50 Tips From My Year of Change

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This has been a major year of change in my life – I became a father for the first time in February, I began blogging in April, I relocated from Australia to Canada in July, and I started a new job in November. Along the way I have picked up a variety of tips that I have incorporated into my daily routine to make life happier, healthier, and more productive. Here are 50 of my favorites:

1. Start with the fundamentals: if you want to live a great life, start by getting the fundamentals right. Examples of what I consider the “fundamentals” include an open mind and a willingness to change. If you would like to read more, check out my article 30 Fundamentals of a Wonderful Life (it was one of my most popular in 2007).

2. Fail regularly: this year I achieved a lot, but I still don’t believe I failed enough. “What? Are you crazy?” you may be thinking. Let me explain. Put simply, I believe that failure is the price of ambition. If you are not failing regularly, there is a good chance that you are not growing.

3. Drink less alcohol: this year I have definitely cut down on the booze, and I feel all the better for it. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the occasional glass of red wine and a beer. But the days are gone when I’m willing to give up a whole day suffering from a hangover. A Weekend Without Alcohol was a personal test I did this year when I found my drinking was starting to increase again.

4. Write a personal mission statement: according to Stephen R. Covey, “the key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.” Writing a personal mission statement is a fantastic way to clarify these things. If you would like to read an example of such a statement, you are welcome to read my personal mission statement.

5. Stop lurking: this year I went from online lurker to an active and engaged member of the various blogs and forums. If you’re a lurker, consider reading my 3 Lessons From A Reformed Lurker.

6. Start blogging: there are many great reasons to blog. In fact I wrote an article called Why You Should Blog. A word of caution though: blogging can become very addictive.

7. Give your morning a makeover: does a typical workday seem to consist of waking up, going to work, working, coming home, and going to sleep? Get more from your day by giving your morning a makeover. Find out how in 10 Ways to Give Your Morning A Makeover.

8. Give your evening a makeover: same idea as above, except this time the focus is on getting more from your evening. Check out 10 Ways to Give Your Evening a Makeover.

9. Sell yourself: this year I learned to “sell” (or if you prefer it “share”) myself. It started with the promotion of this blog, and flowed into my career as I successfully took the next step forwards in my career, despite relocating overseas and taking a 4 month mini-retirement. Consider reading How to Sell Yourself – your career may depend on it!

10. Don’t be afraid to become a parent: I didn’t want to become a Dad until sometime in my 30s. Life, however, had other plans for me. This year at the age of 25 I became a Dad for the first time. It’s the best thing that has happened to me and I wouldn’t have things any other way. You can read a bit more about my change in perspective in my recent post, Well… I Have Definitely Changed.

11. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks: this is one of my favourite tips! If you would like some ideas for which podcasts or audiobooks to download, read my article 5 Essential Self Improvement Podcasts or browse through the massive collection at Audible.com.

12. Always carry a notepad to capture ideas: my best ideas for blog articles don’t come when I sit down at the computer. They come when I am on the bus or when I have just finished a work out. That’s why I always carry around a small notepad and pen to capture ideas as soon as they come. And you don’t need to be a blogger to benefit from this tip…

13. Take Omega-3: much has been written about the health benefits Omega-3 fatty acids. I started taking a supplement this year and, personally, I have found it has helped boost my mood throughout the day.

14. Read David Allen’s Getting Things Done: this really is a must own book for anyone interested in personal development. I haven’t fully implemented David’s system, but some of his tips are invaluable. If you would like to know more, you can read my review of Getting Things Done.

15. If it will take less than 2 minutes, do it now: this tip (taken from the above book) is such a simple, yet extremely powerful, way to avoid mental clutter and get things done.

16. Experiment with Gingko Biloba: for those who are interested in trying something different to improve their productivity, I suggest trying Gingko Biloba. I have found that it helps increase my mental alertness, particularly in the afternoon or when I am tackling a Sudoku puzzle. Thanks to Todd from We The Change for this tip.

17. Eat local: this year I read a great book this year called The 100-Mile Diet: No, it wasn’t environmentally preachy in any way. Instead it opened my eyes to just how interesting food can be when you know where it comes from.

18. Work on yourself at work: don’t think of self improvement as something that must be done in your free time. The work place is a fantastic place to develop yourself, whether it is focusing on improving your networking skills or sharpening your memory. Here are 5 Ways to Work On Yourself at Work.

19. Make someone’s day: why not make it a goal for today (or any day for that matter!) to brighten someone else’s day. Here are 21 Ways to Make Someone’s Day.

20. Wear a sleeping mask: this year I cut my sleeping from 8 hours to 6.5 hours per night. This doesn’t mean, though, that I wake up tired or have less energy during the day. Quite the opposite in fact! Wearing a sleeping mask has helped improve my quality of sleep by ensuring I sleep in complete darkness.

21. Cut the sugar: this year I have cut down on my sugar intake. I rarely drink pop (soft drink) anymore, and after 4pm I avoid any sugary foods like the plague. There have been many benefits to this, but the biggest relates my significantly better quality of sleep.

22. Wake early: this year I have gone from someone who dreads the alarm clock to someone who happily wakes up at 5am each morning. Read how in my article How I Won The Battle Of The Bed.

23. Unplug: there are many benefits to unplugging yourself from the electronic gadgets in your life, even if it is just for a day.

