We are accustomed to waiting to make a change until we have a fresh start. We don’t begin a new workout until Monday, we already ate something unhealthy for breakfast today, so we can start our diet tomorrow and there is NO way we are going to start leading a better life until the New Year! For decades I coddled this mindset allowing the lunacy behind a clean slate to be the excuse for putting my betterment on hold. After all, it is the American way, right?
Not true. There are actually a number of “weird” people out there who don’t mind stepping up their game on a Tuesday and don’t lose sleep over working towards something better in the last quarter of the year. Those weirdos are also known as “successful people.” Yes, that’s right – the innovators, the achievers… they are not the exception to the rule nor do they possess any extra tools that you don’t have. They simply work on a different calendar than you. Instead of wishing and waiting, they want and then do. And there’s great news… all of your past choices to push back going for “it,” whatever “it” may be, don’t have to dictate what you do now. Not unless you let it. Despite popular belief, we are conscious beings with the ability to change our lives despite our circumstances. There is no promise of ease or fluidity in this, however there is the likelihood of something far greater.
To make next year different, better, “your year,” you have to start this year. Here are 10 things you can do to make 2014 your best year yet – and every last one of them requires you to WAKE UP in 2013.
1. Set lofty goals: I remember the first time my mentor asked me to set goals. I laughed… hard. I had this arrogance about me when it came to doing things like this, thinking that they were corny and I was above them. Funny, since I wasn’t living a life even close to the one I wanted. Once I stopped being a chump and gave this a shot, my life changed DRASTICALLY. I remember calling him to tell him my goals for the year and his response was less than charming. “Okay, great. Now make them better.” I wasn’t dreaming big enough. I was just writing down things I wanted and that I hoped would eventually happen. It was time to dream with purpose! So I revisited the vision board and started to really picture how I wanted my life to be over the next year. It was a swift kick to the reality check bone. I was going to have to make some BIG changes along my course of action to start living closer to the life of my dreams. Take out a piece of paper and give it a try. You may find that it’s tough to even dream big enough because you are so far from the path you COULD be on. That’s okay! This is a starting point. Write down your goals and don’t be afraid to make them big. Actually, make them scarily big! I highly recommend that you make those goals as quantifiable as possible. Find ways to write them out so that you can track them, and for any goal possible, set a date by which you want to achieve it. You will be in utter shock over how much your life will change for the positive after getting in this habit. Do that this month so that you can hit the ground running come your “fresh start.”
2. A body in motion, stays in motion: If you wait until the 1st of the year to do something useful, you are doing more harm than good. Take the next few days to start to pick up motion. Yes, it goes against every fiber of your being and declares war against society’s standards, but it has to happen in order to see personal growth. If you start to work towards your goals now, you will roll smoothly into the New Year with speed and precision. Remember, you don’t have to implement some grand execution of a master plan. Just start making changes now that point you in the right direction. And if you would like to take this one literally, get off your duffer! People that exercise and get their blood pumping are more energized, productive, happy and motivated!
3. Change your attitude: Woe is you. You hate your job, you feel out of shape, and you just can’t catch a break! Or so you think… Even though you are made up of a billion little molecules that are telling you that things aren’t going your way, you have the ability to exercise a new muscle that has probably atrophied over the years. That muscle is called Positivity. This is not about wearing rose colored glasses or pretending like you are the CEO of your company making millions when you’re really at the bottom of the totem pole, but it is about changing your mindset. If you do this, you will be empowered to make the appropriate decisions to improve your life. Instead of dwelling in disappointment, you will be called to action. You will be happier, more motivated and you will start to see the small positive changes occurring in your once bleak life. Your mindset is often times the only thing holding you back.
4. You are what you repeatedly do: If you are looking for an overnight life change, this is not the website for you. Yes, I do believe that there are things that you can do that can completely change your life, however, most of them don’t happen after one night’s sleep. You aren’t going to want to hear this (I know it used to really grind my gears), true success, however you define it, takes work and it takes time. We all think we have to come up with some master plan to see the difference in our lives. We have to invent the next big thing to get rich or find that magic food to make us skinny, or just need that one big break… just stop. Let that go before you die of disappointment. That’s not reality. The truth is that life is lived out in the compound effect. That can go in either direction, of course. One cheeseburger won’t make you fat tomorrow, but enough over time will do the trick! Just the same as walking an extra 20 minutes a day won’t give you some figure to drool over by breakfast tomorrow. Things compound over time and the small behaviors done diligently and repeatedly are what will completely change your life. Adopt a few positive behaviors a week that align with your lofty goals, and implement them into your routine daily. Depending on what you are doing and how grim your current circumstances are, you may or may not see a difference in a month, two months or maybe even three. But do them for six months, and then a year. I can guarantee if you stay consistent, your life will not be the same it was when you first read this article. Do you want to make this year the best year ever? Do you really think you can do that by doing something for a week?! If this is your YEAR, do the work for it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!
