I have some love-hate relationships.
I love travelling but hate packing. I love working out but hate the laundry. And I really love good whiskey, but hate fumbling out of bed and peeing in the laundry hamper.
I also love writing popular blog posts, but hate the mercenary approach required.
Suppose you want your writing to “go viral” –- to get shared by so many of your friends and colleagues that it gets smothered in a sickening stream of “likes”, or what my writing mentor TC refers to as Facebook Bukake?
If that’s your end game, well, then forget about writing for quality — you need to know how to write to be popular. At least popular in Mr. Google’s eyes.
The problem is, what’s popular isn’t always helpful or even truthful.
At best it’s usually banal. And at worst it’s distracting; from the truth, and from what we really need to hear.
For example, a skilled wordsmith could bang out 10 Ways to Make 2016 Your Best Year Ever in about an hour.
And if they included the usual feel-good fuzzies – “learn to say no; spend more time with your idiot kids; play more Twister” it could make the standard “great reads” list.
But would that really help someone have a great 2016?
And is it coming from a place of honesty, of real-life experience?
Or is it just more online bandwagon jumping?
So this post, my version of How to Have a Great 2016, is my Jerry Maguire moment, my noble attempt to not placate my audience with the same, tired, boring advice. Advice that most writers don’t even follow anyway.
Instead, what you’ll read is real and has actually helped me. And if you do everything listed, your 2016 may turn out above average. Maybe even by Facebook standards.
1. Get Lean (Guys Only). This is the only fitness advice I’ll give, cause it’s the most important. If you’re a guy and over 35, you owe it to yourself to do the work to get lean. Even if you think you want to get big — trust me, what you really want is to get lean. I wrote about this phenomenon at length here.
You don’t even have to “stay” super lean. Just get there once. Cause once you do, you’ll wanna stick around the neighborhood anyway.
Life changes when you get lean. You get more attention, more “looks”, and more respect from both gym bros and every day schmoes. It’s completely fucked up but whatever. I didn’t make the rules.
As for women, at least non-pros, I prefer they set less “vanity-based” goals and focus more on things like improving performance, or even just consistency.
Not that females “shouldn’t” get lean. Just that the fitness industry has completely screwed this up, creating a culture of women who measure their self-worth by a number on the bathroom scale.
I always tell girls, feed your body like a bodybuilder, train for performance, be consistent, and the “physique” will come. Some even listen to me.
2. Put More Effort Into Your Appearance Guys. If you’re hitting the gym, make sure your clothes are at least clean and maybe even (gasp!) match. If heading out for dinner, consider wearing a jacket. You will get no shade from either the staff or your date.
And for the love of God, every man should own a decent pair of boots. This is by decree.
3. Curate Your Network. I accept every friend request I get. As such, I have no shortage of contacts willing to sell me Oakley sunglasses and imitation Louis bags. But the list of people I actually listen to is small.
I know it’s polite and smiley to say that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. But that’s bullshit. You may be entitled to it, but unless your opinion is informed, I sure as hell don’t want or need to hear it.
That doesn’t mean I ignore negative or contradictory opinions — I welcome them, provided they’re informed.
But glowing support and internet high fives from someone who has no idea what they’re talking about? Thanks but I’ll pass on the love, dog.
4. Read Stuff Not on a Computer. This has been hard for me. The more your living is linked to a computer or smart phone, the more being “away” from it creates uncomfortable anxiety. Which isn’t right. Time away form your phone or laptop should feel like a welcome reprieve, not an angst-filled bout of FOMO.
So for at least half an hour a day, I forced myself to read a book, as in one of those things with pages and ink and a cover and shit. No phone, no iPad, no laptop, no distractions.
It’s been one of the hardest habits I’ve ever tried to make stick. Which means it’s something I really need to do. Maybe you do too?
5. Stop Lying – and Letting Yourself be Lied to.
A few months ago, I was inspired by Alex Viada’s great book The Hybrid Athlete and decided to take up hill sprinting.
I’d just finished dieting and was pretty lean. So after a bout or two up the hill by my apartment, I noticed I was getting a pretty cool leg pump.
So I did what any God-fearing douchebag would do: I took a picture of my legs.
