How to Live the Best Year of Your Life

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

"The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand." — Vince Lombardi

You may have tried to change your life before without much success. However, it's possible to achieve more in a single year than most people manage to accomplish in an entire lifetime with an effective process.

‣ Most New Year's resolutions are little more than wish lists with no chance of success. The average person forgets all about their New Year's resolutions within a few weeks.

‣ Setting goals is a great process, but only if it's done correctly. There's much more to be done than making a list of desires and then waiting passively for them to be delivered.

Your current life situation is a combination of several factors. Your beliefs, past experiences, habits, expectations, and resources are all factors.

A successful life requires balance. Financial success is no substitute for poor health, and a great relationship is no substitute for having insufficient financial resources.

Believe me when I say that making this year the best year of your life is very much within your control. But there are several requirements. You have to know what you want and where you're going, develop habits that support your goals, get rid of those that don't support your goals, deal with obstacles, and stay the course.

Review Your Past

"Learn from the past, look to the future, but live in the present."

- Petra Nemcova

Common wisdom suggests that you keep looking forward and leave the past in your rearview mirror, but this can be a mistake. The past has much to reveal to us, and we can learn from our past.

At the very least, you can learn from the mistakes you've made. This is important because you've been making the same mistakes repeatedly.

‣ The reason your last relationship ended is likely to be the same reason your next relationship will end.

‣ Financial challenges repeat themselves.

‣ Your past challenges at Work will be your future challenges at Work.

‣ Your diet and exercise plans will fail for the same reasons they've failed in the past.

Failing to examine and address your past challenges is choosing to repeat your challenges and failures throughout your life.

The past also includes some pretty incredible things. Failing to identify these things will keep you from enjoying similar success in the future.

While answering the following questions, consider these different areas of your life:(Use a Journal to record the answers.)

Health / Physical, Mental, Emotional, etc.

‣ Finances / Career

‣ Relationships / Family

‣ Adventure / Hobbies

‣ Spiritual / Religious activities / Charity

Reviewing the past is a critical component of creating Your Future:

1. What were your highlights from last year? Create a list of at least five positive experiences from the previous year. Go with your gut. Anything that fills you with positive emotions can be a highlight. It might have been something as simple as spending a perfect afternoon at the beach with your child.

Avoid relying on society's values when defining your success. It's a success if it feels like a success, and it may or may not align with conventional measures of success. Decide for yourself.

2. What were the low points, and how could they have been avoided? It wasn't all good. There had to be a few days or experiences that you didn't want to repeat. Make a list and consider how you could have avoided these experiences. Minimizing the low points in life is as crucial to your happiness as adding high points.

‣ Should you have been able to foresee these experiences?

‣ How can you prevent a future reoccurrence?

3. What were the best decisions you made over the last year? You undoubtedly made some wise decisions last year. What were they? How can you apply this information in the future?

4. What were the worst decisions you made last year? Everyone makes mistakes. What were yours? Have you made similar bad decisions when you look even further into the past? Why?

5. What are five positive habits you'd like to add this year? Consider the long-reaching characteristics of habits. What are a few habits you can add that will make a big difference over the long haul?

6. What are five habits you'd like to eliminate this year? Bad habits could ruin your life, which of your negative habits would enhance your life the most if you could eliminate them.

7. What are the most important relationships in your life, and why? We're all limited by our resources. Good relationships require time and mental effort, and it only makes sense to spend those resources on the most important relationships. Also, think about past relationships you'd like to renew.

‣ It's also helpful to determine why those relationships are essential. What do you receive from these relationships that make them necessary?

8. Which relationships should you consider ending or minimizing? Just as you've accumulated possessions that now clutter your life, you have relationships that need decluttering, too.

‣ Consider all of your relationships, personal and professional. Which of these no longer serve you?

‣ Relationships are never static, and it's common for a relationship to change significantly over time.

Being aware of the past allows you to take advantage of your past experiences.

Examine your history and apply that information to the future. You'll find that it's common to make the same mistakes repeatedly. End this cycle by thoroughly reviewing your past.

