A new year presents us with new opportunities. A fresh start. A new chapter.
We can start from scratch and re-write the wrongs of last year. Leave those demons back in 2022 and let them drown. This year is your year. This year things will go the way you’ve been dreaming of.
It’s common to feel naive when January 1st comes around. I dust out the old notepad, crack my knuckles, and crank out a few dozen or so “goals” I want to accomplish for that year. Each time, I write down a list of twenty or so goals I’d like to achieve in the next 365 days. Some are no sweat, like “Hang out with friends more often.” Others are achievable but moderately challenging, like “Travel to one national park and one foreign country.” And some goals are so ambitious I may never come close to achieving them this year, next year, or ten years from now. But what steps can I take to make that journey more attainable?
2023 is just a continuation of the same journey. With. Minor. Tweaks. You don’t need to overhaul your entire lifestyle,` but what you can do is have a check-in with yourself.
I now conduct a personal Annual Review.
In most of our 9-5 jobs, we have a Review Cycle of some sort. At the end of every quarter or year, your boss sits you down and conducts a personal performance review. You may do this for your employees or your peers as well. The process is probably different for each of us, but effectively you rate yourself in different categories on a scale, or some other units and your boss does the same to see where your opinions of your performance match up and where they fall short, or perhaps even exceed expectations.
Yet, how often do we actually check in with ourselves outside of work? Wouldn’t we benefit from a similar exercise about our home life? Some of these performance reviews are uncomfortable. They force you to answer questions about yourself that you feel weird about answering. But what if you were forced to answer similar questions about lifestyle?
- How are my relationships and social life?
- What drained energy this year? Did I allow energy drainers to persist or did I cut them in real-time?
- What types of foods am I eating and what does my exercise routine look like? Am I getting enough sleep consistently? Where can I clean things up?
- What created energy this year? What activities, people, or projects consistently CREATED energy in my life? Write them down.
- How much have I upheld my promises to myself, and maintained a good intrinsic reputation?
- What did I not do because of fear?
I took this idea from author/podcaster Tim Ferriss. He suggests we forget New Year’s Resolutions and instead conduct a “Past Year in Review.” This involves going through your calendar from the prior 12 months and creating a list of positive and negative things you did.
The Past Year in Review takes just 30–60 minutes and looks like this:
- 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 or activities or commitments that triggered peak positive or negative emotions for that month. Put them in their respective columns.
- 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 the new year. Get them on the calendar now! Book things with friends and prepay for activities/events/commitments that you know work. It’s not real until it’s in the calendar. 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 2022. 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.
In other words,
Goal: More time on these in 2023
Goal: Less time on these in 2023
The point of setting goals is to get yourself out of your comfort zone and to stretch beyond your limits. The metric for success, then, is not attaining the goal itself, but rather striving for it in the first place.
When you’re a child, you are constantly in a state of discomfort. You have to be in order to acquire the necessary tools to survive – eating, walking, talking, reading, socializing, etc. What used to make you uncomfortable soon becomes comfortable. Imagine if you never tried to take your first step because you were scared of failing. But you kept going at it until you figured it out. Sure you were clumsy for a couple of years, but now you can walk all day!
It’s the striving and difficult work that makes you happy, and what leads to ultimate growth. What you conquered is no longer a source of frustration or discomfort, and that makes you proud. But the antithesis of personal growth is complacency, and complacency derives from comfort.
Comfort creates complacency.
We live comfortable lives. As soon as you reach a certain level of income you can afford a nice apartment or a nice house, you can buy whatever you want on Amazon and have it delivered in hours, you can have a deliveryman bring you hot food within minutes, and you don’t even need to wait on line to get your Starbucks on your way to work. You can finish up your work day and put your feet up and relax with a glass of wine. You’ve earned it, after all.
And that’s all good and fine. I certainly love doing all of the above as much as the next guy. But you don’t quite notice when you get too comfortable, do you? It creeps in.
