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After enjoying a lovely Thanksgiving with family, I started to realize that the end of this year has crept up on me. Although it’s been a particularly tough year, I still find myself wanting to pump the brakes. One of my most important tips to make next year your best year and kind of a bonus tip here — finish this year strong.
I teach my clients that the way you finish something is just as, if not more important than how you start or your overall performance. Finishing strong has a lasting impression on your psyche. It’s what you’ll remember most from the entire time-frame. I use health and fitness as an example a lot because that’s what I’m usually coaching people through, but this applies to every area of your life.
Even if, as you’re reading this, you only have one day left to finish strong, make this day the best day of your year before you start focusing on the next. This creates confidence as you move into the new year. Plus, I’m never an advocate for waiting for a Monday, the first day of the month, or the first day of the year to start making better choices. Today is the perfect day, whatever day it is.
Tips to make next year your best year
Declutter your mind
Decluttering anything in your life is always a good thing, but the mind is a really important place to start. Take regular breaks from social media, start doing daily “brain dumps” to get your thoughts and to-do’s down on paper, prioritize essential tasks and eliminate what you can, watch less TV, pray and meditate, take time to stop and just breathe. If you cannot think clearly, you cannot do any of the other things on this list.
Do the hardest thing first
If you haven’t read Eat That Frog yet, you should. Most of our procrastinating begins with the dread of doing that big, difficult, or uncomfortable thing. Remember that all that’s standing in your way of accomplishing things is you. It’s not the thing you are dreading, it’s you. Also remember, the thing you’re dreading is almost never as bad as you’re anticipating it will be.
Put yourself in better situations
One of the things that set us up for failure in any area of our lives is the situations we put ourselves in. It’s like the saying goes, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Want to stop gossiping? Put yourself around people who will hold you to that goal instead of making it harder for you to stop. Want better physical health? Put yourself in a fitness accountability group instead of trying to do it on your own. Want a healthier marriage? Spend more time with happily married couples. We leave so many things to chance in our lives. Give yourself the best chance for success by intentionally putting yourself in situations that line up with your desired outcome.
Enlarge your perspective
Read more books, talk to more people, really listen and pay attention to the world around you. Our busy lives and all our worries and responsibilities can result in tunnel vision as we just try to get through our days. With that tunnel vision, our perspective shrinks smaller and smaller each day until we have no room for understanding others. Your ability to empathize, forgive, have patience, love, grace, and mercy for other people will shrink as your perspective shrinks. As those things shrink, so will your happiness.
Serving others is a good way to enlarge your perspective. It also provides feelings of purpose and worth along with reducing the effects of stress on the body. According to the NY Times, “A five-year study of 846 people in Detroit found that stressful life events appeared to take a greater toll on people who were less helpful to others while helping others seemed to erase the detrimental physical effects of stressful experiences.” That’s pretty remarkable. I would just like to note that Jesus was teaching about the importance of the service of others first. Just sayin’. As Dr. Caroline Leaf says, and I’m paraphrasing here — I love that science is catching up with the bible.
Define what you value most and choose that over what you want now
The big things we really want in life often get put off or completely thrown away because of the small decisions we make on a daily basis. The things we want right now often don’t line up with our long-term, desired outcome. Maybe you want a comfortable retirement, but you also really want that brand new car right now. You probably want to live a long, healthy life, free of discomfort, pain, and illness and full of energy. You also probably want to eat and drink whatever you feel like eating and drinking right now. Maybe you want a closer relationship with God and more time to study the bible, but you don’t want to get up a little earlier every morning or eliminate something else in your routine to make space.
Your life is made up of the small choices that you’re making daily. The things you value most are not accomplished or maintained by a few big decisions. They are a series of small, smart choices + consistency + time. If you haven’t read The Compound Effect, you should.
Live as if you’re leading
In an age where “influencer” is a job title, it’s easy for you to believe you don’t impact other people’s actions or decisions unless you have been given that title. The truth is, you are always influencing people around you. You can change lives with something as simple as the words you say or the actions you choose. Living intentionally, as if you are leading each person you come into contact with, will not only fulfill your God-given desire to live for something greater than yourself, it will also drastically improve your own life. Desiring to lead by example will cause you to make better decisions because you want to see other people begin to make better decisions. Everything you do creates a ripple effect in the world around you. You decide whether that’s a good or bad thing.
Your next opportunity to do better
As you begin or continue to try to improve your life, always remember two things. You are an imperfect human, just like the rest of us, and your next opportunity to do better is always the very next second. Sometimes you will fail, sometimes you won’t know where to go from that failure or disappointment, sometimes you’ll be tired and fed up. As Emily Freeman says in another one of my favorite books (again, I’m paraphrasing), just do the next right thing.
Finish the year strong with these tips: How to Make Sure Your Healthy Habits Survive the Holiday Season
Join my FREE Holiday Survival Group on Facebook to keep your health and fitness in mind while still enjoying your holiday season.