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Strive for Balance

"I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can't truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles." — Zig Ziglar

Unless you've intentionally put your life in balance, it's going to be unbalanced. Having balance among the various parts of your life is necessary for happiness and well-rounded success. Focus on the areas of your life that are currently rated low.

If your life is out of balance, you may be:

‣ financially successful at the expense of your health.

‣successful at your Career at the cost of relationships.

‣ successful at your recreational interests at the expense of your Career.

Without balance, you could be suffering in other areas of your life.

This can be tricky. We live in a society that worships those that have accomplished incredible things, often at great expense.

While it's easy to admire these people, many of them are very unhappy because they gave too much attention to one single area of their life, causing other parts of their life to suffer greatly.

Design Your Life Before Setting Goals

"Balance is good because one extreme or the other leads to misery, and I've spent a lot of my life at one of those extremes."- Trent Reznor

Before deciding that you'd like to be a billionaire with a private jet and a set of 6-pack abs, determine the type of lifestyle, you want to live. Your goals should support the life you'd like to live. Think about a perfect workday, weekend, and holiday. Ideally, your goals help all of these become a reality.

1. How do you want to make money? With few exceptions, every adult needs to earn money to survive. Only your imagination limits the ways you earn money.

‣ Do you want to make money by being altruistic?

‣ Do you want a corporate career?

‣ Do you want to be creative?

‣ Be a doctor? Astronaut? Real estate investor? Consultant?

‣ Work with children?

‣ Work with animals?

2. What working conditions do you prefer? Some people like to work in an office setting. Others want to work at home.

‣ Day/night?

‣ With others or alone?

‣ Required attire?

‣ Weekends?

‣ What time do you want to be home each evening?

‣ Are you willing to travel? Do you want to travel?

‣ Do you need your own office, or is a loft-type setting preferable?

3. How are your finances? You don't have to have a 7-figure salary to be happy, but it's also not easy to be happy with a 4-figure salary. Are you able to maintain your budget? Do you even have a budget? How much debt do you have? Is your income acceptable? Is your money invested wisely for your situation? Will you be able to retire at a reasonable age?

4. Intimate relationships are essential. Do you want to be married or single? Play the field or keep things monogamous? What do you need from a romantic partner? Consider the following characteristics that your potential partner might have:

‣ Attractiveness

‣ Career

‣ Available free time

‣ sense of humor

‣ Supportiveness

‣ Tolerance

‣ Health

‣ Intelligence

‣ Kindness

‣ Interest in having children

Do you currently have a relationship? Does it make you happy? What could be better? Are you satisfied with the relationship as it is? Would you change anything? What is missing?

5. Your free time affects your happiness and satisfaction. How much free time do you have each week? How much of it do you spend with your family? How much time do you spend on hobbies or with friends? How much time do you dedicate to spiritual activities and development?

6. Avoid underestimating the value of good health. Is your diet acceptable? Are you getting enough sleep? Enough exercise? Do you visit your doctor regularly? How is your current health? What do you need or want to change?

7. Spirituality. Do you meditate or pray regularly? Are you living life according to your beliefs? Are you aware of your beliefs? Do you regularly study spiritual materials?

8. How is your social life? Do you get out of the house as much as you'd like and spend time with people outside of your immediate family? How many friends do you have? How many would you like to have?

If you're aware of your desired lifestyle, choosing goals becomes easy. Give this careful consideration. There's no reason to have a goal of being worth $500 million if your ideal lifestyle only requires $2 million. Start with the end in mind and go from there.

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Set Goals That Increase the Level of Balance in Your Life

"One of the biggest reasons people cannot mobilize themselves is that they try to accomplish great big things. Most worthwhile achievements are the result of many little things done in a single direction." — Nido Qubein

After assessing your life, you should have a good idea of where your weaknesses lie. Time is a limited resource, so ensure that you're spending it on the areas of your life that will provide the most significant returns. Seek balance and contentment will follow.

