Written by Anthony Demangone
We're already into 2015, but I hope it isn't too late to give some thoughts on how we can improve things this year.
- Create the world you want to live in. We often wish the world was kinder, or more efficient, or this, or that. Well, start with what you control. Create the environment that you want to live in. Don't be passive. Don't wait for it to appear. Make it appear. The results can be amazing.
- There's no free lunch. If you want to change something, you'll have to...well, change something. That means something has to give. There are only so many hours in the day. If you want to improve some facet of your life, the investment in time, energy and focus has to come from some place else.
- There's no substitute for hard work. Seinfeld is funny. So that must be why he's successful, right? Perhaps to a point. But he works hard. Behind every successful person, you'll see a ton of hard, focused work. Nearly everything I see and read backs this up. Nearly everything. If you're looking for a silver bullet or secret to success, stop looking. And start working.
- Watch out for vampires. There's a good deal of negative energy out there. Stay clear of it. And beware of those that feed off of negative energy. Seth Godin does a wonderful job of highlighting this trend. He calls these folks "vampires." Vampires will not help you improve in 2014. In his words: "It's so tempting to evangelize to the vampires, to prove them wrong, to help them see how destructive they are. This is food for them, merely encouragement. Shun the ones who feed on your failures." It can be hard to cut off negative influences in your life. But what's the alternative? Allowing them to drag you down? Nope.
- Be that guy. We all have chances during our days to help. To brighten the mood. To pitch in. To make things better. To encourage others. Do it. As I said before, the results can be amazing.
- Learn. Never stop learning. My pal John Spence sums it up in this blog video called Personal Kaizen. Life-long learning is the key to personal success and happiness. The more I learn, the more I understand. And that understanding allows me to connect dots and see patterns. Learn from your successes. And your failures.
- Read. If you learn about successful people, you'll find that they read. A ton. This is akin to life-long learning. Carve out more time in 2014 to read. You won't be sorry that you did.
- Be clear. You may think you are being clear, but chances are, you are not. Poor communication plagues nearly every organization, and it saps time and energy. Be clear with expectations, deadlines, your language, and your feelings. If you think something could be taken the wrong way, don't say or write it. In other words, banish the fog.
- Simplify. Is your life too busy? Too many things going on? Fix that. Remember, it is your life. You're in control. The President focuses on simplifying his life. The busier you are, the more important this is. Simplification reduces stress, increases your attention, and frees up time to work on your priorities. Don't know where to start? Here's one of many articles that talks about how to de-clutter your life.
- Invest for the future. Ask yourself this question. In a month, six months, or two years, will I be glad I did this today? That simple question can really clear up your priorities. Think and act with an eye to the horizon.
- Health. I'm not telling you to focus on your health in 2015. But I'll say this. When your health is going well, everything else seems to go a bit better as well. It is a sort of a life "springboard." Don't have time? Really?
- Block out the noise. There's so much noise out there. Social media. The radio. The television. Advertisements. How much of it really affects you and what is important to you? Very little. The more you can block out the noise, the better. Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture wrote a wonderful piece on how to cut down on the noise in your life.
- Focus where you make a difference. Akin to blocking out the noise, is the need to focus on where you can make a difference. During the last presidential election, at times I had to laugh. Some people looked at the election as if it would have a major impact on their day-to-day life. Now, I'm not saying that it wasn't important. But become informed, and then vote. Then move on. There are a number of things you can control in your own life that will determine your success. More than who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C.
- Focus on what you're doing now. We've become a distracted society. Between Facebook, Twitter, Smartphones, television, Netflix, and iPads, it is harder to find folks who are focused on what they are doing and who they are with. Their eyes always seem to be focused on the next thing, and then quickly on to the next thing after that. We've become a society of multi-taskers. I've found that people who are great at getting things done have a master plan, but they focus on the task at hand. Completely.
None of these ideas are resolutions. But I hope some of these thoughts will help you succeed in 2015, whatever success means to you. Happy hunting, everyone.