At the time of publishing this it is the last day of 2017 and tomorrow will be the first day of 2018*.  It’s about to be the start of a whole ‘nother year.  And that means New Year Resolutions …. Right?


Well, it can if you want it to.

If New Year’s resolutions are your thing then, please go right ahead.  If, however, you’re a little like me and most of the rest of us out there and resolutions don’t or haven’t worked then perhaps you’ve been looking for a different way of approaching your reflections on what you want to achieve this year … I mean next year …. I mean over the next 365 days or so … I mean in the future … You get what I mean.

I’ve been conducting my own reflections of 2017 and what I want to achieve in 2018 so it was no surprise to see a few things pop up in my email inbox and my Facebook news feed suggesting how I could do it better. Is that confirmation bias, magic or Big Brother watching over me?  I’ll leave you to decide.

So, if you would like a different way to approach goal setting in the New Year then here are three methods that have resonated for me.

Reflecting the Bullet Journal Way

In 2017 I started using The Bullet Journal method for planning, daily goal setting and recording important information.  It’s a simple and effective process that you can use with any blank journal and it can even be adapted for use on line.  I was using Notes Plus but there are plenty of other options out there.  Please feel free to share what you have used in the comments section below.

Ryder Carroll, founder of Bullet Journal describes his method for migrating from your completed journal to a new journal.  Of course, the New Year is a great time to do this.  In the first part of this particular blog he describes the reflection process that he uses before migration.  It involves going through your old journal from the previous year (or this year if you are doing it before the end of this year … let’s not go down that path again) and reflecting on all your entries.  If you’ve been disciplined in your journaling you should have a good history and narrative for the year.  Then in four sections of a blank page capture the following:

  1. What worked for you.
  2. What didn’t work.
  3. What you want to do more of.
  4. What you want to be doing less of.

Ryder makes the point that it is just as important to reflect on what you didn’t achieve as what you did.  We will learn just as much from our failures (possibly more, I would say) as we do from our successes.

Going through this process helps you prioritise what is important for you going forward in the new year and to set some priorities.

Tim Ferriss’ Past Year Review (PYR)

For those of you who have been following me for a while you will know that I subscribe to Tim’s blog/podcast The Four Hour Work Week.  In his interviews Tim ask questions of people successful in their field about the tactical level tips and techniques that helped them achieve success.  It is very rare that I go through an entire podcast and I don’t hear something that I feel could be useful for either myself or one of my clients.  The podcast is one I recommend on my own website.

Tim also sends out a short email every week called Five Bullet Friday in which he shares the latest things or thoughts that interest him and he feels might be of interest to his followers. In his email of 30 Dec 17 he reveals his system for past year review.  For accuracy, I have copied directly from Tim’s email below:

  1. Grab a notepad and create two columns: POSITIVE and NEGATIVE.
  2. Go through your calendar from the last year, looking at every week.
  3. For each week, jot down on the pad any people and activities that triggered peak positive or negative emotions for that month.
  4. 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?”
  5. Based on the answers, take your “positive” leaders and schedule more of them in 2018. Get them on the calendar now! Book things with friends and prepay for shit now! 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 2018. 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.

There will be those of you reading this who will be saying “Well, that’s great if you work for yourself or are an entrepreneur. I don’t have control of my diary or who I work with. I have no choice.”  I offer a few of points on this.

Firstly, you always have a choice.  You don’t have to go to that meeting and you don’t have to work in that job.  You do have to live with the consequences of your choice, however, and should make your choices being aware of those consequences.

Secondly, if you make the decision to attend these meetings and work with these people, what can you do to either make the experience more enjoyable or learn something from it?  I’d suggest adopting a curious attitude rather than a ‘woe is me’ one. There is always something you can learn from any experience, positive or negative.

Finally, there will always be elements of your diary that you can control; social engagements, family outings, gym sessions, what you do when you get home at night.  Which of those did you enjoy and which would you like less of?  Take control of the elements of your life within your power.

Mark Manson’s Five Rules for Giving Less F**ks in the New Year.

Mark Manson has a different approach, although there are some similarities.  He talks about focusing on the outcome you want rather than the activity you are engaged in.  Here is a summary of Mark’s rules:

  1. Find something important to care about. Mark asks us to consider what are the goals or issues that we are prepared to endure pain or discomfort to achieve or resolve.
  2. Solve problems. Happiness comes when we solve problems.  It’s something we have to work for and not something we are magically given.  This is why people who have money aren’t necessarily happy.
  3. Prioritise what you care about. Stop caring about the trivial, like the guy who parks to close to you or the dog that craps on your lawn. We have limited energy. Choose where you want to spend it.
  4. Align your efforts with your values. Be comfortable with the choices you make and stop trying to live by other people’s values.
  5. Understand you have limited time. We have a limited amount of time on the planet.  Think about what you want to be remembered for when you’re gone. Align your actions with that vision.

Mark, in his style, tells the story in a much more colourful way.  If you would like to read his version you can here.

Common themes and Next Steps.

There is a common theme in all three of these approaches.  Analyse where you spend your time and do more of what you want and less of what you don’t want.  There is no surprise this theme resonates for me as it is something I talk about with my clients all the time; focus on what you want. All it takes now:

  1. Make some time to sit down with your diary, journal, or to reflect on what’s important, what do you want, and what do you want to do less of.
  2. Commit those thoughts to paper and share with a friend. You are more likely to follow through if you do.
  3. Monitor your progress and repeat at routine intervals (it doesn’t need to be yearly).

Of course, this is just three of many methods you can use to set goals and achieve in the New Year.  Any basic Google search will present you with a range of options.  I’m more interested in what has worked for you.  Please share with the Campbell Leadership Clan in the comments below.

If you’d like any help setting goals or working on your professional or personal development goals, please feel free to contact me at Campbell Leadership Solutions.

Until then, thank you for reading and leading.

Happy New Year.

* Applicable anytime. 😉