4 Ways to Drastically Improve Yourself In the New Year

The desire to improve oneself is something I think we all have. But for some reason, many people struggle to become the person they’ve always wanted to be. Change can take time and that may be the reason so many people cannot seem to reach the goals they set or accomplish the things they desire.

Although I do agree that change does take time, I also believe that there are things that can be done to move you in the right direction at a faster pace. Those things are often never easy which is why most people do not do them. However, if you want to drastically improve yourself in any area of your life, you need to accept the idea that it will take some extra effort. In this week’s post, I will show you 4 ways that you can drastically improve yourself.

Goal-setting Method

I’ve always been a goal setter but in 2007, I tested and adopted a method of reaching my goals that I still use every year in one form or another.  In 2006, I bought a monthly planner in December. The planner was like many others that were for sale except for one detail that attracted me to it; it had extra blank pages in the back for taking notes. Several pages in fact and it also had a note section on the bottom of each month. “Perfect”, I thought.

On the first page of the notes I listed 18 things that I would like to do, have, or be. One of my “do’s” was to travel to other cities and another one was to increase my savings by 10%. I didn’t categorize them but I did make a note next to each item so I knew that I had a balanced list.

I visited my list several times a day. I looked at each item and evaluated how close or far I was from accomplishing them and what I was doing that day or week that would get me closer to my goals. I used the notes section at the bottom of each month to document my progress.

By May of that year, I had accomplished 12 of the 18 things on the list and two months later I accomplished the other 6. One of the reasons my goals were accomplished so fast was because of how well defined my goals were and I often I evaluated them.

Every year since then I have set my goals in the exact same way. I’ve learned that setting my goals up the right way makes it easier for me to reach them. The real key is to define my goals clearly and map out how I am going to reach them.

Then, I check my progress daily. If I find that I am taking steps in the wrong direction, I correct the action so that I can get back on track. The one thing I don’t want is to slack off for a week and not check my progress and realize that I’ve drifted further away from my goal.

In order to drastically improve yourself, you will have to have a similar dedication to your desired outcomes.  You must be clear on your direction and honest with yourself on your progress.  If you are wanting to drastically improve yourself this year, you are going to have to take some big steps.  Here are 4 steps that will guide you in the right direction.

Climb Your Everest

So, I’m not saying you need to visit Travelocity and buy a plan ticket to Nepal.  But I am saying that this year may be the year you overcome something big.  I mean, “Mount Everest big”.

Since 1921, there have been numerous expeditions and attempts to climb all 29,000 ft of Everest.  Even though there have been about 240 deaths due to the extreme weather, altitude sickness, storms, avalanches and exhaustion, many people continue to spend thousands of dollars to climb the mountain.  Why?

Maybe it is because it isn’t just a mountain, it is THE mountain.  Mt. Everest is Earth’s highest mountain.   Its peak is 8,848 meters (29,029 ft) above sea level.  It is also known as the roof of the world. This year, more than any other year could be the year that you finally overcome the Everest in your life.  So how do you find your mountain and claim it?

The first step to climbing your Mt Everest is to first identify what it is.  This is not as easy as you think.  Your Mt. Everest isn’t something that is just big, it is the biggest.  What is the biggest barrier in your life currently?  What is the biggest goal that you would like to accomplish?  What is the one challenge that would require more focus, dedication, desire, and perseverance than any other?  That is your Everest.

Your Everest is the big challenge in your life and this year, make it your intention to conquer it.  By scaling the biggest challenge in your life FIRST, you immediately make the other obstacles look much smaller.  Once your Everest is defeated, you will be able to steamroll over everything thing else that tries stop you from becoming the person you want to be.

 

Become Wiser, Smarter, and More Educated

Create a Reading List-This year, my wife and I have created a list of books we would like to read.  We began by visiting a local used bookstore as well as ordering several books from Amazon.  The books on my list are there to help me expand my knowledge and increase my wisdom.
The point in all of this reading is to gain insight, information, and knowledge all year long. This is not a pleasure reading list, however. My goal is to read for comprehension. There is a difference between just reading and reading for comprehension. To dramatically improve yourself, begin to read for comprehension instead of reading for regurgitation.

Read books, magazines, and articles from the newspaper, with topics you are not familiar with. While you are reading, stop periodically to make sure you understand what you’ve just read. If you finish reading something that you do not understand then read it again until you get it.

