The New Year hype is over and we’re getting back to reality as the dust settles. How about doing things in a new way and go beyond goal setting to make a difference in your life this year?

As you work on your goals, it’s easy to get lost in the ‘doing’ and forget about ‘being’ alive, about ‘being’ human. This year, I challenge you to do things differently and create more happiness and fulfillment in your life instead of waiting for other people or events to change to your liking.

When you deliberately focus on making a difference in your life, you start by doing things that you love and end up blessing yourself, your family, community and the world.

Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Evaluate 2015

Looking back at 2015, identify what went well, what didn’t work out, and the successes and failures you had (both big and small). If you get stuck and cannot think of many positive things, have a friend ask you the question “What else?” to jog your memory. Sometimes we focus more on the failures and challenges we had that we forget to appreciate the lovely surprises we got in the year. Use this review process on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis and you will see yourself grow in leaps and bounds! Better yet, start journaling on a daily basis so that you have a written record for this year.

2. Practice uncommon gratitude

Be grateful for everything that’s happened in your life so far – both good and bad. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ are simply labels that we give the experiences life throws our way. Interestingly, human beings grow more from the seemingly ‘bad’ things that happen to them than the ‘good’ ones. So thank God for everything and take the lessons learnt so that you’re able to move forward fast. Take this a step further and make it part of your day by writing in your journal 5 things you’re grateful for every day. You can do this first thing in the morning or last thing at night, just before going to sleep.

3. Be the #1 priority in your life

Women are especially notorious for putting everyone and everything first and forgetting to take care of themselves. I’m not talking about grooming, image or dressing. I’m talking about having some ‘me-time’ where you go off on your own for an hour, morning, afternoon, day or weekend, and simply relax. If you can’t take time off, find something that you can do each day just for yourself. Be very selfish with this time and make it as important as any appointment in your diary.

Here are some things you can do in your ‘me-time’:

  • relax in the bath with slow music and candlelight;
  • read your favourite novel;
  • watch a movie;
  • have a cup of coffee at your favourite coffee shop or treat yourself to lunch or a drink after work;
  • meditate;
  • go to the gym;
  • meet your girlfriends;
  • eat a meal without having to rush through…

The more you’re able to put yourself first, the better-tempered you will be. You will also get amazing ideas and solutions to your challenges as you relax.

4. Be 100% authentic

Many people spend their lives trying to be what other people tell them they should be. This may work in the short-term, but it only brings misery in the long-term. Be yourself. Keep reminding yourself of the age-old saying “this is your life and not a dress rehearsal” – because you have only one life to live. If you allow other people to dictate your life, then you will end up miserable. The real you, the one you hide from the world, is creative, beautiful, happy, prosperous and fulfilled. Let that inner gal out. The world needs more happy people and not more people wearing ‘masks’. No more masks in 2016!

5. Clear your internal and external environments

Start creating an environment that makes you feel better about yourself and life in general.

  • If you have friends who bring you down or motivate you into negative habits and actions, ditch them.
  • If your home is not up to your standards, clear your clutter and create your dream home, one item or room at a time. Aim to have a home you’re happy to come back to each evening.
  • If your colleagues backstab each other, start hanging out with other colleagues – the kind that work diligently and achieve their goals.
  • If your boyfriend constantly puts you down, it’s time to move away from that relationship. If emotional abuse is a big issue in your marriage, seek counselling or therapy. Your relationship environment will always have a huge impact on your ability to be happy and fulfilled and no one else can take charge of it for you.
  • If you’re always losing your temper and getting worked up, it’s time to rein in your emotions. The more calm you are on the inside, the happier you’ll be.

Start hanging out with people who are moving in the same direction that you want to go, while reducing the number of people around you who kill your motivation and sap your energy.

The theme here is purge, purge, purge! Then replace, replace, replace. Don’t leave a vacuum because you’ll end up bringing back the same habits, people and things that you don’t like in the first place.

If you don’t have any positive and empowering people in your circle, join a class, join a Facebook or LinkedIn Group (not the ones where people complain, but one where you post your goal and keep people updated of progress), attend networking and breakfast meetings, go for personal and business development talks or workshops…do something…

6. Get support and accountability

Every successful person has support and accountability. This is a must-do and not a ‘maybe’. Pick one area of your life where you want to make changes (career/business, finances, relationships, parenting, health and fitness are the main ones), set a goal and then find a way of being accountable so that you can achieve your goal. The fastest way to achieve your goals is to work with a mentor, coach or join a mastermind.

7. Choose a cause

What do you believe in? What are the injustices you see in your community or the world, that you’d like to change, if only you were able to?  Choose one cause and spare some time each week or month to attend to the cause. You don’t have to go all out, but simply find a way to participate. Maybe you could support a foundation or group. Maybe you could volunteer your time. Maybe you could teach a class for free or mentor someone. When you’re willing to help, you will find a way. Philanthropy and giving are some of the most rewarding things you can ever do in your life. The simple act of supporting something you believe in will provide more fulfillment in your life.

What Next?

When you take these 7 steps, you will make a difference in your life in 2016. However, if reading through the list leaves you overwhelmed, then pick one and work through it for a month or two at each step before moving on to another one. You will get great results even if you only take one step and work on it diligently through this year.

What do you think of this list?

Are there other things you’ve done that helped make a difference in your life within a year?

I’d love to hear from you so share your thoughts and experience in the Comments.

Image Credit: Stuart Miles at 

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