As you arrive at home to see the family – eager to fill your belly with Turkey, cranberries and maybe a bit too much wine – it’s important to remember the people who fill your life.
But do you know what’s even more important? …To remember yourself.
And, to be a little selfish.
See, rarely, in the year do we have such an extended period of time where it is totally acceptable to just sit on the couch and reflect while the football game hums and fire crackles. Am I happy with my career path? Am I meeting my expectations? Am I truly happy?
Here are 10 questions you can ask yourself to ensure the end of 2013 is as productive – and fulfilling – as possible. Consider it a resolutions thing come early.
10 Questions You Can Ask Yourself this Thanksgiving
My suggestion: Grab a pen and paper or your grandma’s shiny new iPad and do some serious thinking. Jot down an answer and a short game plan for each item here. Then, as you head home after vacation, review your answers once more.
Oh yeah, and there’s a hidden message here…can you find it? If so, let me know in the comments.
Am I Making Enough Money?
Sadly, money solves most problems in life. So, let’s start with money.
Whether we admit it or not we could all use a touch more money. The good news is there’s plenty of it to be had, you just might not be asking for it. If you’re doing a lot of work at your job, take this time to reflect on how you can ask for a raise. You need is a good write-up of your accomplishments, some decent timing, and a bit of boldness. The annoying thing is, as we work day and day out at the cubicle, in the assembly line, or in and out of countless hotels, our boldness kind of dulls. We forget to ask. Try to change this.
Or, maybe your line of work doesn’t allow a raise – sometimes the money just isn’t there. If that’s the case, it’s your job to look for alternative streams of income. See if your friends are starting up a business you can invest in, shoot some emails around, and get involved. Or, try the online world. Making a living from home – on the computer – isn’t as far-fetched or phony as it might seem anymore. You’ll need a basic website and a good idea.
Am I Happy with My Network?
If is short – expand your network.
And if someone hasn’t told you this already, your network is about 14,000 times more valuable than your current salary because your network helps you find new opportunities. The problem is, as we get older, the whole networking thing becomes like a game of freaking musical chairs; everyone finds a seat and the music stops playing.
If you are in the boat of not having a big enough network, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is most people seem to say “no” to you at first. The good news is you can find people in your industry, your niche, if you just look in the right places. My recommendation – and what’s brought me a good deal of opportunities – is to dive head first into an online venture – even if you don’t know a thing about technology. Just putting yourself out there is bound to draw in a few connections.
Do I Travel Enough?
Or, are you stuck in a dark little nook on the nth floor some mega-complex called “Initech”? Think about it? How old are you? It’s not getting any easier to travel as you get older – unless of course you’re really banking it and saving up.
Good thing there’s the Nerd Fitness Epic Quest of Awesome. At least for me, this guide has inspired me to take advantage of things like frequent flier miles so I can get to Japan before I turn 30. Steve Kamb, the founder of this guide, has inspired thousands to get up and go – and at the very least watch him working out across the globe.
Do you know how it all starts? You need a mission – and some means of documenting it. Nobody wants to travel alone; but sometimes we’re all we’ve got. So bring your camera, meet someone special, and put it all down on your blog when you finally make full circle.
Do I Spend Enough Time with Family?
Your family actually does make your life worth living – they’re the people you want to give your entire being to (as opposed to your boss).
Yet, too many times we can’t find the time for them. In my case, I’ve been cooped up in NYC for three years now while my small family enjoys life back home. Each time I come back home they have new stories and inside jokes to make me feel like a real outsider. After a couple bottles of wine, we’re back on the same page, but it’s just a gap I wish I could keep sealed up.
If you feel a gap between your family members, there are ways to seal it too. Look for alternative mediums of communication – like Skype and Kik message, or, create YouTube videos of your life and times and share them privately or publicly. In the golden age of tech, there’s no excuse to stay disconnected, and it will make life more fulfilling.
Where Do I Want to Be in One Year?
Time for the big Kahuna.
A year zips by fast; but it is in your control. Who do you want to meet? Where do you see yourself? Bad news again is change is not easy – but the good news is it’s totally up to you. If you want to be in a new city, for example, start researching it now and making connections wherever possible. Plan a visit. For Pete’s sake, see how much an apartment goes for.
