I’m going to be honest with you: New Year’s resolutions make me laugh.
It’s like when the clock strikes 12 on the first day of January, everyone flocks to become this new person immediately. Presumably, their last year self has died and, at 12:01, this year self comes to life.
“I’ll lose weight this year,” they say, or, “I’ll be better with money!”
And it works…for a little while. But then, these resolutions get too hard, and life gets in the way, and suddenly, by mid-January, last year’s self is out of the grave and walking around like a zombie. This year’s self is nowhere to be found.
Don’t believe me? Research states that ~80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February! In case you’re too lazy to do the math, that’s less than 10% into the year.
I’m going to get right to the point: you’re probably not going to change your life dramatically as soon as the ball drops. Change requires hard work, thoughtfulness, and a strong sense of urgency (one a little more powerful than “OMG it’s a new year!!!”).
Instead of providing you with a New Year’s focused post, I’ll simply give you 7 resolutions I decided to abide by last month (on November 8, 2018, to be precise). In just one month, making this handful of tweaks to my everyday life has helped me:
- Increase my income
- Negotiate and secure regular client work
- Grow my several side hustles
- Get more done each day
- Enjoy more down time
Whether you choose to start today or implement them as soon as the year ticks to 2019, these new mindsets will be sure to bring you a pretty freaking awesome year to come.
7 Simple Resolutions to Have Your Greatest Year Yet
1. Automate As Much As You Can
Let’s face it: humans are super a little lazy sometimes. I’ll be the first to admit that I often try to take the path of least resistance when it comes to doing work. But, *potentially unpopular opinion alert,* it’s totally okay to be lazy, if you make the appropriate adjustments.
What exactly do I mean by that? I’m talking about automation. The more you can automate, the less work you have to do on the regular to make sure things in your life, business, and finances are going steady. There are two main things you can automate: your systems and your good habits. Below are a couple of examples of how exactly that’s supposed to work.
Automate Your Systems
What if I told you that there’s a magical thing that will enable you to waste less time? There is. It’s called setting up your systems so that you rarely (if ever) have to touch them. Automating your systems is like outsourcing your life – when you don’t have to do your own “life admin,” you save a lot of time, energy, and heartache.
Yeah, I’m taking about things like auto pay for bills, automatic transfers to your savings and retirement accounts, and automatic filters to pre-sort your emails so you don’t have to worry about it later. I don’t know the systems you use regularly, but I can definitively say there’s a way to set them up so that they run in the background without needing any human interference.
Ramit Sethi’s personal finance book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, has an extensive section about automating your financial accounts. I first read it a few years ago, but the down-to-Earth money lessons within have stuck with me ever since.
Automate Your Good Habits
Of course, you can automate your systems as much as you want, but if your behaviors don’t match, then you’ll still end up watching your goals swirl down the toilet and out of sight (alongside this year’s self).
I got on this habits kick because of three books I read this year about how habits are formed, and why they can impact our lives so much. Surprisingly, a lot of our attachment to habits is due to the wiring of our brains and our primal instincts that evolved over thousands of years, prioritizing survival over everything else. We still have a LOT to learn about the human brain, but these three books provide an easy, digestible 101 course on how to use habits to achieve your goals and find success:
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
I recommend reading all of them, as they each provide a unique perspective on the benefits of forming habits and actionable tips on how to implement their findings. (If you’re trying to cut down on material books re: step #2, I’d recommend grabbing them on Kindle instead!)
Kill Your Bad Habits
One thing about establishing good, automatic habits is that you have to have time and energy to do them. By getting rid of your bad habits, you can clear your energy and schedule to begin establishing good habits. This book has a few really good sections on breaking bad habits – the tactics have helped me kick some of my worst habits and replace them with good habits.
2. Embrace Minimalism
After lugging around waaaayyyy too much junk for four months throughout the corners of Central Asia, I decided to take a MUCH more minimalistic approach to the material things I own. Immediately after I arrived at home, I dumped out all of my clothes on my bed, sorted them into “keep,” “sell,” and “donate” piles, and got rid of about 75% of the clothes in my room.
It felt really freaking good.
So now, I’ve resolved to embrace minimalism in ALL aspects of my life, not just clothing. Now, I’m doing things like buying fewer groceries (and making more trips if needed), clearing out my inbox (easier said than done), and taking a good, hard look at the rest of the material clutter I have in my life. Yeah, I don’t regularly use about 90% of it.
The reason why I’ve included minimalism in here is because, like baggage, stuff weighs you down. If you have more stuff, you have less freedom to move around unrestricted.
Being super intentional about the things I choose to keep around has given me a greater appreciation for them. It also helped me realize how little I truly need to be comfortable and happy. In addition to helping me fully enjoy my new-found freedom, this minimalist mindset has saved me a lot of money on impulse buys I may have succumbed to before.
3. Treat Your Body and Mind Like Royalty
Burnout is super real, y’all. You’ve probably felt it before, when you eat easy-to-cook junk for days straight, spend hours on end huddled in front of your computer, and look at the clock at night to realize it’s already 11 PM and you still have a to-do list a mile long. But in order to be truly happy and successful, you need to maintain a certain level of physical and mental health.
