2015 was a phenomenal year for me and I hope you’re saying the same. One of the most important thing I’ve learned, not only this year, but over the past few years, is that self-improvement is crucial to our well-being. Whether we are physically improving our health, emotionally enhancing our state of being or intellectually learning and growing, becoming better is one of the most important things we can do to work towards being happier and more productive people. As I look back on 2015, I reflect on the small (but significant) things I did to become better. I encourage you to do the same and pat yourself on the back for taking steps that are not always easy or fun to take, but so important. Every time we think a positive thought or participate in an act of kindness (towards ourselves or towards others), we are becoming better.
Here are a few small things I did to grow this year. Try some of them out on your own or write down the things you did this year that make you feel good inside.
Additionally, start thinking about the things you can do next year to work towards your goals.
1. I stopped forgetting names. I was a chronic name forgetter (that’s a thing, I just coined it). The SECOND I met someone, their name slipped away from me. Worse than that, I would see them repeatedly and not confirm what their name was! I was constantly embarrassed by it. I stopped one day and asked myself why…why on earth did I not remember? I tried making multiple excuses for myself but realized that it was purely because (and don’t you judge me) I didn’t care enough. I didn’t place enough importance on the people I was meeting to remember. Here’s my lesson learned, and why I remember names so well now: The interactions we have with other people are more valuable than an Instagram like or Facebook comment. Meeting and being with people in real time has incredible value, even if it’s brief. I found that after I “remembered” my engagements were more enjoyable and more meaningful.
2. I detoxed a few of my household things including my laundry detergent and my deodorant. I stopped using deodorant with aluminum and I started using a free and clear detergent. There’s something deep down that feels a little bit off when using chemical laden products on my body. I feel much better knowing that even if it’s in a small way, I have reduced my toxic load by eliminating harsh chemical scents and ingredients.
3. I made myself do the things I didn’t want to do. Let me explain….When it came to tough conversations with family and/or friends, emails or projects for work or organizing something in my home, I avoided them at all possible costs. Lesson learned however: Doing the things that are important, whether you want to do them or not, reduces stress, gives you less work to look forward to and makes you a better person. I write about it further here, but in a nutshell, if I take care of the things I don’t want to do rather than putting them off, they are officially eliminated from my scope of ‘stuff’ that needs my attention. Taking care of things is efficient and allows for more time to do the things we actually want to do.
4. I learned something new. In fact, I made it a point to learn two new activities. I started taking tennis lessons and I joined a CrossFit gym. Both changed me drastically for the better. Learning something new, whether it’s a mental or physical activity, keeps the brain excited, sharp and hungry to learn more. If you’re bored or finding that your routine isn’t challenging you, it’s time for something fresh.
5. I gave more. I tried my absolute best to complain less and give more of the positive me. I offered my advice and opinion to those who asked for it when it came to business and health. I donated more of my time and my money. I listened more and I gave more of myself to the things that I knew would make me a better person (including everything listed above). Give more of yourself where it matters and where it makes an impact; reap the benefits of positive energy and a positive attitude.
6. I cut out negativity. Period. No questions asked. Life is too short to allow negative people or situations take over. It wasn’t easy but it was one of the healthiest things I’ve done. I cut out negative friends, I removed myself from situations that made me feel icky, I stopped committing to things I didn’t REALLY want to do and I avoided the drama and the self-pity parties that were taking place around me. What was the result? I elevated. I felt light and free and motivated to continue forward and more importantly, spend my energy and love on the positive people and who deserved it.
2016 is going to be a great year, I can feel it. Sound cliché? Why wouldn’t we say that each year? I encourage you to aim endlessly high this year and try the things that intimidate you. Do your best to be a better person and educate yourself on how you can optimize who you are as a person and the energy you put out into the world.