Exploring areas of life that could be improved is one of the most important habits of successful people, and each year, people make resolutions to insight positive change for the year ahead. It's a chance to make life better, a new start of sorts. But only with the proper reflection (and actionable steps for the future ahead).
The new year is a perfect time to reflect on where you came from, what you accomplished, and of course, the areas in your life that need to be more focused on in 2017.
With this in mind, here are 8 critical things 2016 taught me:
1. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to follow your dreams, especially when money comes into play.
Sacrifices must be made in our daily lives to ensure all aspects of life go smoothly. We miss a family picnic for a last minute work project or skip lunch to head to the gym. Essentially, we give in exchange for something deemed more important or higher up on your priority scale.
But if you quit your job with no real plan or money saved up, all your basic needs won’t be met, which will only make you feel unresolved, frantic, stressed, and anxious. You’ll want to try harder, push yourself to the extreme, and ignore your hunger.
Doing so, however, will only leave you feeling exhausted and unmotivated.
After all, everyone needs to eat and pay the bills. Basic needs must be met in order to produce the calm, get-it-done attitude you need in order to wake up each morning and really make things happen.
2. Your mental health should never be one of those sacrifices.
In a society that constantly preaches hard work is necessary to move up in life (financially, socially, etc.), little is said about how your mental health should never be set on the back burner while you focus on your career.
Perhaps working yourself to the bone will get you a promotion or a nice corner office, but will you truly find happiness?
Your happiness dictates more than you may think.
Happiness and personal relationships go a long way when it comes to your creativity, productivity, and motivation. Simply hanging out with a friend or lover, having a girl’s night out, or seeing a movie with a family member reminds us that life is meant to be enjoyed.
It's not all about work but it will fuel your creative brain, allowing you to return to work motivated with new ideas and insight.
3. Overworking yourself leads to burnouts and low motivation.
Work, work, work.
If tasks are piling up on your to-do list and work seems to drag on much longer than expected, you need a break.
Taking a step back will allow your brain to refresh, and many times, focusing on something else even for a short period of time is often the answer to all your problems.
All work and no play will only leave you grasping for threads of your former self. Take a break every once in awhile.
4. Vacations help your creativity flow.
Scenery goes a long way when it comes to creativity.
You could try to feng shui your office space, or you could just go on a weekend getaway.
Immersing yourself in a new environment can jump start your creative brain, allowing it to wander in new directions and experience new horizons.
Last summer, after my calendar finally began to see a lull following a particularly busy month, going on a weekend float trip with a group of friends was just the break I needed.
Not only did I return to work more motivated to get work done, the beauty of nature flooded my creative brain with new ideas and inspiration, which was the perfect cure for my work exhaustion.
5. Hard work will pay off, but balance is key.
Work pays off because it requires action.
Now, many people experience success when they give a project everything they have, but that doesn't mean it's always the right path to take.
J.K. Rowling started out writing and drawing her Harry Potter stories on a train, for example. She had nothing but an idea and time.
Then, after a series of hardships, she found herself, a jobless single mother living on unemployment benefits, writing in a cafe each night while her daughter slept. She put all her energy into her book.
Now look at her. She’s created an empire.
So why does working yourself to death seem to produce results?
Well, if you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose. Fear can no longer hold you back.
However, running at 100 mph will only get your so far before you drop.
Balance in life is exponentially important. Don’t ever forget about your family, friends, and yourself. These relationships make life worth living too, because, in order to live a more fulfilled, happy and healthy life, you must find balance.
6. Routines help productivity flow easily.
Everyone, no matter how successful, craves the ability to wake up each morning whenever they want, eat whatever they want, get dressed when they want, and do what they want, when they want.
It’s just human nature.
But it sounds so great because it makes us feel free, it’s not necessarily so fantastic for your productivity.
Think about it this way: If you think you have time to get things done or that you’ll finish a task when your heart desires, chances are you won’t finish near as much as if each task were taken care of before lunch.
Routines, especially morning routines, can ensure that you remain productive all day, every day.
Try completing your most important daily task before you even brush your teeth. It works even better if you choose the task you often put off (like working out, for me), and you’ll notice a huge rise in productivity.
Getting the task you dread out of the way first thing allows your mind to focus on the things you want. The rest of your morning will go smoothly, and you'll feel better knowing it's out of the way.
Brushing your teeth will then become more of a reward for completing the task you hate, and if you're anything like me, you can't wait to brush your teeth each morning anyway.
So you'll get more done, think about it less, and allow your mind to focus on positive tasks ahead.
7. Your mindset is up to you.
Things suck because you think things suck.
Life isn’t going well because you think it’s not.
Negativity breeds negativity, no matter what it is you’re focusing on.
Want to become more positive? Choose to.
Your thoughts are formed by you, and they can be reformed by you.
Instead of thinking about all the things going wrong in your day, week, month, year, life, think about what has gone right.
8. Patience is a requirement for success.
Nothing happens overnight without the proper action put forth, meaning you won’t wake one morning to find your wildest dreams come true.
Even your hard work will not pay off overnight.
Determining your goals is only the first step to making them come true, then comes the real work.
Actionable, reliable steps will get you where you want to go, but only time will tell if they will pay off. You must be patient while you wait and keep trying while you monitor your progress.
If you notice your actions aren’t producing the results you’re after, adjust your steps. Losing your cool will only hinder your progress.
2016 taught me valuable lessons, some of which I've been working on and some that I've put off (who likes to work out, anyway?). They will follow me into 2017 as I keep pushing forward, focusing on bettering myself, my life, and my business, and hopefully help you too.
What's the most valuable lesson you learned in 2016?