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2016 and 10 Ways To Look Ahead


2016 seemed to be a bad year for a lot of people. Every year we lose artists, people we have never met. We mourn them. I read that deep down inside, we don’t cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves. This year saw so many childhood heroes of our generation leave us to fend for ourselves, and it really was a punch to the gut for a lot of us. May they all rest in peace.

Plagued by tragedies across the globe and the loss of so many, 2016 isn’t something to reflect on too much, and sometimes it's best to put the past aside and look ahead to the future.

Everyone sets out the start of new year with their resolutions. Thoughts and goals that fall by the wayside by the second week of January. According to a lot of surveys, 59% of people want get fit and healthy in the new year. Statistically speaking, however, only about 8% of people keep these promises to themselves. If more people focused on their mental fitness, they’d more likely become successful in achieving any goals they set for themselves. It is the mental fortitude that will help to persevere. Here are 10 New Year’s Resolutions that will make you mentally stronger, and believe me these are my resolutions as well.

1. Meditation

Spend at least 15 minutes a day in quiet reflection. These few moments in quiet time give you an opportunity to reflect on your progress and think about what you want to do better tomorrow. Schedule it every day, this time of solitude really does recharge your batteries. It will help you gain clarity and renew your motivation to reach your goals.

2. Challenge Yourself

Whether you sign up for a swimming class or you join toastmasters, do something that challenges you to step outside your comfort zone. Facing your fears head on can shift the way you see yourself. Rather than assuming you need to avoid tough or difficult things because you might fail or because you can’t tolerate the stress, you’ll chip away at your self-limiting walls and beliefs.

3. Write Stuff Down

I’ve mentioned this before in previous blog posts, but writing stuff down does wonders for your brain. Try this: Write down three things you are grateful for every day and you’ll change the way you see the world. Studies have linked ‘gratitude’ to a multitude of benefits, ranging from better sleep to reduced physical distress. It only takes a few minutes each day, but it’s an easy way to boost your mental strength.

4. Physical fitness

Yep, here it is, allllllll the way down at number 4. You knew it was coming. Go to the gym, run, even just walk for an hour. Do SOMETHING. Your mind won’t operate efficiently if you are not fueling it properly. Work out, eat better, get sleep.

5. Talk to yourself

Yes, I am crazy. We all are. The conversations that you have with yourself impact the way you behave and how you feel. Harsh self-criticism will only hold you back. Commit to talking to yourself the same way you’d speak to a trusted friend. You’ll unlock potential you never knew existed.

6. Stay Woke

Become more aware of feelings and emotions. Yours, more than anyone else's. Aside from happiness or anger, most adults aren’t comfortable sharing their feelings. Many people are willing to say, “I’ve got butterflies in my stomach,” or “There was a lump in my throat,” because it feels less vulnerable than saying they feel sad or scared. Your emotions play a humongous role in every decision you make. It’s okay to be scared. Everyone is afraid of something.

7. Timeline your dream

A lot of people say, “I’d like to write a book someday,” or “One day, I am going to launch my own business.” But since ‘someday’ never appears on the calendar, it’s unlikely you’ll actually do it. Turn your dream into a goal by creating a realistic timeline for yourself. Even if it takes multiple years, research the steps you need to take in order to reach that dream.

8. Spend time with others

It’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day grind that you don’t set aside time for friends and family. There is an old story I tell that usually gets my point across:

 

As a new school year starts, a university class sits down waiting for the professor to show up. He finally arrives and puts a humongous jar out on the table. He fills it up with tennis balls, then asks, “Please raise your hand if you believe this jar is full.” Most students raise their hands, some privy to the thinking of trick questions. The professor then took out a bunch of marbles and poured them in the jar, bouncing their way around the tennis balls filling up the available space. “Now how many of you think the jar is full?” he asked. Almost all the students raised their hands. The professor then pulls out two bags of sand and pours them into the jar. The sand then fills in all of the nooks and crannies around the marbles and tennis balls, completely filling in all of the space. “As you can see, this jar is completely full now, yes?” All of the students nod their heads in agreement. The professor then takes out two cups of coffee, pours them into the jar and screws on the lid.

“You see,” he says, this jar represents your life. The tennis balls are the important things - your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions. If everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The marbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car, etc. The sand is everything else, the small stuff."

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the marbles or the golf balls. If you fill it with marbles, sure you can put some sand in...but what about the tennis balls? The same goes for life. If you spend all of your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children, take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the tennis balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities, the rest is just sand."

One of the students then raised their hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there is always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.”

 

I am not sure where I first heard or read this story, but it definitely resonates with me and brings across a major point. Spend time on your priorities first, the rest of the stuff doesn’t matter.

9. Values

This is one that I hadn’t really thought of. It is one thing to say you value giving back to the community or that you value caring for the environment….living according to those values isn’t always so easy. Evaluate where you devote your time and energy and see if you want to make any lifestyle shifts that would help ensure you are living up to your values.

10. Bad Habits

Let go of one bad habit. Just one. Work smarter, not harder. So rather than saying you are going to eat more vegetables, commit to giving up that bag of chips or soda you eat at lunch every day.

Don’t overwhelm yourself by tackling too many things at once. You have the whole year, so start with once change you want to make. You can always start new goals any time of the year.

Let's make 2017 the best year ever, together.

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