New year’s resolutions: Things worth considering for next year

The be­gin­ning of the new year is a nat­u­ral Schel­ling Point and swiftly ap­proach­ing. With that in mind I have cre­ated a handy go-to list of things worth con­sid­er­ing for next year.

Alongside this pro­cess; an­other thing you might like to do is con­duct a re­view of this year, con­firm­ing your progress on ma­jor goals; dou­ble check­ing that you are on track. and con­duct any last-minute sum­maries of po­ten­tial failures or learn­ing-cases.

This list is de­signed to be used for imag­i­na­tion, op­por­tu­nity, and po­ten­tial plan­ning pur­poses. If you find your­self hav­ing the feel­ings of (dis­ap­point­ment, failure, fear, re­gret, bur­dens, guilt and oth­ers) re­con­sider look­ing at this list and in­stead do some­thing that will not lead to nega­tive feel­ings about the fu­ture. If you are not get­ting some­thing pos­i­tive out of do­ing this ex­er­cise, don’t. That’s a silly idea. I am bank­ing on the fact that it will be more helpful than not; for most peo­ple. If you are in the cat­e­gory of peo­ple that it does not help—I am sorry; I as­sume you know your pri­ori­ties and are work­ing on them as rea­son­ably effec­tively as pos­si­ble—good luck with that task.

This list is go­ing to look a bit like my List of com­mon hu­man goals be­cause it was writ­ten con­cur­ren­lty with the ideas listed there (and by the same per­son).

You might want a pen and pa­per; and 10 min­utes to go through this list and con­sider what things you want to do over the next year that fall into these cat­e­gories. This time is not for you to plan out an en­tire year, but some­thing of a chance to con­sider the play­ing field of “a year of time”. After you have a list of things you want to do; there are lots of things you can do with them. i.e. time plan­ning, re­search, goal fac­tor­ing, task-gen­er­at­ing.

with­out fur­ther ado; the list:

1. things I might want to study or learn next year

Often peo­ple like learn­ing. Are you think­ing of higher level study? Or keen to up­skill? Think­ing of pick­ing up a text­book (our list of best text­books on ev­ery sub­ject) on a topic. Or join­ing a learn­ing group for a skill

2. life goals I would like to have com­pleted by next year

Do you already have a list of life goals? Should you re­view them and do you want to par­tic­u­larly work on one over the next year? Is some­thing over­due? Is there some­thing you have been putting off start­ing?

3. health goals

Are there health tar­gets that you let get away from you this year? Are you look­ing to set fu­ture health tar­gets? Start new habits for the year? bee­minder sug­gests set­ting ac­tion­able goals as bee­mind­ing tasks, i.e. “eat car­rots to­day” rather than tar­gets “lose 1kg this month”.

4. sav­ings I want to achieve by next year.

Do you want to save money to­wards some­thing? You need a bud­get has a free course on get­ting ahead of the pay­check cy­cle, pock­et­book can also help you man­age your money. The best ad­vice seems to be to open a sav­ings ac­count and ini­ti­ate au­to­matic trans­ac­tions each week of $n. After sev­eral weeks (pro­vided you don’t pull money out) you will have ac­crued sev­eral*n dol­lars of sav­ings. (rele­vant to peo­ple who have a ten­dency to spend any money in their ac­count at any given time. It’s a bit harder to spend money not in your spend­ing-ac­count) In any case; hav­ing sav­ings and putting it to­wards own­ing a pas­sive in­come stream is a good goal to have or con­sider get­ting in on.

This post may also be of use.

5. job/​earn­ing goals

Are you plan­ning to get a new job? Hop­ing to get a raise? trans­fer to a new de­part­ment? work less hours? work more hours? land a few big gigs? While I can’t tell you what is worth­while; it’s worth know­ing that in the pro­cess of in­ter­view­ing for a new job—you should ask for more pay. for that 5-10 un­com­fortable min­utes of your life (ask­ing for a raise) you have the po­ten­tial to earn $5-10 thou­sand dol­lars more (or more) for the ex­act same work.

6. re­la­tion­ship goals + fam­ily goals

Mar­ried; Kids; Poly; sin­gle->not tran­si­tion; break-up? Divorce? mov­ing away from your par­ents? Get­ting bet­ter Friends? Thank­ing your cur­rent friends for be­ing so awe­some? Do­ing some­thing differ­ent to pre­vi­ously—now is the chance to give it a few min­utes thought. There’s never a good time to stage a break-up but also liv­ing in a bad state of af­fairs is also not a good thing to pro­long. (Dis­claimer: be­fore quit­ting a re­la­tion­ship; first im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion, if needed con­tact a pro­fes­sional coun­sel­lor)

About fam­i­lies and friends—A lot of peo­ple feel like their fam­ily holds a stronger bond than their friends by de­fault. For an ex­cel­lent fam­ily that is sup­port­ive in your dark­est hour that is an ex­cel­lent situ­a­tion to be in. How­ever for a bur­den­some fam­ily that drags you down; of­ten it can be hard to get away. In con­trast to friends; where good ones can be bet­ter than fam­ily and bad ones can be walked away from. Speci­fi­cally what’s worth con­sid­er­ing is that friends OR fam­ily can be a re­sult of how you choose to treat them. in the sense that if you have a prefer­ence that your friends be stronger than the strongest fam­ily ties then you can carry that into re­al­ity and achieve friend­ships to the envy of most fam­i­lies, and the same goes for a strong sup­port­ive fam­ily. Your choice of what shape of re­al­ity you want to make for your­self will in­fluence (on some lev­els) what sort of mess you get your­self into, and what sort of sup­port net­work you have around. Make that con­sid­er­a­tion over the next year of what sort of friend­ships and fam­i­lies you want to make for your­self and keep for your­self.

