This endeavor that we are entering into this New Year is ours alone. Although I am the king of comparing myself to others when it comes to the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the jobs we have, the money we earn, the homes we own and the amount in our investment accounts, we should no longer measure ourselves in that manner.
Instead, we should judge how much we have accomplished or what we are able to accomplish in 2018 and beyond based upon what we have achieved with the gifts that God has gave us including our intellect, our drive and ambition, our work ethic, our conduct and what we have to offer to others.
Neither you nor I are going to magically transform in the course of 365 days just because we want to and think that we can. We must set measurable goals of things that we have the ability to accomplish or can gain the ability to do so. You should think about those goals on a weekly basis, if not a daily basis like I do. Sure, we will let some things slip here and there but, overall, we must consistently strive to accomplish the things that we set out to do in a consistent and methodical way.
For far too long, you and I have both found ourselves trying to claw our way to happiness. We are always reaching for something else that we believe will bring us closer to true happiness. In some cases it will, but in other cases it will not. Me, I would be happier had I remained in my former department and then received even a small promotion when my former boss retired. Instead, I got transferred to another department and now report to a young, inexperienced, crude and harder-driving boss. I would be happier if I could make some consistent income above and beyond my bi-weekly paycheck, although I am grateful to have a solid, if difficult, job with a steady paycheck. I most definitely want a newer car, bigger house and more time off to spend with my loved ones.
I realize that that sort of thinking has held me back from attaining happiness for quite a few years, and perhaps you feel the same way.
Before we take further steps to plan for self-improvement in the coming year, we must take responsibility and acknowledge that we have landed in the jobs that we have, married or divorced the people whom we chose to, live where we chose to live and pursued the things that we do out of personal choice. We all know relatives and neighbors who grew up in similar circumstances, but one sibling went on to great success while another floundered, or your neighbor who grew up in the same neighborhood and attended the same schools went on success and fortune while you have not.
I could name or describe people on both sides of that coin all day long. I know one guy who lived in a cramped apartment with several siblings and a single mother who fought and clawed for every single thing growing up, made it into the University of Indiana and now owns a tech firm that provides mobile location-based advertising services to Fortune 500 companies and makes millions. I know another guy who grew up on the north shore and lived in a multimillion dollar house on Lake Michigan, traveled the world before high school ended and never had to lift a finger who grew up and just basically takes drugs and has never held a steady job in his life or done anything worthwhile.
What I am striving for this coming year and am urging you to is to be the best you and me that we can be. We may not become as successful as our bosses, our neighbors, or the more successful former classmates that we have, or even our siblings, but that is okay.
But can we be better than we are now as I write this and you read this? Absolutely. We should make more money, lose some weight, spend more quality time with our families and other loved ones, create more and consume less than we currently do, increase our grittiness, move out some unneeded clutter and increase our overall happiness.
When put like that, it seems like a very tall order. However, there are baby steps that can be taken to improve all of the above incrementally. I’m not talking about going from a $50,000 income to a $200,000 income, but if you are making $50K, a good goal may be to make $60K from a small raise at work plus some hustling income from a gig. If you weigh 230 pounds but dream of getting under 200, you may be able to succeed in doing that in one year, but if you end the year at 220 you have still made good progress in my book.
And if you have gone this entire year and have only taken a handful of vacation days and have not gone anywhere notable, like me, with better planning we should both be able to increase our time off and our travels. In terms of creating more, I have my own goals set but I am sure that there is something more that you could be doing to create something new instead of watching some sitcom or surfing the net for an extra hour here and there.
If you have dreamed of starting your own business like I have, start your business while you are still working, if you can. It takes 18-36 months to break even in a small business. If you start before you quit your job you’ll be closer to making money before your cut off your paychecks.
If there are skills or connections you need to learn to operate your business such as computer skills or gaining key industry contacts many times you can get those from your current employer. Plan your escape from the rat race. With me, I have been thinking more and more about launching some type of eCommerce site, although I continue mulling over the details. Like anybody, I do not like failure and want to make it a smashing success, but feel that I will fail if I do not have a solid plan in place and the knowledge of how to go about building it up.
The first thing, and maybe the most important one, is that I have not yet decided exactly what products or type of products that I would sell. I am not exactly the kind of guy who likes “things.” The main things that I do like are books, and I do not plan on seeking my fortune as one out of a gazillion online booksellers. No, I have much more to offer the world than that, but am just not quite sure exactly what that is besides writing things like this.
Our goals may not be accomplished in a one-year timetable and that’s okay. You and I do not have expiration dates unless, God forbid, we are stricken with an incurable disease or something happens that renders all goal setting moot. Barring an unforeseen disaster of that nature, our common goal upon me writing this and you reading it is to think hard about ourselves and where we are, what our strengths and weaknesses are, and how we can better utilize our strengths and address our weaknesses to become better, happier, healthier, wealthier and more loving and productive versions of ourselves.
When we ultimately do take those steps and achieve some of these resolutions that we are setting, 2018 will truly be a year that we kick more ass and kiss less of it.