Twenty ways to make this year better than the last…

I’m a believer that things can always be improved upon.

No matter how well you did in school last year or how great your business is going, there is always room for improvement. If you think last year was great and you don’t need to further improve, then settle. If you’re not willing to settle for what you’ve already accomplished, here are ten things that you can start doing IMMEDIATELY to ensure that this year was better than the last.

Speak at a Conference

No one is born a great public speaker. It takes a lot of time, effort and mistakes to become great. If you’re willing to put yourself out there and speak often, by the end of the year you will see a significant improvement. By putting yourself out there you will have an opportunity to learn from mistakes you make along the way while also building your personal brand. Early on, don’t worry so much about getting paid every time you speak, instead speak with the intention of providing value to your audience and blowing them away.

As you develop yourself as a leader in your industry or on a specific topic, you’ll start being looked to and sought after by brands, organizations and people all over the world. It’s definitely going to take time but if you push yourself to do public speaking more than 5 times this year, I’m confident that you’ll reap the benefits from it. Speaking is a great way to connect with a large audience and share your thoughts. The more I speak at events and conferences, the luckier I get with business and opportunities. Take it from me and  be sure to avoid some of the most frequently made presentation mistakes by everyone from professors to CEOs.

Increase your Physical Activity

It never fails, every January the gym sees huge surges in attendance given all the New Year’s Resolutions. It’s mind boggling to think that every year the same thing happens and a few weeks later you start to see who stuck with their resolution and who gave up. Some people are able to push through the pain and make a true commitment while others slowly begin making excuses for why they deserve a three day break.

Push yourself to lift more than last year. Make a goal to run an extra mile every two months. Whatever it takes.

Go See the World!

Did you spend the last year in your own basement tweeting, blogging and working? Well, it’s time to switch things up. There is a huge world out there just waiting to be explored and there is no reason for you to only visit it using Google Maps. If you can’t afford it right now, start saving and take a trip at the end of the year that you’ve always wanted to cross off your bucket list.

Make a Few new Friends

Why not make new friends? It doesn’t matter if you make them in “real life” or on a social network. The point here is that you should make an attempt to build relationships with some new people who you can honestly call friends. Sure, this one is tough for some of us and for the most part you will never get from acquaintances to friends but there will definitely be one or two that you really connect with. Trust me, this year I made several new friendships and it was worth every second. Building a long-lasting friendship is most certainly worth the risking rejection or potentially wasting some time.

Start Making what you’re worth!

It’s not rare that Social Media consultants under-charge for their services just to get a contract over the next guy. Whether you’re a social media strategist in the entrepreneurship world or living the agency life, it’s very common to be undervalued. This doesn’t only apply to those specializing in social media though, it goes across all levels of digital work. If you look at the pay-cheque of someone working at a digital agency compared to a full service agency the gap will surprise you.

I’m not saying go out there and make demands that you should be paid like Chris Brogan. I’m saying determine how much you think you are worth and start making it. We go through this world once and there is no reason for you to be undervalued by clients or employers. If it means negotiating for a higher salary so be it, do what it takes to get what you deserve. Just be sure that you can back up your price tag.

Release Your Creativity!

An old friend of mine used a journal as a creative outlet for many years. They wrote in this journal day in and day out until University and the workload forced them to walk away from their passion. What they didn’t realize was that they were walking away from something bigger than just a journal. They were walking away from something that had become a creative and emotional outlet. One day, I asked them why they stopped and they couldn’t figure it out. They had no excuse, instead they just reiterated the fact that it was something they loved and walked away from. After hearing this I decided that for their birthday, I would give them a journal – They were ecstatic.

Humans are born to be creative. Whether or not you enjoy creating literature like my friend or creating four course meals – it’s all about creation. This year you should look into finding something you truly enjoy. Whether it’s photography, videography, cartoons, literature or even cooking – whatever will take your mind to a creative place.

Smile and Make Others do the Same!

To sum this one up in two words: Be Nice. If you’re nice to people, people will generally be nice back. If they aren’t they aren’t worth your time anyways. Happiness is one of the most powerful emotions in the world and if you can make someone laugh or smile then you will be a bright-spot in their day. Push yourself everyday to brighten someones day in one way or another. It will make them feel good and make yourself feel great.

Pick up the Trash

Almost every city suffers from a few bad pears who have decided to become litter bugs. If every day you take a second to bend over and pick up that piece of trash instead of walking over it, others will notice. They will then in turn start picking up trash around the community and sooner or later hundreds of people will start doing their part. Before you know it, the entire city will be filled with people who are subconsciously doing their part to help keep your city clean and the environment healthy. Every little bit helps – The ripple effect just makes it more powerful.

Wake up Earlier!

