Seven Ideas for 2014 Resolutions – Your 2014 Makeover
Photo by Amy Tripp Myers
Here are seven ideas for 2014 resolutions to make this a year that you will look back on 12 months from now with pride, fondness and a sense of accomplishment. Everything we will talk about in this post, the actual daily tasks are small and easy to do. But they are like puzzle pieces that put together a picture of a better life for you. Or a thread that weaves into a beautiful tapestry that depicts your life. A lot of what we talk about here only take seconds to do, some maybe ten minutes. But they are worth so much. Forget the past and start 2014 off with a bang.
1. One Big Goal (OBG) – Focus Follow One Course Until Successful.
It is easy to become distracted. What one BIG thing would you like to complete or start in 2014? Make a list of goals you’d like to accomplish over a lifetime and break them down into categories; health, relationships, money, spiritual, career, hobbies.
Identify those that are really big and will take you multiple years to complete. Break those goals down into yearly goals. For example, if you want to publish a book in ten years, where do you need to be in five years, two years, and the end of this year? Maybe this year you could start a daily journal, take a writing class, buy some good writing books and read five classic books.
After you have your list of goals for the year, by category, review them to determine which is the most important one – your OBG. Focus on that one daily. Schedule a task early each day and finish it first before anything else. You can still work on your other goals, but only after the work on your OBG is done. In our example, say you decide to work on your goal to have your book published. In 2014, your want to read five books. List out the books you want to read and buy or checkout from the library. Research how many pages they have. Then use a little math and figure out how many pages you have to read each day (five books x 350 pages = 1750 pages divided by 365 days = 5 pages a day to read).
Schedule a day to run up to the office supply store and buy a bound journal.
Set your alarm clock for five minutes earlier and use those five minutes to write in your journal. Increase the amount of time, a couple of minutes a week so that by the end of the year you’re writing for an hour per day.
Research online for a good writing class. Schedule 15 minutes a day to do this until you find a good one.
As you can see, you can break your BIG lifetime goal down to really small daily tasks that are easy to complete. Your day one tasks could be reading five pages from “Farewell to Arms”, write five minutes in my new journal, research 15 minutes online for a writing class, and brown-bag my lunch to save $7 towards my writing class. Simple. Anyone could do those tasks.
By the end of the year you will have read five good books, found a writing class and saved money for it, and developed a habit of writing for an hour per day. You could be very happy with a year like that. Keep that up for several years, and you will have the talent to complete your lifetime goal to publish a book. By focusing on this one big goal, you will be concentrating on what you are passionate about, what really motivates you and what drives you.
You will find that success in this one area will rub off into other areas. You will develop a different mindset with a confidence to know you can do it. But, FOCUS on your OBG, your One Big Goal this year, do it first thing in the morning, summarize it in one word and stick the word where you’ll see it every day; a post it note on the mirror, a reminder on your outlook calendar, take a sharpie and write it on your coffee mug. You will be surprised how big an impact this will have on your life.
2. Health – We all know our health is important. Neglect in this area impacts every other part of our life. Start your year by scheduling a physical exam with your doctor. I have previously written a post HERE on medical exams to schedule when you’re over 50.
Write out everything you would like to improve; lose weight, workout more, more flexibility, get rid of nagging back pain. Even if it seems impossible, put it down.
I lived with horrible pain in my left arm for months. It was so bad I couldn’t sleep or concentrate on work. My regular doctor said it was carpal tunnel, and it would need surgery. Instead, I researched other people who had the same pain, and they frequently cited problems with their neck. I checked on the best orthopedic surgeons in the area in Chicago magazine. I found one that happened to be five minutes from my house. He did an MRI and found a bulging disc in my neck that was squeezing a nerve that ran down my left arm, causing the pain. Six weeks of physical therapy and I was back to normal. Amazing!
Look at your list and determine which is the most important. If you’re over-weight or have high cholesterol, address those before deciding to run a marathon. And similar to the OBG, divide it up into small tasks that you can do daily and feel good about it.
If it is trying to lose weight, cut out one can of pop and do a ten minute walk when you get home each day. Make your goal to lose just one pound a month. By the end of the year, you will have dropped 12 pounds. If you achieve your goal before the end of the year, grab the next one on your list and go after it too. Remember that the goal of exercise is to change something. If it isn’t changing, then change what you are doing as it isn’t working.
3. Relationships – Relationships matter. Think about all the people you have in your life; your family, friends, neighbors, people you work with, and even the casual acquaintances like the people at the train station, or coffee shop.
Write down an assessment for all of them. Some people might be poisonous to you and you need to distance yourself from them. If it happens to be your spouse, then it will take a lot of work. People give up too easy in their marriage and forget that it does take work to make it a good one.
If somebody annoys you, what about them does? Start by forgiving them. Not necessarily to their face, but silently to yourself. Some things that bother you may actually be quite small and insignificant.
Laugh at the person who just cut you off in traffic. Smile at the person who complains all the time at work. Say, “I love you,” to yourself, at your neighbor who never waves back to you. Grab your wife and do a quick dance when she nags you.
Yes, some of these are ridiculous, but they work. Would your rather be miserable around everyone, or have a lot of fun? I’d rather have a good time.
Another area to look at is who are your friends. They saying goes, “you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.” This year try to develop a friendship or mentorship with someone who can be a positive influence on your life. Eat lunch with the guy at work who has had two promotions in the last two years. Talk to the guy at the train station who always seems to be in a good mood. Email that author who wrote the book you love.
Above all, don’t neglect the family. Do something good for them every day. Little things like writing “I love you” on a napkin in the morning, or telling your kids you’re proud of them are huge and will have lasting benefits for them and you.
