A new year is the universal symbol for a new start. With the end of one year, and the start of the next, we are given a prime opportunity to reflect on the good and the bad of the past year; to set our resolutions and actually stick to them this time.
Although you can bring about a change to your life in March, June, or November, the mind has been accustomed to seeing the 1st of January as a fresh beginning, regardless of the events that occurred in the previous year. Use this to your advantage.
It has been found that the brain is 3 times more creative whilst in a positive mindset. You will naturally start the year with a positive mindset, so try to maintain this for the duration of the year.
Here are 6 tips to effectively use this head start to your advantage:
1) Maintain a consistent morning schedule:
Consistency is key. This does not mean that every activity of every day of the year needs to be planned and recorded; but maintaining a somewhat consistent morning routine will prevent the brain from slipping into a negative mindset.
Hundreds of celebrities like Dwayne Johnson and Jennifer Aniston publish their morning routines on their social pages. However, a great deal of these are glorified and appeal to the Hollywoodized super productive modern mentality. Moreover, we don't actually see the routine in action, so we never see the Rock's bad days.
You do not have to wake up at 04:30, run 100km, squat 300kg, and eat a slice of grapefruit to start your day with a positive mindset. The only thing you should take away from these celebrity morning routines is that they have a morning routine. Ignore what their routine actually is and create one that suits your lifestyle.
Remember to keep it simple. Master simplicity and you can easily achieve greatness. Your routine can be as easy as: waking up between 07:30 - 08:30, brushing your teeth, and stretching for 8 minutes. If you complicate it, you are more likely to mess up your routine; and thus end up starting your day in a bad mood.
2) Incorporate new and positive activities:
Work is important, we all know that; it's how we make a living. But if you only focus on work, you won't feel truly happy or satisfied. It is vital to incorporate health and social activities into each and every day.
Keep your lifestyle eclectic. As important as consistency is, being extremely consistent can lead to boredom and depression. You should obviously exercise and eat healthy. And you should obviously interact with friends and family. But try something new every now and then.
Think outside the box and get out of your comfort zone. If you're not a fan of the outdoors, try planning a camping trip; if you have social anxiety, try easing your way into conversations with strangers. Try something new and exciting. This will keep your mind refreshed and alive.
3) Reflect on past achievements (and failures):
The new year isn't all about resolutions, but also about reflections. If you brood on all the mistakes you made last year and all the opportunities you missed out on, then you will be missing out on the chance to grow and learn from your mistakes this year.
This does not mean that you should completely ignore your past mistakes and failures, it simply means you should acknowledge your achievements and successes as well. Nobody is perfect, and you are bound to make more mistakes this year, maybe even worse mistakes; that's just the way life is. But instead of focusing on how you failed, focus on why you failed; then aim to not repeat those mistakes.
Conceptualise your worst mistakes and your best successes. Analyse them, learn from them, and make them into 3 or 4 simple rules that you can carry with you throughout the new year. Your successes are just as important as your failures, so don't be too harsh on yourself.
4) Put yourself and your health first:
It is common knowledge that health is important, but it isn't as commonly practiced. A healthy body is a healthy mind; and a healthy mind is a healthy body.
Take care of yourself. Put yourself first. Do things that make you happy before trying to make others happy. Health plays a huge role in your happiness. Keep a workout and diet journal to ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle; and thus a positive mindset too.
5) Find a positive peer group:
Surround yourself with positive people; people that both make you happy and help you grow. You think like your closest friends. So if you have negative friends, you will have a negative mindset.
Additionally, competitive (but not overly competitive) friends can be beneficial as well. Find friends that will challenge you and push you to your limit - whether it is to improve in your craft, lift more at the gym, or cook a better meal at home
Improve the positivity of others, and let the positivity of others improve you. The more often you practice positive thinking, the more it benefits you. Furthermore, being part of a positive peer group, you will will experience these benefits exponentially.
6) Never stop learning:
One of the major causes of depression and boredom is doing the same thing over and over and over again. Just because you finished your degree 10 years ago does not mean you have to stop learning. And just because you are an accountant or a software engineer does not mean you cannot learn to be a better writer, a better fisherman, or a better sommelier.
Think beyond your craft and never stop learning. Grow your skills, and don't only focus on growing your skills within the field of work you operate in. Learn to communicate better, become the best partner you can be, and find ways to help others.
If you are bored and tired of your regular job (and even if you aren't) try learn some crazy new skill. Whether it is juggling, shuffling a deck of cards, surfing, designing a website, or typing 80 words per minute; learn a new skill, any skill.
Keep the mind learning and keep the mind growing. You will be a more creative and positive person as a result. Use the new year as an opportunity to learn a new skill, and potentially discover a new passion. Never stop learning!
In life there are no guarantees. Some people didn't wake up to see the new year, but you did. It is harsh, but it's the reality. Don't waste this opportunity. Go out and be the best you that you can be. This isn't an easy choice; but it is a choice; a choice that some people don't get.
Maintain a positive mindset and work on making this year a little bit better than the last. But remember, there is more to life than being super productive. Spend time with people you love and care about. Have fun. Do things that make you happy.