3 Unconventional Ways to Ensure that 2016 is Better Than 2015

New year chapter one, new start concept

Your new year (and your new story) begins today.

For whatever reason, it seems like it’s the new “cool kid” trend these days to hate on New Year’s resolutions.

Personally? I think they’re great.

As long as we’re willing to stick with them.

That’s the real issue, isn’t it? Sticking with our commitments. Because when we don’t, the bigger problem that we’ll face is the reality of each new year looking a lot like the one before it.

The truth is that change can be very hard. Even worse, the advice that we’ve heard to make the change stick has varying degrees of effectiveness: set realistic goals, get an accountability partner, don’t beat yourself up when/if you fall short, be willing to push through the initial discomfort, etc.

You’ve heard this all before, I’m sure.

So, in an attempt to shake things up a little bit, allow me to give you some unconventional–and very simple–advice that if followed, will make this year better than last year.

Sound good? Let’s jump in.

Tip #1: Make Your Bed

On May 16, 2014, Naval Admiral William McRaven gave the Commencement Address at the University of Texas. During the address, he gave a lot of excellent advice, but nothing as powerful as this simple tip:

Make your bed.

There is something incredibly powerful about starting your day doing something that not only gives you a feeling of accomplishment, but it instantly makes you feel good about yourself too (and if you read last week’s article, you already know how important that is.)

Think about it–if done consistently, making your bed might be the easiest way to ensure that your day starts off on the right foot–best of all, it only takes less than five minutes.

While it’s cool to have super ambitious goals like running seven miles every morning before work, putting 40% of your paycheck into savings, or eating only green smoothies for the month of January–I just want to keep it simple.

Start with making your bed each morning, and showing yourself that you can keep a promise to yourself in 2016. The self-esteem that you will build from doing that simple act will make it much more likely that you will stick with the rest of your resolutions and goals.

By the way, if you’re interested in watching the full commencement speech, and you have 20 minutes to spare (after making your bed, of course) here it is below:

Tip #2: Can You Get a Little Angry, Please?

Many people don’t think of anger as a very positive thing, but I completely disagree.

Anger–specifically, anger used appropriately–is one of the best tools for personal and professional change that there is in this universe.

Remember last January when I asked you a simple, but life-altering question?

Well, if the answer to that question isn’t a positive one, maybe it’s time to stop feeling sad about it, and get angry instead.

For example:

  • Get angry that you have wasted the best years of your life in a loveless, soul-draining relationship because you have been brainwashed into believing that this is the best love that you can get.
  • Get angry that you haven’t made your health and nutrition a priority, and that it’s a real possibility that you could be dead in the next 5-10 years due solely to your unwillingness to commit to living a healthier lifestyle.
  • Get angry that you’re unable to go on vacations with your kids, live in a nicer/safer neighborhood, drive a reliable car, or simply stop the bill collectors from calling because you don’t have the money available to do anything about it.
  • Get angry that you have allowed yourself to be your boss’s verbal punching bag for the past four years, because you’re too scared to honor yourself.
  • Get angry that the world is facing numerous serious challenges, and up to this point, the only thing that you’ve done to address those challenges is complain to anyone who will listen, make excuses about why you’re sitting on the sidelines, and hope that someone else will do the positive work that you are more than capable of doing yourself.

Does reading those bullet-points make you angry? Good. That’s exactly what I was going for.

With the exception of the first bullet-point, the anger that came from the final four bullet-points is what inspired me to positively change my life. In other words, it was anger that inspired me to finally take action. Many of the world’s greatest achievers including, musicians, professional athletes, writers, and world-changing activists, have also tapped into their anger to reach their greatness.

I want you to tap into that anger too.

No, this isn’t about beating yourself up, feeling sorry for yourself, or using your anger as an excuse to be an ass or to hurt anyone else–there’s nothing positive about any of those things.

This is about purposefully finding the inspiration needed to take positive action, and more importantly, to stay committed to that positive action in 2016.

If nothing in the past has worked to get you to that point, try a little anger in 2016.

Tip #3: De-friend People on Their Birthday

Okay, I know that this sounds a little weird, but hear me out.

Last year, I was one of those people who had WAY too many Facebook friends. Honestly, I think that I had close to 1,500 of them, and 600-700 of them are people who I’ve probably never met or spoken to (strange, I know.)

One night, I spent hours going through my friend list trying to remove the strangers out of my friend list, and as you can imagine, it was an exhausting and time consuming process.

