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15 Things Everyone Should Reflect On After Another Year Has Passed

15 Things Everyone Should Reflect On After Another Year Has Passed

Growing up takes time. I remember at 15 talking to my aunt on the 15th anniversary of her 21st birthday about the stigma of aging. Later that evening, I asked my grandfather about the hula girl tattoo on his arm.

“That’s your grandma,” he proudly answered before stretching out the skin on his forearm and quipping, “and this is what she used to look like.”

Don’t struggle through another year—shake off those birthday blues with these useful lifehack questions to unlock your mind.

1. Where was I this time last year?

Forecasting is both the most and least important part of planning. To get an accurate picture of where you are, you need to check where you were last year at the same time. Are you still on the right path? If not, what threw you off course, and what can you do to get back up and moving in the right direction?

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2. Am I who I want to be?

When you were six years old, you had dreams of who you wanted to be. Are you that person? You may not be in the exact career, but are you the type of person you wished for? The happiest people live to please their inner child—that person you used to be before everyone taught you about “real” life.

3. Have I lost/gained weight since last year?

What does your body look like compared to last year? If you wanted to lose or gain weight, did you? Did you bulk up like you wanted, or are you the same or worse? There’s no better time than now to strengthen your resolve to get into shape.

4. Did I accomplish my goals for this year?

It’s not just for the new year; everyone makes goals and resolutions throughout the year. Did you accomplish your goals for last year? What did you wish for when you blew out your candle? What did you do to make it happen?

5. Why do I have to age?

Much like pooping, everyone ages. I have no more of an answer than anyone else. Just enjoy the life you have and try to find your smile. It’s the only way to truly live.

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6. Do I need to change any routines?

At certain ages, you become susceptible to different ailments, depending on your lifestyle, gender, social position, etc. If you need to quit smoking or get serious about a project, now’s the time.

7. What do I have to be grateful for?

You have a roof over your head, shoes on your feet, and clothes on your back (and hopefully everywhere else, because otherwise you’re a naked superhero and likely in the back of a squad car). If you’re breathing and awake, you have something to be grateful for. Show your gratitude to the world.

8. What good can I do next year?

Now that you have a firm grasp on who you’ve been, it’s time to decide who you’re going to be. You may want to be an entrepreneur or an adventurer or just get promoted to management at your current job. Whether you want to have a child or be one, make plans, because time doesn’t stop for anyone.

9. Who have I let in my life?

Look around at your friends and family—you’re stuck with some of these people, but others can be exchanged (or, at the very least, you can spend less time with them). Only allow people into your life who bring positive energy and influence. Politely phase the rest out at your leisure.

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10. What do I need?

Start prioritizing your life. We all have so many goals that it’s impossible to keep up with them all. Taking stock of what you have and what you feel you need keeps you financially and mentally organized. You need a ball to keep your eye on it.

11. How do I feel?

How do you honestly feel about yourself? You can lie to whoever you choose, but be honest with yourself. If you’re unhappy with a situation, make the necessary changes to make it better. Sometimes this means quitting a job or packing up and moving. Even if you’re wrong, you’ll survive, and at least you’ll know for next time.

12. What’s my motivation?

Actors ask this all the time, and there’s a reason—you need to know what’s motivating you to get up every morning to keep living. Times will get hard, no matter what path you’re on, so figure out what drives you, and focus on that.

13. Am I aging gracefully?

Sometimes you have to maintain your youth, and sometimes you need to let go. How you decide to live is up to you, but make sure you’re at least doing it with grace and compassion. Nobody likes a Debbie or Donald Downer.

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14. Who are these people?

Do you have any heroes? If so, what were they doing at your age? One of my childhood heroes was Tupac Shakur, and at my age, he had been dead for six years. That’s a sobering thought that keeps me pushing toward greatness with humbleness.

15. Was it worth it?

At the end of the day, was everything you’ve done worth it? Even if you lose, if you enjoyed or appreciated the experience of trying, then you’ve won. If you lost more than you wanted, it may be time to make a change in your life.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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