2017 Review

Tim Ferriss has an email newsletter called 5-Bullet Friday that’s one of the few newsletters I subscribe to. In a recent email he shared his “past year review” as an alternative to doing new year’s resolutions.

From his email:

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! 🙏

Below is my exercise for 2017. Bolded items are especially good or bad.

January

  • Positive: Rogue One, Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time, performed in an improv student lottery show, party at the Pitchford house, moving into a communal living space, The Carbonaro Effect, Bailey’s wedding
  • Negative: bureaucracy of moving out of my apartment, surprise water leak in the new house that flooded the sidewalk and was hard to fix

February

  • Positive: Ice Climbing with Luke, Skiing with Luke (especially skiing alone and learning a better technique), improv level 2 showcase, business meeting with Brent
  • Negative:

March

  • Positive: PS Interview Day, Beauty and the Beast, judging the Ursuline Hackathon, Arkansas camping, dinner date with Phill
  • Negative:

April

  • Positive: meeting people at Microconf, getting my own climbing stuff, DCH Euing audition, toured tiny houses, re-played Human Resource Machine, Mac King in Vegas, walking around Vegas by myself, helped Elisa teach an Arduino class, started composting, Hackathon talk on Micropreneurship
  • Negative: taxes :(, didn’t meet the creator of tinyurl

May

  • Positive: Luke hung out in Dallas, Into the Woods, rock climbing outside in Kentucy (my first outdoor climbing trip!), hung out with Uncle Al, beach trip (and didn’t get burned!), Micropreneurship talk for DECA, made snap spectacles videos, museum, pretended to graduate medical school on facebook, helped Luke move, explored a cave, acro yoga with Luke
  • Negative: Achilles tendon injury, DR allergic reaction to crab

June

  • Positive: taught memory and web development at Mosaic, Something Rotten, Cabaret starring Janelle, fed Alfie fancy food, repaired my drone, got an iPad pro with apple pencil, got a moped, made a super fancy birthday dinner for Elisa, Elisa’s boat party, Martha Starke Retirement party
  • Negative:

July

  • Positive: Improv Level 4 Showcase, Oxford and Amsterdam with DR, World Domination Summit, Finding Neverland, taught mosaic again, home making Alfie food, coconut milk boba shakes in Portland, Portland high ropes course, Bletchly Park
  • Negative: being super tired from flying red eye Amsterdam flights

August

  • Positive: Utah Shakespeare road trip with Elisa and Spencer, awesome drone shots, Celeste’s proposal at the Ft. Worth Zoo, cleaning out Grammie’s house, the eclipse, hanging out at Ikea, Genco Village and sleeping outside, Wes Bos’s Learn Node course
  • Negative: Alfie emergency vet visits, trapped in a car with my parents bickering

September

  • Positive: SMU drag show, Farrell birthday brunch, Red River Gorge climbing, Alec’s housewarming party
  • Negative: I possibly have glaucoma :-o

October

  • Positive: bamboo jousting, John Mulaney, Google Pixel 2 (my first Android phone), murder mystery dinner party, Mineral Wells climbing, Bubba’s Chicken, bicycle tuneup, Korean BBQ
  • Negative: getting hit in the head with a bamboo rod, canceled Spain trip, Mineral Wells was cold, lost my glasses on the Joker at Six Flags and didn’t have a good backup, speeding ticket

November

  • Positive: Highland Park High School Career Fair Talk, Ted business meeting, TEDxKids, Bubba’s chicken, consolidated my stuff to two shelving units, new glasses, Trigg’s Wine and Magic show, climbing trip with Luke and DR, hanging out with my cousin’s babies, seeing my cousin play basketball against Notre Dame, biking around Notre Dame with my uncles and cousins, Salugi, seeing the original Millikan oil drop apparatus at the Chicago museum of science and industry
  • Negative: cold Notre Dame football game, poor diet choices traveling with family, renewing passport, Black Friday shopping, over-eating at Thanksgiving, court, dealing with speeding ticket

December

  • Positive: TED audition, Goat Yoga, playing Monopoly Deal and “What Do You Meme?” with my siblings, Burlesque show, moved into Trigg’s with hardly any stuff, The Last Jedi with DR, fancy Dallas Aquarium Stanton Law party, Disaster Artist with Celeste and Justin, biking to Katy Trail Ice House dinner, sibling dinner at Hg Suply Co, biking through Beverly Drive
  • Negative: moving out of Brad and dealing with having so much stuff, food poisoning, Gateway Christmas Show, mom trying to take a Christmas photo

What 20% of each column produced the most reliable or powerful peaks?

  • performing improv
  • walking around new places, especially by myself
  • rock climbing outside
  • camping
  • teaching
  • giving talks
  • traveling, especially World Domination Summit and Europe
  • spending money on frequently used objects
  • playing games with people I like
  • seeing shows and movies
  • biking

NOT-TO-DO LIST

  • avoid bureaucracies
  • deal with injuries early, and do the work of preventing re-injury
  • backup glasses
  • don’t accumulate stuff you don’t use