From an amazing set of knives to the latest and greatest workout device to a frying pan that never scratches and makes our food perfectly every time. This is the time of year for advertisers to “sink their hooks into us!” They constantly bombard us with offers and hit us in every weak spot they can. Plus, they have an army of marketing professionals, using every gimmick known to man, to convince us to buy their piffle.

If we just allow ourselves to step back and take a breath (Yes you have time for this), we’ll figure out we don’t need another set of knives in the house or the realization that no frying pan makes perfect food every time. But we so desperately want things to be better in our lives, we want “us” to be better! Our lives don’t even have to be going poorly in order for us to jump at the chance to grab ahold of one of those “miracle” opportunities. As a matter of fact, the temptation might be even greater when things are good. We constantly look for things to improve our lives, our golf games, our kitchen utilities, our physique, our financial situations, etc. The only thing we seem to forget is that these everyday opportunities, as well as the Miracle Products don’t target the most important area of our lives. Our inside…not our outside!

Because of all the pressure the New Year brings including the incessant advertising dumped on us, the things we want to do get diverted. And don’t forget that around this time we’re also jumping back into our regular lives, which means that things dramatically speed back up. Around the holidays, even though they were hectic, they were still the holidays. Now, we’re back to school or back to work or back to getting people to school and to work etc., and our lives go dramatically faster.

Once we allow ourselves to take that step back, take a look and realize where we are and who we are. We pretty much know what we need to do in order to make ourselves better, and in most cases, it doesn’t involve buying the perfect frying pan that you’ll also be able to turn into a deep fryer or a workout device that will let us drop 40 lbs. in 25 minutes with washboard abs!

Here’s a really good exercise that doesn’t take much time and will let you know where you are and where you want to go.

Study the people who you admire, no more than 5 but no less than 5, so I’m gonna go with… 5 people. We all know 5 people in our lives that we admire. They might be friends or they might be people on a national or international stage. Analyze these people, men or women or even children, it doesn’t make any difference, but ask yourself what one, two or three traits do they have that you really admire? Then write down those three traits next to that person’s name (and make sure to write this on a piece of paper as writing boosts memory). Once you’ve finished all 5 people, take a look at the traits and ask yourself if any of them are attributes you would like to see in yourself? Are any of the traits you wrote for those five people, qualities you think you might already have in some degree or another?

Now comes the hard part, I want you to put your name down on that same piece of paper and I want you to list three or four good traits that you think you have. Underneath that, I want you to list two or three traits that you think other people would say you have.

We’re almost done now…

Now, on a separate piece of paper I want you to write your name and write the traits you want to adopt from the people you admire. What traits do you want to develop and what traits do you want to make stronger? Reflect on those and write them down. Figuring out how to make those attributes stronger shouldn’t be that hard. For instance, if you want to help more people, well that’s pretty easy. Stop by and say hello to a neighbor, volunteer at a school, find programs around your town or state that matter to you. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and there are many ways you can do it. So, find one that feels comfortable.

At this point, we’re done with those pieces of paper so you can put them away for one month. (Set a reminder for one month on your phone.)

At the end of one month, pull those pieces of paper out and I want you to look at the people you admire and I want you to look at the traits you wanted to improve in yourself.

Ask yourself this question…

“Am I improving and making myself a better person with trait 1, trait 2, etc.?”

Jot down a line or two on the piece of paper writing “I’m really doing well with this but I’m really struggling with this.” Then, back into the drawer it goes for another month. I guarantee you in six months you’ll look at that piece of paper and be very happy about how you’re beginning to turn into an even better person.

It really comes down to three things…

1. Be aware of who you are, where you are in life, and who you want to be. That will take you to where you want to go…
2. Lay out the plan for how you want to get from where you are to where you want to be…
3. Have the guts to ask yourself some tough questions, but more importantly, answer those questions honestly. Then, have the guts to put in the work to get from where you are to where you want to be…

Nothing happens overnight and everything we’re going to be doing is going to take some time and some effort. Understand and expect this going in. Also, recognize you’re a special kind of person to be contemplating making your life better like this. So, step back, take a deep breath, (Yes, you still have time for this…) walk right by that new 64 piece knife set that can cut concrete -because you’re on your way towards building something much more important.

You’re on your way to building a better YOU!