I know. Your life is busy. You have to take care of your job, your family, your hobbies… 24 hours ain’t just enough in a day. And you need to sleep.

STOP!

Now is time to take a step back, or life will pass you by. Don’t be a mindless zombie… Take control of your life.

Breathe in…

This year is THE year. It’s the year you start doing all those things you’ve been putting off.

Breathe out…

Here’s a list of 25 things you should do this year.

1. Learn to do something new

Learning is a muscle. If you don’t use it, you’ll become lazy, and soon you’ll become obsolete in a world that has learnt to live without you. But if you start learning something new, a world of opportunities will open and you’ll even realize how pleasurable it is. You can still learn to code if you’re 70!

2. Break one bad habit

Whether it is smoking or eating junk food, there is at least one habit you have always known you should stop. It’s time you consider stopping. Ask your friends and family to support while you’re going through this phase, you will need them… and not disappointing them will be a good motivator.

3. Make plans for a trip you can afford and do

Have you always wanted to visit France? It’s a great country. If you find it too expensive, then plan early in advance and find great tips on online forums and aggressive travel packages. Bon voyage!

4. Try that dish

I never really liked Lebanese food. It comes from that one time I went to a Lebanese restaurant and I could NOT finish my dish. I though it was bad and avoided eating Lebanese cuisine like the plague. Until one day, I went to a business meeting and I had no choice but to try. Guess what? I love it now. It’s such a refined food I blame myself for my stubbornness. Just try that dish you’ve avoided for years.

5. Earn forgiveness

Earning forgiveness is not just asking for it. Make up for it… like Earl would. This TV series character made a list of all the people he’s wronged and works tirelessly until he can cross them off the list. You don’t have to focus on how you can undo what you did, but what you can do to make the other person’s life better. At least, it shows you care.

6. Finish that one book

It’s sitting on your bedside table. It’s calling for you… It’s the book you never finished and sometimes, you still wonder how the story ends! Good news… you can read a book by bites, even spaced by a few years, it will be remembered as a whole experience at the end.

7.  Recognize your toxic thoughts

  • “I don’t deserve to be happy”.
  • “I must not make any mistakes or I’ll be fired”.
  • “I did not graduate from the right college, so I’ll never have a really successful career”

I could go on and on with all the toxic thoughts that could cripple your mind… but only YOU know them. You should first admit they exist, and listen to them carefully. As you write them down, they will look really dumb. Look at them on the paper and treat them like children. Smile,  reassure them, educate them. Then let them go. Tear the paper and let the toxic thoughts go.

8. Stop contacting space-fillers

For some people, it’s hard to stay alone. If you’re one of them, you have some people you call when you don’t want to be alone. These people are your space-fillers. They are filling the emptiness in your life with their presence. But if you don’t share any true experiences or values, then it all remains shallow… Learn to live with yourself. It’s the only person who will always be there for you. And silence is not such a bad thing after all.

9. Develop a daily practice

Meditation, work-outs, yoga… the compounded interest of a daily practice over the years is huge. If you start a morning practice like Yoga now, imagine how flexible you will be in ten years… and all that for just a few minutes per day.

10. Surprise a loved one

Love is often taken for granted…  as we grow accustomed to the other person. A small gift, a surprise dinner at a fancy restaurant, will show that you still care. A little surprise matters more than you think.

11. Face what terrifies you

There is something that terrifies you. Just seeing the name of it horrifies you. It could be spiders, snakes or heights… and you’ve always been putting off treating your phobia. This year is the year you treat your fear. Face it. Embrace it. Science says that if you confront your fear often enough, it will diminish. It’s called “habituation“. If you really can’t do it by yourself, seek professional help… phobia cure has reached new levels of effectiveness with virtual reality.

