Forget new year resolutions. Most people won’t be able to achieve what they have set out to do in 2016. You are not alone if you were not able to check off everything you planned to do this past year.
Studies show that resolutions begin to drop off after a week and only about 40% of those who made resolutions actually stick to their goals. University of Scranton study found out that only eight percent of Americans actually follow through and achieve their goals.
What new habits, skills, or ventures, do you want to begin? You can always start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.
These are some of the best habits you can focus on in 2016. They were originally shared on Quora by Nelson Wang, founder of CEOLifestyle.io, in response to the question: What are some of the best life tips?
Over the past 31 years of my life, I’ve learned a lot through my experiences. These include:
1. Having my articles featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Fortune, and Inc.
2. Starting two companies and building four top 100 apps in different categories.
3. Ten years in the technology industry at amazing companies like Cisco, VMware, Box, and Optimizely.
4. Writing a book that hit No. 1 on Amazon in the résumés category, with more than 40,000 Kindle downloads.
And today, I’ll be sharing with you my top 99 tips on work, life hacks, and life lessons. To make this list easier to read, I’ve divided it into the three categories:
- Work tips–Nos. 1 to 34
- Life hacks–Nos. 35 to 55
- Life lessons–Nos. 56 to 100
Hope this helps you live an epic life!
1. Say no to one-hour meetings–“I love hourlong meetings,” said no one ever. One-hour meetings are often unnecessary. You can usually accomplish in 30 minutes what you thought you needed an hour for. Thirty minutes will force you to be concise and on point.
2. Do the Steve Jobs walk–Steve Jobs did some of his most important meetings while going for a walk. I do this all the time. First, having meetings in conference rooms can feel very stiff.
Second, getting people outside of their everyday environment may get them to see things from a new perspective.
Third, being physically active during your meeting could help you think more clearly. So open the door, get some fresh air, and go for a walk.
3. Visualize your success–Imagine three groups of basketball players. The first group practices shooting free throws 20 minutes a day. The second group doesn’t practice free throws but instead visualizes themselves making free throws.
The third group doesn’t practice or visualize at all. The results? There was a significant improvement in the second group. In fact, they were almost as good as the first group. By the way, this is a real experiment that was conducted by Australian psychologist Alan Richardson.
So if you want to get that new job, imagine yourself prepping for the interview, nailing it, and signing the job offer. Visualize what you want your future to be.
4. Listen before speaking–Seek to understand first. How can you make an intelligent remark about something if you haven’t taken the time to observe what’s happening first? You have two ears and only one mouth. There’s a reason for that.
5. Keep your daily to-do list small–Instead of writing up a huge to-do list every day, focus on completing the three most important items every day. This forces you to prioritize your activities to ensure you’re getting the best return on your energy and time. Ask this question: “Do I really need to do this today?”
6. Set goals–If you don’t even know where you’re headed, how will you create the plan on how to get there? Set your destination first, and then set sail.
7. Celebrate progress–The journey to your goal could be a long one. So make sure you take the time to celebrate your progress along the way. Eat a nice dinner. High-five your teammates. Strike a gong. Do a fist pump. Yell out from the rooftops. Because success is worth celebrating.
8. Figure out your why–It’s a such a great question that isn’t asked enough. Why does it all matter? Figure out your why and that’ll be the fuel for your motivation. Whether it’s supporting your family or making an impact on the world, figuring out your why is critical for taking your work to the next level.
9. Understand your strengths and amplify those–You’ll be naturally talented in certain areas or you’ll practice a skill enough to become an expert at it. Focus your energy on amplifying those strengths rather than trying to be adequate at everything. Better to be an expert at a few things than a mediocre jack-of-all-trades!
10. Don’t burn bridges–I get it. We all work with jerks at some point in our careers. Who cares? Don’t let it get to you. There’s no need to say anything bad about them. If anything, try to find humor in the situation, learn from it, and move on. You’ve got better things to focus on. Like being the most epic version of yourself that you can be.