Yup, this is exactly what it sounds like: self-care is important.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money or time in order to take care of yourself. What you do need, though, is to take regular breaks. Plan them into your days and work schedules and DO NOT SKIP THEM. Your body and mind need breaks away from screens and offices in order to thrive. Science supports this sentiment, like in this study, which found that top 10% of the most productive employees take breaks after less than an hour (52 minutes, to be exact) of work!
Be kind to yourself. Give yourself the breaks you need, and make sure they’re real breaks (not simply leaving your desk and looking at your work emails on your phone the whole time).
4. Invest In Yourself
Sometimes people shy away from their greatest potential by refusing to invest in their own personal growth. Of course, with all of the internet scams and MLM schemes out there, it can be difficult to judge what’s good and what isn’t. Whether that’s hiring a personal trainer to help you reach your fitness goals or joining a course to learn new, monetizable skills, investing in yourself is one of the most important aspects of personal and professional development.
Luckily, there are a lot of free and low-cost resources out there. The internet is full of fantastic information that’s available free of charge! MIT Open Source is a great place to start for free college courses you can take online. Personally, I read a lot of blogs as well to learn valuable information that I’ve taken with me throughout my career.
Sprinkled throughout this article are a few books that have really changed my life, and if you’re willing to read a little bit each day, you can learn and grow a lot simply by picking them up and reading them. If you want my top recommendations for where to begin, these are the ones I’d suggest:
These books give unique, actionable advice you can use throughout your career and personal life. Let me know if you have other suggestions that should be included here (especially ones written by women, as I realized I need to read more of those)!
5. Focus On One Thing At a Time
I used to think of myself as a multitasking goddess. When I first quit my job and started working, I’d always have a million tabs open on my computer, working on up to 5 or 6 different things at once. Then I learned that it can take up to 25 minutes to get back on track when switching between tasks. With my current workflow, I was wasting HOURS each day switching back and forth from one thing to another.
So, I started evolving my thought process to begin focusing on one thing at a time, only moving on to something else when I’d completed the task at hand. Suddenly, I was getting a LOT more done each day from my to-do list. It’s like my whole working style had changed basically overnight!
To this day, I still struggle with the temptation of working on a million things at once, but when I close all of my tabs and only have the one I need open, I work a lot more quickly and efficiently. Try it for a few weeks and you’ll be blown away by how much more efficient and productive you are.
6. Treat Every Opportunity Like It’s Worth $1M
If you want opportunities in life, you’ve got to make them for yourself. You’ll need to be ready to hustle at a moment’s notice. Over half of the jobs I’ve had in my lifetime have been ones that I’ve personally pitched and negotiated. You, too, can create the job you’ve been dreaming of if you stay SUPER alert for potential opportunities, and pursue them full-force when they come up.
In fact, negotiating positions based on opportunities that came up gave me the chance to help craft my dream job at National Geographic, get paid to consult small business owners, and more. This book helped me learn the basics of persuasion and the psychology behind it, and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to negotiate more effectively. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the lessons I learned in there.
Let’s take my most recent (current) job, for example. I got it because I had a solid industry contact who I knew might be in need of some help. I figured out what she was looking for, and made it really obvious that I had the skills and drive she needed. Just a week later, I was hired and ready for my first onboarding call.
So, if you see an opportunity come up, grab it by the horns and make the most of it. Find out what a company’s weaknesses are and provide advice that alludes to your strengths and skills. Follow up on every opportunity and be sure to play up your expertise. If you stay on your toes and keep your eyes and ears peeled, you’ll find that amazing opportunities will start to find you more and more often.
7. Play the Long Game
Confession: I’m a recovering instant gratification addict. For a long time, I craved that blissful hit of dopamine I got from seeing immediate results from my work. Little did I know that this addiction would cause me a whole lot of pain, grief, and wasted time.
Why? Because the best things in life won’t give you instant gratification.
Building a successful business won’t happen immediately. Finding the best clients takes time. You probably won’t get a call back from the recruiter for your dream job seconds after you walk out of the building. And of course, saving up your money for financial independence or whatever your financial goals are is a long-term thing.
So, if you do literally nothing else from this article, I challenge you to quit your instant gratification habit cold-turkey. Today.
If you get antsy or impatient, remind yourself that you’ve got a long game to play. When your blog has a bad traffic day, or your business has a slow sales week, or you have a horrible weekend where your dog gets sick and pukes all over the clothes you’ve decided to donate, remember that it’s a blip in the longer road of achieving your goals, whatever they are. It’s okay to make mistakes often and admit to failure every once it a while. It’s okay to be honest with yourself when your goals change.
Like the entire premise of one of my favorite books, it takes regular, consistent actions over a long period of time to create change, but once it starts compounding, you’ll start to see a snowball effect. And, in a few months, you’ll look back to today and realize just how far you’ve come.
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