The first and most important lesson of the new year.

Happy 2023! The beginning of a new year is an exciting time. It’s full of hope, opportunity, and college football.

The exciting news is that today has the potential to be an inflection point in your life. Today could be the day when you stop doing something that was holding you back. Like smoking, overeating, or cheering for the Houston Texans. Or it could be the day you start doing something that will change you forever. Like exercising, working on a major life goal, or making better friends. (Or maybe you write a blog post that amazing people read, which makes them want to subscribe to that blog, and share it with other people…)

But there is a simple truth that you must understand about the promise of a new year:

The year doesn’t make you different. You make the year different.

A new year is not a change agent. It is simply a new blank sheet of paper on which you write your life story, morning glory. Yes, your story can and should get better, starting today. But you have to make that happen.

Here are 6 things you can do to make this year different.

  1. Adopt Your New identity. Decide that deep down in your innards you are the person you really want to be. It is the first and most effective step to becoming your ideal self. Don’t say that you want to be, or will someday be like your ideal. You are now! You are an exerciser, a reader, an entrepreneur, or a Liberace impersonator. And then prove it to yourself every day by living into that identity. #SweetCandleabra

2. Surround Yourself With Better People. The people you spend your time with have a powerful impact on you. They are either tow trucks that pull you forward or anchors that keep you in the same old spot. Find people who are already doing what you want to do. Spend as much time with them as you can. And soon you will take on their best traits, habits and actions. Like in Single White Female.

3. Create Better Habits Habits are everything. You are a product of your habits. If you are struggling with a habit there is something in your process that needs to be adjusted. Keep adjusting your process, cues, and timing until you find something that works for you. To become a master of creating your own great habits check out James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. The book is phenomenal. And it has nothing to do with tiny nuns.

4. Read More. Reading provides tools, ideas, tips, and tricks. Books are full of motivation, inspiration, and any kind of ation you are looking for. Through reading and learning, you’ll discover better ways to do everything. Reading enables us to suck the knowledge and experience out of the brains of rockstars who have already done what we want to do, only without being arrested.

5. Get Scared One of the greatest gifts we have is the scarcity of time. When you recognize how little time you have to accomplish all that you want to, it should scare the fecal matter out of you. Then 2 important things happen. First, you pick up the pace. You realize that you need to take action now, or soon it will be too late. Second, the scarcity of time inspires you to take care of your health. You recognize the value of exercise, weight control and healthy eating to maximize your time.

6. Set SMART Goals. Goals provide direction, inspiration and a scoreboard. Give yourself goals to help improve your life and happiness. Give yourself habit goals to improve your daily life. And declare achievement goals to help you accomplish those big things you always dreamed of doing. Make sure your goals are SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

Key Takeaway

You have 365 days to make this an amazing year. As JFK said, things do not happen. They are made to happen. Declare your ideal identity. Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do. Constantly work on your habit creation and maintenance. Read great books and articles to acquire more tools and inspiration. Realize you are running out of time. And that this year is a gift. Act now to prevent regret later. Create clear goals related to your most important habits and achievements. Then work at them every day. And never stop. That’s how you make this year different.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

I don’t recommend getting signatures on the digital version.

Do you really want serenity? Or do you want to solve problems?

My time is my most precious asset. Not because my time is any more important than anyone else’s. It is certainly not. Just as Steve Miller’s time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future, I know that my finite time on Earth is steadily slipping away too. Like sand through an hourglass. Literally. Yet, it is this scarcity of time that is the major motivating force in my life.

My Increasing Impatience

More and more, I find myself interrupting others as they recount their disappointments in the past. I often crash pity parties to point out that time spent dwelling on the things that went wrong will not make them go right.

Spending Your Time Wisely

I am a problem solver, both by nature and by profession. As an entrepreneur and as a professional creative thinker, I view the limitations of any given situation simply as the rules that govern the solution. I have no time to relive something that went wrong in the past. All I care about is what I can do moving forward.

The Serenity Prayer

I find great value in the Serenity Prayer. If you don’t know it, or don’t know it by name, here it is:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.  –Reinhold Niebuhr

Serenity Now!

Many see this statement as a path to Serenity. But I would have named this The Problem Solver’s Prayer. Because what Reinhold is praying for is the essence of problem solving.

Problem solving is like conducting a science experiment. To find a great solution to the challenges you face, you must accept the constants, and vary the variables until you get the results you are looking for.

Focus On The Possible

I don’t spend any time lamenting the constants. I accept the things I cannot change. I pour all of my time, energy and thought into the things I can change. You could say I focus on the positive. But I say I focus on the possible. Mine is not a rose-colored glasses outlook. I focus on reality. Because reality is full of positive possibilities.

Key Takeaway

Memorize the Serenity Prayer. Accept the cold hard realities of life. And spend all of your valuable, and constantly diminishing time focusing on the amazing opportunities and possibilities that exist anyway.