I’ve grown to love the Christmas holiday. Not for all the presents and overly sized portions of turkey, roast potatoes and chocolates (that can be measured by the kilo, rather than the handful), but for the opportunity it gives to reflect. Everyday my phone rings non-stop but for two weeks at this time of year it suddenly stops, as the industry I work in (real estate) shuts down.
It’s the only time of year my mind can truly be quiet from all the white noise of day to day living. I usually spend the time mainly secluded so I can really rack my brain of ideas. There’s a lot of negative things out there about New Year’s Resolutions but I disagree with all the detractors. The turn of the new year provides a great way to wipe the slate clean and to replenish your motivation levels.
Today, I am going to write probably the most personal article I have written to date so I have some accountability for what I would like to achieve and to give you some tips on how to set yourself up for a successful year.
A quick reflection on 2015
Before I dive into what I want from the upcoming year I thought it would be good to quickly reflect on the year. I am my own harshest critic and sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit. This year was a big year of change for me. I woke up to the fact I was living an insanely unhealthy lifestyle that was starting to negatively impact my life.
I was in a lot of pain everyday, particularly in my knees and lower back. I kid myself that this was because of the years of rugby I had played growing up. Little did I know it was from being 2 stones overweight and eating an inflammatory diet. Well, those days are now behind me and I am the fittest, leanest and strongest I have ever been. Exercise is now a core part of my life and I really can’t picture that ever going away, now that I am self-aware of the positive impact it has on me.
My biggest achievement of the year was giving up alcohol. Anyone that knew me knows I was the cliche binge drinker. I wouldn’t have classed myself a true alcoholic but more times than not my nights out ended up in a bad way, which has burnt many bridges over the years with people. Having realised I can’t just stick to one glass, I decided that if I wanted to progress I would need to abandon the liquor for good! The first few weeks took some adjusting but now I can’t even remember what it was like to have my life ruled by alcohol. No longer do I make cruddy decisions and my productivity has increased ten fold.
As you can see, 2015 was a year of mostly physical changes.
Write a personal mission statement
One book I read over the holidays is ‘You, Inc.’ by Burke Hedges on the recommendation of Charles Poliquin. The book wasn’t jam packed with useful nuggets but I always say ‘so long as you learn one thing then it was worth it’. One nugget of advice it gave was to write a mission statement before you set any goals. This could be anything from a few words to a few paragraphs. It posed the question ‘what’s my purpose in life?’ to help with writing it. Here is mine:
“It’s my mission to inform others how they can take responsibility into their own hands for their health, happiness and wellbeing. I commit to leading by example, hoping to empower others to do the same. I want to maintain my integrity by being considerate and kind along the way, living by a watertight moral code”
It might seem overly dramatic to some of you, but don’t forget it only has to be for your own eyes so put down what you truly feel.
Once you have a mission statement congruent with your beliefs I think it is a good idea to commit some goals to paper. Try and make these tangible and quantifiable as best you can. The list I came up with is:
- Launch a podcast
- Launch an e-store
- Be in fantastic shape
- Move abroad
- Put on a sell out conference
- Learn how to instill changes in others
- Expand my education
- Understand my biology
- Understand my mind
As you can see these are big ticket items of what I want to achieve by the end of 2016 and, besides the last three, they are basically binary (yes/no) as to whether I have achieved them or not. Once you have your list I think it is wise to break each one down into actionable items split into two categories: ‘Short term: the next thirty days’ and ‘Long term: one to twelve months’. It is all well and good dreaming up big ideas but until you make a strategic plan on how this can be realised then they will only stay as dreams. Go and make your blueprint!
This section is the most difficult as you have to dig pretty deep being honest with yourself and you might find some things you really don’t like (or have been avoiding). One tip I read for brainstorming in the book ‘Get Things Done’ by David Allen (which by the way is an excellent book on how to implement a system to become more productive and to get things that clog up your thoughts out of your head) is to get some memo cards and just write as many things as possible on each one. Go for quantity not quality at this stage as you just want to try to think of as much as you can. As I said before, I accomplished a lot last year in a physical sense and rid of a lot of the habits associated with that (binge drinking and eating) so mine were more leaning towards the mind:
- Procrastinate far too much
- Have a lack of empathy
- Feel too much anger
- Not very tidy around the house
- Spend too much money
- Sugar cravings
- Too confrontational at times
- Can be unorganised
- Can be hard on people who don’t live up to my expectations
- Not overly social
- Can be overly emotional
- Can be as cold as rock
- Don’t spend enough time with family
- Can be negative
- Waste too much time on social media and TV
- Drink too much coffee
- Can be lazy
- Not very thoughtful
- Not grateful enough
I think anyone reading this is probably painting a picture that I am not a very nice guy, but this was me being as honest as I could. I always promote being self-aware and this act of brainstorming really does help you to confront some inner demons and makes you realise what you need to change.
‘People don’t change’ is the biggest load of bulls**t I’ve ever heard people say. The people that say this are those that are narrow minded. I am currently in the middle of a book called ‘Mindset: How you can fulfill your potential” by Carol Dweck. In the book she talks about how there are two types of people, those with a ‘fixed mindset’ and those with a ‘growth mindset’. Those with a fixed mindset go around saying ‘people don’t change’. You can actually be a blend of the two, as I have discovered I am, as it can apply to different areas of your life. I am very ambitious and believe the world is my oyster in my business life, but I have a fixed mindset (until now!) in my personal life – which comes as no surprise as to why I have a big long list of bad traits associated with that above!
Now that I have truly thrown everything out there and onto paper via setting some goals and acknowledging my bad traits, I can really go about making my next action steps to build the Jamie I want to be in 2016.
Last year I invested a lot into learning about fitness and nutrition. I hired a fantastic trainer, Simon Dutton at Ultimate Performance who each month sends me a training program as well as advising me on my macronutrient requirements. I also attended seminars and conferences on nutrition, training, lifestyle and wellbeing. I bought countless books and paid to subscribe to industry related publications. I understand the importance of seeking out education and accepting that you have to pay for it if you want to learn from the best.
Keen to invest in myself, I have set myself a monthly target to spend on educating myself. I have already signed up to three courses/seminars to help explore my own mindset and how I can help share that knowledge with others. It has only been until very recently that I realised we can be in control of our own thoughts and emotions. That is why in 2016 my main focus is going to be on changing my thought patterns and how my mind operates to become the person I am proud to be. Fitness and health shouldn’t just focus on the body.
The other items such as procrastination, too much TV and time on social media are pretty easily corrected. I wrote an article ‘3 ways to break and form habits’, which shows some quick ways to change your habits. I’ll be listening to my own advice and cancelling my Netflix and Now TV subscriptions so I can focus more on learning and working on Pando. Jake also wrote a very useful article on how to control your Facebook habit, ‘10 ways to get less distracted by Facebook’.
I hope some of you take the time to map out what you want from 2016. It is a powerful tool for those of you who really want to make something of their lives. I hope you enjoy the rest of the holidays and get some much deserved rest before you hit the ground running come January 1st!
Happy New Year!