With the New Year upon us, I am reflecting back upon 2017 and feeling that, while I accomplished some of the things that I had resolved to, including some important ones, I am spending a great deal of time considering what 2018 will look like looking back on it at the end of the year. I would like to become less stressed out, more successful, happier, wealthier and more productive in 2018. I bet that you would too.
Since I am currently experiencing my fair share of frustration, unhappiness and anxiety, and I suspect that you may experiencing the some of the same things, let us consider what some of the things are that must occur between now and the end of the year so that we may both reflect back upon 2018 a year from now and feel that we made some forward progress?
So I ask, what people and events will have made us the happiest one year from now?
Would it be if you finally make amends with a loved one or reconnect with an old friend? Will it be if you have a different job than you have right now? Would it be having a steady job at all if you do not have one now? Would it be if you improved at something, started something new, or stopped doing something that you currently do? All of the above?
I realize that happiness is far from the only key metric with which to judge ourselves at the end of a year. But to better integrate people and experiences in our personal and professional life is a powerful thing worth pursuing. I know that it can be done, having borne witness to many successful people who made enough time for their family, friends and other loved ones while still showing dedication to their jobs or running their own businesses.
Sometimes the elusive perfect balance between work and life is not achievable. When that is the case, you might need to simply view your work as a means to an end. With the amount of pressure that has been dialed up on me with a new, young and inexperienced boss in a new department, I am a prime example of this. Months ago, my primary focus was on better handling my worries and coping with anxiety on a daily basis, but that has been improving steadily week by week and month after month. I have come to accept that I must step up my game although it was already stepped up, but if I do not get better at my work and consistently improve the value I deliver to my clients, I’m toast.
If I simply took the common advice of doing what I love and the money would come to me, we would be homeless or at least staying with my widowed mother and my family would suffer tremendously. I do not think that there is a market for paying me to walk my dog, drink beer and read in the tub, go to my children’s concerts and sporting events, hang out with my kids at the forest preserves, grocery shop and prepare nice meals for my family, take naps, travel around the country visiting relatives, watch sporting events, go to movies and make out with my wife. It is too bad, because those are all things that I love to do and am really good at.
I have come to realize that the marketplace does not care one whit about what I love to do. You will read this on a blog post or eBook because it can provide some value to your own marketplace. These words can add some value to your own life as well as mine.
If you, too, can alter and improve your way of viewing and thinking about things, as I have been doing, then we can make important strides in those things that we likely both resolve to do year after year: lose weight, make more money, improve and perfect our relationships, and right everything that is wrong with our lives. There is nothing wrong with wanting those goals, but what is wrong is simply resolving to do them year after year without any actual action plan or measurable goals.
You want to lose weight. How about five pounds by the end of the year by cutting down on some sweets and exercising once in a while? You want to make more money. How about selling some of your old crap on eBay, doing a few gigs on some platform like Fiverr or self-publishing your own eBook instead of watching some stupid reality shows? Want to improve your relationships? How about taking some time to get together with an old friend or visit a relative or neighbor that you have been meaning to.
There are plenty of things that may be wrong with our lives, but there are defined steps that we can think of and hold ourselves accountable to that can help alleviate some of our problems although they may be painful for us to actually do. I have a few of those, myself.
From all my reading of books, articles and blog posts, it appears as if the amazingly low percentage of people who achieve their New Year’s resolutions has little to do with the lack of making these vague goals, but everything to do with our lack of discipline to convert our ideas and best intentions into sustainable actions that will ultimately result in positive results.
We know that we need to do something different to extricate ourselves from our self-imposed ruts and shortcomings. What we are not as good at is going all in to actually make changes in our thinking, actions and performance.
Let us right here and now, as I write this and whenever you read this, begin 2018 by making a commitment to bettering ourselves. Not everything about ourselves and not all at once in a rapid burst of being a New Me or New You, which would soon fizzle out, but in a sustainable, determined, gritty and consistent manner. Let’s make the commitment to adding value to yourself, your loved ones, your employer, your customers and your community. If you are of a religious nature, make the commitment to your faith, whatever it may be.
Commit to doing things the right way, as displayed to me growing up by my own father and two grandfathers. Honor your commitments, whatever they may be. Let’s commit to being honest and to working harder at everything we do. Let’s turn off the TVs and phones once in a while when we otherwise would not have so that we may spend additional time with those we love and care for.
It’s true that I am asking a lot of me and you. That is part of this self-improvement deal. If we are content with how things are going and feel that we have little or no control over what happens with our lives, I may as well stop writing this and you should flip on a reality show on TV or check your Facebook feed again. But if you and I can take the first step, which I believe is changing the way that we think, and getting our minds right, then the sky is the limit and we will both learn how to invest our time, energy and money in the things that matter the most to us.
P.S. I wrote this on Wednesday night after a fucking long, difficult day of work even though I did not feel like doing it. It was about 1,240 words prior to this postscript, about four hundred words short of my daily goal for cranking out a 50,000+ word book for NaNoWriMo. I’m not seeking praise or anything like that, just wanted to mention that I really did not feel like writing tonight, but did. Now I’m going to spend some quality time with my wife and then read another Grisham novel, The Rooster Bar after completing Camino Island over the weekend.