Owning a website about personal improvement and fitness gives you a detached perspective on what people think about, what they like, and where they devote attention to. Marketing and personal interest aside, this observation has a way of captivating me through and through.
January, predictably, is a time frame where most of our articles on personal development experience a huge spike in traffic. Our fitness reviews as well. Following New Year’s Eve, there is a wave of few thousand people coming to this site on a daily basis. Even their browsing behavior is somewhat predictable. If at the beginning of January you see visitors read more than few minutes before closing the tab, by the end of the month you see less and less engagement, and browsing behavior returns to its normal and default settings.
In the fitness industry, and that of personal development as well, there is no better time for exposure than the weeks following January the first.
Sadly, individual effort follows the same depressing curve. If most people haven’t broken their resolution by now, chances are that they will be in a day or two ahead.
I’ve written about tackling New Year’s resolutions before, but seeing how repetitive average behavior is, I tried coming up with something different this year.
What follows, is a list of tools and tactics that will improve number of areas in your life. Only this time, the goal is to make it durable and satisfying as well. Pick one, and by the time December arrives, your life will be much richer, and yourself far more fulfilled.
Headspace is old news. Meditation too. That’s probably why many people don’t seem to get what all the hoopla is about. You just sit there, in silence, for fifteen minutes or so. How is that supposed to affect anything?
The thing about meditation is that it allows you to observe and train the mind in ways you cannot even begin to understand. It is a sort of exercise that teaches you how to observe and change your behavior in a very controlled environment, so you can later function much better in everyday life.
Fifteen minutes of silence won’t change much initially, but their cumulative power, when practiced for few weeks, changes the way you relate to thoughts and feelings.
Enhancing awareness, the benefits include more focus, improved productivity, less stress and anxiety, and balanced and spacious mind- something you will learn to appreciate immensely.
Starting now, you get ten days of free sessions, and then upgrade on a monthly or annual plan. The statistic tells that one year of meditation will improve your life in a very measurable way, affecting your happiness, satisfaction from life, and even your material state. It will improve relationships, knowledge of oneself, and make you at ease with harder decisions in life.
The reason why I include Headspace into this list is simple – the format is easy to follow, with a lot of guidance. Besides, you can choose between 10, 15 and 20 minutes of daily practice, it can be played on your laptop or mobile just as well, and given the charisma and structure offered by the mentor- Andy (a former Buddhist monk) – you will find it easy to show up every day.
A small investment – 15 minutes of your day – that leads to an improved life.
The Cize Workout
The average fitness novice quits after one week and a half. Either the nutrition plan is too hard to swallow, or the workouts become a dreadful experience due to lack of guidance or high energy demand.
That’s why we decided to create our own workout that will offer a string of algorithms in order to tailor the perfect fitness experience for you. In the meantime however, starting somewhere is better than aiming unrealistically high and falling flat on your face. It is better than infinite planning as well.
This workout, as we described it in our Cize workout review, sits on crossroads between easing into fitness and a cardio blaster that burns calories. It also sits between dance, fun, and a structured workout regimen.
So, if your goal this year is to start with fitness and succeed, two things need to happen. You need to move slowly (for otherwise failure is statistically guaranteed), and you have to have fun while still following structure. Shaun T, the trainer, will take care of that.
Cize, so far unmatched in terms of meeting these characteristics, is your perfect January fit. It lasts for one full month, at which point you can chose to repeat it all over only by flipping the calendar on the other side, and following the advanced version.
By the end of February, you will be ready to tackle harder fitness challenges, like for example the Insanity workout, or P90X. But remember, structure, step-by-step progress, and having fun… That’s the only way you are ever going to succeed.
Fill a blank page every day
Don’t look at this as your average journal. You can throw the piece of paper after you are done.
Instead, look at it as an exercise in commitment and determination.
This, similar to meditation, has a way of transforming your life.
Each day after you stretch or have breakfast, start by dumping your thoughts on the piece of paper. I use an A4 super white.
It’s a ritual I have going longer than a year. I get up, make the bed, make breakfast, stretch, and sit down to write.
Write what, you ask?
Whatever comes to mind. This way you are teaching yourself to be your own personal therapist, while training yourself to be honest with yourself, and constantly aware. You also discard any and all negativity, and start the day with a more optimistic perspective, and a more upright attitude.
This task requires only a handful of minutes each day, but being honest to oneself is harder than it looks. Just start by writing one sentence per day and see how that goes.
Learn a digital skill
The world is changing pace at a rapid clip. Remember how your parents complained when computers were introduced in working environments for the first time? That’s what is likely to happen to you every year from now on, repeatedly.
A digital skill is a very useful thing to have in the world of today.
Coding, tinkering with Photoshop or Illustrator, video editing, web design… Everything counts. Even writing and creating content for the web.
The more fluent you become in any of those areas, the more horizons open up ahead. Through the confidence of your new skill, you will easily find opportunities, ideas, industries you’ve never heard of before.
I remember telling a friend of mine about Kickstarter, and how he didn’t even know what it was. Few months later, he began creating logos on a freelance platform, and ended up part of a Kickstarter campaign that went to create cool artwork. He has since a fulfilling job, and an equally fulfilling salary.
When you start learning a new skill you inevitably start learning about all the Kickstarters, and all the other cool platforms, tools, markets… One of them is going to change your life.
So, for the purpose of having a more fulfilled year, start learning something. Whatever it is that gives you the spark. Everything that you end up discovering along the way will inevitably work some change on the quality of your life.
Pursue an idea
Seth Godin has said it marvelously:
If you want to sing- sing, if you want to dance – dance, if you want to start a movement – start a movement. There is nothing stopping you. Don’t wait for someone else to pick you up, do it yourself.
The number of free platforms offering you opportunity has never been larger. The creative and entrepreneurial power that tools like your smartphone offer is crazy as well. You can, today, open up a YouTube channel, film a video and start cultivating a large audience.
You can start a Kickstarter campaign, build something… You can open up a website like this one, in minutes, and create a movement… You can create a business, and forever change your profession.
You can do it for fun, for the money, for helping others… Ideas, having in mind what we have going nowadays, were never easier to materialize.
So start mapping your idea realization.
Whatever it is.
Draw a blueprint, start separating daily from monthly to-do’s, and check those boxes as you go. Do it in your spare time. It will give you energy, passion, fun; maybe even a chance of making something extraordinary.
While we are working on our projects, there is usually always a side project going on as well. No deadlines, no boring commitments.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
I hope this list gave you a couple of ideas for you to adopt throughout this following year. Whatever you end up choosing, the net benefit is greater if you follow a similar underlying structure. Cooking, woodworking, collecting, whatever it is… start slow, follow a blueprint, know what comes next each day, and develop a habit to reserve few minutes or even an hour around the same time every day.
Here is to a fulfilled year ahead.