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Better than New Year's Resolutions
Forget New Year's Resolutions! Sure, a new year is a new opportunity to do better. But that doesn’t require you write a list of annual promises that you know you’re not likely to keep.
Instead of New Year’s Resolutions I’ve tried a variety of different approaches - including the five outlined below. Some may work for you, others will not. What matters is staying open to how you can make this year better than last year.
I hope one of the ideas below helps your 2022 better than 2021…
Run Monthly Experiments
Why commit upfront to a year-long project … or several? Instead consider a collection of month-long experiments you can run to improve your life. No social media for January. No dessert in February. No cursing in March. It’s likely most of these experiments won’t work. But some might. And either way, you will learn a lot about yourself. And you’re more likely to gain new insights from 30 days than 365. I’ve tried this the last several years and it has been valuable. Even when I wind down the monthly experiments in May or June (which is typical), I feel I have gained more than I would from standard yearlong resolutions.
Try a Do-Not-Do-List
Instead of making promises to yourself for what you’re going to do … focus on what you’re not going to do. Sometimes it's easier to eliminate than it is to add. So create your 2022 “do not do list.” No smartphone usage on Saturdays. No email after dinner. Here you can find Tim Ferris’ Do Not Do List for other ideas.
Write a personal annual review
The annual review has become a pillar of corporate life but in recent years there’s been a growing movement to reclaim it. The idea is simple: you are the boss of your life, your annual review should encompass far more than just work. Your personal annual review should look back at the last year and look forward to the coming year. It should also cover all the key areas of your life like health, finances, learning, friends, family, and work. Ness Labs offers a template and suggests taking at least an hour. Steve Schlafman is a professional coach whose template has over 10,000 downloads. He says he takes a week for this process each year. However long you take to reflect, I recommend reviewing the templates for ideas on how to reflect on last year and the year ahead.
Learn how habits work
Rather than repeat the same approach to New Year’s Resolutions that you've tried before, take the time to understand how habits actually work. Two excellent books - The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Atomic Habits by James Clear - are really interesting, easy reads. Both books are filled with stories and they breakdown what goes into forming a new habit. Spoiler alert, half the battle is creating a reward for yourself that reinforces the new behavior.
Send Yourself Goal Reminders
Want to lose 10 pounds by June? Or find a new job by July? Sit down and use Gmail’s scheduled emails to send yourself monthly reminders (or weekly?!). It’s harder to ignore emails from yourself. Especially if they get snarkier and snarkier as your target deadline approaches.