A Low Tech Approach For Your New Year’s Resolutions

A Low Tech Approach For Your New Year’s Resolutions

A low tech approach to keeping your New Year’s Resolutions involves using three notebooks to help you make progress towards your goals for the upcoming year. The first should be a small notebook that you keep with yourself. This is the master planner and should be with you at all times. In it you’ll take important notes related to your goals, work out the details that will help you accomplish them, and read back through them to make sure you’re making progress. You should read this every day.

Personally, I like to break my goals down into two overarching sections. The first relates to brand new goals. This involves anything I want to accomplish or make progress on this year that I hadn’t set as goals the previous year. This may involve readings that help bolster my career knowledge, projects that can help me expand my thinking, accomplishments I want to help my family achieve, or skills that I think would benefit my life. I also like to throw in one that has no benefit to me other than learning how to master something. Last year I chose the guitar, with a goal of seamlessly transitioning between the most five common chords (C, D, G, Am, F) so I could 80/20 my way into playing most songs. Fortunately, I did learn those five chordsĀ  but the music bug never really bit me. It felt more like a chore than anything else, and I won’t continue working on it through next year. Instead I will focus on Chess, a game I enjoy but am not very good at. I want to understand the game more and develop my strategic thinking in the process. My end goal here isn’t to become a chess master, but just to be more proficient at it.

The second section of resolutions relates to previous year’s goals and what I want to do with them going forward. Improving my health has always been a goal, so I added new metrics including resting heart rate, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in order to track it better. Being a better father and husband are also very high on the list. I also include all of my non work and familial roles and what I want to do with them, including my volunteering and club life so I don’t accidentally overextend myself in those areas. I do have goals that may have some time requirements including improving my golf handicap (15 or better) and shooting a higher percentage of clay targets while trap shooting (looking for my first perfect 25), although these might be as much changes in technique than time needed at the range. Overall though I plan on pursuing an MBA starting next fall so a lot of the goals I have from last year are actually scale-backs in nature in terms of the rate I want to improve at them.

In order to assist in all of this, the low tech approach I would suggest here is using the Moleskine Small with plain pages. The plain pages will give you enough creative space to jot down thoughts, make diagrams, glue in pictures etc.

My second approach to establish and make progress on my New Year’s resolutions relies on another notebook that I use to track what I learn so I can reference these thoughts in the future. This is your book of knowledge and should be reviewed once a week. In here I’ll write down takeaways from books and articles I read or talks I’ve heard or even things I’ve picked up doing something that might be important later. Since the majority of my goals relate to expanding my knowledge of the world and refining my perceptions of it, having a central location where I can collect all of this information helps me internalize it later. In fact, when I do a book review on this site I often take my highlighted notes out of the Kindle and rewrite them into this notebook to help me learn and piece together anything that might be of value for me. This has shed some light on practices that have made an improvement in my life, which I appreciate tremendously despite how small that improvement might be. For example, I just finished a book about training that suggests one workout in the morning. Although I’d say the writing in this book is pretty rough and some areas are redundant and overdone, just simply taking this advice to train in the morning has had a profound impact on my day to day feeling and health and so I place this book high up on my recommendations list. Big changes come in small increments.

I also suggest approaching the creation and documentation in this notebook to be used as an heirloom, which is something you should pass down to your children in the future. I would suggest utilizing the Moleskine Large with ruled pages as it’s durable and easy to write in. One day your kids may read it and pick up some great advice that can help them in their lives, which is very valuable in itself.

My third and final book is a journal. This serves as my memoir and I contribute to it every day. A journal is important because it helps you suss out your thoughts and experiences during a day and look for areas of improvement. It’s like having a low cost life coach, because as you write things out you’ll be able to make some valuable observations on what you spend your time and energy on and take stock of your life. I also recommend using it as a memoir to write something about your past, such as places you’ve lived, schools you went to, or other periods of your life. This will come in handy the older you get when your memory starts fading and will be an excellent gift to your loved ones after you pass. I think anyone who has lost a parent would love to have something that could inform them on what that person liked, thought, or the experiences they had and if they could relate to them. To me, this is more valuable than any stock or real estate (although those things are nice!)

My biggest recommendation here is to write whatever comes to mind, if you find yourself wanting to cross out a word, do not, just try to work around it. This will have the double effect of making you a better writer. I suggest the Moleskine Extra Large for this purpose.

If at any point you feel you’re too far gone on your resolutions and are ready to throw in the towel, realize that in fact everyday of the year marks the beginning of a new year because there will be 364 days after it regardless of the day or month. If you’re dismayed that you failed, take stock in yourself, regroup your thoughts, set a nice hard date that makes sense (for example the beginning of a month, a birthday, an important anniversary etc.) and redeploy your plan. Don’t get discouraged and never give up!

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