Then, one day last summer, I noticed on my Facebook News Feed that there’s a section on the right hand side that announces your friends’ birthdays each day. In that section it read, “Sally Johnson’s (Author’s note: that’s not her real name) birthday is today.”

My response to myself was, “who in the world is Sally Johnson???”

I went to her page and I had no idea who she was–we didn’t even have any common friends. So I deleted her…on her birthday. I doubt that she even knows that I’m gone.

Each morning since then, I’ve logged onto Facebook and looked at the people on that day’s birthday list. If it was someone I knew, I wished them a Happy Birthday. If it was someone who I had absolutely no personal relationship with, I de-friended them.

If you incorporate this simple “Birthday De-friending” plan, in a year’s time, your Facebook friend list will be leaned out with very little effort on your part.

Why is this important in terms of reaching your goals in 2016?

Because clutter kills energy, productivity, and ultimately, your sanity.

Having a huge friend list filled with people you don’t know (or worse, with people who you know, but don’t want on your friend list) is clutter. Having a stack of half-read books on your bedside table and numerous uncompleted projects that you said you would complete (but haven’t), is clutter. Having a junk-filled car, office desk, bedroom closet, email inbox, and yes, and unmade bed is clutter.

Please know that I am no neat freak or organization guru, by any means–in fact, this is my greatest struggle in living a more positive life. All I know is that unwanted clutter slows everything down and makes even the simplest tasks seem harder.

So, let’s keep it simple. Start with your cleaning up your Facebook friend list, and then use that momentum in other areas of your life. If you try it, you’ll be shocked at the positive difference you’ll feel.

As an additional bonus, think of it this way–by removing yourself from a complete stranger’s friend list, you are also giving him the gift of de-cluttering his friend list. On his birthday too!

Talk about a life-changing gift, right?

The Only Resolution That Matters

I know that this is painfully obvious, but having big New Year’s resolutions doesn’t mean anything if you don’t actually resolve to do them.

That’s why the only resolutions that matter are the ones you keep.

And, a small resolution that you keep is infinitely better than the super-ambitious resolution that you’ll quit before the end of January.

Let’s keep it simple this year.

Make your bed, get a little angry, and cut out the excess clutter. Even if you just did those three things, you will experience the magic of positive momentum affect other key areas of your life.

And that will make 2016 better than 2015.

So, what are you waiting for?

Your Turn

Have you personally tried any of the three unconventional tips mentioned in this article? If so, did they make a positive difference for you? Either way, jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!



Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.

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  1. A great little book on decluttering is The Japanese Art of Tidying. Thanks again for doable tips. Happy New Year. 🙂

  2. Shola,
    Fabulous post. . . as usual. Not exactly sure why, but it made me weep. Your posts, your presenting skills and just who you are. . . are a force for good in this world. I’m lucky me to have you in mine. Thank you.

  3. Great, motivating post (as usual)!

    I love the making-your-bed thing – if nothing else, it serves as a small, daily reminder of what you’re trying to do. And you can’t ignore your resolutions as easily if you’ve already started your day with them!

  4. Shola, I like this post! Losing 5 more lbs (lost 20 in 2015) & decluttering are my 2016 resolutions. I actually have a decent record of meeting, or at least making significant progress, on my New Year’s resolutions. The best thing about this time to set goals, is that it makes us notice time itself. Time has a way of slipping past us. All of a sudden, we’re 5-10 years down the road, and never did lose that weight, finish school, etc. It always shocks me how quickly a year has gone by, and I am really helped by stopping to notice the time, check my progress, re-set my intentions, and get moving. Thank you for this very motivational message today.

  5. “Clutter Be Gone”! Thanks again Shola..

  6. Loved this post! the “Clutter” part got me the most! I will start removing all those things that no longer have a space in my life. I also loved the “get a little angry” part. I recall the moments when I took a life altering decisions and I do remember I felt angry. You are right, anger can be the fuel that will finally make us take action and accomplish the things we are so scared to do. Thank you so much for such inspiring words! Have a wonderful day, Shola! 🙂

  7. The idea of making your bed every day reminds me of the FlyLady who was really big about 10+ years ago. She used to encourage us to clean our sink. So even if we could not do anything else to control the CHAOS in our lives (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome), we would have accomplished that. I think picking something simple like that and sticking to it is a great idea.

    Happy New Year, Shola!

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