Don’t Do New Year’s Resolutions; Do a Past Year Review

New Year's Resolutions. Image of a big rock.

A year ago, I gave up making New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, following the advice of Tim Ferris, I started doing a “Past Year Review.” This exercise forces you to evaluate the people/places/things you found most draining during the prior year, and those you found most enriching. You then take the top 20% of the negatives and place them in a  “Not To Do” List for the upcoming year, and begin scheduling more of the top 20% of the positives into your calendar. I’ve just completed my PYR and immediately dropped a much beloved, but time-consuming volunteer gig in favour of spending more time writing. And you know what? I feel great. Here’s a post about how I came to the decision that “less [really is] more.”:


Whenever I coach or give a workshop on writing or public speaking, I urge my clients to adhere to that time-honored mantra, “Less is More.” By which I mean, the less you stuff into a talk/presentation/blog post/article, the more the audience will take away.

Last week, I wrote a blog about burnout, and how I resolved to do things differently next year. Here are three things I plan to do in 2022 so as to live the concept “Less is More”:

a.  Blog less.  I absolutely love this blog. For years, it was the one place I felt that I truly “showed up,” at a time in my life when my jobs often felt less than authentic. But I really, really, really want to advance on the book project I’m working on.  And I simply can’t do both types of writing *and* run my business. The good news is that having blogged for close to 11 years, I’ve got a huge backlog of posts. Sometimes I’ll stumble upon them when I’m writing a fresh post and think, “Damn! That was good!” Going forward, I will be re-sharing some of my older content more in order to free up more of my mornings for writing the book.

b.  Volunteer Less.  I’m a big believer in volunteering. But as with writing, I’d rather do one volunteer post whole-heartedly, than two half-assedly. So I’m stepping down from a fantastic organization that teaches writing to students in East London, to focus more on my work helping to register American voters overseas. I’m sure I’ll go back to the first organization at some point. But right now, 2022 feels like a make-or-break year politically in the United States. And I want to put my energy there.

c.  Socialize less.  Or rather, be more strategic in how I socialize. I’m an extrovert, which means that I tend to collect more friends than the average person, and to stay in touch with them. But as I get older, I find that socializing takes a lot out of me, especially if it involves alcohol. So in 2022, I’m going to do two things. First, I’m going to schedule more virtual coffees and drinks and do less outside the home. Second, I’m going to relinquish my “manager  hat” where my social life is concerned, and stop being the person who *always* organizes gatherings. Both are tiring, and I want to feel a bit less exhausted in my personal life.

Over on Thrive, business psychologist Sabrina Starling recently published a blog post entitled “How I was able to strengthen my business by doing less.” In it, she invokes productivity guru Stephen Covey’s concept of “big rocks”—those high-value activities you prioritize each and every day so that you only focus on what counts. While I’ve often written about the need to set priorities in both my business and my personal life, somehow reading Starling’s post got me to focus on “big rocks” anew.

So I’m looking at you. What are your big rocks for 2022? And what will you give up to achieve them?

Image:  Photo by Jessica Castillo on Unsplash


Write a comment