You can have multiple goals covering several areas of your life, but divvy up your time intelligently. Find balance by choosing your goals intelligently.

1. Create one goal for each area of your life. You can create your categories, but limit the number to 6–8. Set bigger goals in your life areas that are lagging or most disagreeable to you.

‣ Rate each part of your life on a 1–10 scale? Set smaller goals in the higher-rated areas and more significant goals in the lower-rated areas.

‣ Choose goals that can be achieved within 12 months and are measurable. Being "healthy" isn't a quantifiable goal, and "Weighing 150 lbs. or less" is suitable.

‣ Be bold. You can accomplish much more in a year than you currently believe.

2. Create habits that will support each goal. While we enjoy success stories, the truth is that the path to success is quite dull. Losing 50 pounds is exciting, but 300 days of eating well, exercising, and avoiding snacks aren't that thrilling. But that's exactly what success is; performing effective habits over an extended period of time.

‣ Make a list of at least 10 habits that will ensure your success.

‣ Now, choose the three habits that will make the most significant difference. Forget about the rest.

3. Determine the old habits you need to drop. Habits can make your goals easier or more challenging to achieve. Identify your current habits that are obstacles to your success.

‣ Those habits might be direct obstacles, such as wasting money or overeating chocolate. Others can be subtler, such as procrastinating, wasting time, or having a negative attitude.

Excess and happiness aren't well correlated. A balanced life is enjoyable and minimizes the low spots. Having enough money, love, friends, and health is preferable to having excess in three of them and a lack in the other. Create a solid foundation before attempting to achieve something outrageous.

Gather Your Resources

Don't turn around and give up if you run into a wall. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." — Michael Jordan

For most goals, you're going to need more than just yourself with your current level of knowledge and expertise. You'll often require other people, advice, education, and new skills. The internet makes it much easier to find the people and other resources you're going to need.

1. Determine what you need to learn. Do you already know everything you need to know to be successful? Most importantly, do you know enough to get started? What do you need to learn to take the first step? Remember all the potential resources available to you.

‣ Internet

‣ Books/ Audible

‣ Online courses

‣ Other People

‣ Clubs

‣ Audio programs

‣ YouTube and other videos

‣ Mentors

2. A mentor can be one of the most valuable resources. Imagine having access to someone that's accomplished what you want to achieve. Unless your goal is highly unusual, someone else has already done it. Seek out these people and ask for their assistance.

‣ You've probably had a golf coach, piano teacher, or another type of mentor in the past. It makes sense to have a coach for losing weight, launching an online business, or being successful in life.

3. Do you have the necessary time available? Some goals don't require any more time than you're already spending. Sticking to a budget might save time since you won't be out spending money as much.

‣ However, most goals require time. Unless you currently have free time to spare, you'll have to steal time from other activities. Surfing the internet, playing on your phone, and watching TV are the most common time-wasters. You may have to drop a few other activities as well.

‣ If you can't find or make the time for your goals, then your goals aren't big enough!

4. Other resources. If you're going to be a guitar player, you'll need a guitar. Do you have everything you need? Computer? Soccer ball? 3-piece suit? Office space? Reliable transportation? Business cards? The ability to cook healthy meals? Ensure you have everything you require.

‣ You may need financial resources to meet many of your goals. If that's true, one of your goals might need to be to get your finances in order or find new ways to create additional income.

There are a few things you can do entirely on your own. You're likely to need new information, skills, advice, or money to achieve your goals. Identify the essential resources you will need and acquire them.

Avoid underestimating the value of a great mentor or coach.

"Trying to achieve success has roadblocks; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you.

Photo by Tim Collins on Unsplash

Identify Potential Obstacles

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."- Calvin Coolidge

Without any obstacles, achieving your goals and living the best year of your life would be easy. All you'd have to do is make a few decisions. But it's not that easy. Life is full of obstacles that want to derail your efforts if you're not prepared. Obstacles easily dissuade unsuccessful people. But that's not YOU!

