13 Things I Did To Change My Life (That Worked)
I have been a notorious New Year's resolution maker and by this time of year, a New Year's resolution breaker. At the start of 2014, I decided to go in a different direction. Opposed to writing down what I wanted to accomplish, I wrote down what I had accomplished. Writing this list has helped me better understand what I should be doing more of (and if that can be considered a resolution, I'll take it). My hope is that you're able to learn from my mistakes (and wins) and make the remainder of your 2014 more successful. Here are 13 things I did to change my life (that worked):
1 Stopped measuring myself by others' yardsticks
Every time I opened Facebook, I would see this person buying a new exotic car, this other one travelling to an exotic location, this other one showing off their new house -- making the comparisons was draining. The thing about comparison is that there is never a win. Now, I've committed to only compare myself to the best version of myself.
2 Stopped watching reality (and most) TV
Thirteen months ago, on any given Sunday, you would catch me viewing not just one but several reality shows. Not any more! I recently did a self-evaluation and realised when I reflected upon activities that changed my life, not one was watching a TV show. However, there were several "content activities" like books, plays, and even podcasts that had set my life on a in better trajectory. That said, I started treating TV accordingly and it received a severe demotion in my life.
3 Said "no" a lot more often
My goal for 2012 was to say "yes" to as many things as I could and therefore try to be everywhere. Guess where that got me? Spread too thin and burned out (with not as much to show for it). I changed strategy in the past year and focused on not just "going after" projects selectively, but also discriminately accepting opportunities. I tried to only take on initiatives that I valued and what I was truly interested in.
4 Stopped working on Sundays
My former work week never truly ended, but now I go cold turkey on Sunday. No e-mails, no projects, no "preparing for Monday". I also try not to schedule any out-of-town trips on Mondays to curb late-evening Sunday travel. Knowing that no matter what, I have at least one day to focus on me, my family, my spirituality, and my fun has helped my spirits.
5 Got more serious about my worship
When you please God, it doesn't matter who you don't please. Knowing HIM and HIS word in greater detail this year has helped me more than I can describe.
6 Committed to a physical activity daily
This has been very hard to execute, but notice I wrote "committed" ... lol! That said, I try my best at this one. If I can't get to the gym, it could simply mean dropping down in my office and doing a few hundred push-ups and sit-ups. I found that when I work out, I not only feel better, but I'm more creative and execute business better (my best ideas come to me when working out).
7 Starting taking action when I'm afraid
Waiting for the "right" time, waiting to develop courage, and waiting for things to get better are all forms of procrastination. Everyone is scared... everyone. It's just the ones who make a change have determined they can't live their life the same way any longer.
8 Had dinner with someone new frequently
Our connections, more specifically, our weak ties are where most of our opportunities in life come from. The issue is that we don't spend time nurturing those relationships. I've started trying my best to give my "weak tie" connections time and energy. It could be someone I haven't seen since college or an old colleague from a job earlier in my career. Bottom line, whenever I can (especially during travel), I dedicate time to reconnect. This single strategy yielded a BIG project for me in 2014!
9 Started drinking a cup of coffee daily
I won't debate the health pros and cons here, but what I will say is that, just one cup of good Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee with limited or no sugar and cream REALLY comes through for me (especially at 4:30 pm-ish when I know I have an hour-long conference call coming up). That added "kick" puts me back in the game.
10 Thanked people in public more often
I've learned this year that the right recognition can be more important than money.
11 Focused on unselfishly helping others
This is something I have been dabbling in for a few years, but this year I made it a priority. I can't attribute anything coming back to me in a tangible way but I can attest that there is no better feeling than someone I've supported messaging me about how his or her life has changed in part from my help. Priceless!
12 Stopped responding to messages as they come in
Years ago, I read an article about how Bill Gates is superfast to respond to e-mails and thought I would mimic this for all incoming messages. A terrible habit then formed, with me literally keeping my e-mail, Facebook, Skype, etc inboxes open all day and interrupting my other work to respond to these messages. This year, I ended that dreaded tactic and now only open my inbox at select times of the day. I then respond only to a message that requires less than two minutes of my time. If it's going to require more than 120 seconds, I save it for response later.
13 Experienced every moment for that very moment
Staying in the present and not thinking about the future (goals and strategy) is a challenge I've historically had, but this year I've forced myself to remain in the now. After all, the only day we have power over is today.
Paul Carrick Brunson is an international television personality, relationship coach and personal branding expert. In addition to being the world's first African American matchmaker and a 2013 NAACP Image Award nominee, Brunson blogs for the Huffington Post & Essence. His bestselling book It's Complicated (But It Doesn't Have to Be) is in stores now. Contact him directly through PaulCBrunson.com or Facebook.com/PaulCBrunson.