Its the season for reflection and renewal. And yes, I am a resolution guy, and yes, I often struggle to keep them. I think I know why. Most of us think of change as incremental. That there is a promise in making small changes that add up big or making that one big change that helps all the other things out. Think of all of the hope peddling that we tend to do in the most popular New Year’s Resolution – losing weight. Over 50% of all New Year’s Resolutions have something to do with weight loss, fitness, or nutrition and it’s no wonder. In this narcissistic culture we tend to value vanity and think that looking a certain way will lead the way to that raise, new job, new relationship, or even a longer life. And, quite frankly, all of those things can be true. But what if we threw caution to the wind and just decided to make all of the changes we wished we had resolved to do years earlier and just did a deep dive into change? What would happen. Well, I am about to find out.
I have been carrying a Fast Company article around for about 12 years now. The 2005 article titled “Change or Die” followed the work of Cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish. In the article Dr. Ornish outlined his groundbreaking study on heart disease and recurrence. What he found is the major difference between success and failure in post-heart procedure life or death was the patient’s dedication to making radical structural changes to their life through diet, exercise, and personal development. He found those patients who emerged themselves in radical change found not only better short term success but was nearly three times more likely to incorporate those changes over a lifetime. I have kept this article around because I believe in the concept of radical personal change and it’s impact. However, I have been a failure at it. I have had few successes; ran a few half-marathons, completed my doctorate, wrote for publication. But honestly it seems as if these accomplishments are just signposts. Basically clues along a journey that asks me to connect the dots for transformative success.
Let me explain. I am turning 45 in 2018. I have formed, reformed, and cast away more good habits than I can count. This lack of discipline has resulted in a real mixed bag of personal and professional success. I know I am doing alright but I hope to flourish. And here is how I hope to do it. By radically transforming my life through revisiting and sharpening 18 things I was once dedicated to and I valued and let the synergy of those things do their magic. Like Dean Ornish’s patients the answer was never one thing or a silver bullet. I was the combination of mental health, exercise, diet, and accountability that produced the best results. So now it’s my turn. Here is my 18:
1. Read a book and 10 articles a month.
I love reading and I need to get back to reading long form again. Reading on paper is much more of a tactile experience and makes you interact with the material in a more profound way than on a screen. And it is not just going to be professional books. I want to read books on rock music, fiction, and history.
2. Write an article for peer review
I have written some in my life but now is the time to get some peer reviewed journal articles done. I want to write one article that is submitted to a professional journal.
3. Get really into going to the Gym and discover my inner weight trainer.
I have a bad back, I am weak, I want to be strong. This is the year I do that.
4. Drink more tea, drink less soda.
I know its better for me and tea puts me into a good mood.
5. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
I will follow Michael Pollan’s advice and change my diet to be more vegetarian and Whole Foods to fuel not pleasure (most of the time, like 80% of the time).
6. 10,000 steps, spinning class, and a good sauna.
I will weight train in the evenings but the mornings are for cardio and self-care.
7. Take the weekend and unplug.
Make time over the weekend for engagement with my family, friends, hobbies, and other pleasures and disconnect from social media and work.
8. Write 1,000 words a day.
Blog, articles, whatever, just keep writing and writing some more.
9. Track my calories and weigh myself daily.
You don’t know where you can go if you don’t know your current status. Keep track, know when to make better choices and make them.
10. Show a little fiscal fitness.
I want to end with $24,000 in less debt and $6,000 in personal savings.
11. Plan ahead daily, weekly, and monthly.
I need to plan on workflow both professionally and personally. Running to-do lists help do that. Create an annual list of to-dos, split them into monthly chunks, and then weekly tasks, and daily steps.
12. Eliminate the junk.
Hide negative forces in your social media. Don’t argue with clouds or people and stop eating fast food, candy, and junk food.
13. Test the brain.
Crossword are a great way to do that.
14. learn to cook, fix and grow things.
Get in touch with your domestic side and lean into it. You know you want to.
15. Learn to say no.
You cannot do it all, find your lane and stay in it for most of the time.
16. Sports trading cards are generally worthless, but you love them.
Revisit your sports card collecting and go back to that happy place.
17. Be more supportive and available.
Emotions are hard for me but I need to be more present for the people in my life.
18. Don’t forget to listen.
You are easily distracted. When people are talking to you, quiet the noise and tune in.
See everyone later! Happy New Year!