7. lifestyle goals

Start ex­er­cis­ing daily (do you even lift)? Quit­ting smok­ing? Do you go club­bing too of­ten? maybe you want to get out more? Ad­dicted to curry puffs? Hate hang­ing out with that group of friends? Don’t like go­ing to pub trivia but do it any­way? Too many dough­nuts? Go hik­ing? Think­ing of try­ing out a new hobby? hold­ing out for “the right time”. take that leap, sign up for a class. Now is the time to make lifestyle changes. (fair warn­ing: most new year’s re­s­olu­tions fail, look into SMART goals)

8. holi­day goals/​ trav­el­ling goals

look­ing at do­ing a month-long holi­day? Visit­ing some­one in an­other place? Maybe con­sider plan­ning from now. Stud­ies have shown that an­ti­ci­pa­tion and putting en­ergy to­wards plan­ning pos­i­tive things leads to hap­piness (in the jour­ney) the abil­ity to look for­ward to your next holi­day is go­ing to have pos­i­tive im­pacts on the way you live.

9. dona­tions

Have you had in­ten­tion to make dona­tions but haven’t made the plunge? Maybe put some thought into how much you might like to donate and when/​where to? Many LW’ers are also EA’s and have in­ter­ests in mo­ti­vated and pur­pose­ful giv­ing for max­imis­ing pos­si­ble out­comes. This could be an op­por­tu­nity to join the group of EA’s that are ac­tively giv­ing.

10. volunteering

Have you always wanted to vol­un­teer but never looked into it? Maybe next year is the year to try. Put some re­search in and find a group in need of vol­un­teers. Vol­un­teer­ing has the po­ten­tial to give you a lot of pos­i­tive feel­ings as well as a sense of com­mu­nity; be­ing part of some­thing big­ger, and more.

You could stop here but there are a few more. Out of the more gen­eral List of com­mon hu­man goals comes the fol­low­ing list of other ar­eas to con­sider. They are shorter in de­scrip­tion and left open to imag­i­na­tion than those above.

11. Revenge

Is next year your chance to ex­act re­venge on your foes?

12. Vir­tual re­al­ity success

Is next year the chance to har­vest your gem­stones?

13. Addiction

Is next year the year to get ad­dicted (to some­thing healthy or good for you, like ex­er­cise), or un-ad­dicted (to some­thing un­healthy for you)?

14. Am­bas­sador

Are there things you want to do next year which will leave you as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a group? Is there a way to push that for­ward? Or bet­ter pre­pare for that event?

15. Help oth­ers?

Do you know how you might go about helping oth­ers next year?

16. Keep­ing up with the joneses

Are you com­pet­ing with any­one? Is there some­thing you are likely to need to pre­pare for throught the year?

17. Feedback

Are you look­ing for feed­back from oth­ers? Are you look­ing to give feed­back to oth­ers? Is this the year for new feed­back?

18. Influence

Do you want to in­fluence the pub­lic?

19. fame

Do you want to achieve some level of fame? We live in a realm of the in­ter­net! You wouldn’t be­lieve how easy that is these days...

20. be­ing part of some­thing greater

Join­ing a move­ment? Helping to cre­ate a rev­olu­tion? This could be the year...

21. Im­prove the tools available

As sci­en­tists we stand on the shoulders of the knowl­edge be­fore us in or­der to grow. We need sharp tools to make ac­cu­rate cuts and finely tuned in­stru­ments to make ex­act mea­sure­ments. Can you help the world by push­ing that re­quire­ment for­ward?

22. cre­ate some­thing new

Is there some­thing new that you want to do; is next year ap­pro­pri­ate for do­ing it?

23. Break a record

Have your eye on a record? How are you go­ing to make it hap­pen?

24. free your­self of your shackles

Are there things hold­ing you back or ty­ing you down? Can you re­lease those bur­dens?

25. experience

hop­ing to have a new ex­pe­rience, can you make it hap­pen with think­ing about it in ad­vance?

26. Art

Want to have de­vel­oped a cre­ation? Can you put wheels into mo­tion?

27. Spirituality

Any­thing from a re­li­gion based spiritual ap­pre­ci­a­tion to a gen­eral ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the uni­verse. Revel in the “merely real” of our uni­verse.

28. community

Look­ing to make a com­mu­nity, look­ing to be part of an ex­ist­ing com­mu­nity. Look­ing to start a less­wrong branch? Do it!


about 2.5 hours of writ­ing plus feed­back from the https://​​com­​​room/​​less­wrong room and the Slack channel

If you are look­ing for some com­mon ways to work on these pos­si­ble goals? That sounds like a great ti­tle for the next post in a match­ing se­ries (one I have not writ­ten yet). If you want to be a munchkin and start com­piling thoughts on the idea, feel free to send me a mes­sage with a link to a google doc, oth­er­wise you might have to wait. This post was writ­ten out of ne­ces­sity for the new-year, and wasn’t on my to-do list so the next one might take time to cre­ate.

Feel free to com­ment on goals; plans; progress or post your plans for the next year be­low.

If you can see im­prove­ments to this post—don’t be afraid to men­tion them!

To see more posts I have writ­ten see my Table of contents