It’s the time of the year where many people are constantly questioning who and where they are. And I don’t mean that in a ‘I’m looking into the fridge again’ kind of way. I mean it in a ‘How did I get here?’ by Talking Heads, kind of way.
If you have read any of my previous articles or worked with me, you will know I personally don’t set any New Year’s resolutions anymore. I have failed way too many times (as do many humans) to put myself through that self/society imposed bullshit again. Without external accountability from a best friend/responsible adult with possible public humiliation, you are doomed to failure. Any desire to change can be started on any day. Today is the most important day, every day. The Julian calendar is not the boss of me or you.
Resolutions often involve giving something up, and there are few people that like to be denied something. Unless you’re the type of person who likes going on those silent retreats, barely sleeping and eating bark.
In my own experience running towards something new is more successful than running away from something old. New habits take on average 66 days for your brain to make it automatic. Meaning it’s easier to do the new habit, than not do it. Neuroplasticity is the interesting thing here. Check out the material from University College London here.
However I would like to propose a different approach this month as used by the bestselling author of Tools Of Titans and the Four Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferriss. I have used this for the first time and it is staggeringly simple and allows you to view your past year on a single page. And you will either love or hate what it is telling you. Talking to others who have recently tried it, indifference to the results is not common, you’re going to have a strong feeling either way.
Tim says he has “found past year reviews (PYR) more informed, valuable, and actionable than blindly looking forward with resolutions”. And I’m willing to give it a shot myself and I’m liking the process already, which is a big component of the probability of it being a success.
It looks like the following and only takes 30-60 minutes. I did mine in 30 minutes scrolling through an electronic calendar:
1. On an A4 notepad create two columns: POSITIVE and NEGATIVE.
2. Go through your calendar from the last year, looking at every week.
3. For each week, note down on the sheet any people and activities that triggered peak positive or negative emotions for that month. Be honest, no one is marking this.
4. 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?”. For me seeing the year presented like this, was a very strong affirmation of the things/people that make me beam, and the (thankfully, much shorter list) of the things that made my heart shrivel up.
5. Based on the answers, take your “positive” leaders and schedule more of them in 2018. Get them on the calendar now. And I mean now, not next month! Book things with friends and prepay for good times to look forward to. Step one complete. 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. I have this in my office, within my eye line. These are the people and things you *know* make you feel like crap, so don’t put them on your calendar out of obligation, guilt, FOMO, or other nonsense. Your time is non refundable. I repeat non refundable. And finite. So if you find you have more time to fill now you have excluded the negative things/energy vampires, then fill that calendar with more fabulousness before the more mundane and pointless stuff of everyday life does it for you.
I’d like you to try this, you are worth an hour of your time to set yourself up for your best year yet.
As Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” “And fill it full of awesomeness” – Mary Doyle