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Dominate the holidays and kick ass in the New Year!

Some people party all December, and dominate the New Year. It’s not that easy for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Added pressure, be it financial or social, can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. Fewer hours of daylight, fewer trips to the gym, and ridiculous food choices can also play a role in leaving some feeling depressed and drained by the time it’s all over.

 And with one year ending and a new one beginning, you may feel down about having been unhappy or unsuccessful over the past year.

 For me, the holidays would start with an almost manic mood of happiness and excitement, which would peak around Christmas, and come crashing down soon after.

 When the presents were opened, the turkey consumed, and the endless dinners, parties, and visits with friends all over, there was nothing left to look forward to except three months of darkness, and the guilt of having gone another year without fulfillment or happiness. My most vicious bouts of depression often took place in late December/early January, and I’m not alone.

 But these heightened emotions and transitional period are also very powerful. Paradoxically, my greatest moments of realization, and my greatest leaps forward in life have often also come right after the holidays.

 The transition to a new year, setting resolutions, and that feeling of rebirth or change is so powerful for one simple reason- at this time of year we feel it’s okay to change. We’re entitled to try new things, to create a “new” you. Yes, a lot of that feeling is related to marketing/advertising, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to your advantage.

 Big changes can be difficult partly because we’re afraid to present something different to our friends, co-workers, and ourselves. We have a psychological acceptance of transition surrounding the new year, which can help you feel okay about things that feel frightening or weird at first. For example, trying to sell not drinking anymore to yourself, or your friends, is going to be easier on January 1st than on July 1st.

 Enjoy December, but if you’ve got stuff you’re looking to tackle in the next year, try and set the stage for success. Here’s a few simple tips:

 -Lower your expectations a bit, and save a couple bucks for January. The more you hype December, often, the worse January will feel. Try to make every month great.

 - If you’ve been putting off getting back to the gym waiting for January 1st, or anything else, take some pressure off by getting started early. I start any “new year’s” resolutions on Dec. 27th. I feel like I’m getting a head start and it gives me confidence going forward.

 -Be careful about advertising. It fucks with your head, and around Christmas, it gets crazy. Watch less TV, use an adblocker when appropriate, anything to cut down on constantly seeing (fake) people having a (fake) better time than you.

 -As mentioned, the holidays are a time of heightened emotions. Try not to bury them too much with food and booze. We all love to indulge, but sometimes the feelings we get this time of year is something inside you trying to be heard. Painful as it can be, try to listen. You might get some valuable insight that can help you in the coming year.

 Enjoy the holidays whatever you choose to do. If nothing else, we should try and remember that charity, spending more time with friends and family, and making positive changes are things we can do all year round.


Sweat the small stuff

Big changes are usually necessary whether you’re trying to become functional again, or looking to reach a new level of happiness, success, or fitness.

It’s inspiring and cinematic to take on extreme diets or exercise regimes, and again, probably necessary in most cases to move forward. These are big shifts in behavior and commitment that we all rightly commend on social media and in our own lives.

Personally, taking up boxing was one of the “big” things that helped me get to a new level. As difficult as it was in the beginning, it eventually became the core of a whole new lifestyle.

But what we often overlook is the impact of “small” stuff on improving our lives.

In any coaching I do, and in my own life, I place a great deal of emphasis on attention to detail, organization, and on using smaller goals, tasks, etc to build confidence and support larger goals and aspirations. 

Lack of attention to detail and organization can bite people in very simple ways. A part of us is always resistant to change (especially if it’s something new or difficult) and loves to make excuses, and it’s crucial to provide that part of you with as little firepower as possible.

Using the example of someone trying to fix their diet, something as simple as failing to maintain a detailed shopping list could sink the whole ship, as silly as it sounds. Forgetting a single item, can have a ripple effect. You go to make your new healthy dinner, and realize you’re missing something. You’re already late eating, and you’re too tired to go back to the store, so you order pizza. Later that night, rationalizing that this day is already a write off in terms of diet, you eat some ice cream before bed. Then you wake up the next day and feel so shitty from all the bad food you ate, you skip the workout you had planned. And by the next night, your confidence is shot because you’ve been skipping workouts and eating ice cream.

All from not writing a shopping list down.

Or think about cumulative effects of small actions. In terms of getting in shape, yes, it’s a great idea to take up something like boxing or crossfit or whatever, but think of the small gains that are all around you. Walk to every possible location you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do a few pushups anytime you can, even if it’s only 5 or 10 a day. I used to have a door frame pull up bar, and every time I walked by it I would do one or two. Think of how much time and burned calories little things can add up to in a year.

Little details can have a “butterfly effect” and trip up much bigger tasks and goals. And small actions give you confidence and build up to big ones. Today’s walk to the store is tomorrow’s marathon. Like the great pyramids, small mistakes at the bottom can doom the overall structure, but attention to detail and “sweating the small stuff” at the lowest levels will create something of incredible strength, beauty and endurance.


The only thing that can't be taken from you

What can we have that can’t be taken away? Illness, addictions, legal troubles, or a divorce can take away your money or the house you cherish so much in a flash. Girlfriends and boyfriends come and go. One mistake can cost you your six figure job and pension. And sadly, no matter how much we love our families or ourselves, the reality is that illness or death can strike at any moment.

Luckily, there is one source of permanence- yourself. No matter what happens, the essential “you” is always intact. How you choose to see the world is something that can’t be taken away and is with you wherever you go.

If you connect your sense of happiness to external things like your net worth, or even your family, you’re playing a dangerous game. As discussed, these things are transitory, no matter how much you don’t want to believe it. And worse, it’s a black hole. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to acquire enough to satisfy yourself; like many people you’ll end up in a never ending cycle of “upgrades”. A nicer car and I’ll feel better. Another 100k in the bank and I’ll be good. If I was just in better shape I’d be happy. I recall a study of individuals with an average worth of around $75 million asking what would bring them happiness. The majority said more money. It never ends.

One of the most powerful realizations I came to was that I didn’t have to play that game. Once you let go, once you realize that we’re here for a short time and just renting everything in our life, incuding our bodies, you are free. You start to see every day as a gift, and to enjoy life without a desperate sense of trying to hold on to everything. Stop worrying about what you’ll have tomorrow and you can enjoy what you have today.

And if you think not worrying about tomorrow is irresponsible, for most people something happens when they “unplug”- you end up feeling so much happier and healthier than you were before, you end up making more money than you did and have just as much “success”. More importantly, even if you end up making less, it’s not going to bother you. 

People think things like money or status are power, but true power is having a sense of self worth that is unshaken even if you lost everything. Cultivate that, and you are truly untouchable. There are quadriplegics that had a better day yesterday than some people on the Forbes 500.

There is nothing needed other than a desire to reach this state, but it will take time and patience. Everything you need is already within you and always has been. The path is different for everyone, but seek out people and places that help you move in that direction, and never give up. If you’re looking for a place to start, try “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. Yoga or meditation will also help. Getting out in nature or volunteer work are other things to try, but there’s no “right way”. 

I’d wish you luck, but trust me, you don’t need it. If you took the time to read something like this, you’re closer than you think.


 “Even your own happiness is so vulnerable and short-lived, at the mercy of a bank-crash or a stomach ulcer. It is just a moment of respite, a mere gap between two sorrows. Real happiness is not vulnerable, because it does not depend on circumstances.” 

-Sri Nisigardatta Maharaj, from “I Am That”.