5. Find a worthy mentor: I’ve been blessed in my life to be surrounded by wonderful people that I look up to and take advice from, but I never actually claimed anyone as a mentor until recently. To me, a mentor is someone who is committed to helping you grow. If you are looking to succeed in business, perhaps they are someone in your field. If you are striving to be more connected in your faith, maybe they are someone of the church. Seek out people who guide by example, who you admire, and who are selfless enough to teach you how to do what they have done. Don’t be afraid to ask, because often times people are very open to helping you on your path to greatness!
6. Switch up your curriculum: If you read trashy romance novels and watch reality television, I’m not here to judge. However, if that’s ALL you watch and read, I am recommending that it’s time you make a shift. We typically watch TV or read to unwind and be mindless. There’s no harm in that once in a while – we all deserve a break. Personal development is about engaging in reading, listening or watching things that help you to live to its full potential. There are books and shows focused on all different areas of life. If you’re relationship hasn’t been in tip-top shape this year, make it a point to focus on that and find a book that will help you to become better within your relationship (I recommend The 5 Love Languages). If you want to grow an income that will blow your mind through hard work in the entrepreneurial world, read something that focuses on that (try The Four Hour Work Week or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). If you want to make the most out of life, be the best version of you, and learn how to drop the excuses, pick up a book or audio that hones in on the skills and mindset necessary to do that (Compound Effect is excellent as is Put Your Dream to the Test). Don’t be like me and waste time balking at an idea that can completely change the course of your life!
7. Hold yourself accountable: Do you think it’s a coincidence that the first week of January rolls around, and you can’t find a damn spot on a treadmill to save your life? But then you stick it out for another week or two, and all of a sudden, it’s way easier to claim your territory. Why is that? Because we are all a bunch of dreamers! We get excited about the stigma that surrounds the New Year, we have a vision of what we want and then when we don’t see immediate results, we retreat even faster than we could run on that treadmill! The problem stems from a lack of accountability. We fail to make a commitment, we are impatient, we flounder, and then we fail. Starting now (no need to wait for the new year) learn to hold yourself accountable. If you start something, finish it! And if you struggle to do it on your own, find yourself an accountability partner – someone who will hold you accountable and you can do the same for them. Don’t let yourself go another year half heartedly going through life.
8. YOUR life is made up of many choices made by YOU that will then, in turn, determine YOUR life: Are you catching my drift, here? YOU are the common theme. No one else dictates your present or future. Therefore, the quality of your life is completely dependent upon YOU. Sure, your circumstances may be less than ideal. Illness, money issues, abuse, family struggles… they exist and they suck. But they will only plague you if you let them. Take responsibility for your life! Be a victim or be victorious. It’s YOUR choice.
9. Get involved: Everyone benefits from being a part of a community – big or small. Instead of going through the motions at work, in your faith, at home, at school – get in the trenches! Volunteer. Giving back can be more fulfilling than most other things we do. Find a cause that you believe in and make a difference. Be a part of the process. And if it doesn’t exist, create it! That’s the beauty of it… when you are doing something good, people will want to join you. You can get more involved at work, too. It will help you feel more connected outside of putting in your hours and clocking out at 5. You may have a new outlook on your coworkers or the company you work for. Investing yourself into something will give you a new, renewed sense of purpose.
10. Commit: Steps 1-9 are useless if you don’t commit. This is everything and even though it’s the biggest piece of the puzzle, it’s what we all struggle with the most. Stop selling yourself short! You have an opportunity to design your own life. No date on the calendar or time of the week should dictate your level of commitment to yourself. If you don’t commit to making your life better this year, next year or any year, it won’t get better. My challenge to you is this… Starting now, make a commitment to commit. If you make that promise to yourself, you will undoubtedly change the course of your entire life. Be the minority, be weird, be the success story… stay on that treadmill – it’s headed for your dreams.
Elizabeth Hartke is a Health & Lifestyle Coach and founder of www.DropTheCookie.com – a place designed to help people live a healthy, happy and whole life. She has partnered with Beachbody to help you hit your health and fitness goals while inspiring you to work towards your dream life! Feel free to contact her at email@example.com or connect on Facebook.com/elizgemmell”