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.