11. View challenges as opportunities–Have you ever spent a long time waiting at the post office to ship something? I know I have. What if, instead of complaining about the process, you had viewed that challenge as an opportunity and created an app that would allow you to request a driver to come to your house and pick up and deliver your shipment for you? You would have created Shyp, an amazing app that does exactly that.
12. Shorten your commute–For a few years, I traveled for work more than three hours on the freeway every day. I was stressed, tired, and exhausted. I also wasted a ton of time sitting in a car. It’s absolutely not worth it.
Work near where you live. If you can, make it within walking distance. Imagine three hours a day working on something you love. Time is precious. Don’t waste it on the freeway.
13. Test your assumptions–Did you know that A/B testing helped Barack Obama raise $60 million by running a simple experiment?At the end of the day, all of us have an opinion at work. The only way to know the answer is to test your assumptions.
14. Dip your toes in the water–You never really know until you try. If you never try, you’ll always be wondering “what if.” So what are you waiting for? Want to explore a new career? Want to learn about a different department? Want to start your own business? Dip your toes in the water. Make it happen.
15. Give credit where it’s due–People can’t stand it when someone takes credit for something he or she didn’t do. Don’t be that person. Recognize others when they do an awesome job. It creates trust among teammates and will further your company.
16. Every person you meet is a potential door opener to a new opportunity–Be nice to people. You never know how you can help one another down the road.
17. Make data-driven decisions–When in doubt, look at the data. What is it telling you?
18. Trust your gut–Data-driven decisions aren’t quite as helpful when there’s little or no data to work with. In those cases, go with your gut.
19. Focus on the 80/20 rule–Twenty percent of your clients will usually generate 80 percent of the return. Focus your energy on the work that matters.
20. Ten-years test–You’re going to run into problems that might seem like disasters. Don’t freak out. Instead, use the 10-years test. Will this problem matter in 10 days? In 10 months? In 10 years? Probably not. And if it won’t, don’t stress about it. It’s not worth it.
21. Do what you love–Life’s short. Do you really want to spend 23.8 percent of your life working at a job that you hate? Didn’t think so. Do what you love.
22. Focus on making an impact–Don’t do work for the sake of looking busy or only because someone told you to. Think about the impact. And if it’s not impactful, have the courage to say so. Challenge yourself to do great work that makes an impact.
23. Lead with or without the title–You don’t need a big title to make a difference at your company. You can lead by driving a new initiative, coming up with an awesome idea, or coaching and encouraging your teammates to be at their best.
24. Build a personal brand–You have a living, breathing brand. Want to build a great brand? Dress the part. Act the part. Live the part. For example, if you want to be perceived as a great content marketer, you’ve got to act the part.
You could write a ton of Quora posts, LinkedIn articles, and blog posts on the subject of content marketing. That way, when people have a need for content marketing, they think of you, because they’ve seen 500 of your posts.
25. Invest in your LinkedIn profile–Nearly every single recruiter who has reached out to me this year found me on LinkedIn. Think about that for a second. Times have changed. We used to submit our résumé to company websites to find jobs. While it can still work, it’s not the most effective way to learn about job opportunities.
Once you submit your résumé, it’s immediately outdated. LinkedIn, however, is brilliant, because people are incentivized to update their profiles constantly. So what ends up happening? Recruiters find most of the best talent on LinkedIn. It’s a new age, folks. Invest in your LinkedIn profile. I have a ton of tips on this in my book.
26. Leave your business card at home–Add someone on LinkedIn instead. It’s easier to keep in touch with him or her, reduces your administrative work in loading that person into your contact book, and updates on each other are easily viewed. Welcome to the cloud.
27. Stay humble–You might be pretty good at what you do, but chances are somebody else in the world does it better. And even if you are the best at it, chances are you aren’t good at a million other things. So stay humble. Stay foolish. Stay hungry. And keep learning from others.
