Tis the season for self-reflection and promise making. I'm not going to call this a resolution because most resolutions aren't kept. And to truly be better, whether at work, at home, or just generally in your life, you need to be committed.
In fact, that's actually my first thing you need to do to dominate your next year or phase of life.
- Be Committed: Studies show that people with a high commitment level in their work are more successful and better at achieving goals than people who aren't. Getting to that level of commitment is difficult, as not everything that you do is going to be perfectly aligned with your life's mission. That's okay, but what isn't okay is starting something and not finishing or losing interest.
- Relentlessly Prioritize: We all have too much going on. In fact, the easier it becomes to do more things at once (I'm looking at you smartphones, wearables, and social media), the more difficult it is to set priority. We have to reframe the idea that busy = productive. And that starts by truly setting out what the most important things are that you need to get done. Every day.
- Set Better Goals: This is related to prioritizing, but it goes deeper into the psychology of how we get work done best. Human beings respond and strive when goals are present. Studies show that when people actually have a goal, they achieve much better results regardless of how those results even related to the completion of the goals. But, goals need to be set in a way that mirrors how you do work and in a way that pushes you without overwhelming you (Try something like SMART goals or KPIs).
- Collaborate: Don't I already do that, you might ask? Yes, you probably do work with others every single day. And you may even bounce ideas off of others, but the best ideas don't come unless you deliberately get other perspectives. And, our brains actually crave collaboration. So seek out another person's perspective even on stuff that you think you've got totally nailed down. I guarantee you'll improve upon what you did.
- Diversify your Interests: Whether you call it a passion project, a side hustle or a hobby, you should do it and do more of it. If you're consumed by work and the problems that you're seeing daily, you're only going to think in one way. Giving yourself a creative outlet broadens your experience and actually builds your potential to get your work done better as well. Who knows who you'll meet at the Running Club who could be your next client or make your company better?
- Think Bigger: Despite what you might think, this doesn't conflict with my third point. You do need to set goals that are difficult but achievable, but limiting yourself is a crutch that too many of us use to be safe. If you secretly think it in your head (I could run this department...I could be the next Elon Musk) allow yourself to put it into action.
- Develop Relationships: Its well documented that Americans now work longer than nearly any other nation, but I don't think that necessarily should be a point of pride. When work comes first relationships suffer. Whether that is existing relationships or the potential for new relationships. You may not be a social butterfly who is comfortable meeting new people and making friends, but all of us need at least a few relationships that are deep and provide people who can support us.
- Give back: You either have money, time, or talent and in some cases you have all three. So do something good with those incredible resources. As human beings, we feel better and we have a better outlook when we are charitable, so make this part of your life.
- Get Healthy: I don't even need to point to the countless studies that link health and exercise to productivity, happiness, and longer life (though I can). All I have to do is to ask you to think back to the last time you had a great workout and ate something delicious and healthy. How did you feel afterward? Exactly. If somehow you've never done either of those things, try it. Just go for a walk and you'll see a difference in your outlook.
- Untether: This might be the hardest thing to do, but it also may be the most important. A study just came out that pointed out that when we look at our phones we become less happy. Literally even looking at your phone is bad for you, let alone worrying about what email to write, obsessing over a text, or deep diving into Facebook or Twitter. My recommendation...just turn off your phone for an hour once a day. The world won't end and you'll be better off.
Do these ten things, and I promise you'll set yourself up to be happier and more productive.