Resolutions, Rethought

Two days from now, most of us will be a few hours into our new years resolutions. Probably still excited about them, possibly a little nervous about them.

You might even wishing you hadn’t bragged to so many people about what you’re “going to do,” because now you can’t pretend you never resolved to do it in the first place. You can’t just forget about it and return to status quo.

That’s a lot of stress, especially when you’ve probably resolved to change something that’s already one of the most stressful parts of your life.

It sounds like a solid recipe for having to make the same resolution next year (surely none of us are doing that this year, right?).

That’s where Tim Ferriss comes in. Tim is so good at taking a step back and reassessing the “what’s” and “why’s” of his life, and making sure he’s putting his limited resources, specifically effort and attention, in the right places. Then he selflessly shares that with all of us.

So of course Tim would turn his gaze toward New Year’s resolutions since they are, generally, resoundingly and thunderously unsuccessful.

What follows is how Tim approaches the new year, and it sounds much more satisfying than how we typically do this kind of thing.

**Note: I’ll probably make some traditional type resolutions, because they’re just so tempting. But I also plan on sitting down with paper and pen in the next couple of days to follow Tim’s suggestions.**

Enter Tim:

I am often asked about how I approach New Year’s resolutions. The truth is that I don’t make them anymore, even though I did for decades. Why the change? First, I realized that without accountability to someone else, resolutions rarely get accomplished. This led me to experiment with working with a close friend to mutually assign each other resolutions (with deadlines), which worked. Second, I have found “past year reviews” (PYR) more informed, valuable, and actionable than blindly looking forward with resolutions. I did my first PYR after a mentor’s young daughter died of cancer on December 31st roughly 7 years ago, and I’ve done it every year since. It looks like the following and only takes 30-60 minutes:

  • Grab a notepad and create two columns: POSITIVE and NEGATIVE.
  • Go through your calendar from the last year, looking at every week.
  • For each week, jot down on the pad any people and activities that triggered peak positive or negative emotions for that month.
  • Once you’ve gone through the past year, look at your notepad list and ask “What 20% of each column produced the most reliable or powerful peaks?”
  • Based on the answers, take your “positive” leaders and schedule more of them in 2018. Get them on the calendar now! Book things with friends and prepay for shit now! That’s step one. Step two is to take your “negative” leaders, put “NOT-TO-DO LIST” at the top, and put them somewhere you can see them each morning for the first few weeks of 2018. These are the people and things you *know* make you miserable, so don’t put them on your calendar out of obligation, guilt, FOMO, or other nonsense.

That’s it! Let me know how it goes if you try it.And just remember: it’s not enough to remove the negative. That simply creates a void. Get the positive things on the calendar ASAP, lest they get crowded out by the bullshit and noise that you know will attempt to fill your days. As Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Good luck and godspeed! 🙏

If you wish to hear more from Tim, head over to his web page and sign up for 5-bullet Friday, a weekly email from Tim with 5 things he’s reading, using, watching, listening to, pondering, etc. I highly recommend it.

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