New Year’s day is right around the corner and it’s customary to make promises to oneself about how this year will be more productive and generally represent a meaningful change in direction of some kind.
The #1 most popular resolution happens to be to “get in shape”. The basic weakness of a resolution like that is that it’s non-specific and doesn’t lend itself to measurement.
So here is my template for making 2011 a year of positive achievements in four different aspects of life that can be both affirmed and remembered with pride.
Improve your Body
Instead of a vague ‘get in shape’ resolution pick something that can be tracked and measured. Run a mile in eight minutes. Jog for 40 minutes without stopping. Bench press 250 pounds five times. Climb that big hill behind my house. Swim one mile. Bicycle 30 miles. Eighteen percent bodyfat. Walk all the way to grandma’s house. Whatever it is, make sure there is a definite pass/fail measurement you will be shooting for.
Improve your Mind
No matter what level of intellect we have there are thousands of ways to improve ourselves. If we lived ten lifetimes we could not exhaust all the opportunity for improving our minds. To me, that’s like being a kid in a candy store. So much to know – so little time.
To improve your mind learn something completely new to you. Learn to play chess really well. Learn to speak a foreign language. Learn how the scientific method works; the history of germ theory; how to build furniture; how to play guitar; how to sail a boat. Write a short story. Read a book by someone you completely disagree with. Learn memory tricks. Learn magic tricks. Study a branch of medicine or law (don’t practice it; illegal.)
The more you improve your mind the more interesting a person you become. That alone attracts many positive things in life.
Improve your Character
Most of us are very magnanimous when we assess our own character. In our own eyes we’re always kind, generous, have a good sense of humor, are open-minded, etc. That’s fine, but it’s important to back up those assessments with examples and to improve them as we go through life.
This coming year we have 365 days to demonstrate and improve our good character. Help a student you barely know with her college expenses; visit a local hospice and make a friend; write a letter to someone to whom you owe an apology; tell five people how much they mean to you; buy someone a plane ticket. Defend someone who is being wrongly attacked.
Your character is the most important thing about you. Make sure you feed it and maintain it every year.
Improve your Circumstances
There are many elements to a person’s life. Some of those elements are just the way we want them and some are not. Money, relationships, living arrangements, ambitions, etc. can all be a positive or a negative depending on our circumstances at any one time. Resolve to improve your circumstances by planning the steps and then following those steps on a measurable time line.
Improve a good relationship or end a bad one. Find a way to make more money, or spend less, or both. Make a plan to achieve one of your personal ambitions. Chances are you won’t be re-inventing any wheels – whatever improvement you want to make has been made by others so a little research will help you make a solid, measurable plan.
Above all – take action! Don’t just talk about the above, make a plan and then follow the plan. Your next year – every year – can be one in which your body, mind, character and circumstances improve and enrich you and the people in your life.
There is an old axiom about having “a sound mind in a sound body.” The above template helps you work each year towards a sound mind in a sound body in a good person in a good place.”
Happy (Fulfilling) New Year.
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