As I looked to what the New Year would mean I thought of the abundance of people hitting the gyms and produce stands with resolutions to be the fittest, healthiest person on the planet. This idea of hopeful notes to your future-self becoming the things that haunt you and creates guilt made me gag. I felt the hurt of my old resolutions projected on the people I know and those I’ve not yet met, and I was compelled to assemble some advice.
This is something I do. Offering unsolicited advice. Those who know me understand my hopeful intentions. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t care to listen. Press pause and stop or revisit at your leisure. Your call. No pressure.
Many years ago I gave up resolutions and replaced them with the desire to reflect regularly on the direction my life was headed. With this reflection I also empowered myself to constantly adjust the route I was on so I could achieve my personal goals. Consider it a bit of a road trip through life where the detours become the great stories of your adventure.
In 2015 I started a number of things, this podcast included, and feel that through these initial interviews I have collected some great advice from my guests. I have assembled some of the insights these amazing humans shared with me and here and there I have sprinkled some tidbits gathered elsewhere (just saying Mary Schmich, Seth Godin, Robert Waldinger, David Akinin, Steve Mazdan, Shane Koyczan you are welcome to come on the podcast anytime you want). This collection is given with a great number of outbound links to discover new ideas that may expand on what I mean.
While quite extensive this list like all advice should be treated as an alphabet tasting platter. Try what interests you, leave behind what does not, and do not feel compelled to finish anything that doesn’t taste quite right.
A: AVERAGE is unacceptable: Don’t settle for good enough. Redefine what greatness looks like and then work your butt off to become it. Surround yourself with great people and ideas. As you redefine what average means to you, you will constantly be levelling up and will soon reflect on what you used to call amazing as merely getting warmed up.
B: Be BRAVER: Life is too short to spend our time afraid of what lays beyond the next door. Bravery is not the absence of fear, but the acknowledgement of what may lie ahead being equal parts risk and excitement. Combined with the desire to move forward anyway, you will become braver than any hero in history.
C: Live life with a constant CURIOSITY. Look to each new challenge and person you encounter as a chance to learn something new.
D: DO the thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s snowboarding, or Nobel prize winning science. Do the thing that moves and motivates you.
E: EMBRACE the fear: much like bravery, fear teaches us caution but should only serve to motivate us, not to paralyze us.
F: FAIL fast and fail often. Failure is a gateway to success. Let the lessons from your failures provide a road map that shows you how to get there, and the things that merit working hard for are worthy of the bruises to both our bodies and our egos.
G: GOOD relationships make us happier and healthier. Create high quality connections that are worthwhile and discover a longer more enjoyable life. Science shows this is true… because science.
I: Live IRL: Stop wasting the time you have with loved ones staring at a screen. If you aren’t using your device to invite more great people, or to immortalise the moment, put the damn thing down and live In Real Life.
J: Find JOY. Quest for it like you would water in the desert. Seek experiences and people who fill your heart and you will never be poor.
K: KNOW your worth and don’t let others devalue you. Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid-Goethe.
L: LAUGH every damn day. Laughter in the face of trauma can disrupt the stress and laughter in the presence of those you love can create precious memories. Having feelings is human. If all else fails hide in a theatre where it’s ok to feel your feelings in public.
M: MONEY cannot buy happiness. Focus instead on filling your life with experiences. Moments will add more value to your days than possessions ever can
N: NEVER stop learning. New skills help us to stay humble, they remind us that our brains can make new connections and that every person you meet can teach you lessons well beyond those you have mastered. Old dogs can learn new tricks if they are treated with kindness and patience. Be kind to yourself when you are acquiring new skills.
O: OBSERVE the world around you. We often learn more when we keep our mouths shut and pay attention. Additionally, silence can be the most powerful tool in your arsenal.
P: Take PHOTOS. When you are fat or skinny, look a mess, or are runway ready. Take pictures so that you can hold those moments close in the future. This day may be a day that causes you tears of joy, solace, or comfort in years to come.
Q: QUIT things that don’t serve you. Bad jobs, relationships, and habits that prevent you from putting your time and energy into creating the best life possible for you are not worthy of you. The idea that winners never quit is bullshit. Winners quit all the time in order to place their efforts on the one or two things they really care about.
S: Don’t SHOULD all over yourself. Should have is not something we need to spend time on. Celebrate what you did instead, and if you haven’t done something, get your butt out there and start.
T: TRUST yourself. Think about it…how many of your choices will result in death or harm? Not very many, but we lose so much time to debating a choice. If you make a mistake, learn and move on.
V: Do not be a victim. Be the VANGUARD. Move forward against your adversaries and discover VICTORY.
X: XI. Do all the things you love passionately with the volume turned up to eleven. Ok, I cheated a little (XI is the roman numeral for eleven).
Y: Make sure YOU are the hero of your story. Do not be a supporting character in your own life.
Z: Be prepared for ZOMBIES. Seriously. Stay fit enough to outrun them, and ensure that everyday you spend on the planet is worth fighting for. Life is too short to push off new experiences until tomorrow, start living today.
If you made it this far I will leave you with a final thought: Life is refreshed everyday. You can redefine yourself at anytime you want and those who do not seem to understand may need to be left in your yesterday and not welcomed into your triumphant tomorrow. A year is both a long and a short time and many things you haven’t yet imagined could be just around the corner.
Welcome to Twenty-Sixteen friends. I can’t wait to see what comes next.