I’ve done thorough “year in review”s before on my blog. This year, I want to try Tim Ferriss’s new, simplified past year review method. He put out an article saying that new year resolutions aren’t that useful and proposed his method for reviewing a recent year, which he claims is more valuable.
Basically, you look at every week of your year and put down any people, activities, or commitments that triggered peak positive or negative emotions and put them into their respective columns. Then, ask, “What 20% of each column produced the most reliable or powerful peaks?” Schedule these positives activities in for the new year. Then, put the list of the negative activities somewhere you can see for the first few weeks of the new year so that you can avoid them.
I find this interesting because it’s a non-time-consuming, effective assessment of what’s driving the most positive and negative emotions in your year using the Pareto Principle. I don’t think it’s perfect because it’s only a measure is how you are feeling and doesn’t differentiate between short-term pleasure and long-term happiness. While emotions are important, what about other goals you have, such as earning more money, career, relationships, and so forth? It doesn’t do an assessment that can lead to a plan on improving your business and finding out what went wrong. While one can argue everything leads back to feelings of well-being, there are things that create suffering or discomfort that may be necessary to get to the next level, so auditing simply based on how comfortable or pleasant it feels may not be ideal. Nonetheless, I’ll take a crack at it at least once, use my own understanding of the nuances of this model to improve it, and see what it yields.
Here’s a rough list of where I landed; I may put out a more detailed list in the future. The point is to help you try this out by providing a real example.
- interacting with friendly, welcoming young people in semi-large social groups (e.g., 10+ people running clubs) to combat loneliness
- befriending and/or talking to young men and women my age because the city I am is large enough and there are activities I can find with a lot of them
- living in a communal area with others that are cool/friendly and getting to know them and form memories (as long as it doesn’t affect my work)
- exploring and traveling to see stunning new nature (beaches, mountains, parks)
- traveling to new places (e.g., a barcade, disc golf, etc.) and seeing the wonder of the architecture/culture/people
- going outside and socializing in moderately chill social activities (not bars/clubs, latin dance classes, hiking groups, running clubs)
- enjoying things I love with other people – playing escape rooms
- learning and developing new skills in cool activities with others in social ways (e.g., improv class, acting class, sword training)
- feeling welcomed in a new community/club I joined by the members and being able to socialize after work
- exercising and socializing together in a way I can actually have full conversations (e.g., a running club or pickleball club)
- creating a piece of content that means something to me, helps others, took a lot of time, relates deeply to me, and really speaks to my soul (on YouTube, my blog, etc.)
- trying new foods or familiar foods in new cities/restaurants
- living with a sibling and her friend/coworkers for a period brought me a lot closer to all of them and a lot of memories and invites to activities than living alone. That’s likely due to a unique combination of having a close family member and her having chill friends
- getting a good workout in that pumps up my heart beat (e.g., a solid run or CrossFit)
- revisiting and catching up with people I’ve met or bonded a bit with
- moving to a new place far from my old home and spending time alone in my room/house without socializing with real people (sometimes because it’s too dark to go out and I’m in an unfamiliar place)
- any time I spend too much time alone on my own (sometimes, out of necessity – can’t go out because of weather/work)
- when I work from home all day alone and then can’t find anything good socially to do or I choose something, and it’s not as social as I thought (e.g., some quick cardio fitness class)
- being in a small city/town and having nothing to do, so I’m just browsing a mall, Walmart, or park on my own
- living with a roommate that brings too much of their troubled personal life (fights) into your living space
- talking to women I haven’t met before and getting an unlucky string of negative responses, like getting ignored
- having to say goodbye to a place I started to establish roots because of travel. Sometimes, I feel I should’ve stayed longer or will miss it and the people I met there
It looks like having the right social activities to meet and befriend people is important to me. That makes sense since I work from home, so I’m “alone” most of the time and need more actual social activity. Similarly, the negatives I need to avoid the most are long periods of isolation. I found that things can seem worse than they are when I’m alone for too long; I can assume the world is a much scarier place outside and feel like I’m on my own more than I am. Hence, I should be more intentional with scheduling and finding the right social activities, especially since I’m in new cities often.
Beyond just scheduling what worked in the past, I would venture to say I could add something, which is getting more in tune with being okay with being alone. I hear that’s sometimes healthy, and I thought I was, but clearly, this reflection has shown that there are times it’s not. As somewhat an introvert at times, I think there are times where I want alone time and I’m fine with it. There are also times when too much of it can be a struggle since I’m still a social creature, which has popped up before the pandemic and then the pandemic and recent traveling made more clear. How did I cope during the pandemic? I somehow eventually found some homeostasis with being okay on my own more, spent more time being entertained by TV, but I also did a bit more reaching out to organize virtual chats with people, on the phone, or even in person at a distance.
Was This Effective?
I think this is worth doing every year. I can see how it can intentionally streamline your life to be more pleasant and reduce your suffering. It’s true that my moments of the most unhappiness, sadness, anxiety, or fear come from emotional spikes. This method is great compared to what the average person does, which is nothing – there’s no real reflection on what’s causing their emotions, good or bad, and no adjustments made that would prevent things from happening in a different way. I wonder if this exercise is a bit lacking since I have an urge to do more reflection in other specific areas: I spent a lot of time making YouTube videos this year, and it didn’t “pay off” that much from a views or money standpoint, for instance. There are other things that could be worth reflecting on in different ways to see if they were worth my time or what I could tweak to make them more impactful than they were. So, perhaps, it could be good to improve this method with some type of “what was effective and not effective?” analysis around key goals.
That’s all folks. So leave a comment with your thoughts. Any tips for me? Any ideas on how you’ll use this method?