The biggest results come from the simplest of changes.
Adam Bornstein and John Romaniello 1 / 6
You’ve probably never heard of the band Kara’s Flowers. They were a mid-’90s pop group that flopped instantly and were dropped by their label just a month after their first album came out. The group then added a guitarist, changed their style of music, and recast one member as its front man, giving the band a different look, feel, and sound. That lead singer? A guy named Adam Levine. And the “new” band (read: the original one with a few small yet significant changes) became Maroon 5. They have since sold more than 17 million albums worldwide.
It doesn’t matter if you like their music or not (although your girlfriend probably does), the Maroon 5 example illustrates how simple adjustments can lead to a complete overhaul, turning something (or someone) from a lost cause to a must-have. Like millions of other New Year’s resolutioners, you’re probably hoping to evolve into a new and better man in 2014, and we have the plan to make that possible. The Best Style and Grooming Resolutions to Make This Year >>
To improve your life, you must first identify the areas that need change the most. It’s important to prioritize because we all have a limited amount of willpower. The area of your brain that governs self-control is also in charge of day-to-day tasks, short-term memory, and staying focused—so it’s easy to imagine how that little area can get overworked and begin to shut down. As you take on new tasks, do one thing at a time. Don’t resolve to lose weight, land a new job, and improve your dating life all at the same time. Pick the one that’s in most dire need of attention and start there.
Researchers from Macquarie University in Australia found that taking a step-by-step approach helps ease the pressure on your brain when trying to solve multiple problems, and prevents shutdown (and ultimately failure). The less fatigue your brain has, the more willpower you’ll have saved to devote yourself to completing your tasks, one by one. 6 Steps to Fitness Success >>
2. Decide Your Fate
Behavioral change psychology includes something called the Theory of Planned Behavior, which says that your “perceived behavioral control” is the only difference between getting things done and constantly wishing you could. Up to 50% of your ability to succeed depends on whether you merely think you have control over a situation. So what makes you feel in control? Simplicity.
When you set goals that are too simple for you to fail at (or at least appear that way), you create the perception that you have power. And with that feeling of control comes better execution, more willpower, and less stress. Want to lose weight? Make your goal no more specific than going to the gym three days a week. Interested in saving money? Set up an automatic transfer of some modest amount from your checking to your savings every two weeks. Steps like these are easy to execute. What to Wear to a Job Interview>>
3. Learn from Everything
Changing your life is mostly about changing your mind. If you think positively, nothing discourages you, and any friction you have along the way—be it criticism or failure—is merely a chance to learn how to improve. If, when tasked with a project, you start to predict a negative outcome, the potential fear this creates actually works in your mind to inhibit the process and sabotage the result. Naturally, you fall short of your goals, thereby confirming your initial worries, and the cycle repeats.
Researchers at Stanford University studied athletes to determine what separated the star players from the benchwarmers. They found that if the athlete viewed his mistakes as a learning experience from which he could grow, he ultimately played better. Start every project or task by writing down what you hope to learn from the process instead of what achievement you expect. This will short-circuit your fears and help you to see the result—however successful—as a way to develop yourself. Do’s and Don’ts of Dating a Friend >>
Social media, e-mail, and other technology have damaged our communication skills. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that as digital communication has increased, the number of friends we have has gone down. In fact, Americans have up to one-third fewer friends than they did 2½ decades ago.
The problem with online communication is a matter of emotion—or the lack thereof. Researchers at George Mason University discovered that because e-communication removes visual cues like eye contact and posture, the nonverbal interactions that create emotions like empathy, it’s more difficult to form trust with another person. Try to schedule at least one in-person meeting each week. Seeing is believing. Using Social Media for More Sex>>
5. Dress Better
People tend to treat their clothes like a stamp collection. They try to have one shirt from every designer and brand. Variety is good, but so is what looks right on your body. Different brands are known for fitting different bodies, so find the one label that seems to do the most for yours. If you do best with a slim, tighter-fitting jean, Hudson Harper or Levi’s 514 Headbanger straight jeans may be for you. If you have a medium build and need more of a relaxed fit, you could try J Brand Kane straight jeans or 7 For All Mankind standards. Getting your clothes tailored is best, but that’s a luxury. Find a brand that does the next best thing. Dress Like Your Boss >>