Good. ‘Cause 2012 is the year you’re going to do something better, something groundbreaking, something that lives up to your inherent awesomeness.
Here are seven suggestions to help you make it happen.
1. Use your leap year day.
Once every four years, something magical happens. We get a whole extra day in our year.
And what do most of us do with that day? We get up and go to work, just like we did the day before, and go on with our lives.
Well, not this year, baby.
Resolve right now to make February 29, 2012, international “me day.” Go tell your boss right now that you’re taking the day off (or if you’re the boss, give yourself advanced hooky permission). And then spend February 29 doing whatever you want. Make plans for your business, go to a spa, help out at a charity.
Think of the day as time for a strategic retreat for your soul. Trust me, your soul will thank you later.
2. Work your network.
If you’re like many people, you maintain some sort of social network. And you likely engage with that network in all sorts of ways. But do you work it, too?
You chose each of those people to be in your social circle for a reason (unless you automate your participation [cue cringing]). It’s time to remind yourself what that reason was.
Every day in 2012, make a pledge to reach out to one person in your network with whom you’ve not talked in awhile (or in the case of Twitter, possibly ever) and say Hi. Respond to something they’ve posted, let them know that you’ve been thinking about them, ask them how they are.
It really doesn’t matter what you say or if they respond, the exercise is to work the connections you have before they atrophy and fade into the wall of noise.
3. Starting reading the whole way through.
The problem with living in an on-demand culture is that the information we want is not always the information that we need. Sometimes it’s in slogging through the stuff we think will be boring that we find the nuggets of wisdom that will change our lives the most profoundly.
(This is the whole premise behind that institution we so fondly refer to as “school.”)
Make 2012, the year you stop skimming your way through the world. If you find a blog post that looks interesting, turn off the podcast you’re listening to and shut your chat windows and actually sit and read that sucker the whole way through. Even better, if you subscribe to a magazine you like, try to read it cover to cover, exposing yourself to the articles that tickle your fancy as well as those that look a little on the dull side.
Open yourself up fully to the world of content in front of you and consume it ravenously and completely at each sitting. Yep. There will be some duds in there, but there will be some surprises, too. And it’s the surprises that may end up changing you forever.
4. Throw that thing away.
One of the precepts of Feng Shui is that objects have meaning, even if that meaning exists for us on a subconscious level. In other words, if hate your ex, keeping the lamp he bought when you lived together in your house is just a tangible way of keeping that hate for him alive and kicking day after day, every time you walk past it.
Take a moment and look around at the objects in your house or in your workspace. Does each one inspire you, remind you of people and places that you love, or make you happy?
If not, 2012 is the year that you throw that crap away.
5. Get up.
The average American spends at least eight-and-a-half hours a day in front of a screen. Computers, while awesome for our minds, are horrible for our bodies. And, sitting in endless meetings can not only be soul-sucking, but can actually shave years off our your life.
Listen, the Internet is never going to say, “Sorry dude, that’s all I’ve got for today. You better go now.”
You’re going to have to do that for yourself.
Set a timer to remind yourself to get up from your computer and walk around every hour (Hey, why not grab a glass of water while you’re up? You likely don’t drink enough.) Give your meetings an ending time and be strict on enforcing it. Better yet, use your walking around time to walk to and with the people you need to meet with and kill two birds with one stone. Or, retrofit your treadmill so you can work and walk at the same time.
6. Get a second opinion.
It’s hard to see your way out of a mess when you’re living in it. This is why we have coaches, therapists, personal trainers and (ahem) consultants.
In 2012, make a pledge to yourself to sit down with someone outside of your usual circle of suspects and ask them for their honest assessment of you – your career, your life, your appearance – the can of worms you open is yours to choose. And then, take that advice with a grain of salt but also with a healthy gulp of respect.
Want the advice to be effective? Then PAY this person for their time. (Even if that just means picking up the tab for lunch). Their perspective is a valuable investment in your ability to meet your future goals, so treat it like one.
7. Stop and breathe.
The average office worker today enjoys no more than three minutes at a time at his or her desk without interruption. With text, email, social media, instant messaging and the good old fashioned phone all hammering away at us, life is just noisy.
As this great article from the New York Times reminds us, “We have more and more ways to communicate, but less and less to say. Partly because we’re so busy communicating.”
So try to take time in 2012 to run up your white flag and yell, “Stop!”…even if it’s only for an hour, a night, or a weekend. Schedule some Internet sabbaticals and use that time to disengage, gain some perspective, and remind yourself who you are and why you’re here.
Trust me, the world will still be there when you get back. But you, dear friend, will return changed for the better.