It’s a choice. To be positive and free, or to be imprisoned by your own negativity. To live in the past, or to be hopeful about the present.
With 2018 now behind us, I’m sitting here on the eighth anniversary of a dear family member’s passing, thinking about the last conversation I had with her. With a soft, weak voice she told me her only regret was that she didn’t appreciate every year with the same passion and purpose that she had in the final two years of her life, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “I’ve accomplished so much recently,” she told me. “If I had only known, I would have started sooner.”
Her words have been a pulsing wake-up call to me ever since. And today, I hope they help change your perspective too.
As Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are: “It might have been.”
So with a New Year upon you, realize that you have a priceless opportunity! Forget the past year. Forget your age and what could’ve or should’ve been. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. At the end of it, let there be no excuses, no explanations and no regrets.
Here are 15 great ideas to get you to December 31st, 2019 with a smile on your face and a sense of accomplishment in your heart…
- Be the leader of your own journey. – There are far too many capable people who don’t pursue their dreams and goals because they let their fears, or others, talk them out of it. They give up before they even try and simply let life’s river flow them downstream. Choose to be stronger than that. Choose to swim upstream when you have to. Choose to do the things in life that move you. Let others lead small lives. Let others argue over small things. Let others cry over small wounds. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands. But not YOU.
- Embrace uncertainty. – Sometimes what you don’t want is exactly what you need. Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free. Some of the most incredible chapters in your life won’t have a title you feel comfortable with until much later.
- Take calculated risks. – There is no excuse for being an amateur forever. Life is short. The day is rapidly approaching when the risk to remain perched in your nest is far more detrimental than the risk it takes to fly. Fly! Spread your wings. Start now. What a disgrace it would be for you to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of your full potential. (Read Start: Punch Fear in the Face…)
- Don’t just study it. DO it! – Knowledge combined with intention and action will organize the fulfillment of almost any desire. Yet so many people miss the final step. The action! So pound this into your head: The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing – growing happens when what you know changes the actions you choose to live by on a daily basis. It’s about learning AND DOING!
- Put diligent effort into your biggest goals. – Are you willing to spend time for a few years like most people won’t, so you can spend the better part of your life like most people can’t? Think about that for a second. If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. Most people want the reward without the risk. The shine without the grind. But that’s laziness, and laziness does not pay. Effort pays. The time and energy you invest in focused effort is never wasted. So remember… Expecting to win without preparation and hard work is arrogance. Expecting to win because you’ve prepared and worked hard is confidence – and that’s what you need to succeed in the long run.
- Think you CAN. – Truthfully, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. And change breeds growth. So when a goal seems big and a plan looks tough, just begin, push through it for awhile, and soon the next thing you need to do will look possible. Step by step you can get through anything – this is the truth and you have to believe it. In the end, you’re going to succeed because you’re crazy enough to think you can.
- Respond with the power of your positivity. – Talking about our problems can be an unhealthy addiction. Break the habit and talk about your joys, victories and blessings instead. Envision problems no longer being a problem to you. Envision the frustrations around you no longer frustrating you. Envision a day where you are no longer limited by limited thinking. Envision old obstacles no longer being able to hold you back. Now consider this: Your life is the way it is not because of what happens, but because of how you respond to it. If you can truly envision that the problems are not problems at all, that’s the way it will be. If you can sincerely imagine that the obstacles can’t hold you back, they won’t be able to.
- Flow with life, rather than against it. – Instead of resenting what you must do, just get it done. Transform the energy of resentment into the satisfaction of achievement. When you choose to love what you’re doing, you’ll be able to do more of what you love. It’s a truly fulfilling way to live. In this moment is everything you are and everything you need. So allow your actions to add positive value to the moment. Rather than making judgments about what’s enjoyable and what’s not, make the choice to simply enjoy what is, and then make the best of it. (Read The Miracle Morning.)
- Be extra kind to people. – The person you mistakenly take for granted today may turn out to be the only person you need tomorrow. Which is why you must remember to…
- Value what money can’t buy. – People who spend all their time trying to make money, spend all their money trying to make time. Don’t do this to yourself. This year, be wealthy in healthy relationships too.
- Share your love openly and honestly with those you love. – No matter what, you’re going to lose people in your life. Realize that no matter how much time you spend with someone, or how much you appreciate them, sometimes it will never seem like you had enough time together. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way. Express your love. Tell people what you need to tell them. Don’t shy away from important conversations because you feel awkward or uncomfortable. You never know when you might lose your opportunity.
- Be wise enough to walk away from needless negativity. – Other people’s negativity is rarely worth dealing with. Let them work it out on their own time. When other people treat you poorly, keep being you. Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness and bad behavior change the person you are. And…
- Forget trying to please every stranger you meet. – Some people are not going to agree with you or like you no matter what you do or what you say. Get over it and get on with your life. No one has the right to judge you anyway. They may have heard your stories, but they didn’t feel what you were going through. So forget what they say about you. Focus on how you feel about yourself, and do your best to…
- Let your presence overpower your fear of judgment. – When you’re in a social situation that’s making you anxious, train yourself to be present without regretting how others once made you feel, or fearing the possibility of future judgment. This is your choice. You CAN change the way you think. For instance, if you were performing life-saving, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on your mom in public, you’d be 100% focused and present. You wouldn’t be thinking about what bystanders thought of your hair, your body type or the brand of jeans you were wearing. All these inconsequential details would vanish from your consciousness. The intensity of the situation would motivate you to choose not to care about what others think of you. This proves, quite simply, that thinking about what others are thinking about you is YOUR CHOICE.
- Say “goodbye” so you can say “hello.” – In life, goodbyes are a gift. When certain people walk away from you, and certain opportunities close their doors on you, there is no need to hold onto them or pray to keep them present in your life. If they close you out, take it as a direct indication that these people, circumstances and opportunities are not part of the plan for the next step of your life. It’s a hint that your personal growth requires someone different and something more, and life is simply making room. So embrace your goodbyes, because every “goodbye” you receive sets you up for an even better “hello.”
If you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and live a life free of regrets. This is precisely why Angel and I wrote our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy. It’s filled with short, concise tips on how to do just that. And believe it or not, Angel and I review a lot of our own material on a regular basis too, just to center our minds on these positive principles.
The bottom line is that it’s never too late to take a step in the right direction. It’s never too late to become the person you are capable of being. Things can change if you want them to, at any age. Right now you have an opportunity to write yourself a New Year full of peace and free of regret.
The floor is yours…
What else would you add to the list? What do you want to do in the next year that you know you will not regret? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Photo by: Boyd Meiklejohn