4. Money – Your goal here could be a simple one, like get a 2% raise, or it could be complex like start a new business.
Here are some ideas; start earning a side income to use during your retirement years, payoff your debt, start tracking all your spending, diversify your savings, start an emergency fund, move to a smaller home or to an area with a cheaper cost of living, cut back on some expenses like eating out or cable, increase the amount you save each month and have it transferred automatically so you can’t touch it, save each month for large expenses like Christmas or real estate taxes so you’ll have the money when the time comes.
That should be enough to get your creative juices flowing. The important thing is to make each year better than the year before. Start small and build. Make an extra payment towards the principal on your debt. Start with $50/month this year and increase it to $100/month next year, and so on. This one task will take you five minutes at the end of the month (set a reminder).
I’m also an advocate of tracking your money and assets. You do a better job of managing what you measure, just don’t make it complicated. Break your expenses down into broad categories, like housing, food, medical, fun, auto, and insurance. Enter the amounts once per week and review at the end of the month. Keep track of your net worth (assets minus debt) and watch it grow. Take two minutes to log into your retirement account and jot down your account totals. Keep them on a spreadsheet. This will give you a good feel for how you are doing, just don’t panic and buy and sell on a whim. Slow and steady wins. Subscribe to a good financial newsletter. I recommend the Palm Beach Letter.
5. Spiritual – This can mean different things to different people. For me, I want to work on my Christian walk of faith and my relationship with God. I do this by studying four books in the bible per year, memorizing 24 bible verses, attending a weekly men’s bible study and serving/supporting my local church.
For others, this can mean working on your mind with things like meditation, getting rid of negative thoughts, surrounding yourself with positive people, not regretting the past, or worrying about the future, but focusing on now and what is real. You have a mind, a body, a soul. Don’t neglect any of them, each needs attention. Look for some good books on Amazon.com for self-improvement. You will find that a better “you” will rub off on other areas of your life; your relationships, your health, your creativity, productivity. This area is probably the most neglected area for the majority of men.
6. Simplify/Declutter – I started a program in 2013 to simplify. Part of the process was to declutter. I use a spare bedroom in my home as a combo workout room, music room and office. There was stuff everywhere; on the floor, the closet was jammed, and my desk had so much stuff on it I couldn’t put my laptop on it. All of these piles smother you, each is a to do list, and subconsciously they are weights that drag you down. I had to get rid of it, and I did by starting small. I did one area each week. I would lay out the pile and sort it into three categories:
a. Don’t need it/Never use it/No value – throw it away
b. Don’t need it/Never use it/Could be used by someone else – Donate it or Sell it
c. I need it/I use it – Find a place for it and store it
Some of the projects were not easy. My closet was jammed with stuff. It required me to install shelves, both on the walls and units that sat on the floor.
I sold books and unused music gear and made over $300. Nice!
I bought an L-shaped desk from Staples, around Christmas, for $49 and threw the old one away. This new desk gives me plenty of room.
This process is far from over and I will continue it in 2014. I have clothes to get rid of and a crawlspace to thin out. And you know, it does feel better to walk in my office when it is all clean and organized.
You can do it too. Each week find one tiny area to declutter, maybe one square foot of space. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Once it becomes a habit (see below), it will be easy to do and you can tackle big projects like the garage or basement. We save so much stuff that we don’t need. Less stuff, less distractions, less worries, and you become more productive due to a clear mind.
7. Habit – This was another area that I worked on in 2013 that I will continue for a lifetime. I first read about this in a book called “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino. It’s only about 100 pages, and you can read it in one day. In it, a man learns ten things that changed his life. The first one was to develop good habits and become their slave. Most of us do the opposite, we develop bad habits and become their slaves. In 2013, I developed the following habits:
a. Wake up at 4:30am
b. Practice Spanish lessons daily
c. Practice my bass daily
d. Practice ear training every morning
e. Write for one hour before work
f. Great dental care (see this LINK)
g. Memorize bible verses
h. Learn new vocabulary words daily
i. Learn/review grammar lessons daily
j. Review my retirement fund and market performance daily
k. Track what food I eat and break down the grams of fat, carbs, protein and total calories (Free App)
l. Jot down anything I am grateful for that happened during the month
m. Keep a small notebook with me to note any ideas that come to me during the day
Most of these habits are done before I go to work, or before I go to sleep. They are routines that I have actually written out. For example, wake up at 4:30am, make breakfast and feed cat 4:45am…After a month of doing this, it just becomes habit.
I know that I will work on my Spanish next and log on to vocabulary.com to test myself on ten words after that. They’ve become habits, good habits. Each helps in areas I have down as lifetime goals. By making them habits, I do them daily and doing them daily improves me daily and gets me closer to my goals. It only really cost me getting up an hour and a half early each day.
Leo Babauta wrote about habits on his blog. He wanted the habit of flossing. Why is it so easy to brush your teeth each day and so hard to floss daily? Well, it becomes easy once it is a habit. Leo started by flossing just one tooth each day. Then two teeth, and so on. After a month, you’re flossing without even thinking about it. You just walk into the bathroom and grab the floss and go to it. And it works that way with all of the tasks you want to be habits. Do a small bit each day and at the end of the month…boom it’s a habit. The nice bonus is that the more good habits you develop, the less time you have for bad habits.
Hopefully you have found this list helpful, and it has given you some ideas for 2014 resolutions. Make this year a great one, small changes done daily add up to huge changes later. Don’t regret your past or worry about the future. Focus on today and do your small tasks, making sure to do the OBG (One Big Goal) first. Do that and your future will take care of itself.
Please leave a comment letting me know what you’ll work in this year.