A Message for a Better New Year 2017 – Key Ideas, Books and Habits to Follow

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As we wrap the year 2016 and collectively begin a new revolution around the sun, I wanted to share a few thoughts to you that may help you have a better year.

I want to discuss a few ideas to meditate over & imbibe, a few books to read and a few habits to instill. Every idea, habit and book deserve their own post, which I think they’ll get. This is just a short collection.

  1. Key Ideas to Learn:
    Following are the best and most important ideas I learned this year and tried to apply in my life. I highly recommend you to try them out:
  • Learn to beat negative self-talk by focusing on the solution to problems. Worrying and negative self-talk only intensify the pain and take you away from solutions and relief from pain. Instead of letting the emotional vehemence originating from a problem dominate your conscience, pause and focus on solution, on ways of getting out of the problem.
  • Learn to recognize signs of Resistance & procrastination in your behavior and learn to overcome them as they try to stop you from doing any creative work. Resistance is our reptilian brain trying to control our behavior through fear & doubt and trying to keep us in our comfort zone, hindering our growth and progress. See War of Art in Books below.
  • Focus on shipping vs polishing i.e. delivering vs. delaying things. After making the decision to do a work, just start it and deliver it. Don’t indefinitely delay it and worry how people would receive it. Ship.
  • Increase self-awareness/mindfulness: This is probably the single most important key I learned for a better life. If you can fix your awareness, you can fix your thought process, actions, how you manage your time, energy, emotions and productivity. The easiest approach is clear your head of thoughts and steer towards what you want to do/think. Focus on this moment.
  • Be a survivalist: Life is precious. We should strive to be healthy and live longer through our daily habits. Eating well, working out, meditating, all are a form of self-respect that you show towards yourself, towards your life.
  • Shortness of Life: Life is Short. The things to pursue are too many. We should realize the importance of time and try to utilize it in the best manner and avoid wasting it in temptations, mindless & unending entertainment, impulses and instead use it in productive pursuits.
  • Learn to minimize distractions and work in distraction free environment.
  1. Books to read:
    This year I read relatively lesser number of books (about 24) because I am focusing on a field and studying from a lot of books related to that field. But I still got a chance to read some really great books. I’m selecting the following 5 books & 1 essay, I highly recommend you read them:
  • Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
    One of the greatest books on virtues, more resilient life and other pearls of stoicism. As relevant and helpful and it was about 2000 years ago. I read some of my favorite meditations quite frequently.
  • War of Art – Steven Pressfield
    This is a controversial book. However, if you can ignore the exaggeration at some places, it’s definitely one of the best books to overcome procrastination. He defines Resistance as “Most of us have 2 lives: The life we live and the unlived life within us, between the two stands Resistance.”  When do we face Resistance? “Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity will elicit Resistance.” I’ve read it more than 4 times this year and I benefited immensely.
  • Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance
    Elon Musk is perhaps the most workaholic, ambitious and magnanimous entrepreneur. In this sort of official biography you get a great insight in this incredibly inspiring person’s life, his mind-set and how he kept going despite insurmountable obstacles.
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
    In this book Cal guides us to do cognitive demanding, creative work in distraction free environment to learn faster, better and deliver higher quality work.
  • Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
    Daniel has won a Nobel Prize in economics. In this book you’ll learn about the two types of thinking we have, how we think and how we make decisions. It’s a really great book on psychology and behavior and is a surprisingly fun read.
  • On the Shortness of Life (Essay) – Seneca
    I’ve been reading parts of this life changing essay every week for over a year. The essay really makes you realize how short life is if we’re distracted and pursuing hollow passions. However, if whole of it is well utilized, life is long enough for some of the greatest achievements.
  1. Tiny Habits to Form:
    My yearly habits revolved around consolidating the key ideas I mentioned above, some of which I learned last year and some I learned this year. Apart from them, some other tiny habits:
  • Whole Body Stretching: I’ve been working out for about 3 years but didn’t stretch whole body. I recently started daily whole-body stretching after waking up and it has helped me get rid of lot of sprains, pain and muscle pulls. Also lessens fatigue and tiredness. Highly recommended.
  • Before Sleep Meditation: Before going to sleep, meditate for 5 minutes, you’d fall asleep faster and get deeper sleep.
  • Improving Vocabulary Daily: Learn a few words every day. We think in words. More number of words we know, more appropriate words we know, the clearer we can think. More descriptive we can be.
  • Saying No: Earlier I used to say to a lot of people and activities on the cost of saying no to what was important to me. I still haven’t overcome completely but slowly I’m learning how to politely say no to people and activities.

From tomorrow to the next December 31st, you’re going to get brand new 12 months or 365 days or 8766 hours or 5,25,960 minutes or 3,15,57,600 seconds. Remember we live our life and make our decisions in moments and that’s a lot of seconds you have. Spend them wisely.

A year is a long-long time. Visualize daily where you want to be by the end of the year. In the next post I’ll share how to form goals and take steps to make proper progress on them.

Finally, don’t spend your last day of 2016 or first day of 2017 drunk, wasted, in intolerable noise, with blinking lights. You don’t begin an important journey distracted and being out of your mind. No. Start the year better by being focused on what you want to achieve, learn and improve in 2017. Set Quarterly and Yearly goals and chart your course along them. Be committed to make this the best year yet. All the best.

May you have best of health, happiness, inner peace, prosperity and achievements you’re proud of throughout the year 2017.

Have a great year.

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