New year's resolutions can be great - when done properly. Unfortunately, most of us fall into the trap of setting some way too general goals for the coming year as December comes to a close. It's no surprise then that by February (or much sooner) we've forgotten all about our resolutions and have succumbed to the daily/weekly rhythm or our lives.
One small tweak to the new year's resolutions exercise can make all the difference in actually getting our goals to stick. Author Tim Ferriss recommends doing a "prior year review" instead of setting new year's resolutions. We're going to discuss adding the review to your resolutions to help you come up with some great goals in the new year and hopefully have more success sticking with them.
As Ferriss discusses in this blog post, at the end of each year he sits down with his calendar and a notebook. He makes two columns in his notebook, one for positive and another for negative. He then looks back at each week from the prior year and writes down any activities, commitments or people that trigger any especially positive or negative emotions and places them in the corresponding column. Ferriss goes on to explain how he then immediately schedules positive events for the next year and creates a list of "Do Not Do" activities for the negative.
Our approach is a bit different in that we take these lists to help us construct our goals for the coming year. What are some of the top items on the positive list? Or how can we take some of the top negative items and create goals to help us not repeat those same experiences? An example could be that one of your top positive items from the past year was going on nature hikes. So, a new year's resolution might be to commit to a weekly or monthly hiking trip. Maybe a common theme of your negative list was having early morning commitments. You could then set a goal to prioritize sleep and take steps to get to bed earlier and limit screen time before bed.
However you approach new year's resolutions, the additional step of reviewing the year can help provide some insight into how you can set and maintain better goals in the new year.