Yes, New Year’s Eve is a turning point. People stuff themselves with delicious food, party their butts off, and watch their drunk neighbor Joe fire off a stray rocket through his bedroom window and set his house on fire. It’s a great way to celebrate the past year and set intentions for the new. But…
Only 50% of people stick to them for a month. Over 80% quit after two years. Long-term, their life goes back to the same-old, same-old.
“What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.” – Vern McLellan
When you waste your time and energy on futile efforts only to end up in the same spot, it makes you feel miserable. The firecracker-high is long gone and reality has you back in its fangs, forcing you to face your failure. There is a better way.
You can use the Pareto Principle to move forward and live a happier life.
This Is The True Gift Of The New Year
There’s no manual for life.
Nobody has it all figured out. We try, fail, try again, fail better, and eventually succeed. But we’re individuals – just because your buddy Mike is happy watching Football in the bars every evening doesn’t mean you are. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself.
Every new year, you have the opportunity to reflect and learn. You’ll see what made you happy and what didn’t, what moved you forward and what kept you stuck, what had you screaming in joy and what had you sobbing in pain. You just have to use the data.
Step #1: Reflect on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The best way to create a better future is to learn from the past.
A year is a long time and lots of things happen. Changes at work, relaxing vacations, embracing new friends or letting old ones go, and that one time you spray-pooped your pants after a Chipotle burrito. Write a list and include how and with whom you spent most of your time.
Do this thoroughly. Without written reflection, you’ll miss a lot of the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff. Having a journal comes in handy.
Then, underline the events, people, and changes that had the biggest impact on you. Having a child and going fishing with your best buddy every other weekend are different in nature, but both change your life a lot.
Separate the data from the noise.
Step #2: Make These Two Lists To See Clearly What Matters
If you want to get the most out of life, double down on what works.
This is the Pareto principle in action, which states that 80% of results come from 20% of your efforts. I’ve tried lots of things, had tons of business ideas, and met thousands of people. But only a few of them turned my life into what it is today.
Look at your reflection above. Find the 20% that created most of your happiness – or unhappiness. Make a list for each.
When I do this, I always find an astonishing pattern.
Relationships with others have the biggest impact on my life. Quality time with friends, family, and partners makes me happy, arguments or saying goodbye spoil my mood. Harvard University confirms this – in an 80-year study, they found the biggest factor determining happiness are your relationships with others.
Of course, only you know what has the biggest impact on your life, so go ahead and write your lists.
Then, double down on the good and avoid the bad.
Use These Little Helpers To Make Change Inevitable
Change comes through action.
You now know what you should and shouldn’t do more of. But if you don’t make it happen, you’ll get stuck in the same place. The last digit of the year will change, but your life won’t.
Instead of creating great plans that never happen, use these little helpers to make progress inevitable.
- Write a short list to remind yourself of what matters
I put my top and bottom 20% on a piece of paper and glued it next to my desk. Every day, it reminds me what I want to do more of – and what I need to let go.
- Plan in advance
Instead of leaving things to chance, make time for them in your calendar. Vacations, date nights, long weekends with your best buddy, and blocks for reflection and working on yourself. Whatever is on your top list should be important to you, so make time for it over the next 12 months.
- Reward yourself
Some things are hard in the short run, but pay off over time, like hitting the gym or deleting social media. Treat yourself or put $5 in a jar every time you make it.
- Get an accountability partner
Whether you plan to have a date night, write a relationship journal, or work out regularly – get someone to hold you accountable. It’s too easy to get off track. Ask your partner or a good friend to check in with you.
Make happen what needs to happen.
Summary To Help You Have a Better and Happier 2023
Classic New Year’s Resolutions are like my 5-year-old self helping my grandpa to push his car up a hill – well-meaning, but not making much of a difference.
Instead of committing to arbitrary goals and ditching them shortly after, look at the proven ways you can move your life forward and increase your happiness.
- Reflect on everything that happened during the last year and how it impacted your life.
- Create a happiness and unhappiness list and find the 20% of actions and people that caused 80% of the effects.
- Use the little helpers to make sure you do more of the good and less of the bad next year.
Happiness is easy. Find out what makes you happy and what doesn’t. Double down on number one, cut out number two.
Happy New Year!