New Year's Resolution on a piece of paper sitting on desk
You Should be Done with New Year’s Resolutions.

New Year’s Resolutions are awesome for Gym owners, snarky media outlets who like to talk and write about resolutions that don’t come to fruition and those people who love to plan to get things done, but don’t take action.  New Year’s resolutions are the same as reading a nonfiction business book to learn something and not putting any of the ideas into action – not one!

In this blog I am offering you two ideas or challenges, if you will,  to consider as alternatives to resolutions.  Perhaps, you can use these challenges and ideas to actually achieve your resolution. 

The first is something that I have implemented three years ago.  The idea comes from Tim Ferriss.  Tim’s idea of an alternative to a resolution is a Past Year Review.  You can find his post here with the five basic steps; I will give the key points, but I highly recommend you take 3 minutes and read his post. 

This works for everyone, but I want to speak to a special group of people.  If you are a visionary entrepreneur or CEO of a small to mid-market company, you want to go through your calendar week by week with a pad of paper in front of you with two columns “positive” and “negative.”

  • Look for people, activities (meetings internal & external), events and commitments that in hindsight moved the needle (positive effect) and those that were a waste of time or negatively impacted your performance.  Note these on the pad in the appropriate column.  This should take you about 30-minutes.
  • Now go through the list of positives, and evaluate the top 20% that inspired you to be the best or do your best and were reliable for generating powerful spikes in your productivity.  This should take you about 10-minutes.


Step 1:  The 20% from the positive column including people, events, and meetings are actionable items that you should take immediate action to schedule more of in 2023.  Make the calls, send the emails, pre-pay for the events, but get them on your calendar now.  This goes for personal time and business time.  


Step 2:  Take the top negative leaders in the second column and create a NOT TO DO LIST. Give this list to your executive assistant, make it prominent in your work environment for January and February.  The events, meetings and people are an energy suck and time wasters.  Stop booking time with them.  This may be difficult for some of you because of the false sense of obligation to others or guilt.  NONSENSE.  This is your life, your energy and your vision – own your calendar.  Time is the only resource that you cannot buy more of – protect it!

No man is free who is not master of himself. Epictetus

The best time to demand the most of yourself or to take action to achieve a goal was in the past (months and  years ago).  The second best time is RIGHT NOW

This quote below from Epictetus  is nearly 2100 years old, but it still resonates in 2023. 

From now on, then, resolve to live as a grown-up who is making progress, and make whatever you think best a law that you never set aside. And whenever you encounter anything that is difficult or pleasurable, or highly or lowly regarded, remember that the contest is now: you are at the Olympic Games, you cannot wait any longer, and that your progress is wrecked or preserved by a single day and a single event.


Allow me to break Epictetus’ passage into 7 steps for you:

  1. Gain clarity on the life you want to live and who you want to help
  2. Learn the skills you need to achieve your objectives
  3. Stop procrastinating on your dreams, objectives and goals
  4. Quit doing the things that cause you harm
  5. Be more courageous with your communication, and honest with your feelings
  6. Get out of your own way and stop destructive thoughts
  7. Make amends with your transgressions with others, but mostly with yourself


Do the work.  It isn’t easy, but do the work.  These seven ideas are really challenges to you.  Make them rocks – but stop resolving to do something and do the work!  Give up the resolutions and go take action now.  

If any of this makes sense to you, consider sharing this blog post with a colleague, someone on your leadership team or a manager in your organization.  A gift of thinking differently may just help.