What would it take to make 2017 a remarkable year? What would it look like for this year (and even for us) to stand out in a significant way over the next 12 months?
Sometimes we think standing out means making a viral video, achieving celebrity status, or doing something crazy to get noticed. However, standing out is not as complicated as we often make it.
7 Ways to Stand Out This Year
Below is a list of seven ways you can stand out this year. None of the things listed require making a scene in public. Instead, everything on it is fairly obvious – they are things most of us want to do because they are life-giving and healthy. However, as statistics show, most of us don’t actually do these things (full disclosure: I don’t do all of these things). That’s why doing them will make you stand out. But, even if we do just a few of these, we will be in a great position to make 2017 a remarkable year.
So, in no particular order, here are seven ways you can stand out in 2017:
Live on less than you make
It is normal for people to spend more money than they actually make. We evened out a bit during the Great Recession years, but recently the trend is moving back towards spending more, making less, saving nothing, and going into more and more credit card debt. Overall, it is estimated that nearly 40% of U.S. households spend more than they earn. And millennials are particularly struggling with saving. To be sure, this can be attributed to student loans and lagging salaries; however, spending more than we make also has something to do with human nature. We want to keep up with others and it’s more fun to spend in the present than save for the future. Someone who stands out today is someone who is saving – which means living on less than what is coming in.
Give 10% of your income away
By and large, most Americans are generous people. If tragedy strikes, most are eager to give to the Red Cross or another relief agency. That’s a great thing! But, sporadic generosity is different than living a generous life. Statistically, only 3 percent of adults in the US give away 10% of their income. As PBS reported, “The vast majority of Americans (97%) are forfeiting their chance to enhance their well-being by practicing real generosity with their money.” So, if you want to stand out this year, budget in your giving – choose an organization you are passionate about and put your money where your mouth is by making a significant contribution. At first, it will feel stretching, but imagine all of the change that could happen this year as a result of your contribution.
Use all of your vacation time
Did you know more than half of Americans don’t use all of their vacation time? One study suggested that in 2015 there were 658 million unused vacation days. No wonder we’re stressed out! So, buck the trend – make plans to go on a vacation in 2017. Sit on a beach. Go to a culture you’ve never been to before. Explore someplace new. Stand out by leaving work behind for a significant period of time to unwind and recharge.
Take a class
Each year there are areas of life I would like to explore or dive into deeper. I would love to be a better cook; I would love to be handier around the house, and it would certainly be cool to know a different language. And yet, by the end of each year, I rarely if ever have made any progress in any of those areas. I doubt I’m alone. So, what if this was a year where we took our good intentions and stepped out to actually learn something. What if we took a class? Maybe it’s a cooking class, or language course or a conference to invest in our leadership skills. Now, one small note: if you are currently a student, taking a class isn’t a way to stand out – it’s your job (so go to class!). But, you might consider taking something outside of your normal course load, like a dancing class or a leadership seminar. Imagine what new hobby could emerge or lifelong passion you could develop simply by stepping out of your comfort zone to learn with others?
Write to an elected official about an issue you care about
When I briefly interned on Capitol Hill, I had was responsible for opening the mail for a Congressman. There were two things I noticed. First – some people write in about some strange things. And second – most people don’t write in at all. What this means is a letter sent through snail mail has a bigger impact than you might think. So, pick an issue you care about and write a respectful letter to someone who is a decision maker.
Read more than 5 books this year
According to Pew Research, the typical American read about five books last year. That’s not a bad statistic at all! However, if you want 2017 to be more than typical, consider reading more than five books. What’s great about reading more than five is you can balance out the type of books you read. Pick one for leadership development. Read another simply for pleasure. Grab a biography on someone you admire. What if this was a year where you read more than ever before?
Resolve to post only uplifting things on social media
If your Facebook feed is like mine right now, it is a war zone of political rants, put-downs, and insults, along with advertisements for nutritional supplements. What stands out to me is when a friend or someone I follow posts something life-giving – a great perspective, a thoughtful idea, or a concept to explore deeper. Now, to be clear, life-giving doesn’t mean you only post pictures of your cat or share clichés. We can uplift one another while still sharing opinions on things that matter. But what would truly make you stand out is to fight the urge to shame someone you passionately disagree with or share something unfair (or fake). Almost all of us are loving people who want to uplift others; and yet, recently, it seems that most of us fail at a critical moment where something angers us, and we click, “Share.” One big way to stand out this year is to resolve to be uplifting, especially on social media.
The list I just shared is not an exhaustive list. There are certainly more ways to make this a stand out year. If you have a great one, share below!