Real talk: setting New Year’s resolutions is not going to make you happier, healthier, or more successful than you are right now. Let’s just get that out of the way before we jump in, because we’re here to offer you a new way of thinking about the resolution process. After all, the best New Year’s Resolutions in the world aren’t going to do you any good if you can’t make a solid commitment.
What we’re really after is results — the satisfaction of accomplishing things that we haven’t accomplished before. And the only way to do that is by moving past the mentality of traditional resolutions. In fact, let’s dispense with the idea of “resolving” to do anything at all. Instead, let’s just get down to doing them!
To help you get started, here are five of the best New Year’s resolutions that will make 2015 the best year of your life. They’re not the only resolutions you should set, of course — you should create a list that really speaks to you — but they are five common and powerful resolutions that we’ve focused on in our own lives, with spectacular results.
Then, at the end of this article, we have a little holiday present for you: An exclusive e-book, free of charge, to supercharge your New Year’s resolutions this year.
The e-book expands on the principles in this piece and teaches you specific ways to turn your traditional resolutions into achievable realities.
So enjoy five of the best New Year’s resolutions for 2015, presented by The Art of Charm.
New Year’s Resolution 1: Invest in Others
It probably seems strange to kick off your resolutions with other people, but one of the most valuable commitments you can make is to set aside time to focus on other people this year.
Why? For two main reasons.
First, it is the most powerful way to grow your network.
Being the person who helps — as opposed to the person who just asks for help — puts you in a different category as a contact. In a new relationship, investing in the other person immediately moves you beyond handshakes and business cards (the bane of all networking) and toward a real relationship. It also just works: People can easily turn down a coffee date or a phone call, but they’ll rarely turn down a genuine offer to help.
As for the people you already know — your existing network — investing in them will deepen the trust, rapport, and empathy at the core of those relationships. Taking an interest in the people you know will open up possibilities, projects and experiences you never imagined.
Second, investing in others will also teach you a ton about yourself.
Finding out what other people need in life is a great way to discover what can can uniquely provide — in the form of advice, expertise, introductions or resources. By offering to be of service, we end up discovering what we can actually serve to offer.
(In fact, that’s exactly how The Art of Charm got started! Without thinking much about it, we offered our podcast to people all over the world — and still do, free of charge — only to discover that sharing our special brand of self-improvement was exactly what we were meant to do. We’ve built a thriving business and an incredible lifestyle around that simple act of giving. Funny how that works, right?)
Beyond that, sit back and watch your relationships become more significant and profitable. Customers will stick around for longer. Bosses will become mentors. Employees will become friends. Suddenly — and we’ve seen this happen first-hand — your relationships will begin paying dividends. As you help your friends, they will help you, and that is one of the most practical ways to enjoy a life of support and abundance.
Simply put, part of every man’s job is to make the people around him successful. That includes the people you want to meet this year and the people you already know.
New Year’s Resolution 2: Get in Shape
This one makes every New Year’s list, and for good reason. Being fit is so important to physical and mental health that it’s almost impossible to succeed in life without it.
Chances are, you’ve promised yourself that you’re going to run 10 miles a week or hit the gym or finally use that Crossfit membership this year. Inevitably, come March, that seems like a cute idea.
So let’s try something different this year.
Let’s forget about the external metrics that we usually rely on: I want to benchpress 225, I want to deadlift 135, I want to be able to run a marathon by August.
Instead, let’s rephrase this one as: I’m going to feel healthy and strong every day this year.
Now that’s something you can accomplish.
Are we saying that fitness goals are useless? Definitely not. If you want to bench 225, go for it! That might help you make the most of your workouts.
What we are saying is that you could fail to bench 225, even if you hit the gym regularly. But it’s a lot harder to fail at feeling healthy and strong by showing up every day, which is the real goal here. When it comes to achieving this resolution, it’s the actual accomplishment that what we want to focus on.
Then, combine this resolution with the previous one — investing in others — by making your workouts a social experience.
Does your business partner need to hit the gym too? Is one of your favorite authors an avid yogi? If so, invite them into your workout (or join them for theirs), and turn that workout into a social commitment.
We guarantee you’ll have a much higher chance of achieving this resolution by approaching fitness in this way. Make it doable, make it personal and make it social, and you’ll find yourself staying on track the entire year.
