This is a ‘guest post’ from Neil Strauss. If you’re on his email list, you may have also seen something similar list in your inbox recently. As a side note: Keep an eye out for the StyleLife iPhone app we’re releasing very shortly. It’s going to be a killer.
New Year’s Resolutions are a great way to set your intent for a positive, fulfilling year of growth and accomplishment. But, on the other hand, when the year ends, if you haven’t completely fulfilled your resolutions, it can be frustrating. This usually happens because New Year’s resolutions are often too vague, and don’t include practical steps that lead to a clearly defined goal.
So today, by all means, make your usual big-picture resolutions.
But, in addition, I’m going to suggest you make some sub-resolutions.
Each of these sub-resolutions is designed to give you a long-term benefit (some of them even for a lifetime) with a minimum amount of time and effort.
In fact, each of these sub-resolutions can be completed in anything from a few minutes to, at the very most, a few hours. And they’re all either free or very cheap.
For most of you, many of these items fall into the category of things you’ve “been meaning to do.” Since chances are that you’ve already accomplished at least a few of the items on the list below, there’s no reason why you can’t take half a day this week and get at least six more of the items below done.
So, in the interest of the betterment of your future, the management of your life, and the fresh start of a new year, here are:
SIXTEEN THINGS YOU CAN DO IN ONE DAY TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE
1. Register your full name as a web domain if you haven’t yet. You never know when you’re going to want your personal website. If www.neilstrauss.com (or whatever your name is) is already taken, don’t worry – there are alternatives.
For example, who owns jamesjoyce.com? Answer: A bar in Dublin beat the author’s estate to it. But there are always other options, like hyphenating the name and getting james-joyce.net or james-joyce.org (check those sites now if you’d like), or choosing less common TLDs (or end letters) like .ws or .me. And you can get own for your very own name for less than the price of a meal at www.godaddy.com, www.networksolutions.com, and elsewhere.
2. Call your cell phone provider. Ask if you can get a better calling plan based on your usage. This way you can afford to do the next item on this list.
3. Subscribe to a newspaper or magazine. Choose a topic that you don’t know about – be it politics, fashion, culture, or technology – and sign up for the best periodical covering that topic. Rather than choosing the most popular magazine, select one that offers the most in-depth and interesting coverage, like Wired for technology or Foreign Affairs for politics or Mental Floss for general culture or New Scientist (which last month had a handy article on how to win at rock paper scissors) for science.Yes, you could read it all online, but it’s great to have a physical magazine to read when you’re on the subway or on an airplane or waiting in line for the restroom at Denny’s.
4. Get a passport if you don’t have one. If yours has expired, get it renewed now. You never know when that great travel opportunity is going to occur, and you don’t want to get stuck at home while your friends are at some great concert at the Acropolis in Greece. If you’re in America, you can simply go to most post offices with two acceptable photos of yourself, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a valid form of photo identification. You can find more information here: http://travel.state.gov/passport. And, for those of you who’ve read Emergency and qualify for a passport to a second country (if, for example, you have a parent or grandparent who was born in Ireland), take advantage of that opportunity now, before the rules change.
5. Back it up. Most people don’t take the time to do this, and regret it later. So copy your entire hard drive onto an external drive immediately; if possible, download a program like Acronis True Image that will simplify the restoring process and regularly make backups (or for Mac owners, start using Time Machine or SuperDuper). Also backup your cellphone, PDA, and any other personal-information-storing device.
6. While you’re at it, make photocopies of your credit cards, passport, drivers license, social security card, birth certificate, and other important papers. If you keep a journal or anything similarly irreplaceable, photocopy that. Keep these in a safe deposit box, parent’s house, locked file cabinet, or any other secure location, preferably outside your own house. They’ll be invaluable in the event of theft, loss, fire, dinosaur attack, or any other unplanned disaster.
7. Look through your refrigerator and cabinets. Read the labels on the food. Stop buying anything high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium. And start shopping healthier today. Here’s a handy free e-book from the government on how to eat healthy: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/document/pdf/DGA2005.pdf.
8. Get business cards. Don’t have a business? It doesn’t matter. Sites like vistaprint.com will send you 250 free ones (though there’s a shipping fee of under $6). Never hurts to look professional. And if you know the number close from Rules of the Game, these will come in particularly handy.
9. Sign up for US Airway’s e-Saver, Southwest’s Ding!, American Airlines’ Net SAAver, or any other wackily-named airline programthat offers last-minute, low-cost travel options so you can take quick weekend getaway whenever you feel like it. Flights can be as low as $15.
10. Check your credit report for identity theft, or any other misinformation or errors that could harm your financial status and options. You are entitled to one free check a year at www.annualcreditreport.com.
11. Learn how you work: I’m often asked at signings what books I found the most useful for learning The Game. Here are the ones I’ve recommended:
Mastering Your Hidden Self by Serge “Kahili” King;
The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene;
Introducing NLP by Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour;
and a book on evolutionary psychology, such as The Red Queen, Sperm Wars, or The Selfish Gene.
12. Make an appointment to get a physical exam from a trusted doctor. Head off any potential medical problems that may hinder an active, fun year. Also recommended: make an appointment with a dentist to get your teeth cleaned if you haven’t done so in the last six months. You may also want to call for an eye exam if you haven’t had one in the last four years. (Make sure you get a second opinion if any of the above tries to talk you into any costly procedure.)
13. This is not for everyone, but some of you–and you know who you are–definitely need to do this: Throw out all your socks. Every last one. Now go buy new pairs that actually match and don’t have holes in them. You’ll feel like a new man. Remember, get black socks. White socks are for athletic activities only. I don’t want to catch any of you guys here wearing white socks in the bars or clubs!
14. Get prepped: You’ve read Emergency by now, so go sign up for a local CERT class (or an equivalent if you live outside the U.S.). It’s free and will teach you the basics of survival and disaster preparedness so you can be a local hero. Plus you’ll get a nifty green uniform like in this photo: http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/. While you’re there, enter your zip code in the box to find CERT classes in your area.
15. If you want to improve your appearance, you’ve probably already resolved to work out or join a gym. So here’s a sub-resolution: Buy a suit. (Or a dress if you’re a woman.) But don’t just get any suit. Get one that’s slightly closer to the size you want to be this year, whether it be a little bigger or a little smaller than your current measurements. Try it on every Saturday morning as a reminder to stick with your fitness program; until, one day, it fits perfectly, and you wear it out and feel like a million dollars.
16. And as long as you feel like a million dollars, you might as well figure out how to make a million dollars. You can find out how much money you’ll need to tuck away here: http://partners.leadfusion.com/tools/kiplinger/savings01/tool.fcs.
Afterward, you should know just exactly what you’re worth so you can figure out where you stand financially at the start of this year. You can do so here: http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/networth/networth.html.
Phew. That looks like a lot. But set half a day aside, and knock them off the to-do list one at a time. You’ll wake up the next day a new man. (Unless, of course, you’re a woman.)
Alright, get cracking.
And have a great 2010.
Talk to you all soon.
P.S. None of the above constitutes an endorsement of any of the websites mentioned or the content therein. They are provided solely as possible starting points to make the implementation of these subresolutions easier.