aware of where you stand in the grand scheme that is your life plan. Don’t have a life plan? Well, that’s ok, you can start one now! It’s never too late, and nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. While there are many things you can do to improve your life, I’m going to give you 5 examples, all of which are easy and can be accomplished easily if you set your mind to it.
1. Find Your Passion & Community
A recent survey conducted by Right Management, a subsidiary of the giant staffing firm ManpowerGroup, concluded that only 19% of Americans were happy with their current job. That means that 81% of Americans were at least somewhat dissatisfied with the current state of their employment. Let’s face it, life is way too short to spend it doing something that you don’t love. I’m not saying you should run out and quit your job (that’d be insane in today’s economy). What I am saying is that you have to find something to fill the void in your life that is being left by your current job. Whether that’s starting a blog about robots, making your own pottery, or starting a side business as a plumber, I don’t know. What I do know is that by finding something you’re passionate about, you enable yourself to begin planning the future of your life/business. Let’s say you did want to start a blog about robots. That’s something relatively easy in today’s low-cost web world. Maybe you write 2 to 3 blog posts per week, and slowly gain traction within the robot community (I’m sure there is one). As your blog gains popularity you begin making some revenue from ads, sponsorships, etc. Pretty soon you’re the de facto resource online for info on “what’s hot” in the world of robotics. Maybe you write a book, or maybe you get some guest spots on other blogs… Whatever the case, you’ve found your passion and a community that wants to hear about it. Congratulations, you’re now successful and happy. Seriously, this isn’t impossible. Will it happen overnight? No, but maybe 2-3 years from now it could. All you need to worry about now is finding whatever it is that makes you happy and keeps you interested, and then finding a community to go along with it and then engage that community through blogging, message boards, social media, podcasts, or whatever else you think might help. Just dive in and go for it!
2. Learn Something New Every Day
This one is really easy. The world is full of new things to learn and if you’re a creative person (and I know you are), you’re probably curious by nature. Curiosity is the spark that ignites the flame of learning. I want you to challenge yourself to learn one new thing each and every day in 2013. By my count, that means you will have learned 365 new things by the end of the year… How cool is that? No, I don’t mean you have to learn something like a new language every day, but something simple like how to tie a windsor knot in your ties or how to make an egg white omelette. This will help fuel your creativity and inspire you to try new and exciting things. The brain needs stimulation, and learning something new each day will ensure that your brain stays active and sharp for years to come.
3. Take Time Off
I realize that in today’s society we put a heavy emphasis on working hard. I also realize that with the economy like it is, people are less likely to take time off, for fear of being thought weak or unable to perform their duties. Well, that may be so, but taking time off is a necessary evil. We all need it, and we should all do it (me included). By taking some time off you enable yourself to unplug from the daily grind that you constantly endure. This will allow your batteries to recharge and (hopefully) give you a renewed sense of urgency and determination when you return. When we don’t take time off to be away from our jobs, it’s easy for us to become complacent in our daily routines. We come in, we do X, Y, and Z, and then we go home. When we’re away from the office for a few days it gives us a chance to reinvent how we do our jobs and reshape our routines. Try it out. You can thank me later.
Oh, and here’s a little side note… While you’re off, turn off your phone and computer. Spend this time with your family and truly “unplug” from the world. It’s refreshing.
4. Fail at Something
Wait a minute… Did he just say the F word? You bet I did. Even though there is a stigma attached to the word failure, I believe it to be a necessary part of the process of true success. Would Steve Jobs have been so successful if his first run at Apple hadn’t been a dismal failure? Probably not. Thomas Edison wasn’t discouraged when it took him several thousand attempts to make the lightbulb. In fact, one of my favorite quotes from him explains his philosophy quite well:
If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.
We need to see failure the same way. When you fail, it isn’t that you’ve somehow become less of a person or that you won’t ever accomplish what you’ve set out to do. Failure is merely a lesson that teaches us how or why something doesn’t work. This is the very definition of “trial & error”. Remember, without failure we can never truly appreciate success. Don’t be afraid to fall on your face this year. You’ll be a much better person because of it.
5. Improve Your Health
Keeping your mind and body fit are essential to feeding your creative fire. I decided to get healthy almost two years ago now, and my life is better now than it ever has been. The first thing you should do is make an appointment to see your physician. I know, it’s a pain, but seriously… GO! Had I not gone to the doctor that faithful day in 2010, I never would’ve known I had Type 2 Diabetes or high blood pressure. Thankfully that day flipped a switch inside of me and became the catalyst that propelled me into a rage of personal health and fitness. Now I’ve lost over 250lbs and have completely resolved all my health issues. My life is better because of it, my mind is better because of it, and my career is better because of it. How did this benefit my career? Well, now that I’m not overweight, I’m more confident in myself. I have much better “stage presence” when it comes to presenting on-camera or in public. That helps me convey my message more clearly and gives the audience the impression that I’m confident in the knowledge I’m giving them.
It doesn’t take much to get healthy. Start by visiting your doctor and possibly a Registered Dietitian. Map out a plan for yourself and then stick to it. I know, some of you will say that you don’t have time to exercise. Well, that’s simply not true. Get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning and go for a jog or do some push ups & sit ups. Cut your lunch short and walk around the parking lot at work every day. Park farther away from the building so you have to walk a longer distance to get in to work. Take the stairs instead of taking the elevator. All of these things can be done easily, and you’ll be amazed at how good you feel afterwards.
Well, there you have it. Five things you can do to improve your life in 2013. I know these won’t all come to fruition right away, and that’s why I’m giving you a year to accomplish them. That’s 365 days that you have to put these 5 things into action. Map out a strategy for how you can accomplish each one of these and then put that strategy into place as soon as you can. Let’s all strive to do bigger and better things this year. I’ll be right there with you the whole time, fighting the exact same fight. We can do it. Nothing is impossible.