Personally – and I know this is a bit of a weird example – but I reference each year mark by an event in my town, the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. Each year, as I sit sipping an overpriced and over-branded drink to the sunset and sounds of tennis grunts – I ask myself if it’s been a good year. Usually, I’m able to list a few major achievements that sprung up in the long hours and late nights of the years part, and if I can’t, the tennis sure is good.
Am I Learning Every Day?
Yeah, you are? Tell me what you learned yesterday in the comments, right now. I’ll respond with something I learned too (and try to mix it up – I’m expecting quite a few comments here).
Get this – most of us are experts; we’ve cornered our jobs so tightly we could do it in our sleep – and sometimes do. You don’t need to become more of an expert in your job but instead you need to do 1 of 2 things:
a. Share it with an audience – unless you’re in event management, your audience exists online. Start up a simple website or blog on your expertise then share it like madness. Need some quick outlets to find readers? LinkedIn Groups like Bloggers Helping Bloggers, WordPress Communities, and the Blogging Topic on Twitter are all great places to find others like you and folks further along who can help out.
b. Expand your knowledge into a new niche – For those of you who read PickTheBrain and are already involved in online niches, sharing the things you love doing in real life, try guest posting for a new site. In my case, I’m not a self-improvement writer (I actually blog a lot about blogging) but writing for PickTheBrain has helped me meet tons of cool people who have changed my life in a short amount of time.
Do I Write Anymore?
Yes, I know you have written, maybe even more than me, and probably enjoyed it. But is your writing improving?
In an era where it’s so easy to share your best writing with the world – and persuade people to listen – you really can’t afford to not be heard. Don’t let the gears get rusty; you’ll end up spending your mornings reading other people’s work instead of loving life as those people read your work!
Think about it – your life is important, it’s full of stories – you just need a good medium for sharing them and practicing new techniques. Need some starting points to get back into writing? No problemo –try out the inspiring Writer’s Write Google Plus page by Amanda Patterson or friend of mine Demian Farnworth’s Blog called the CopyBot.
Am I Taking Advantage of The Resources of 2013?
Not just Facebook – I mean global publishing.
Highspeed internet, outsourcing, eBook publishing, and of course a bit of blogging. If you’ve made it all the way down here – congratulations – I have but one message for you as this post finally winds to an end: there’s no better time to get involved in global publishing than right now. All you need is a laptop, a couple hours each day and a small sliver of persistence.
Believe me, rejection hits hard; I was rejected from writing on several sites including this one when I started out! But it was OKAY – I had a lot to learn and there were smaller hubs were I did great. Seriously, the web wants you; don’t say no.
Do I Look Forward to Each Day, or Just the Weekends?
Do you count down the days to Friday come Tuesday?
If so, that’s a problem. There’s no reason to race through life; plenty of people are out on a beach or in charge of a job project they actually believe in during that Tuesday. While you’re begging for Friday, you could be savoring a day that’s in fact 1/7th of your whole life.
What Do I Have to Show for My Work and Am I Really Proud of it?
As the sun sets, do you look upon your empire with pride?
There’s a little word many of us forget, and it’s at the core of what makes us happy: ownership. What can we say we truly own? Material items fade, jobs change, relationships break. What do you really own? (for you philosophers this may be an ENTIRELY another discussion, that’s fine).
What you really own are experiences – and moments where you change the world. Nobody can take those away. That said, we humans are pretty good at “bottling” things up and keeping them around forever, if you can find a way to keep your experiences safe – be it a photo album or some sort of online creation – you’ll be able to look back on them next time it’s raining and get that nice, warm feeling again.
Over to You
What will you do this Thanksgiving from the couch? Will it make the last month of the year a little bit better? I hope so! Thank you SO much for reading – now tell us about it in the comments.
Dear Readers: Greg is just a 25 year old guy from snowy Minnesota who answers about 150 blog questions each morning (yes, it’s a lot, but I love it). From his cozy fireside study at Dear Blogger, he helps people start blogs of their own, responds to 110% of your comments and can be reached ‘round the clock on Twitter. Make sure to see what he’s up to next!
Photo/Art Credit: Rebecca Lantham