Ten Things You Must Do To Make 2012 The Best Year Ever

It’s January 3rd and we’ve already established that 2012 is going to be a great year. But in order to make it the best ever, there’s some things that you’re doing that you shouldn’t, and other’s you’re not doing but most definitely should…

(1) Stop making the “I don’t have time” excuse. If you say, “I can’t do _____ because I don’t have time”, you’re only bullshitting yourself. You do have time, if you make time. Focus. Be selective in your commitments. Make time for what matters. Forget the rest. Lets this year be about managing your time and allow yourself to say “no” a little more often so you can say “yes” when you should.

(2) Don’t over-commit. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Getting to where you want to be is hard. Sometimes it’s damn hard. But if you’re OVERWORKING to get there, you’re actually doing more harm than good. Feeling overwhelmed is the absolute worst. If you’re there, find ways to drop a few things off your “must-do” list.

(3) Schedule time to relax on your calendar. This one is big. And I was deliberate in saying “on your calendar” because that is key. It’s easy to say “I’ll make sure to relax more often” – and it sounds great in theory, but it needs to be something you actually make an effort to have as part of your day. Just like working out, answering emails, writing proposals, or whatever else you block out time to do. Block out actual time each day to watch Boy Meets World reruns, take a nap, eat Fruit Roll Ups, or whatever else you do to relax (and don’t act like those hypotheticals don’t sound awesome. You know they do).

(4) Make to-do lists. I’m a huge nerd when it comes to to-do lists. The first step is admitting the problem, right? Though in my case, it’s not a problem at all. I’m deliberate about making a to-do list first thing in the morning. If possible, I write it on a white-board, every little thing (even things like, “empty the dishwasher”…you’re welcome, dear). It keeps me organized, the act of scribbling a thick black line through each item as I get them done is extremely satisfying. Don’t believe me? Give it a try today.

(5) Write. Just write. As I’ve said before, you NEED to stop editing yourself. You do it, I do it, but we shouldn’t. Whether you’re writing on a blog, for a magazine, or in a diary, let things flow more naturally. Don’t hold yourself back. Don’t focus on perfection. Get your thoughts, ideas, and words down. Some of it will be complete shit, but you’ll be very surprised at what you can come up with if you stop holding yourself back.

(6) Stop writing and read. I know, a grand contradiction from my last point. If you’re a writer, you know the value of creating content, but we understimate the value of absorbing information, reading, learning, and the growth that comes from listening to others. If you’re debating between cranking out another article or spending an hour or so reading, side with the latter a little more often.

(7) Let go of the reins. In other words, stop telling yourself that you can do it all. You can’t, and you never will. For me, 2012 is going to be about trusting others, especially the people I work with, much more. Letting them do what they do so well so I can focus on my best assets. We’ll be expanding our team at Proof to make this a reality, and will focus on bringing people together to create an environment that allows people to not only do what they’re best at, but what they love.

(8) Be selective with your availability. I wrote recently about how I shut off GChat, Skype, etc a year or so ago because it was such a massive distraction throughout the day. But a huge goal of mine in 2012 will be doing the same with email. If you’re like me, you have your inbox open in a tab of your browser 24/7. You check it obsessively. Every time you see that little (1) pop up in the tab, you stop whatever you’re doing and go check. It’s distracting as hell and totally throws off any rhythm you have. So join me, if you will, in my pursuit to periodically check emails (every 90 minutes or so is my goal) – you’ll come to find that little, very little, actually demands “immediate” attention.

(9) Exercise. I dropped 40 pounds and ran over 600 miles last year, but the real success was in how being physically active effected everything else in my life. I feel better, more confident, more clear-headed, and more focused than I ever have. Seeing a smaller number on the scale is great, but for me, it’s become a critical part of my day, week, and overall lifestyle. And once again, you have time if you make time. Even time to train for a marathon, if you’re crazy like me.

(10) Live. Working hard is important. Organization, productivity, goal-setting, planning things out – all of these things matter, but we get so caught up in our work that we forget that it’s all for not if we don’t find any time to enjoy the whole “living” part of life. Take on a few less clients. Go home at 5pm and leave some work for tomorrow. Do what it takes to get things done, but allow yourself time, plenty of time, to focus on living.

What are you doing to live 2012 with purpose, deliberateness and passion?