New Year's resolutions offer an incredibly promising way of inducing anxiety at the start of the new year. Well-willed plans easily turn into incomplete checklists and self-deprecating thoughts. “I just had to lose weight, stop drinking, write a book and pick up Spanish in one year. How exactly am I to achieve anything if I couldn't even do that?”
In order to save myself from premature expectations, I like to focus on principles rather than concrete goals. A few ideas to follow every day that will hopefully compound into one amazing year. Plans change, some days are better, some are worse, but having a set of principles will allow every morning to feel like a fresh start. Don't hold them against me — I won't succeed, but I won't give up either. Below are my top ten principles for the coming year in no particular order.
1. Start with happiness
Every action and every moment should make me happier. I will pause and take care of my mental state before jumping into any longer activity. If I don't enjoy something I won't do it for more than a day — I know I simply can't be at my best.
2. Growth mindset
I will go to the gym as if I'm training to be an athlete. I will cook as if I am preparing to open a restaurant. I will read as if I am about to write a book. I will seek hacks and high-growth areas in everything and I will improve things that are not expanding.
3. Do things that nobody else will
One way to make sure what you do has value is to solve problems that nobody else will. I will take deeper steps to help rather than to compete.
4. Aim for brutal excellence
If it's not worth doing well, it's not worth doing at all. The pain I could endure as a rower will serve as a bar for everything else.
Minimalism creates a sustainable and flexible lifestyle that makes me happy. At work, it ensures an effective application of effort and adds an inexplicable quality to every output.
6. Concentrated presence over prolonged availability
Sharing a great moment is more important than just “catching up”. Time is limited, but presence can grow when you have more to give.
7. Great work is done in great teams
It is time to snap out of the illusion perpetrated by our education structures. Great teams are happier and more productive than individuals.
8. Brand over business
Everyone — individuals and corporations alike — has to stand for something these days lest they will be lost like a drop in the ocean. After years of learning and optimization, it is time to define who I am and what I really care about. Every word, every action and every output will write this story.
9. Character never goes out of fashion
There is always an easy way and the right way. Not following your values is a surefire way to lose before even starting the game. I will strive to be even more disciplined to the point of real sacrifice.
10. Can I do this faster?
Something I will be asking myself every day. One thing I have learned is that a good plan can speed up things infinitely.