I am not one of those people. Last year was a great year for me. From the Denver Broncos and the Sugar Land Skeeters winning their respective championships and being able to cover the Houston Texans to having a great, new job here at the Fort Bend Star and making a lot of new friends, this year has been one that I don’t want to soon forget.
I have a feeling 2017 will be even better. It can be for all of us. There are a lot of things each one of us can do to make sure our lives are much improved by the end of next December. But why wait that long? There are several simple things you can do right now to improve the quality of your life before January passes into the history books.
Since many of you are probably still in the mode of making and breaking New Year’s resolutions, here are some things you can do right now that will make your life better in 2017 and beyond:
1. Quit! Stop doing the things that are bad for you. Quit smoking. Quit drinking alcohol. Quit consuming sodas (regular and diet). Quit eating sugary foods and things made of white flour (go whole grain). Quit, or at least decrease, your consumption of caffeinated beverages. Quit complaining. Quit swearing and using foul language. Quit or drastically reduce time spent watching TV and playing video games. Most importantly, quit worrying. Don’t stress over things you cannot control.
2. Start! Get out there and start exercising. Start taking regular walks. Start keeping a diary. Start eating healthy foods. Start volunteering in your community. Start reading more books. Start going to bed earlier and getting adequate sleep.
3. Get out of debt! This won’t happen quickly but it won’t happen at all if you don’t make a start. For the absolute best advice, visit www.daveramsey.com. Dave Ramsey has a seven-step plan to guide you out of debt and into wealth. The best part is you don’t have to make a lot of money to be successful with money. Don’t just take my word for it; visit the website and see for yourself today.
4. Be nice! Last year was brutal on the social front. We saw a resurgence in racism. We slogged through a presidential election campaign that further divided America politically. People seemed to automatically label anyone who disagreed with their perspective as a hater. Stop hating/labeling people who disagree with you and respect them the way you would like them to respect you and your opinions. You can disagree without being disagreeable. Practice random acts of kindness. Do something nice for someone just because you can.
5. Engage! Be an active participant in your life. Put down your cell phone or tablet and be active in the world around you. As the saying goes, there are those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. (Hint: If your cell phone guides your life, you’re probably not in the first category.) Make eye contact and smile at the people around you. If you’re a next-step kind of person, say hello – speak to people directly. Insane, right? Yeah, I know!
6. Make a plan! As the saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish (or a dream). Be sure to put it in writing. If you want to lose weight, write down how much weight and set a deadline. Then make a written plan for how you will achieve it. The same thing goes for writing a book, learning a musical instrument, refurbishing an old car, planting a garden, building a deck or learning a second language. Make a plan in writing, schedule it and then take action.
7. Just do it! What are your goals, dreams and ambitions? What’s stopping you from achieving them? If you have the ability and desire to do something – just do it! If you don’t yet have the ability, make a plan and develop the skill. According to the late Zig Ziglar, you do not have to be great to start but you do have to start to be great.
8. Put others first! Humans are innately selfish beings. Learning to sacrifice your own self-interests for the sake of others is extremely unnatural but even more rewarding. If you want a better marriage, put the needs and desires of your spouse before your own. Guys, if you were willing to climb mountains and slay dragons to win your mate, why stop? Is the love of your life no longer worth the fight just because you have her? Keep winning her every day. She’s worth it! If you want great kids, play with them. Want a better job? Be better at your job! If your boss doesn’t notice, you can bet his competitor will. To quote Ziglar again, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
9. Give! In Acts 20:35 we are told that it is more blessed to give than receive. That is supported in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” You don’t have to be a Christian to know that life is better when you help make the lives of others better. Give of your time and resources whenever you can.
10. Believe! This is paramount and central to everything I am and ever will be. Believe God and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It is the most important thing anyone can do. I realize there are many people of other faiths and no faith reading this, but I would be remiss and dishonoring to my own faith if I said and did nothing. There is plenty of research out there that shows that people of faith – those who believe in a higher power or supreme being – are often happier and more content with their lives. Isn’t that something all of us want?
I’ve given you a lot of things to contemplate in these 10 steps. I do not advise attempting them all at once. It will overwhelm you and probably result in frustration and failure. Just consider each of these and figure out what works best for you and make a start. As you get comfortable with the positive changes in your life, take on more. You’ll become a better person and probably have a better year. At the very least you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges that life brings.