My 3 biggest, baddest challenges for your New Year (are you up for it?)

Updated to Habits on December 14, 2022.

I can’t resist. It’s the start of a new year and I’m writing about goals, hopes, and aspirations. No worry, my trusted reader, I promise this will be different.

Every year we all get truck load of advice about writing SMART goals, following your passion, exercising, and eating more fiber. All good.

Today, I am sharing three radical ways to create your best year ever. This isn’t about wowsie sales (although it could be), or abs-of-steel body makeovers. It’s about how you show up for the party.

Let’s face it, all the SMART goals in the world won’t help if you never pick up the phone and ask for the sale. A gym membership won’t burn off calories if you’re too busy to walk through the doors. And eating more quinoa won’t make up for a relationship that’s eating you up inside. 

All the SMART goals in the world won’t help if you never pick up the phone and ask for the sale.

Today I’m throwing down the metaphorical gauntlet and challenging you to take on my biggest, baddest challenges for you New Year. If you played small this past year and you know better is possible, now is the time to draw a line in the sand.

Any one of these could scare the beejesus out of you (and maybe some others you hang out with), but I guarantee your life will be different and doors will open you never knew existed. 

I’m taking them on – how about you? 

Challenge #1: Clear the crap 

You can’t drive your car if your dashboard is piled up with papers, maps, fast food wrappers, and half-read books. Life is no differentIMAGES_key

Unfinished work distracts your already-busy brain away from what’s important. You can’t help it. You look at it, think about it, maybe beat yourself up a bit, and then go back to what you really should have been doing in the first place. 

And you do it over and over and over, hundreds of times a day. It sounds like this:

  • “I should do something about that pile of business cards.”
  • “I need to phone her back.” 
  • “I want to finish that book.”
  • “I haven’t written in my journal in weeks.”
  • “I hate it when my computer does that!”
  • “I’m never going to wear that again.”

On and on it goes, little synapse sucking distractions pulling you away.

It’s time to clear the crap

It’s time to clear the crap (in case your puritan soul is offended with the word “crap”, it’s innocent origins have to do with “anything cut off or IMAGES_key 4separated”, as in unwanted distractions.

Start with these easy crap-clearing targets:

  • your desk – this is where you make your money, do you best work (hopefully), and build confidence and pride in your craft and contribution. Invest 30 minutes and do two things: 1) remove from sight all the obvious guilty parties (stickie notes, files, computer cables, etc), 2) create a system for stuff that reappears without an obvious home (magazines, files, business cards, etc.)
  • your clothes closet – every decision you make burns willpower (see my post “How drinking tea can make you rich”), that includes picking from a bunch of clothes you will never wear again. Do yourself a favour, fill a garbage bag with unwanted clothes and donate them to a charity. When in doubt, Essentialism, author Greg McKeown, recommends this question “If I saw that on a shelf in a store, what would I be willing to pay for it?” You’ll never look back.
  • your computer and phone – start by removing any phone apps you haven’t used in that past three months and cancel subscriptions you never use. More radical yet, delete all emails older than three months. Even more radical is use tools like Cold Turkey (PC) and Freedom (MAC and PC) to block the Internet while you are working.

Challenge #2: Feel the fear

I’ve written extensively this past year about habits (see my post “Make your bed and 12 great habits for the super busy”.) I’m enamoured with the fourIMAGES_key 2 gifts of: willpower, habits, systems, and discipline. Each one can detour us off the path of least resistance (hat tip to Robert Fritz) and onto the journey of growth. Sometimes you have to feel the fear that comes with change and do it anyway, like this:

  • Ask for what you want. In a sale, the client is already saying “Yes”. If you know you can deliver more value, this is the time to ask for it. By asking if they would like the audience to go home with a copy of my book I sold 3,000 more books this year. At a discounted price of $18 a book, that was a pretty profitable question.
  • Say “Damn Yes!” to the invitation to join a meditation group, reading club, running club, or charity fund-raiser. A casual invitation by a friend two years ago led me to join a Saturday AM running group that has become one of my favourite rituals of the week.
  • Sign up for the painting class or guitar lessons you’ve talked about for the last decade. Of course, you’ll feel like a novice – it’s a class for novices. Do it anyways.

Challenge #3: Speak the unspoken

This past year was full of changes and challenges. Our daughters’ lives were full of sports, university, high school, travel, and jobs, my wife IMAGES_key 3oversaw our five-month home renovation, and my business growth constantly pulled at me.

Through it all, one practice saved my bacon: speak the unspoken.

When I say what is on my heart, without second guessing, or carefully scripting some clever sentence that tends to make things worse for some twisted reason, something better opens up. Whether feeling frustrated, confused, or hurt by what someone said, or didn’t say, if it goes unspoken it festers and looms bigger. 

When I speak the unspoken the ‘Pinch’ magically loses it’s punch (you can learn more about Pinches and Facing Tigers in this post), sort of like the scary Dementors in Harry Potter that suddenly turn to black mist and fly away. Scary and threatening one minute, a black, wispy memory the next.

What are simmering issues you need to speak up about?

  • With your children: “When you leave your unwashed dishes on the counter, it feels like you don’t care.”
  • With staff: “When you don’t take notes I have a feeling it won’t get done.”
  • With your partner: “I want this to work, but I don’t know what you need.” 
  • About yourself: “I’m really struggling – I have so much on my plate, and I’m worried you’ll think work is getting in the way of our relationship.”

 “There are no guarantees, but it always gets better.” John Scherer

My friend, Dr. John Scherer, summarizes it nicely, “There are no guarantees, but it always gets better.”

Kick-ass awesome

I want nothing more than for your year to be kick-ass awesome. It could be you need to physically change something – like get your ass out for a fast walk before breakfast, or meditate 20 minutes on waking. I could also be you need a slap on the side of the synapses to stop being such a wuss. AND it could be you need to take on these challenges:

  • Clear the crap,
  • Feel the fear, and
  • Speak the unspoken.

My money-back guarantee is this. If you take on these three challenges – EVERY DAY – I guarantee you will get more, attract more, and enjoy more of what you deserve this year.

And nobody deserves it more than you.

I want to know: tell me in the comments, below, which one you are taking on.