I hate to be the one to break it to you, but none of us are spring chickens anymore (if we ever were). As my friend Todd is fond of reminding me: Time is marching on, my friend. And, unfortunately, it seems to be stepping at an ever-increasing rate of speed. Case in point: we’re already a week into the new year. A week! It’s time for something dramatic… unexpected… It’s time to make some resolutions.
True, resolutions don’t sound all that dramatic or unexpected. In fact, they sound sort of painful and gritty. Like sand in your eye. But there are really only two ways to live your life: with purpose or by chance. The difference between the two is dramatic and unexpected. If we live with purpose, if we set out on a path with intention and expectation, we end up — maybe not exactly where we set out — but somewhere that is in alignment with what’s important to us. Without this purpose or intention, we end up in a default state where we look around and wonder where we are.
A quick assessment: Think about where you are with your career, your life, your financial situation, your relationships. And then ask, “How did I get here?” Was it by confident steps in a specific direction with your eye always on the horizon? In other words, are you where you expected to be? If so, fantastic! I’d love to hear how you did it and, of course, what you have planned next. If not, don’t fret. The thing about the future is that it’s perfectly malleable and always out there, one step ahead. You can set that course today and begin walking that new path immediately. (One moment while I step down off my soapbox.)
So there are things you have your sights set on: improving your finances, getting in shape, learning a new language, getting organized, managing your time, increasing your network, etc. We’re living in a world where there are amazing tools available to help guide your way. Here are a few of my favorites:
For getting control of your finances, there is simply no better tool than Mint. Mint connects directly to all of your financial accounts (banks, loans, credit cards, etc.) and pulls the information together in one place. You don’t initiate any transactions here, but you can view everything. Create new goals for budgets or savings, get detailed reporting on where your money is going and helpful suggestions on ways you can save money in each case. Mint’s website and smartphone apps are the best way to get a clear view of your entire financial life. Best of all, it’s free.
There’s a reason why the FitBit was Amazon’s best seller in the personal product category last Christmas. This little wonder is part of the emerging ‘internet of things’ and tracks your activity levels throughout the day (and your sleep at night.) The accompanying web site and smartphone apps bring all the data to life with easy to understand charting. You can also track the food you eat (which is absolutely game changing.) For better results, invite your friends to join you to turn fitness into a game with on ongoing leaderboard. Fun stuff (especially when you’re at the top; not so much when you’re at the bottom.)
I took three years of German in high school, and Mrs. Crone would have been much happier with my progress if I’d had Duolingo to help. Duolingo’s website and apps are both free (yes, really) and provide a college-quality language education in Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, and English. With a classic world-changing idea model, Duolingo enables users (you and me) to learn a new language while translating documents online. It’s very cool, fun to use, and useful. What could be better?
To help you build (and stay in touch with) your network, LinkedIn has become the industry standard. With powerful tools to help you visualize your connections, you can quickly and easily see how the six degrees of separation work for you. Interested in meeting someone? Simply follow the chain back through their network to yours to find the common links. LinkedIn has also become the choice social network for business relationships, enabling the sharing of ideas and content with people who have similar interests.
At some point, moving toward the future of your choice requires reflection. For that, you really need a journal. On the Mac and other Apple devices, you can’t go wrong with DayOne . Selected as the App of the Year in 2012, it’s continued to improve. It’s aim is to help you easily record the moments of your life. To help, you can sync it automatically with your Twitter and Facebook accounts, making it work as a bit of a “life recorder.” If you want to use it in the traditional journalling sense, it’s extremely easy to use, it only takes a a second to add something and your entries are immediately available across all of your devices. If you haven’t written in a while, the app nudges you to add something new.
Have I mentioned that we’re a week into 2014? Time to get moving! Set a course for the future of your choosing! Go!