New Year’s Resolution 3: Educate and Invest in Yourself
For those of us who have already finished college or grad school, education can seem like something we (thankfully!) moved past a long time ago.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Education isn’t an accomplishment; it’s a process. That’s how we teach our bootcamps, and that’s how we approach our own lives. In fact, we recently explored that exact topic on the podcast with maverick writer James Altucher, who champions a radical form of ongoing self-education.
Because in the new economy, in a world that is evolving more and more quickly, we need to invest in ourselves continually. If we don’t happen to work in a dynamic position that forces us to self-educate along the way — like being a programmer, for instance — then it’s really on us to make sure we stay sharp. Identify the skills you’d like to have, then write down the specific ways you can acquire them.
Are these skills you can develop through your existing job? Map out what you would have to do at work to step up and develop those skills at the office. A great deal of what we want to learn is right under our noses.
If you’ve identified skills that you’ll need a class or a mentor to develop, great! It’s never been easier to get the training you need. If you want to learn how to code, for example, find the best places to learn those skills — whether it’s Codecademy or the hacker who hangs out at your local Starbucks. The internet is an embarrassment of riches for self-education. Take a moment and track down the places and people you need to get to the next level.
Then, along the way, identify key milestones for your education. Celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Reward yourself in fun, basic ways for your progress. That way, you won’t lose sight of the fact that you’re actually accomplishing your goal throughout the year.
New Year’s Resolution 4: Save Money and Manage Debt
Saving money and managing debt is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. It’s also one of the most difficult to achieve.
Before we get into how to make that happen, we have to talk about one of the most interesting discoveries about the psychology of saving. As it turns out, how well we manage to save is directly related to how much control and power we feel over our finances.
So let’s start there.
Rather than list a vague goal like “save more” and “pay down debt,” let’s get specific. How much can you practically save each month? How much debt would you like to reasonably pay down? Build that into your resolution, and write it down.
Already, you’ve taken a greater degree of control over your finances. You’ve turned your goal into a concrete number to reach.
Now, find a way to remain engaged with your goal throughout the year.
Start by taking a moment to write down the benefits of meeting your goal. Will saving $5,000 this year allow you to go on vacation? Invest in a new class? Will paying down your debt allow you to improve your credit score? Renegotiate your credit card? Apply for a loan?
Next, turn your number into a monthly target that you can track. If you see yourself hitting your goal month after month, the rush of accomplishment will keep you on track to deliver. If you miss a month, you’ll know why and by how much. Come August, you’ll be just as engaged with your resolution as you were in January.
These are both important (and fun!) exercises, because they turn your goal from a general wish into a tangible benefit. Month to month, you won’t just be chasing dollars and cents, but working your way toward a great trip or your future house. This isn’t just a fun fantasy — this is a real reason to pursue your goal, and stick with it throughout the year.
New Year’s Resolution 5: Create More Experiences
Our final life-changing New Year’s resolution is to focus on creating new experiences for yourself and for other people in your life.
By experiences, we mean moments that create happiness, productivity and change. You can contrast them with things, which are usually physical and transactional (like buying a new car or moving to a bigger apartment).
Why is this one of the best New Year’s resolutions?
Because research shows that experiences make us happier than things. Great entrepreneurs, writers and leaders have understood this for a long time. Everything from life-changing trips to memorable concerts to presidential elections can be appreciated as dynamic experiences rather than static things. The significance of those moments lasts so much longer than the events themselves.
So this year, look for the opportunities to turn your “things” into experiences. Once you do, everything will take on a new possibility and significance.
Your typical birthday party at a nightclub might become an evening of food, conversation and toasts with great friends you’ll never forget.
Your trip to Spain might become a six-month adventure of learning Spanish before you go, so you can experience the country like a local.
Maybe your engagement proposal will get a lot more exciting.
Or perhaps you’re thinking of something small but meaningful, like inviting your employees to your favorite restaurant instead of giving them their performance reviews in the office.
You get the idea. The possibilities are endless. These don’t have to be big experiences, they just have to rise above the level of being things. And once they do, your life will take on a whole new meaning.
There you have it — five New Year’s resolutions that will change your life in 2015. If you invest in others while you invest in yourself, focus on getting shape while you manage your finances, and continually create experiences for yourself and the people around you, we guarantee you’ll be stepping up in your life in a major way.
At this point, you might be thinking: That sounds great, but how do I actually, you know, make that happen?
And if you are, you are right on track, my friend.
Because as we said, it’s not the resolutions that make us fulfilled, it’s the results. The best New Year’s resolutions aren’t just what you want to do this year, but how.