It's that time of year again, a magical moment when every blog is talking about how to make the present year better than the last. Being an avid reader of the blogosphere and occasional participant, I ventured into the depths of each post to find an amalgamation of a prominent theme and decided that said theme is not only obvious, but woefully limited. Tips like "Eat healthier" and "Get more sleep" do not include the more important tips that will ensure a good 2014. Because of this, and the aforementioned redundancy associated with the tired clichés of "Live better" and "Exercise," I have constructed a list of what NOT to do during your journey through the New Year.
1. Do NOT Run Anyone Over With Your Car
Traffic sucks. It makes the nicest person want to pull other drivers out their cars, skin them, and set fire to all their belongings. As a result, you may be tempted to run down others who wrong you on the road. Do not do this. Vehicular manslaughter carries with it long prison sentences and worse than that, you lose your ability to drive for an extended period. When having such homicidal thoughts, keep perspective. I have a very close friend who is a nurse (nurses are heroes, btw) and she told me once about a conversation she had with one of the janitors at her hospital. She asked him how he was doing and he looked into a room at a patient who had a tube in their anus and said, "Compared to him, I'm doing just fine." When you get tired of it all and want to lash out, remember it could be worse and calm down. If that fails, be specific... you could have a tube up your ass.
2. Do NOT Rob Anyone
Who has not found a wad of cash dropped on the ground, counted it, realized it cannot be returned and thought, "Wow, this is much easier than working." No one, that's who. The temptation you may have to rob others may come to you suddenly this year given the state of things, but I urge you to avoid it. Working provides you with a cerebral sense of satisfaction that goes beyond the simple collection of a paycheck. Also, robbery is a felony and felonies are bad. Two possible motivations for committing such an act stem from "need" and "desire." If it's the latter, reexamine your attitude and look at your life. It may be shitty but there are things to be thankful for... like your freedom (from jail). Use those small things as a springboard to a solution. If you need help, ask for it. If the motivation is "need" (food, etc.) then rearrange your life and seek help if needed until you can stand on your own two feet. In all things, be thankful. As someone who has gone hungry in his life, there is nothing more helpful than learning to be thankful for the little things.
3. Do NOT Threaten to Kill Anyone
Sometimes people suck. That's a universal truth. We are all imperfect and, as such, can become jerks now and again. When confronting a jerk, it may be tempting at the pinnacle of any argument to threaten their very life. Ignore this temptation. Escalation in any argument means that neither side understands the point. Threatening to kill them and their loved ones won't help you make your case. Plus, and this is no small point, it's illegal. Instead, learn how to have such conversations without the raised voice. The book, Crucial Conversations, can help you in this endeavor by providing real advice that you can practice and then implement in your own life. If you have a habit of threatening people, make 2014 the year to change that behavior. Learn to identify important conversations and separate your emotions from each one. Emotions tend to be irrational and, as such, tend to mislead us in the stories we tell ourselves as we try to find a solution.
4. Do NOT Hate Anyone's Guts
If you say, "I hate their guts," you have pre-decided that you not only hate them as a person, but also the internal organs that sustain their life. Also, consider the fact that no one ever says, "I love their guts." Such a juxtaposition should indicate just how serious such hate could be. Hate helps no one. It solves no problems. If you find that someone has wronged you (or you've wronged them and immaturely transposed the blame) and you've gotten to this point, revisit the issue and practice forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean you allow it continue. It means that you do not carry the burden any longer and give the other party a chance at redemption. Practicing forgiveness is not easy, or natural. Keep this in mind and practice, practice, practice.
While all of these "do nots" seem obvious, it is important to remember that the foundation of each is rooted in our own inability to overcome the biggest obstacle in life, ourselves. By keeping perspective, being thankful, having meaningful conversations, and practicing forgiveness, 2014 will naturally set itself apart. Finally, the last tip is not numbered. Seriously speaking, it stands out as something that is misunderstood, mocked, and ignored. The "1" tip to ensure a wonderful 2014 is this... serve others. Don't make this year about you, make it about the people on your team at work, your employees (servant leaders are inherently more successful), your friends, your family, and those in need. The act of service enhances the qualities mentioned above and inherently deters you from committing any of the four acts mentioned. 2014 is an empty canvas ready for your brush, so be sure to paint a picture that will be remembered.