What to Do Instead of New Years Resolutions

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I’ve been anti-new-years-resolutions for a while now.

My reason is simple: I don’t like gimmicks. And that’s what most resolutions are. They’re nice stories that people tell themselves about how they’ll be better next year.

Here’s the simple truth about these types of resolutions: If you had the ability to eat less, or exercise more, you wouldn’t wait until the end of December to make those changes. Anyone capable of such discipline would make the change immediately—not at the end of the year.

But it’s not all bad news for next-year planning. I think there are a few tasks that fit well with an annual cadence, and you might as well get them done between December 15th and January 1st when you have some downtime to reflect.

My annual life optimizations

You don’t rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems.

James Clear

This isn’t the same as buying a gym membership; it’s a commitment to a schedule.

  • Optimize your daily routine and commit to staying with it. I just redid mine and published it here.
  • Make sure your life is backed up, and that you have functioning auto-backups in place.
  • Get to a zero inbox. I use Superhuman, so that includes all Starred email too.
  • Make a list of the people you should be interacting with regularly in the coming year. This means taking people off the list and adding others. The criteria will be different for everyone, but I recommend something like the following:

It’s harsh, but in order to be great you need to limit the type of energy you’re absorbing from the people in your life.

  1. Drop people who are negative or toxic, and who are unwilling to put in the work to improve themselves.
  2. Add a few people who work harder than you and/or have some measure of success that you wish to achieve.
  3. Add a few people who are up-and-coming grinders who could benefit from your position and knowledge.

So, cut the negative people, find some people who push you, and find some people to help on their journeys.

This is my longer list.

  • Review your evergreen books. Bring up your most important books, or at least your favorite passages from them, and re-absorb them. Mine short(er) list of favorites includes:
  1. Atomic Habits
  2. Meditations
  3. Never Split the Difference
  4. A Guide to the Good Life
  5. The Evolution of Everything

I don’t generally have time to re-read all of my favorites, but I use Kindle Highlights (and now Readwise) to review my favorite snippets. If you don’t have your books marked up in this way, take this opportunity to do that.

Summary

  1. Resolutions are fantasies.
  2. Use the time to perform annual tune-ups on your systems instead.
  3. Update your daily routine with what you’ve learned in the last year.
  4. Make sure your most important text, documents, and images are backed up properly, with automation.
  5. Manicure the list of who you’re going to associate with this coming year.
  6. Re-consume and re-process your favorite wisdom from your favorite books.

I hope you have a wonderful 2022.

Notes

  1. Make sure your routine includes regular pings to people you care about tell them that they’re awesome, and that you care about them.