28. Embrace failure and learn from it–You are going to fail at some point in life. It could be a big event, like getting fired. It could be a small event, like forgetting to do the laundry. It’s all relative. The important thing is to recognize that the process for dealing with big or small failures is the same.
Acknowledge that it happened. Deal with the situation. Learn from it. Improve yourself. And move on. J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, went from being a single mother living off unemployment benefits to becoming one of the best-selling authors of all time. Failure happens. It’s how you deal with it that matters.
29. Embrace your champions–Along the way, you will find people that genuinely believe in you and your mission. They will cheer you on. Embrace them. Even if your only champion is your mom.
30. Embrace your naysayers–On this same journey, you’ll also find people who doubt you every step of the way. Embrace them, too. Only this time, use that doubt as your source of motivation.
I had four managers who ranked me second to last in interviews at a Fortune 100 company. I used that to motivate me when I finally landed a job. I ended up managing the No. 1 operation in the country. Thanks for the motivation.
31. Recognize the importance of transparency–People are more empathetic when they understand why things are happening. When they’re left in the dark, it becomes hard to build trust. Be transparent.
32. Invest in a standing desk–A study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sitting increases our chances of getting a disease or condition that will kill us prematurely. Holy. Moly. Get a standing desk. Now. I did this for two years and felt way more productive.
33. Work smart–Why are we doing this? Does it have to be done this way? Is there a better way to do it? How can I get a better return in less time? Keep asking questions like this. Working hard is great. Working smart and hard is a even better. #WinningCombo
34. Find mentors who live your desired lifestyle–Want to work five hours a week and travel the world? Find people who have successfully created a passive-income lifestyle, likeand and have them be your mentors. While they may not be able to mentor you one on one, you can have them be virtual mentors by following their website learnings.
35. Freeze your fruits and vegetables–You want to eat healthy, but your produce always manages to go bad before you can finish it. So here’s what you do instead: Right before it goes bad, freeze it! Then you can use it in soups, stews, or smoothies in a pinch!
36. Cut the cable cord and get Netflix–You still get awesome entertainment and just reduced your monthly bill a ton.
37. Clean your home once a month–Decluttering your living space will declutter your mind. Here’s a simply way to determine what you keep: Have I used this in the past year? If not, donate it.
38. Utilize quick pick-me-ups–Sometimes you just need something to jump-start yourself into a happier mood. Watch a funny YouTube video (Jimmy Fallon’s Lip Sync Battles, Ellen DeGeneres clips), sing one of your favorite songs out loud, or dance like nobody’s watching. Life’s short. You may as well have some fun.
39. Buy a chapstick keychain–Have you lost your chapstick before? I’ve lost a ton. That’s why I bought a chapstick keychain. Problem solved. My lips have never been happier. Smooth like butter.
40. Host events–When all is said and done, relationships are what matter. Host an event for your friends, family, and loved ones so that you get a chance to spend some quality time together. Want to do it on a budget? Make it a potluck.
Want to make it work related? That’s awesome too. Trust me, your co-workers want to enjoy life outside of the office, too. They may not always remember what you did in the office, but they’ll definitely remember the epic get-togethers you hosted.
41. Invest in an awesome mattress–You spend about 33 percent of your life sleeping. Why would you skimp on your mattress? Help yourself get the best sleep possible.
42. Iron your shirt without an iron–Don’t have an iron? Your last resort: Hang your clothes in the bathroom while you take a hot shower and then dry them with a blow-dryer. It works for me all the time!
43. Arrive at least two hours before your flight’s takeoff time–Especially if it’s an international flight. Trust me, I’ve flown to more than 50 cities in a year. You don’t need the stress.
44. Pack food for your flight–You don’t have to pay a small fortune to have lunch at the airport anymore. Bring your own sandwich, fruit, or snack.
45. Wiggle your body during turbulence–I use to hate hitting turbulence. It would make me a nervous wreck. The solution? Wiggle your tush when the turbulence hits. You’ll feel less of it. I don’t know why this is true, but it works. I’ve tried it a few times now!
