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Friday, December 16, 2011

11 Ways to Improve Your Life Now

The year is coming to an end and December is one of my favorite months for two reasons. First, because of the Holidays, the time off and the fun of the season. Second, because I get to look back on 2011 and see what I did with the year.

Looking back on your year can be good and bad…

Good because in the rush-rush of everyday we are always looking to what’s next but if you take some time and look back you might realize that it was a great year, better than you remembered.

I know I realized one lifetime goal this year, riding my bike through the French Alps. Yet somehow it feels like it flew by unless I stop and think about how great of an experience it was.

It can also be bad because you might realize that your year did not go the way you wanted...you did not achieve the goals you set for yourself...you might not be where you wanted to be.

As painful as this can be it’s important that you realize it or else you can’t learn from the experience and become better from it.

So considering that December is a good opportunity to look back, evaluate, clean and prepare for the next year, here are some good things you might want to consider doing this month:
  1. Review your goals for 2011 – if accomplished, what did you learn from it? If not accomplished then, why? If you don’t remember what your goals where then they were only wishes, resolutions, dreams…not goals. Don’t make the same mistake in 2012. See this article on Setting SMART goals.
  2. Set your goals for 2012 – Having learned from 2011 then set your goals based on your short and long term plan for your life of what you want to be, do, have.
  3. Evaluate how you performed this year – Look back at how you did, what you experienced and how you can be better in all aspects of your life: parent, spouse, friend, health, career, spiritual, emotional, etc. Be honest with yourself…
  4. Clean out your files – Get rid of all the paper junk you might be accumulating. Scan and store in computer or CD anything you might want to keep. Find, organize and store the really important papers and get rid of the rest. See these articles on Organize My Life and How to Organize Files
  5. Clean out your house – I have been doing this over the last two weekends and is not easy but it sure feels good. Go through your house and get rid of what you no longer use/need. I suggest separating things into four piles: trash, recycling, donations, stuff to sell on garage sale/Craiglist/Ebay .
  6. Call someone you care about – an old high school friend, parents, siblings, uncles, college friends, client, etc. In a world of Facebook, email and text messages a simple call can be a great gesture.
  7. Visit someone you care about – there is no substitute for face to face communication.
  8. Ask for forgiveness – yep, this is a hard one. But if it’s the right thing to do then this is a great time to do it.
  9. Forgive someone – this one might be even harder…but think about it.
  10. Commit to changing something you really would like to change – a bad habit, your job, your partner, your behavior, a relationship, where you live…you might not be able to do this right away but this is a great time to set that wheel in motion.
  11. Pick something to do in 2012 you have never done before but always wanted to – the catch here is that it has to be something that can be done in 2012. So traveling the world might not be realistic.

    It can be something like skydiving, learning to swim, running a marathon, learning how to type (this was me last year ;-), ask someone out on a date, visit a new place, eat in the top 10 restaurants in your city/state/area, learn Karate...the possibilities are endless. Just make sure it can be done in 2012!

Ok, so you might not be able to do all of these this month. I would say that 1 and 2 are non-negotiable but other than that make your choice and give them a try.

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  1. I like #11. I know I have been wanting for a long time to write a novel or at least a short story but it's one of those things you always put on the back burner. But if I don't get it started I will never find out if I can do it.

  2. Oh goodness, I have been wanting to do #4 and 5 for the longest...

    Specially with the kids toys, those toys they haven't used in forever. But they always want to keep them around when I tell them we need to give them away ;-)

    The other problem is that I know that doing this cleaning is necessary but is as fun as watching grass grow so I always put it off

  3. @Cary that type of idea is exactly what I am referring to. You can do something like that in 2012, absolutely.

    Do yourself a favor and put yourself on a schedule i.e. 3-4 times a week write for 30 minutes every morning...or something like that. You will see that once you get it started it will start to flow, you will not want to stop

  4. @Paul - I hear ya. It's a tough one. Things just pile up over the years. For files I just pick two hours and start getting rid of any paperwork or computer files that I have not used in a year. With the exception of important records.

    For stuff around the house just grab a couple of boxes and go through every closet and divide into the groups I mention above. It's hard to do but boy it feels good after you've done it!


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