Use a dictionary if you come across a word you do not know. You will know that you fully understand something if you can clearly explain what you’ve read to someone else. Do not just memorize phrases and points instead let what you’ve read run through your mind so that the critical thinking side of your brain can come to a conclusion.

Have More Conversations– Throughout the year, make sure to meet as many people as you can. Begin to discuss things you are passionate about. But more importantly, begin to discuss topics that you have little knowledge. This is one of the best ways to learn something new.

Begin starting meaningful conversations with people strangers or with individuals you have never spoken to. The goal of these conversations is not to just talk but to listen. Listening to someone talk about what they care about and why they care about it, may help you become wiser.

If you are not used to walking up to strangers and engaging in a great dialog, read my posts How to Start Meaningful Conversations.

Pursue Higher Degree-One of the many things that can happen that will dramatically change your life is advancing in your career. Getting a higher education can make a major difference in your professional life.

A friend of mine worked for a company in an entry-level position while seeking a degree in marketing.  Once she reached her goal of getting her marketing degree, the company quickly promoted her.  She was able to do this while taking classes at night at the university.  However, many colleges now offer online degrees. Check out Maryland’s online MBA in marketing, for example.   Other programs like UAB’s MBA degree onlinoffer Master’s degrees in business as well.

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3. Adopt a New Major Habit

Whenever we want  to progress in our lives, we usually look to do one thing that gets us there. Sometimes we are so overly ambitious that we want to change almost everything all at the same time. But what we often get wrong is that dramatic change can happen with an adjustment in a few key habits.

Picking the habit

It is important that you do not change just any habit.  Instead, if you really want to dramatically change yourself, focus on one major habit.  In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg points out that there are certain habits that affect other habits.  He wrote about a 2009 study by the National Institutes of Health.  Some participants of the study were asked to keep a food journal of everything they ate daily.  The study found that participants with food journals lost twice as much weight as those without.

There are habits that we adopt they may seem to have nothing to do with other parts of our lives but may somehow be connected.  For example, making your bed is correlated with increased productivity and a greater sense of well-being.

Take the time to select a habit that may help you in other areas of your life. Perhaps it is the time you go to bed or wake up. To help you get started, here are some key habits I’ve adopted the past few years that have influenced other parts of my life.
Waking up earlyThis has changed my life in so many ways I can’t even describe it to you in this article. Read my post “My 3am Experiment” for more.

Planning my day the night beforeDoing this has ensured that I am always one step ahead of myself. It has also helped me feel prepared for anything. Read my post 7 Ways to Spend Sunday Night for A Better Monday. I outline some of my preparation processes and show you how to use your evenings wisely.

Daily prayer/meditation time-Doing this has really helped me calm my mind and feel a sense of purpose in my life. I highly recommend it.

 

4. Have One, Big, Physical Challenge

Challenging yourself physically will have a dramatic effect on your confidence, emotional health, and your ability to accomplish other things in life. If you want to dramatically improve yourself, you have to get your mind and body on board. This is why have one major physical challenge this year is so important.

I highly suggest that the challenge you pick is something you previously did not think you could accomplish. A few years ago I finished my first half-marathon. Previously, I hated running and did not want anything to do with a marathon of any kind. But I knew that hating it wasn’t enough not to do it. So, I trained for 4 months and was able to complete the race in under 2hrs.

Your challenge doesn’t have to be something as grueling and difficult as a marathon, but it does have to stretch and test your resolve, discipline, and threshold for pain. Whenever something tests your physical body, your mind is also challenged. When taking on a physical challenge, it is your mind that will quit on you first, not your body.

That is why we sometimes quit things that have nothing to do with physical pain. Think about the last time you tried to stick to a diet and failed. Most likely, there was no physical pain associated with eating a bowl of fruit instead of a bag of fries. But your mind still decided to indulge instead of sticking to the plan. It was not your body’s choice it was your mind’s.

Your body is not going to get up, get into your car, drive to McDonald’s, pay for fries and eat them without your mind first making those decisions. So if you can mentally force yourself to accomplish something for your physical body, your mind and body will be on the same team. And that, is when magic happens!

Conclusion

Every year we are presented with opportunities and challenges. And every year we have the choice to let those opportunities slip and the let those challenges crush us. We also have the option to capture those opportunities and use those challenges as stepping stones to greater heights. This year, choose to be greater than ever before.

Tell me about what steps you are going to take this year to drastically improve yourself.

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