3 unconventional New Year's resolutions that will transform your life
Editor's note: This article is adapted from the author's book "The Power of Starting Something Stupid."
I've had the unique privilege of interviewing hundreds of people about their goals and dreams. I've tried to learn what works and what doesn't work for people when it comes to achieving high aspirations.
Interestingly (yet not surprisingly), there are common ways that help people go from where they are to where they want to be. Drawing from these interviews and my own personal experience, and based on additional years of research, here are three ways to avoid regret and to make this year your year.
1. Save your money, not your dreams.
“Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first. Don’t ever forget what a friend once wrote Senator Paul Tsongas when the senator decided not to run for re-election because he’d been diagnosed with cancer: ‘No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office.’”— Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author
As president of a financial services company, I spent several years working in the world of tax-deferred retirement consulting. I met with hundreds of individuals and couples, many in the golden years of life. As the years rolled by, these individuals began to realize that they’d deferred more than their taxes; they’d deferred their lives.
Many of my clients had tragically given in to the notion that waiting was the wisest course of action: “When I have more money, I’ll finally _________,” or “When I retire, I’ll be able to _________.” The common conversation in these meetings was, “When I’m 65 — but hopefully sooner — I will be able to relax, travel, donate to charity, spend time with my family and give my time to the causes I care about. I will finally live the dreams I’ve waited for and worked my whole life to live.”
They prepared. They worked hard. They invested time and resources. Then they waited, for years, only to discover that life at the end of the retirement rainbow wasn’t exactly what they thought it would be. Sometimes a spouse had passed away. Sometimes their health had declined. The stock market had taken an unexpected downturn, and many of them didn’t have the money they’d expected to have (and on and on and on).
The ability to retire is great. The unintended consequenceof retirement planning, however, is that while people plan for future financial savings and investments (a good thing), they get it all mixed up with saving their dreams for later (a bad thing). Don't confuse retirement planning with planned procrastination.
Save your money, not your dreams!
2. Join the "New Smart" and stop being afraid of looking "stupid."
“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Let me whisper a secret directly into your ear: If someone thinks that your ideas, or the changes you want to make or the dreams bubbling up inside of you are stupid, welcome to the club. You’re in the company of the world’s leading innovators, change agents, thought leaders, inventors, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, philanthropists, executives, employees, educators, youth, moms, dads, families, philosophers, mentors and more.
We all want to be smart. We’re scared of failure. Scared of falling behind. Scared of being foolish. Scared of looking stupid. No one wants any of that.
Or do we?
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