46. Charge your phone faster–Switch it into airplane mode and it’ll charge faster.
47. Get an extra battery pack–Let’s face it, we use our phones for almost everything nowadays, including directions, finding places to eat, communicating, and entertainment. When our phones die, we’re close to being incapable of doing anything. I’m kidding, of course. But life does get harder without a smartphone to help out. So buy an extra battery pack.
48. Stay away from processed foods–The more you eat whole, natural foods like vegetables and fruits, the more likely your diet will stay healthy. Stay away from the processed stuff.
49. Don’t live someone else’s life–Learn to build your own values, passions, opinions, and personality. You are not anyone else. You’re completely unique and awesome in your own way. This is your life. Own it.
When I told people I wanted to build a blog focused on motivation calledsome of them were skeptical. Who cares? It’s not their life. It’s mine. If I get passionate about motivating other people, I’m going to make it happen. #MakeItSo.
50. Skip the caffeine–You don’t need it. You can make yourself more focused and awake by doing things that are completely natural and free. Here are some quick examples: exercise, meditation, drinking enough water (your frequent bathroom trips will make you alert, trust me), and working on something you’re passionate about.
51. Slow down–We get it. You want to make a dent in the universe. You want to change the world. You want to create something magical. Slow down. Take a deep breath. You don’t have to react instantly all the time.
Sometimes, taking a moment to collect yourself and to think about the situation might drive a better outcome for you. I learned this from a special person I met in Spain and it’s improved my quality of life tremendously.
52. Color code your keys–My friends taught me this trick. Ever fumble through your keys and think you’ve found the right one, only to try it and realize it’s not? There’s a fix for that. Color code your keys.
For example, our garage door is the yellow key, the green key is for the main public entrance, and the red key is for our front door to our apartment unit. You can buy colored key covers on Amazon or use nail polish or paint to make the keys color coded. #problemsolved
53. Put a small garbage bin in your car–Notice your car getting messy? Admit it, you’ve tossed stuff you needed to throw away into the passenger seat before. You don’t have to live that kind of life. Get a small garbage bin.
54. Hang a tennis ball in your garage–Speaking of cars, have you ever had trouble parking yours in the garage? Seriously, it’s not easy to make sure that you’ve parked close enough to the wall so that you car doesn’t get crushed by the garage door. Hang a tennis ball in your garage so that you know exactly when to stop moving forward.
55. Stuff newspaper in your shoes–It’ll remove the moisture and some of the smells they’ve picked up over time. OK, I admit it, I haven’t tried this one myself but I’ve heard it works.
56. Learn one new thing a day–This could be one word from a new language, a scientific fact, a life hack, or anything else that you’re interested in. Over time, learning one new thing a day will shape you into awesomeness.
57. Remember people’s names–Did you know that a study has shown that if you call people by their name, they usually respond with more energy and engagement? Yup, I ran that study. And my sample group has been the thousands of people I’ve worked with over my 11-year career in technology. When you say someone’s name, it shows that you care. It shows that you recognize his or her presence. It shows that you’re a nice person. Try it.
58. Focus only on the present–Stop regretting the past. Stop worrying about the future. Focus on the present. Focus on the now. Feel the sun on your face. Feel the wind behind your back. Hear the wind as it blows the tree branches. Dig your toes into the sand. Listen when people talk. If you read a page from the last chapter over and over again, you’ll never finish the book. So stop thinking about the past. Be in the now.
59. Listen to your body–When you’re exhausted, don’t fight it. Take a nap or sleep. When you feel stressed out, take a break. When you feel sick from eating that 10th donut, well, maybe you shouldn’t have done that. Learn to listen to the signals in your body and respond in the right way.
60. Learn to let go–Mistakes happen. Don’t dwell on them. Life isn’t perfect. Think of any issues you run into as speed bumps–they make the ride a little uncomfortable but you’ll get through them.