After months of stagnation, I catch myself choosing comfort over effort all morning, day, and night. Why wake up early and go to the gym when it’s so nice and cozy under the covers? Friday comes around but when I look back at what I accomplished the past week there isn’t anything I’m proud of. Weeks turn into months, and the next thing you know it’s December. Sure I crossed a few important items off the to-do list, but did I do anything significant? Did I make any progress toward the goals I set for myself back at the beginning of the year? Or did I make excuses to choose comfort over effort?
Your “resolutions” or “goals” don’t have to be about pushing yourself harder and burning out. It’s not about that. Rather, ask yourself, “Where am I getting complacent and comfortable where I don’t want to be?”
Jay Shetty, author of Think Link a Monk and host of the podcast On Purpose says that when we sit to write these goals down and form a disciplined structure it should consist of three themes:
- Challenge yourself
- Change your environment
- Repeat these three mantras
- I am ready to go to the next level
- I can do hard things
- I will not settle for less than I deserve
I write down about 20 goals each year. Most years, I only hit half of them, and that’s ok. They are challenging for a reason. If I hadn’t written those goals in the first place I probably wouldn’t have even attempted them, let alone fail at reaching them.
I know that I probably won’t accomplish half of my goals this year. But if I continue to put pen to paper, sign the proverbial contract with myself to commit, and set my mind in the right direction, I will get there eventually. As the Stoics say, “No winds are favorable if you don’t know where you’re going.” I may meander off the path or take it slower than planned, but I have a compass to help me steer the boat in the right direction.
And for the goals I missed, I re-evaluate. I journal it out to understand why I wasn’t able to achieve them. Was I not specific enough? Was it not realistic?
“How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?”
Once I have those questions answered, I’ll write down a new version of the same goal.
When you’re specific in your intentions, opportunities magically open up for you. When you know your end goal, the way you look at things changes. You find opportunities that you wouldn’t have seen before. When you’re specific in your intentions, you leave no room for indecision.
Sucess comes to those who are success-conscious. -Napoleon Hill
One thing I’ve learned from goal setting is you have to be willing to do the things you want to achieve even on the days you don’t want to. You have to do it just as hard on September 26th as you do on January 2nd. Make your goals realistic, achievable, and measurable. Ok, you want something? Great. When do you want it by? How are you going to do it? How will you measure your progress, and ultimately success?
Kyle’s Goals for 2023
- Plan events with friends in advance (i.e. comedy shows, sporting events, concerts)
- Write every single day – 5 IG posts per week, 3 blog posts per month, 1 newsletter per week, 1 podcast episode per month
- Become a New York Times best-selling author
- Respond to texts as soon as I get them. Call/text my closest friends each week to check in
- Become a volunteer firefighter
- Get a raise and get promoted to an international/global role or VP. Promote members of my team too
- Get recognized for my contributions to the business (shout-outs, awards, speaking engagements, role change, etc.)
- Earn over $1,000/month from consulting and freelancing
- Develop a third stream of income through writing, affiliate marketing, social media, podcasting
- Travel to one foreign country and one national park
- Try Jui-Jitsu
- Limit alcohol to less than five times per month, and less than three drinks per session
- Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Go to bed at 10 pm and wake up at 5 am every single day.
- Get down to 185 lbs
- Exercise/sweat every day. No excuses. If not feeling good, walk at least 10,000 steps outside.
- Run a triathlon race or marathon
- Buy a stand-up paddleboard and do it once a week in the summer
- Start renovations on our basement and/or garage
- Have a beautiful and healthy child with Lauren within the next 18 months
- Become the #1 rated firefighter by accumulating the most calls and most LOSAP points in my first year
- Get my golf handicap down to 11-12
- Radiate love and positive energy. Bring joy, vigor, and enthusiasm to every situation
- Get a tattoo. Or two.
- Buy Lauren a Tesla
See you all same time next year?