12. Plan your retirement – and beyond

What will happen when you retire? Will you have enough money to live? Where will you live? And when you’ll die, who gets your money? There are many questions you’ve put off answering until now. There’s no best moment to answer those questions than now. It’s not easy to visualize those situations, but you have to… for your own sake, and for your family’s.

13. Celebrate your achievements

“When you’re at the top, enjoy the view”. You might not be at the top, but I’m sure there are many achievements you’re proud of, and that you never celebrated. Your brain needs to know you have accomplished something. Reward it by inviting the people that matter to you and throw the party you knew you should have had for a long time. Celebrate that promotion, celebrate those past five birthdays, celebrate life!

14. Ask the older member of your family about their youth

Elders are fantastic living libraries. They have stories about events that shape the world we live in, stories that shaped your family, and also their lives. Suck in all the knowledge you can and ask all the questions you can imagine. I often wish my grandparents were still there so I could ask them about their life in Vietnam.

15. Revisit your wardrobe

Get rid of that sweater. You’ve had it since you were 18. It’s worn off, and you’re not the student you were any more. In fact you’re not the person you were two years ago. Are you dressing the way you want to be perceived? Throw away those remnants of your old self and buy what your current self deserves to wear.

16. Write letters

It takes time. It’s slow. But it’s so much more precious. In a world of emails, letters will let people know how much you care about them. Buy some stamps, good stationary and a quality pen and write those new years wishes, thank-you letters… You will stand out and people will remember you for that.

17. Meet new interesting people

Your comfort zone is shrinking every day. By meeting new interesting people, you will make your life more interesting and remain open to new experiences. One easy way to do that is to look at meetups near you… you will find many people who share your passions near you.

18. Share your experience

I’ve always taken time to teach Marketing and Influence on my blog or in academic classes. Why? Because teaching and sharing forces you to organize your knowledge. You then realize what you didn’t know you knew, so that you know it better. Knowledge and love are the only things that grow when they are shared.

19. Learn new words

Words shape your world. If you can’t express an idea, it does not exist. So learning new words will allow you to understand more concepts and to have more ideas… as a by-product you will sound smarter. We only need 3000 words to cover 95% of the common texts, so it would be easy to put off learning the half million remaining word of the Oxford English Dictionary. Install a vocabulary app or learn a word everyday.

20. Reunite with the best friend who moved away

Life sometimes puts distance between best friends. Time gives the final blow to friendship… or so you’d think. It’s not over until the fat lady sings or the telephone rings. Pick up your phone and organize that reunion meeting. You’ve been putting this off for too long already. Your friends are just as shy as you are.

21. Remember to say thank you

There are many people you should be grateful to. You could send them a letter, surprise them with a gift or just say “thank you”. It’s a lot better if you can tell them why you thank them.

“Thank you for being here when I needed you.”

22. Make a list of 25 other things you should stop putting off and do this year

I’m not in your head. I don’t know what you did, or what you want to do. So, follow those instructions:

  • Write your bucket list (minimum 25 items)
  • Do everything on it this year

23. Learn a new language

You can get by nearly anywhere in the world by speaking English. But you don’t really get into the depth of a culture of you don’t speak the native language of the country you visit. As you learn a language, you learn a new way of thinking and reach a new level of understanding… and open yourself to so many new people you can talk to. Surprisingly, I find that I also change personality when I speak another language. A friend of mine said that she feels sexier when she speaks Italian.

24. Buy productive tools

If you’ve kept your phone or your laptop for more than three years, you might be missing new technological improvements that would allow you access to a new world of productivity. Apps, cloud, ergonomics, connectivity can make your life much more productive. You might want to make this investment you’ve been putting off for a while.

25. Do a random act of kindness

Do something good for somebody you don’t know. Help a stranger and expect nothing in return. Just know that you’ve made somebody’s life better.
Leave a big tip
Let tourists sleep on your couch
Give free hugs

What else do you think you should start doing this year?

Featured photo credit: Rear view of beautiful brunette outdoors via shutterstock.com

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