24. Learn from others’ mistakes: yes, this is easier said than done. But it is a very effective way to avoid unnecessary pain. See: The #1 Way to Avoid Unnecessary Pain in Life.

25. Keep a one sentence journal: this is a simple and easy way to both review your day and keep a record of what you did.

26. Stretch yourself by trying something new: life is about trying new things, stretching ourselves, and having adventures. There endless things to try, but if you would like some suggestions head over to my article 50 Ways to Improve Your Life.

27. Turn off the autopilot and live consciously: are you on autopilot? My article 5 Signs You Are On Autopilot may help you discover if you are or not. I certainly was for a number of years, but now I feel I am consciously steering my life in the direction I want. This was one of my most popular articles this year, featuring on both Lifehack.org and Lifehacker.com.

28. Write a eulogy: this may sound morbid, but it is actually a fantastic self improvement exercise. After just recently writing mine, I have a clearer vision for what I want to do with my life. You can read my eulogy in my post How to Live Forever.

29. Try yoga: this past month I tried yoga for the first time. The physical and mental relaxation it promotes are unbelievable. I plan to go at least each week in 2008.

30. Don’t settle: life is too short to settle for boring or second best. If you are unsure if you have settled, read my article 5 Signs That You Have Settled.

31. If you want to meet someone, contact them: ever contacted someone who you don’t know, but would like to meet, and organized to catch up? I hadn’t until a few months ago when I contacted, and subsequently met, John Chow. At the time I was starting to monetize this site, so it was a great opportunity for me to “pick the brain” of someone who earns $30,000 a month from blogging.

32. Read the Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week: this was an instant classic for me. Not since Rich Dad, Poor Dad has a book completely shifted the way I think about money. Read it with a notepad and pen handy – you will generate countless ideas!

33. Take a “mini-retirement”: this year I was lucky enough to have a 4 month “mini-retirement” (as Tim Ferriss calls it) after the move from Australia to Canada. And what can I say? I loved it and look forward to more in the future.

34. Spend time reviewing your week: I like to do a short review of my day each night, but once a week I like to take extra time to drawback and get a bigger picture of how things are traveling. Here are 7 questions that will help you review your week.

35. Create: for a number of years after finishing school I lacked a good creative outlet. This blog now serves as that outlet, and I am far happier now that I feel I am creating something. If blogging isn’t for you, consider photography or cooking classes (the world needs more good food).

36. Own Your Problems: I have learned it is natural to want to blame others and shift our problems elsewhere. Recognize this natural instinct and fight it. By owning your problems – that is taking responsibility for your situation – you will open the door to a better life.

37. Think daily: I’m not a big fan of indefinitely delaying happiness and fun. Yes, it’s important to plan for the future. But if you are not enjoying life today, in this very moment, it could be a good time to think about how you are living your life. One change you can make is to develop an “every day mindset”. You can read more about this approach to life in my article How to Enjoy Life Every Day.

38. Do daily: this year I discovered the power of making habits daily. If you want some ideas for habits to incorporate into your daily routine, check out my article 24 Daily Habits (easily my most popular article this year).

39. Be honest with yourself: it may hurt, but being honest with yourself will open the door to change in your life. Just remember, though, to be gentle with yourself. To read about one of my experiences with self-honesty, check out my article If You Want to Change, Tell The Truth.

40. Develop multiple streams of income: I didn’t monetize this blog for 6 months, but since I did it has grown to be a good source of income each month. It certainly isn’t passive income (I’ll leave that dream to the multi-level marketers), but it does significantly help our finances and I imagine it will only keep growing.

41. Make the most of the commute: I wrote a lot of this article on the bus to work. Other things I do to make the most of the commute are read, listen to audiobooks and podcasts, and develop my plan for world domination.

42. Write: what I have learned from blogging is that writing is a great way to clarify and develop my ideas. So start a blog. Or, if you don’t yet feel like sharing your inner thoughts and feelings with the world, write in a traditional journal.

43. Make routine tasks interesting: routine tasks are a fact of life. There is no reason, though, why you can’t make them a bit more interesting. Try making a game of the task, or perhaps using your non-preferred hand. For more ideas, check out my article 8 Ways To Make Routine Tasks Interesting.

44. Cut down on the caffeine: I’m not going to tell you to give up caffeine because I still love a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. But this year I have discovered the benefits of cutting down on the caffeine. Generally I just have the one cup of coffee in the morning, and from then on it is herbal tea (caffeine free) or green tea (with caffeine, but a lot less than coffee).

45. Define what “success” means to you: don’t waste your life chasing someone else’s version of success. See: What is Success?

46. Be disciplined: one of my favourite quotes I came across this past year is: “the price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret”. Memorize this quote, and tell it to yourself then you feel yourself being tempted to act in a way that is not in alignment with your dreams and goals.

47. Move away: it’s a huge step to move away from your home city, but the potential benefits are endless. Love, unique opportunities, and the freedom to find yourself are just a few reasons to pack your bags and jump on a plane. Check out my article Why You Should Move Away (written while I was still in Australia).

48. Mix things up: if life if getting boring, mix things up a little.

49. Think different: a few month back I challenged a number of other bloggers to “think different” about something in their life. The challenge had a great response with more than 30 people writing on the topic.

50. Never leave the site of a good idea without taking some type of positive action: if you like the sound of one or more of these tips, take some form of positive action now.

Photo by Beverley Goodwin