It’s that time of year again. We’re all getting ready to turn the page on 2016 and spring into a new year. It’s great to spend our time looking back at the previous year, letting go of things that no longer serve us, and creating new ways of making our lives better. New Year’s resolutions, however, never seem to work. Statistics show that most people give them up 10 days into the new year. I’m guilty too. We’ve all made those resolutions and we’ve all broken them at a time or another. Years ago, I decided I was going to create what I called a New Year’s principle. It is something that can be applied to many areas of my life. I found great success in picking one or two principles I wanted to apply to over the course of the whole year. Here are a few examples, feel free to apply them to your own life and watch it get better and better.
Arriving Early. I’m the kind of person who wants to squeeze every last moment out of every situation. I’m always pulling myself away from a conversation knowing I’ll have to rush to my next appointment. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy about my joie de vivre and excitement for life, but it hasn’t always served me well in my punctuality. Most times, in fact, my rushing has been a cause of stress and a few speeding tickets. It also lets too many things fall by the wayside. One year I set up an experiment to arrive 15 minutes early to every appointment. What a difference that made! When I was meeting other people, I realized there are so many people who arrive early. They are super chill, they hang out, read a book, and don’t seem to have much stress at all. It was great for me because I got to have a different connection to people by showing up early. If you have a similar issue, I implore you to use this principle in as many areas of your life as you can.
Finishing. Many of us are great starters and lousy finishers. I know I’m great at introducing myself to someone at a party or beginning a new project or business idea, but then lousy at closing the deal or finishing the project. This runs deep in a lot of us. It’s that same old thing of following the shiny new idea that takes us away from the mundane. It’s like the universe’s illusive distraction. When we implement the principle of finishing, we might just stop for a moment and follow through with what we say we’re going to do instead of starting 17 different projects and making no progress on any of them. What does that take? It takes commitment, perseverance, and drive. It also takes the willingness to push through the not so fun stuff. It’s great to be a ‘founder’ and start a business, but it sucks to do the bookkeeping. Be one of the few who follow through. This is one of the principles I need more often, so I’ve used it many years. When I do make it happen, I’m so much more relaxed and productive. I’m way more clear headed because I’m not thinking about the long to do list that includes 10 different projects. It really helps me focus.
Mindfulness. This is one of my favorite New Year’s principles because it can be applied to any situation, at any time, on any day. As everyone knows, texting and driving is even worse than drinking and driving. Why? You’re not only putting your own life in danger, but potentially the lives of others. And the only reason is because you’re doing more than one thing at a time. Now, I know most multitasking isn’t always this dangerous, but you get the idea. It’s really hard to do more than one thing at a time and do them both well. What’s the solution? It’s easy, just do one thing at a time. I know there’s so much information flying at us at high speed all the time, but focus has never been more important. It’s fine to send one email, then have a conversation, then go back to your spreadsheet, then answer your phone, but you can’t do all those things at once. It’s way more productive to set time aside for responding to emails, and set up an appropriate time for the conversations, block out 30 minutes for project management, etc. Make sure you’re the one creating your schedule and not letting all these distractions create your schedule for you.
In all my studies about Buddhism, Yoga and other traditions, I learned that presence is a gift. It’s true. When you’re with someone are you thinking about something else or itching to check your phone? Can you make the necessary changes to be clear enough to just sit and have that human connection with people. I know it can be confronting, but I promise you it will make your life richer and deeper.
There are so many other principles you can use to improve your life. Use these or any other you come up with. I’m curious to see how it goes for you. Remember this is your life, no one else is going to live it for you. Make it the best! Leave me a comment below or on those inter webs @teddymcdonald and may you have the best year yet!
Originally published on the author’s website.