Identify the obstacles that want to stand in your way and distract you:

1. People. Interestingly, some people in your life can become the most significant obstacles you'll face. Exceptionally few people in your life will be 100% supportive of your efforts, and the remainder can directly or indirectly sabotage your efforts.

‣ Some people will try to help but do the opposite. Some people in your life will have the best of intentions but hinder your efforts. They may caution you to be realistic or remind you of past failures.

‣ Your overweight spouse might be threatened by your efforts to lose weight.

‣ Your brother might be upset if you make more money than he does.

‣ Keep your eyes open and pay attention. Most people want to see you do well, just not better than they're doing themselves.

2. You. We all sabotage ourselves regularly. We do so with our thoughts, habits, beliefs, and fears.

‣ It's easy to determine if you're getting in your way. Do you feel anything other than excited and enthusiastic when you think about your goals? If so, you're in danger of being your own worst enemy.

‣ Monitor yourself daily by reviewing your goals and noticing your emotional responses. You must manage any negative feelings about achieving your goals if you plan to succeed.

‣ Your beliefs about yourself can be highly limiting. For example, believing that "I'm bad with money" will obstacle financial success. If you identify with a shy person, your social life will have challenges.

3. Momentum. It's tough to get started, and it's even a law of physics. It takes more energy to get something moving than it takes to keep it moving. Expect resistance early in the process of making changes to your life.

Life itself presents obstacles. You can argue whether the universe is challenging you or if it's simply bad luck. However, there's no disputing that random things will get in the way during the pursuit of your best year ever! 4. Randomness.

Anticipate the things that can go wrong. Be prepared for obstacles. Expect resistance while you're changing your life. Things won't go smoothly 100% of the time. Get started and strive for consistent progress.

Do you Have What it Takes?

"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength."

— Arnold Schwarzenegger

Attaining your goals isn't just about having them and doing the right things. That will work in the short term, but you won't have lasting success. It's necessary to become successful in the areas addressed by your goals. You can't just change your behavior and expect long-lasting results.

If your goal is to become a millionaire, you must become a person with a millionaire's characteristics and think. It's necessary to have the belief system of a millionaire and the thought process of a millionaire. You have to be the type of person that takes intelligent risks and manages money well.

You must cultivate the attributes that guarantee you'll achieve your goals:

1. Make a list of attributes that support the achievement of your goals. Take each goal individually and consider the type of person that would achieve that goal. What do you need to become?

‣ More cautious or less?

‣ More self-esteem?

‣ A different attitude?

‣ A new set of beliefs?

‣ More outgoing?

‣ More health-conscious?

‣ More active?

‣ More proactive?

2. Create a plan for developing these characteristics. Find the resources you need to become a new version of yourself. Then apply those resources each day to make the necessary changes. When you change yourself, everything in your life will change, too.

‣ Some people allow their ego to get in the way and declare, "I'm fine just the way I am, and I shouldn't have to change." You are fine the way you are — if you're happy with your life! But taking your health more seriously, going back to school, or learning to speak French doesn't fundamentally change who you are.

Be brave enough to discover what you're capable of.

3. Visualize the person you want to become. Once you can believe it, everything else will fall into place. Start convincing yourself that you have the new mindset and attributes by visualizing yourself with them.

Become the person you need to be. It's important to be open to the idea of changing yourself and not just your behavior. When you change yourself, everything around you changes, too.

Photo by Lucas Favre on Unsplash

Conclusion

"No one is in control of your happiness but you; you have the power to change anything about yourself or life that you want to change." — Barbara de Angelis

There's a lot to do to create the best year of your life. But none of it is particularly challenging. Determine the lifestyle that would appeal to you most. This is the starting point.

Then look to your past for clues about yourself and your mistakes. What do you do well? Where do you have challenges? What are the changes you need to make?

Gather the necessary resources and make small changes to your habits. Evaluate your progress and go from there. Remain aware that you'll need to make some personal changes.

Your current collection of attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge has led to your situation. You must change yourself to seek lasting change in your life.

Okay, My Friend, I wish you success. Live your best year ever!

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