When 2014 came around, I decided that I was actually going to set a New Years resolution. The only thing that I could come up with, that I knew I would pursue without fail was: To follow my passion and quit doing things that wouldn't make me happy.
As the year has progressed and I have fully committed to my resolution, I have continued tacking on little things here and there, to modify & (in my opinion) improve my resolution.
#1: Recognize my faults & try to change them
By far, one of my biggest faults in the past has been my inability to recognize my faults. Sadly, when you don't acknowledge your own faults, you inevitably do not end up investing the effort into changing them.
2014 has seen a new version of me. The one that sits down and looks at past and present situations as objectively as possible to determine what I genuinely did incorrectly or what I could have done better.
#2: Be more accountable
This was probably my largest fault, hands down.
2014 has seen a version of me that actively takes responsibility for mistakes that have been made, whether those mistakes were a direct or indirect result of something I did or said.
I feel like this simple change has had the largest positive impact on my interactions with others as well as with myself. As odd as it may seem, I have come to enjoy taking responsibility for mistakes & taking everything that I can from them. What do I mean?
I guess I have come to love mistakes and embrace them as a learning opportunity, a chance to grow and improve...even if that improvement is tiny.
#3: Celebrate my successes
I know that many people tout the idea that one should accept their successes modestly and celebrate their mistakes. I truly believe that that particular school of thought is deeply flawed.
I don't mean throw your successes in your friend's/colleagues/family's faces...I just mean, know that you did something! Know that you set yourself a goal & that you accomplished it...beautifully.
We can only tread our mistakes for so long before we drown in them.
So, rather than drowning ourselves in our mistakes and churning them over and over in our brains at night...lets focus on the positives...all of the successes, no matter how big or small.
#4: Actively seek criticism & apply them
Growing up, this was something I never handled well.
My mantra used to be something along the lines of : You're telling me I did something wrong? Nope, I do not believe you.
As I have grown older, I have learned how valuable other people's opinions, especially their open criticisms can be. Not every criticism is productive, needed, or good, but every criticism is welcome.
How could we every improve ourselves without first figuring out how we can go about doing it? One of the easiest ways? Ask someone. People will usually be more than happy to tell you what they think you should fix, especially if you openly ask for it.
I love getting criticism, I love trying to apply the advice, I love realizing that I learned something new...because when I applied it? It worked.
#5: Ask for what I want
I recently went to a brazilian steak house, you know those ones where they bring you the meat and you just stuff yourself? Well, my friend sat down and excitedly stated that he wanted two particular cuts of meat. The server never brought it around.
As our dinner was progressing, it became apparent that these cuts were not going to be brought out...ever. So, very kindly & with a smile, I asked him if he could bring the meats my friend wanted. The server very happily obliged.
My friend then commented that the server "did not seem put out at all." I knew exactly how he felt in that moment.
I spent years wanting things but never asking for them...then being upset or unhappy that I didn't receive whatever it was that I wanted.
How will anyone ever know what you want unless you explicitly state it?
The worst thing anyone can say is "no." (usually).
#6: Don't let fear stop me
I don't mean in a professional setting, although it has been applied there as well, but in personal relationships.
Far too often I have not approached someone, held back saying something, or changed my demeanor predominately out of fear of rejection.
This is the first year that I have thrown caution absolutely to the wind when it comes to personal relationships. I have decided that unless I give every single person the same and equal opportunity, I will never make more meaningful, long lasting connections with people.
#7: Make others happy
This may seem a tad cliche, but nothing has made me happier in the past year than knowing that I made one person's day.
I write love letters & attach them to recycled paper flowers (that I also make). I leave these things all around the city of Atlanta (see image below).
A woman picked a flower up one day and contacted me through facebook. I read her message at 1am, exhausted & feeling like the world had kicked my butt that day. Reading her message made me immediately happy & ridiculously giddy for 3 straight days.
Knowing that an action I took made someone happy...was mind blowing. Nothing can make me happier than the knowledge that I made a positive impact on someone else.
Rather than doing things that are meant for selfish pleasures, I have decided to devote more of time to improve other people's lives. To make them happier, bring a smile to their face, reaffirm that there is goodness in the world.