61. Read before sleeping–Don’t let the blue light from your computer or phone keep you up at night. You can use F.lux, which is an awesome app that makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day. This way you can use your computer to read an awesome book and learn something new.
Or you can go the old-fashioned route and buy a hardcover book. Getting into the routine of reading before sleeping will help you wind down the day and learn something new at the same time!
62. You are the five people you surround yourself with–A few months ago, I ran into what I thought was a disaster for my company. A part of me wanted to shut down the company (it’s called Collide). My good friend and co-founder Steve challenged me immediately. He asked what I wanted to achieve in life and why I created the company in the first place.
After a long talk, I realized that I wanted to stay the course. Steve helped me understand that my desire to succeed was far greater than my fears. I’m telling you this story because I’ve learned that surrounding yourself with people that inspire you to be better can completely take your life to new levels.
63. Learn to say no–You can’t do everything for everyone. Stop spreading yourself thin. Learn to say no. Focus on a few things and be great at those.
64. Explore the world–Travel the world. It’s a great way to get a fresh perspective on life. Howard Schultz traveled to Europe and fell in love with the coffee shops there. Guess what happened next? He started Starbucks. #GetInspired.
65. Build your own values–Model yourself after people you admire. At the end of the day, though, you’ve got to be able to make your own judgment calls. The best way to do this is to decide what your values are. Once you do, write them down and post them on your mirror. It’s the foundation of who you are.
66. Embrace change–You need to get comfortable with this simple idea: The only thing constant is change. Instead of fearing it, embrace it.
67. Clean along the way–Sure, you could let those dishes pile up for a month, but that would be pretty painful to clean up. Along the way, your home would start to smell, fill with fruit flies, and generally be less enjoyable to live in. So don’t procrastinate. Clean along the way.
68. Silence can be beautiful–You don’t always have to fill up silence with words. Sometimes there is beauty in being silent.
69. When in doubt, simply respond with “Let me think about that.”–Let’s face it, we don’t always have the right answer. Instead of rushing to answer, tell the person that you need time to think about things further. This shows that you’re being thoughtful and also gives you something to respond with.
70. Do your most important task first thing in the morning–Your energy will be higher at this moment. It’s why I work out first thing in the morning most days.
71. Use the “we’ll see” method–Even when it seems like something terrible has happened at the moment, there’s the possibility that it might lead to something good in the future. So instead of making up your own conclusions about the future, just tell yourself, “We’ll see.”
72. Meditate–You can use apps like Headspace that are free and can help you clear your mind. This is an awesome way to relax your mind and body.
73. Realize that most people don’t care about you–Sorry, people’s lives don’t revolve around your universe. Well, the exception might be if you’re a celebrity. But in all seriousness, stop worrying about what other people think of you. Most of them don’t even really care that much. Instead, focus on being the best possible version of yourself.
74. There are a few people in the world that really, deeply care about you–Keep those people close to you in life. They’re the ones that can make your life amazing. They’re the ones who will stick with you through the good and the bad.
75. Roll your clothes–When you travel, try rolling your clothes to maximize packing space. I did this and can fit 2.5 weeks of clothes into a carry-on now.
76. Only you are responsible for your life–So own it. Take control. You have to figure out what makes you happy. What gets you inspired. What drives you.
77. Say something awesome to yourself every day–Positive reinforcement can help you maintain an upbeat mood even in the worst of times. Treat yourself well.
78. Take a deep breath–Didn’t that feel awesome? Yeah, try doing that more. You’ll feel better.
79. Happiness is a state of mind, not a destination–Growing up, I used to tell myself, if only I had this specific thing, I would be happy. After 31 years of living, I can tell you that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is a state of mind. My close friend told me that he feels happiness when the sun shines on his face.
He almost died when he was in his early 20s. He was saved by a stranger who donated a kidney to him. He’s happy that he’s alive today. You can find happiness now. It’s right in front of you, everywhere you look. It’s up to you to open your eyes.
