I suck at New Year Resolutions. Most of them are also boring which is one reason we don't really stick with them.
According to some statistics I didn't fake myself, about 70% of all people abandon their New Years resolutions already at the end of January. I mean, it makes sense. Most of these resolutions are completely off the charts, and the majority of them are just plain boring. Things like, work out a lot, be healthy or other crazy goals are just too easy to break.
Now, I don't know about you but if that sounds familiar I might have something for you.
I tried New Year resolutions myself and always horrible failed. I think the problem was that I focused too much on certain things I WANT to do and then life just happened and boom the year was over.
Now, what I do instead is writing an ANTI ToDo list which is kind of like a resolutions list, but more focused on the negative aspects I want to avoid in my life. It's kinda like calling myself out.
I'm not exactly sure why this always works better for me, but I strongly believe that if I can avoid doing things I don't want, I automatically attract the things I want.
It also feels easier for me to focus on the negative aspects and then avoid them, rather than focusing on a goal like "be healthy". For example, it's easier to just cut alcohol from my diet. It's more specific, and it focuses on the negative part I want to get rid of, and in turn I'm more healthy automatically.
So for this email I want to share a few things I have on my list for the upcoming year. These are particular things I've noticed about myself and this list serves as a reminder to get my fucking shit together.
Some of these points are more actionable, and some are just little learnings and reminders I want to focus on more in 2017.
1. Stuff is just stuff, avoid it as much as I can unless it helps me create.
I grew up in a fairly poor family, we never had any money. And this is in my head all the time, even though I worked hard for what I have right now. But when I spend money on a nice camera or something else, I always start regretting it, even though there is no specific reason for it. I try to be extra careful because I fear of being on welfare again.
I know it's a good thing, but also bad because it makes me enjoy certain things less. But to enjoy my life more, I put certain rules in place, and one of them is: If I spend money on equipment that helps me create, or experiences such as travel, it's NEVER wasted money.
Some people ask me: Is your camera worth all the money? Yes it is, without question. It might have been expensive, but it helps me to create.
The same goes for travel or paying for experiences that will be with me for my entire life. But otherwise, I try to not waste money on useless stuff, things that just sit around and look nice.
2. Stop being jealous
This is a hard one. I wouldn't call myself jealous, but sometimes when I'm not inspired or productive I get jealous and angry at other people who have it figured out more than I do. The thing is, jealousy rarely makes you better or brings anything positive. Both, professionally and especially privately. Jealousy is the thing that ruins relationships and I want to avoid it at all costs.
It shouldn't hold me back from admiration for what other people do, but jealousy has absolutely no place in my life. I think there is a thin path between admiration and jealousy. It's easy to tip from one into the other without noticing it.
3. Stop being offended & stop taking things so seriously
Yes, some things in life are serious, and not everything is always fun. But taking life too serious and being offended because of everything isn't making my life better. And I'm saying this more for myself than anyone else, because you have all the right to be offended as much as you want. I don't care, be offended. The problem is, by being offended I'm not doing myself a favor. It sucks being angry, grumpy & miserable all the time.
Even if things suck big time, I usually try to make fun and focus on the good things. Every time I get offended I usually ask myself why it happened and how I can fix it, rather than blaming someone else for offending me. It's a simple choice that makes my life so much better. I choose to be not offended.
As Marcus Aurelius already said: “You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
4. You know nothing, stop your stupid assumptions
I know nothing. The moment you meet someone for the first time you know NOTHING about that person. Nothing about their past, their struggles or their childhood. We like to put people into categories because it's easier for us to think that way. Even if we think we're the smartest person in the world, making broad assumptions is usually the worst we can do for ourselves and everyone around us.
It doesn't mean there are no evil people in this world, and surely some people just want to see the world burn. But I strongly believe to always give the benefit of the doubt. That means, I try NOT to jump to conclusions and always give people a chance to clarify their behavior even if other people have already jumped to their conclusion immediately. Just read the news, most people read only a headline online and already made up their mind.
I personally know that jumping to conclusion too quickly isn't doing me or anyone else a favor. We live in a world where we value feelings over facts, and while this seems very human, it's also extremely dangerous and counterproductive in most cases.
5. Stop trying to be friends with everyone
It's just impossible. Get rid of one sided relationships and toxic people in your life. Give them one or two chances and then leave. I've spent years trying to be friends with certain people or wondered about "why don't they like me" until I found out this isn't about me, but about them. Don't run after people for too long, move on, stop trying to befriend everyone.
I learned that the older you get, and the more "successful" or happy you are, the more people will hate you for that. Yes, I said it, some people hate happy people, because they're jealous & miserable themselves. And that's okay, it's not your problem. Move on.
6. Stop making excuses
I love making excuses because I'm a master procrastinator. The reasons I make excuses is due to many reasons, but mainly because of FOMO (Fear of Missing out) or because I'm just bad at taking risks.
And that applies to a lot of things. Shutting down a project, quitting your job, or not leaving your home town you hate so much. One of the tricks that helps me is usually to ask one simple question: "Will I regret quitting my job or taking this risk when I'm 60 years old?" - Usually the answer is no. I might regret it in the short term, but in the long term I'd probably regret more staying at my shitty full time job than quitting it.
7. Stop blaming others around you for being miserable
I'm getting better at this myself. I used to always blame other people. I didn't tell them in their face, but I did it silently. I'd blame my boss for not promoting me, I'd blame my friends for not reaching out, I'd blame other people for making me feel miserable.
But in reality, it was rarely their fault. Blaming others is easy and if I think hard enough about it, I can ALWAYS find a reason to blame other people if I don't get what I want. It's easy to play the victim, I did it countless times myself. It's classic child mentality, if you don't get what you want, start crying & screaming loudly. Make sure your parents look like fucking idiots in the Toys "R"Us store for not getting you that Lego castle you want so badly.
In the recent years I learned that every time I silently blamed someone else, I could've just easily looked at myself and fix it right there. The reason I didn't get a raise at my job was because I never asked. It goes back to Nr.4 in this list. It's easy to make assumptions, jump to conclusions and then blame someone else. It's also convenient.
I learned that if I feel there is something unfair, I can openly and respectfully talk about it. Some things I fixed within hours where I was silently being grumpy about it for over a year! Isn't that crazy? Damn it Tobias, open your fucking mouth and talk!
8. Give less fucks
I've written about this recently right here. I'm trying to give less fucks and manage my "fucks" better. Maybe it's a sign of getting older but it kind of relates to Nr.5 (not trying to be friends with everyone). Giving less fucks simply means deciding what affects you and what not. It doesn't mean being an asshole, but putting your energy where it's worth it.
With that said, I think this quote by Marcus Aurelius is quite fitting:
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil.
But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me."
9. "Strong Opinions, Loosely held"
I try to remind myself of this every single day. It's important to have strong opinions and educate yourself as much as possible. But it is as important to not make your opinions a fact that you can't stand up for. People who know me know that I have strong opinions, but they also know that the moment they give a good counter argument, I'm the first one to give up my opinions & change my mind. It's not always like this, but I try.
I believe very strongly in this attitude. Have opinions, share them, make yourself heard. But be open to challenge your own viewpoints. Strong opinions, but loosely held means that you have to remove the ego. One of the biggest thinkers & wisest people in history have followed this principle.
This quote by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon brings it to the point: