I don’t know about you, but in the first 26 years of my life, I have learned more from my shortcomings and failures than I have from my successes. Don’t get me wrong everyone likes to win, succeed, achieve their goals, get what they want, blah, blah, blah, duh.
However, how do you build character, learn to persevere, and really gain respect for working hard when you never step outside of your comfort zone and take risks?
Knowing that there is a slim chance that yes, you may very well fall flat on your face is enough to steer most people away. However, the journey you take pulling yourself back up from the trenches of failure, is in fact more valuable than any accomplishment you will ever achieve.
Let’s make 2012 a YOU building year. Stop doing what’s comfortable, stop pursuing the easy way out, and stop setting the bar low knowing that at your worst, you’ll still come out on top.
Instead, take chances, tell the truth, say no, and spend all of your cash. In 2012, fall in love, get to know someone random, be random, and do random ass things. Say I love you, sing out loud, laugh at a stupid joke, and tell stupid jokes. Cry, get revenge, and learn to apologize.
Tell someone how much he or she means to you and then tell the asshole in your life what you really feel. Make sure to let that someone know what he or she is missing. Laugh until your stomach hurts, laugh for no reason. Smile a lot; hold open doors, close doors that should have never been opened.
Lastly, draw a line in the sand and then cross that SOB.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Dan Stanford. It goes as follows:
“Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.”
Instead of setting out unreasonable goals or “resolutions” for the New Year, and likely not even sticking with them long enough to see if you will succeed, try one of these 12 tasks. Heck, try all 12. No one likes to fail, but setting forth to accomplish these 12 tasks (and likely failing) may teach you more about yourself than simply succeeding at an arms’ reach goals.
1.) Ask the cute guy or girl out: Stop staring, it’s creepy. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, it can be scary — real scary. What do you have to lose though? If they say no, you are still where you started before you asked. If they say yes, well, I’ll let you figure out the rest.
2.) Carnivore? Be a vegetarian for a week: I have several friends that are vegetarians. Some by choice, some by religion, some because of health related problems. I use to ask thousands of questions, mainly along the lines of…why? One day one of my vegetarian friends said, “I bet you couldn’t last a week.” Challenge accepted! I lasted four days. But in those four days I learned something incredibly valuable and important which is now infused into the foundation of my diet. Perhaps you too will find out the same thing…
3.) Sign up for an event that you are completely unqualified to participate in: Swimmer? Do a half-marathon. Bicyclist? Tough mudder. Marathoner? Join a crew team. Dancer? Well you get the point.
4.) Run/Limp a Marathon: Anyone can sign up for a marathon. Tons of people can start training for one. Many can last through the 20-mile long run. Some won’t need anti-chaffing tape (and some people will wish they used it), few will make it to the starting line and very little will make it to the finish line. Will you make it to the end? Only one way to find out.
5.) Close the complaint department: Complaining seems to be a universal language. When there’s nothing else to talk about, we turn to whining. Richard Carlson said, “Time spent complaining is not time spent improving, letting go of, or preventing bad situations.” So give it a break. It only resurfaces negativity and makes you angry all over again. See how long you can go before you start complaining about how some blog told you to stop complaining…
6.) Time out: How many times a day do you look at a clock? Did you do it again just now? We are so preoccupied with time that we often forget to enjoy it! Try this fun experiment – one weekend go an entire day without looking at a clock. Life doesn’t have to be penciled in to your schedule, it just has to be experienced. You might be surprised by the day you create! (Corey desperately needs to learn this)
7.) Unplug: I know, I know. This one sucks. But it’s just a day! Turn off your phone, laptop, and TV. You hear that? Beautiful silence. Now take this opportunity to do something you’ve been putting off to distract yourself from the digital deprivation. Read a book, write a letter (who doesn’t love mail?!), organize the junk drawer…it can be anything! The emails and tweets will still be there tomorrow, I promise. It’s an easy way to jump start some productivity, regain a little sanity, and put the role of technology in perspective.
8.) Throw away your to-do list: Ever realize you have to-do lists for your to-do lists? If only for a day, try to just “roll with the punches”. Just think would you embrace more last-minute opportunities if you didn’t always plan for what had to be done at certain moments in your life? Would you do what you wanted to do, and not what you felt like you had to do? Getting things done is important, but so is enjoying life as it passes. See how long you can last without every moment of your day planned out – maybe you’ll take a nap or even a road trip, bet that wasn’t on your to-do list!
9.) Say please and thank you – all of the time: It’s the simplest, cheapest and most sincere way to express your gratitude and politeness. Say thank you to the stranger who held the door for you, to the friend who gave you a ride to the repair shop, and to your parents who made you the person you are today. A thank you is rarely misplaced, and makes the person on the receiving end feel like a million bucks. And nothing blows people’s minds more than a true gentleman or lady – so when asking for something, always start with please.
10. ) Explore your surrounding on the cheap: Almost everyone loves to travel to new and exciting places, but you don’t have to buy a plane ticket or even cross state lines to find an adventure. The next time you’re sitting at home bored, do some research on your own hometown or state- you’re bound to discover super cool places you never knew existed. For example, did you know that Delaware still has a fully operational drive-in movie theater? Can you explore all of the landmarks and hidden gems in your city and/or state?
11.) Learn a new language – it’s never too late to become a polyglot: Buy software, watch YouTube videos, or simply contact local colleges and universities to see if they can hook you up with a language partner. You’ll make friends, learn more about your own language, and perhaps be able to impress that hot girl at the bar you’ve been emboldened to approach ; ).
12.) Quit that annoying habit! We’ve all got them: biting your nails, saying “like” way too often, gossiping, cracking your knuckles, etc. Replace your vices with something constructive and reward yourself when you’ve made it a day, a week, a month and so on.
A special thanks to Jillian J., Gina C., and Stefanie V. for their feedback and additions to this article. Good luck!