80. Remember to have the time of your life–No one lives forever. So while you’re here, remember to have the time of your life. Laugh, smile, and have fun.
81. Promise only on what you can deliver–Reliability goes a long way. A ton of people overpromise and underdeliver. Don’t be one of those people.
82. Be fearless–Fear is just a feeling. Learn to take it head-on. Have a bias toward action and be fearless.
83. Marry your best friend–You want someone who’s going to be there with you through the best and worst of times. Someone you can talk to all night or have a completely comfortable silence with. Someone who loves you for who you are.
84. Be insanely curious–Being curious will help you keep an open mind. By doing so, you’ll learn new ideas and help keep passion and excitement in your life. You don’t know everything, so learn as much as you can in your life!
85. Think about how you can help others–At the end of the day, your legacy will be the people you loved, those who loved you, and how much you helped others.
86. Time is your most valuable asset–I had a family friend who spent most of his life saving up every penny to eventually live the life he always wanted. After years of saving, he was involved in a tragic car accident. He never lived the life he dreamed about.
Money is valuable. Time is even more valuable. Use money to help you find more time. Time with your loved ones. Time with your buddies. Time with your spouse. Time with your kids. There are 525,600 minutes in a year. How do you spend your time?
87. Someone else’s recipe may not work for you–Just because it worked for someone else doesn’t always mean it’ll work for you. Learn from others, but also realize that everyone’s situation is unique.
88. Have an idea jar–Whether it’s for love, friendships, or family, an idea jar is a great way to ensure you’ll have activities to do together. The next time you have an idea for something, put it into the idea jar. Each week, you can pull one idea from the jar and–voilà!–you’ve got some fun in your hands.
89. Act exactly how you feel–Why the poker face? It’s unnecessary. If you’re upset, act and feel upset. If you’re happy, smile. Better to be 100 percent authentic than to live a lie.
90. Smile at people–It makes you happier. It’s contagious. It lowers stress and anxiety. It strengthens your immune system. It makes you seem more competent.
It makes you look trustworthy. It can even be an effective management technique. And yes, every single one of these claims has been proven by a study. Every. Single. One. By the way, it costs you nothing. That’s awesome.
91. Simple is good–Stuff has administrative debt. That new car you just got? Maintenance and insurance. Those 10 shopping sites you subscribed to? 100 emails in your inbox you have to go through. Keep life simple. It’s easier and more enjoyable.
92. Don’t get attached to stuff–Once you take care of your basic necessities, like your health, shelter, clothing, and food, chances are that stuff won’t make you happy. Don’t get too attached to it. When we leave this world, we can’t bring our stuff with us anyway.
93. Choose experiences over stuff–What you should value are experiences. A simple dinner with your mother talking about life. A vacation with your spouse to a place you’ve always wanted to travel. A long talk with friends over a warm fire on a cold winter night. Working late night with your teammates to build a game-changing startup. These are the moments you’ll remember.
94. Don’t compare yourself with others–Just focus on being the best possible version of yourself.
95. Make something for someone to show that you care–It’s easy to buy something for someone. Making something with love, passion, and care is much harder. Go the extra mile and make something for the person you love. Need ideas? Check out Pinterest.
96. Love yourself first–Before you fall in love with anyone else, make sure you’re in a good place. Learn to love yourself, including all of your awesomeness and your flaws. The more comfortable you are with yourself, the better you can love someone else.
97. Your word choice matters–Your words have a lot of power. Version 1: “We have a problem with our project.” Version 2: “We have an opportunity to fix things on this project.” I feel a lot better hearing version 2. What about you?EdTech The 10 Hottest Online Classes for Professionals
98. Learn to let go–Sometimes you can’t fix something. Let it go. Yup, I wrote this life tip earlier. I’m repeating it because it’s that important.
99. Everyone has a story–Maybe someone was mean to you today. That sucks. But what if you found out it’s because the person had just learned about a tragedy in his or her family? It changes everything, doesn’t it? Just remember, everyone has his or her own story to tell.