Now, those wheels are not exactly giving John Meadows a run for his money, but for an old bro they’re okay I guess.
But then on the short walk home, I started playing with those goofy Instagram filters. And within 2 minutes that leg pic became this:
It’s still not gonna earn me an invite to the Arnold Classic, but it’s much better.
It’s also total bullshit.
And that’s just hacking around with a lame iPhone app. Just imagine what graphic designers have done with the pics you see in the magazines?
Or even on Instagram? Much of the “fitspo” you see every day is a lie, a fabrication designed to make you feel small and insecure and unworthy.
Don’t fall for it or even give it your attention. Tell it to go fuck a rock instead. And if you’re part of the problem, please stop. Or at least realize what you’re doing.
6. Be More Charitable. I have a good life and I’m grateful. Now lots of people post similar expressions of appreciation, and then self-promote the shit out of their “gratitude” with a couple of ass pics and 15 hashtags.
But I don’t see a lot of actual “boots on the ground” to back it up. Despite what you may think, showing your bubble butt to the world, while a fine gesture (God bless you), isn’t doing much to curb world hunger or address the widening gap between rich and poor.
Now I’ve been no saint in this regard either. But this month I’m joining a group of docs giving free medical/dental care to some very needy people in Haiti. Which if you’ll remember, was basically left in utter ruins by an earthquake a few years ago, something most of the world forgot about by the end of the weekly news cycle.
Now make no mistake, as a meathead my job will basically be fetching water and complaining about the shitty Wi-Fi service, and perhaps getting my wife to squash any spiders that crawl up the sink drain.
But I’m still looking forward to being involved in something not built around adding inches to the glutes or losing that last bit of lower back fat.
I’ve noticed that some of the most successful guys in my industry do an enormous amount of work for charity. Dave Tate of EliteFTS comes to mind. And there aren’t many bros that are more successful or more generous than him.
Maybe 2016 could be the year you start giving back a little?
7. Stop Being a Wiener. If you complain more than you compliment, you’re a wiener. If you assume everyone who is bigger or leaner or prettier or wealthier or simply more popular than you has some illegal or unfair advantage, you’re a wiener.
In 2016, stop being a wiener.
8. Say Yes More. A few years ago it became popular to say no to stuff you don’t want to do. And it’s good advice. I still have trouble saying no to paying work, which is why my schedule and stress levels are always so jacked up.
But saying yes to non-work things, especially stuff you’ve never done before, can be an eye opener, even turn your life around for the better.
New restaurants, new hobbies, even new social circles? Just give it an honest try. What have you got to lose? Netflix and your couch will still be here next year.
Incidentally, I got turned onto this while living in New York City, which in hindsight isn’t the best place to decide to “start trying out of the ordinary things.”
It’s also why when people ask me, “How did you find living in NYC?” my answer is always “Ever see the movie Shame, with Michael Fassbender?”
9. Reflect – Especially Through Painful Stuff. What’s helped the human race to prosper is the ability to suppress traumatic events from our memory. By doing so we can continue to grow without paralysis from the past.
I experienced this first hand a few years ago, when my wife had breast cancer. Within days of her diagnosis I was back in my hometown and couch surfing with family, while she endured multiple surgeries and then daily treatments.
I don’t include this point for sympathy, but because writing it out is about the only way I can remember this period of my life.
In a way it’s like those months have been dropped from my memory into the depths of the dark web, next to Hilary’s emails and the Ashley Madison subscriber list. I can only imagine what people who survive wars and genocide are capable of suppressing.
But while forgetting is an effective form of coping, you shouldn’t try to forget everything bad that’s happened to you. Even the mistakes you made. Especially the good people you might have let down or the bridges you set aflame.
Make 2016 the year you ruminate on some of those things. Understand and accept where you screwed up. Then make a point of trying to make amends, and become better.
Just nine things!
If that was all you did to improve this year I’d say that would make 2016 a moderate success.
As for the missing number 10 tip?
That would be adding an inch to your arms. But that’s for an upcoming post. So stick around.
Wanna Get Jacked in 2016?
Some guys just want to look good. Others are willing to learn what it takes. Which guy are you? Click here to learn more about building the body you want.