in Productivity

Screw New Year Resolutions, Do These Instead

New Year Resolutions are a cliche. Why wait 365 days before doing a review on how your life is going? Clearly, there are smarter ways to go about this. Writing down your goals on a piece of paper and telling yourself “this time it’s for real” will probably yield the same result as before – nothing.

Did you know that gym memberships soar during the beginning of January every year? But guess how many follow through to February? Very few. So instead of teaching you what goals to write down with what type of ink on what type of paper. I will be showing you 3 methods that are way more powerful and way less boring than your conventional SMART goals.


1. The 3 Most Important Questions



This one was created by Mindvalley founder, Vishen Lakhiani and it is mighty powerful. Anyone who joins Mindvalley is required to do this exercise and display their answers on the company board. It creates a “blueprint for your soul”. Follow the exercise and you will see why.


2. Fund Your Bucket List

Ever watch that scene in the beginning of Up (warning: you will cry –guaranteed) where Carl and Ellie have a glass jar to finally see Paradise Falls? Now that’s something worth doing.

Take out a piece of paper and write down what is your bucket list. For many it would be to travel the world, but be slightly more specific – where do you want to go, how long, and when?

Maybe you want to do skydiving, find out where it can be done, schedule it and start your fund. I recommend glass jars over just depositing into a separate bank account because we get a heck of a lot more motivated when we see the money growing before our eyes like a piggy bank instead of digits on your bank balance (you will eventually bank it into your bank account, of course).


3. Build Game-changing Habits

The reason why millions of goals fail every year is that the person setting those goals don’t understand the mechanics of human behavior and psychology. How often do we say we will finally get to reading that book or record that song but only to realize 8 months have gone past and have nothing to show for it?

In recent years, the topic of habits have been everywhere in self-help literature and it has a reason for being there because it works. I will be explaining extensively on habits on another post but for today, I will give the fundamentals –


The habit loop which forms habits comprises of 3 parts:

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a) Trigger – a cue, external or internal that reminds you or initiates the routine

b) Routine – the desired act (working out, reading)

c) Reward – the end result (toner body, insight)


To really nail your new year resolution and get good for a long time, you need to form habits around the unfamiliar or hard-to-do things such as going to the gym, writing, reading more and meditating.

The part where most people fall flat is figuring out the trigger and reward. In most cases, these things have to be planned or manufactured as they are not organic or naturally show up in your surroundings. In other words, you have to create the triggers and the rewards.


Let’s use two examples – exercise and reading.



Trigger : putting your gym clothes in front of your bed so its the first thing you see when you wake up / sleeping in your gym clothes (the point is to make it impossible not to miss the trigger as you go about your day to day)

Routine : find out what your low bar (the minimum you would do on the days you are ill) and your high bar (the maximum you would do on a perfect day). Start out on the low bar – which for exercising could be to walk 100m or 1 pushup. On the days you don’t feel like doing your habit, do a crappy job.

Reward : many times, people get this wrong and try to convince themselves that the act of finishing the exercise is the reward. A great rule of thumb is that rewards need to have 2 characteristics – they are to be enjoyed immediately after the routine and they are pleasurable.

For some, the feeling of accomplishment is enough. But for others, it is not the case. When feeling not compelled by the reward, look to “primitive rewards”- rewards that our ancestors would deem pleasurable (hence, proven to work) – things such as food, sex, play and socializing.

An example would be to reward yourself with a nice meal after your workouts.



Trigger : Install Pocket and Aldiko on your phone and place the icons on your homepage. Place a book on your desk, in your bathroom and in your bag. That way you can’t miss the sight of a book. (Note: also helps to not use your phone when you enter your bathroom in the morning, use your poo poo time to read a physical book instead.)

Routine : Low bar – 1 paragraph, high bar – 20 pages.

Reward : If having knowledge floats your boat, you’re set! If not, look to primitive rewards and find out what motivates you – having a chat with friends or eating.


One more thing about habits, if you have to skip, skip just once. Skipping two days in a row is habit suicide. Research has shown skipping two consecutive days derails you and you have to start at square one.

Knowing how habits work and how to build them is a superpower. If you are looking for more information on habit, I suggest Improvement Pill’s Tamed Course on YouTube. It’s the best course out there on habit formation and it’s free!


As you can see, New Year Resolution goal setting is BS and ought to be phased out entirely. Use these 3 methods instead and crush it in 2018.