Happy New Year!
It feels good to send you an essay in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day… maybe even a bit spiteful.
That’s because most folks are sleeping in today.
They stayed up late, ate a lot, drank too much and are just fine spending an extra few hours in bed.
But we say that’s a lousy way to start a fresh year.
It sets a bad precedent.
So many folks set out to start their year by losing weight, saving more and getting stuff done. And yet, they spend the first morning of the year in bed… nursing the final dirty deeds of the year gone by.
As for us, we were in bed by 9 last night. Now we’ll wait for the sun to come up and get to work on a big job.
We’ve got a mile and a half of new fence coming next week. That means we’ve got brush to clear and limbs to trim.
It also means our chain saw may wake up a few neighbors a bit earlier than they’d like.
They said they want to get more done in 2020. We’ll help ’em get out of bed and get it done.
But you know us… we’re not spiteful.
In fact, we bet that if you’re reading this, you’ve seen through the coarseness… you’ve overlooked the straight-to-the-facts tone… and, we bet, you’re one of the few who is actually serious about getting up and getting things done.
If so, we’re here to help.
Here are three things you must do each morning if you want to reach the peak of your potential in 2020.
This One’s Easy…
First, go for a walk.
It is one of the very best exercises… not only for our bodies, but for our minds.
History is filled with great men who strolled.
John Adams tended to put about 12 miles on his shoes each day. And Teddy Roosevelt once wrote that the only exercise he got was his daily 6-mile walk – as if a jaunt that size wasn’t out of the ordinary.
You already know the weight-shedding benefits of walking.
There’s nothing new on that front… It’s been covered.
With no other changes to our diet or daily routine, a 20-minute walk each morning will cut about 2 pounds off our body in a month.
But how does spending 20 minutes exercising help us get more done?
That’s the interesting part.
There’s new research that shows walking may help our brains function better. A study led by a doctor at the University of Pittsburgh found that a test group who walked briskly for 40 minutes three days each week increased the volume of their hippocampus – a critical area of the brain that is key to our memory.
In other words, if you want to get more done, it sure helps to think faster and make fewer mistakes.
Of course, we can also get more done if we spend fewer days sick in bed. A walk in the morning helps there, too.
According to the fine folks at Harvard, a brisk walk each day boosts our immune system. Of the 1,000 walkers they tracked who walked at least 20 minutes daily for five days each week, 43% of them had fewer sick days than folks who walked one day or less.
But here’s a daily must-do that could have profoundly stronger results… especially if your goal is to have healthy, productive Connections.
It is one of the most powerful daily routines we’ve ever seen.
It comes from networking and retirement guru George Fraser.
Every day, he makes five calls to friends or family. It’s a great way to ensure his closest relationships are healthy and strong.
He starts by telling them that he has only 10 minutes to talk.
After that, he emails five folks he’s recently met – either new friends, folks who attended one of his presentations or somebody from church.
Finally, and this is key, he introduces five people who he believes would benefit from knowing one another.
“This is what I have been doing for 40 years,” he said. “These are good habits. If prior to retirement you have not developed them, it would help you greatly to maintain and fuel new and interesting relationships in your life.”
There’s no doubt having a stronger, wider social network leads to great things in many areas of our lives.
Studies show the more Connections we have, the longer we live, the happier we are… and the bigger our bank accounts.
Write This Down
Finally, we’ll wrap up our first essay of the year with something quite fitting.
It’s one of the simplest, easiest and most therapeutic things any of us can do each day.
Once again, there’s a growing body of research that shows it lowers stress, improves our mind and can even help our bodies heal faster.
But we bet less than 1 in 10 folks will bother to do this five-minute task each day.
In fact, many folks these days are instead turning to a habit with proven dangers and some serious health effects.
Instead of picking up a pen and jotting down their thoughts for the day, many folks are putting their lives on social media.
That’s why we – and everybody else who’s ever studied the subject – beg folks to pick up a piece of paper and do some old-fashioned journal writing.
The benefits are huge.
Most are self-evident.
Writing down the events of the day helps us solidify memories and learn from them.
Our brain treats all information that we hear virtually the same way. It doesn’t parse the nonimportant things from the important. But when we write ideas down, it’s been proven that our brain divides the ideas into specific categories, which allows for much better recall… and much more efficient cognitive function.
Journal writing also helps us ponder new things and release emotions – a key to lowering stress and, yes, getting things done.
The way we see it, our first choice of the day is an important one. It sets the tone for what’s ahead.
That means today is doubly important.
It’s the first day of the year.
Make good choices.