Waking up early is not a simple change. This isn’t just a new habit, waking up earlier than usual is a change in lifestyle. You need to wake up earlier not just for your own personal gratification but to actually get things done that you normally wouldn’t. Waking up early gives you an opportunity to do things that you wouldn’t had you slept in an extra hour. Whether that’s a morning run or a hearty breakfast, the morning is a great time to be productive and start your day off on a good note.

Stop Faking it!

Do you find yourself doing or saying things you don’t really mean? Do you often question things you do or say? If so, it might be worth re-evaluating who you are as a person and truly figure out who you you are. Keeping it real is one of the best things you can do for yourself this year. No reason to hide your faults and pretend to be interested in things you’re not. Be yourself, it’s good for the soul.

Give, Give, Give!

While receiving feels great, giving often times feels much better. This year you should look at what you have that others would benefit from. When I say this, I’m not only speaking in terms of monetary value but instead I want you to think outside of the box. If you donated money this year to a local charity, maybe this year you can you save a life by donating blood. Or maybe donate an entire cart of groceries to a local food bank. Or donate something as simply as the clothes off your back to a clothing drive.

Whether you donate to your own community or to someone overseas, giving is a great way to make this year better than last.

Learn a new Talent

As a person with limited talents, learning a new one will take a lot of time and effort. That said, putting the time and effort into learning something new is always worth it when you accomplish your goal. This could range from learning how to play the trumpet to learning how to do pottery. If you’re able to set aside time to learn a talent this year, you will definitely not regret it.

Forget your Haters

Year after year new people will enter and new people will leave our lives. Some of the people who stick around really should be cut off but for some reason they stick around like a bad rash. You need to understand that for the most part these people are sticking around because they want something. Whether they want the satisfaction of making you miserable or opportunity to see you fail, these are some people your life can do without.

Tim Ferriss gave a few great tips on how to deal with Haters – Definitely worth a read.

Inspire the Youth around You

We live in a time where role-models are scarce. More and more boys are growing up without fathers and more and more females are growing up idolizing celebrities who are nothing more than sex-symbols. It’s important that you take a look at the youth and realize that these are the faces and voices of the future. We should not only strive to inspire these younger generations, but also foster within them the quest for a brighter future.

You can do this by volunteering at a local Scouts/Guides club or even offering up your spare time to speak at local schools about your profession. There are tons of organizations looking for volunteers, ranging from tutors to actual mentors, the opportunity for you to change a life is there. While looking to make a positive impact we must also remember this demographic. Understand that they are young and different, their lives are compared to even mine ten years ago.

Join/Create a Group!

The opportunities available to join some type of group are endless. Ranging from dodge ball to toast-masters, there are tons of things to get involved with. If you don’t think your community has any opportunities for groups, go out and make one! Whether you start a monthly tweet-up or start a mastermind group, these types of groups or events will definitely help ensure that you have a great year personally and professionally.

Take a course that will challenge you

Overcoming a challenge is one of life’s greatest gifts. The satisfaction of accomplishment is one of the greatest feelings in the world. If you’re able to challenge yourself while gaining knowledge in something that you’ve always wanted to learn about, it’s a win-win situation.

Create something GREAT!

You have to start with a vision. Your vision should be something like, oh I dunno…Change the world!

If you have a vision of this magnitude then you’re on the right track. Think Mark Zuckerberg or Julian Assange. If you’re able to do something that is this special then your year will most certainly be better than the last. If you try and don’t succeed guess what? You’ve still done what 90% of people in this world are unwilling to do. Take a chance and try to do something that they are passionate about. A wiseman once said,

Those who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed.

Spend a Weekend with Nature

Camping isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely something you should do at least once in your life. Personally, I’m a camping fanatic and absolutely love the idea of sleeping underneath the stars with nothing but the earths natural elements. When you go camping you have an opportunity to live in a very simplistic manner and gain a new level of respect for what you take for advantage on a daily basis.

Share tea with someone over 70

Old people are funny. If you have an opportunity to sit down and chat with one of them for a few hours you should most certainly do it. They give you a fresh perspective on a variety of things while also giving you an opportunity to gain some wisdom. If you can’t get either of those things you’re sure to be entertained with a few quirky comments or hilarious reactions. Not to mention, it could be the most exciting part of their day.

Play more games!

Parents are told to encourage their kids to play and use their imagination as it has been shown to improve social skills and spark creativity. For some reason our culture has decided that play is something that should be associated with childhood instead of adulthood. This year, challenge yourself to participate in some form of play more frequently, whether it’s playing a video game or fooling around on an artsy, cultural date thing. Get out there, have fun and play physical, socially and mentally. Not a believe that play is good for the soul? Watch this video:

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