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My Approach to the New Year


If you are frustrated by New Year's resolutions that have failed, I'd love to introduce you to my approach.
Instead of massive, revolutionary changes, consider small, evolutionary changes.

I have a system I love to follow several times each year. Grab a piece of paper, and follow along as I explain my system.



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Welcome back to season two of the Ivy League Prep Academy Podcast. Equipping you to successfully pursue the college of your dreams. We believe everyone deserves to reach their full potential, and the admissions process shouldn't hold you back.

Happy New Year. For those who are listening to this when it comes out live, the new year has just begun. And I know that people listen to these podcasts at all times of the year, but this message is relevant even if you're listening in February or March.

Perhaps it's even more relevant because a lot of you might be thinking back to your own January kind of New Year resolutions. Or if you're listening to this, the day it comes out and New Year has just begun, you can think back to previous years and all the ambitious New Year's resolutions that you might have had for yourself that fell apart. I do think that it's valuable to think about the fact that all of these athletic facilities or these gym memberships, the busiest month by far is January, and more or less it's back to normal by February, right? That's important for us to know.

And some of the statistics that come back say that about three fourths of all New Year's resolutions have been abandoned by about January 25 or by February 1 or whatever, depending on the research that you look at. And I think there's a couple of ways to look at that. Of course, that's disappointing, and that might be discouraging to think that man three fourths have already been abandoned within a few weeks.

On the other hand, that also means that one fourth of the hundreds of millions of people who set New Year's resolutions are better off now after three weeks of doing that thing that they said they would do than they were a few weeks ago before the New Year began. And either way that we look at that is totally fine. But I have a unique approach to the New Year that I like to do periodically throughout the year.

So it's not just a kind of revolutionary approach. Once a year, I'm going to change everything, and I want to share that system with you today. I've shared it before, I shared it two years ago, but I want to share it again now and without even going back and listening to my old podcast.

In fact, I'm going to listen to it after I've finished recording just to see what differences there were. But it's the same idea. And this is something, an exercise that I do not just in January.

I do it several times throughout the year, and I do it with my Ivy League Challenge students, because this is one of those ideas that helps us to understand how, number one, it's the little things that make the biggest difference. So common sense ideas are generally not common practice, but when you make those common sense ideas common practice, the effects compound over time and give you a significantly better life. And so just stopping and reflecting for a few minutes about those common sense things that we could be doing a little bit better with can make a massive, massive difference in your life over time because of that compound effect over time.

Similarly, letting go of something that you already know that you're spending too much time with, or just choosing to spend a little bit less time with it can have a similarly massive impact in your quality of life. And then finally, at these kind of transition points, it is good to think about, is there something that I need to be bold with, that I need to let go of or I need to adopt? And so here's the process that I use. I'm going to share it with you.

I challenge not just hope, I challenge you to use it and do it with your family or with your best friend. To me, it's always best when you make this a social activity. All right, here's how it works.

The way I do this is I fold a piece of paper into fourths and then unfold it so you can see that two by two matrix. In the upper left hand corner, I put at the top things I'm going to do more of this year. And then you can fill that in with as many things as come to mind.

But I like to have three or four things. On the upper right hand corner, I list things to do less of this year. And again, I like to do three or four things.

In the lower left hand corner, you write down one thing I'm going to begin this year. And in the lower right hand corner, I write down one thing I'm going to stop this year. That sounds so simple, right? It only takes a few minutes, take 1520 minutes to do that together with a partner or with a friend.

What I like to do is I like to finish it and then share my list with someone else, someone who knows me well, because oftentimes they have ideas about things that I haven't added to my list that actually would be really good to add. And we can laugh about it, and we can chat about it, and we can encourage each other, and then suddenly we have an accountability partner that's already built in. We've both invested in this decision to start small and build momentum over time and just be better versions of ourselves, right? We've both invested in this decision to become a little bit better, and so why not act as accountability partners for each other? I love this exercise.

Instead of a revolutionary approach where we say we're going to quit cold turkey, we're going to stop doing all the things that we want to quit, and we're going to start doing all the things that make us amazing, we instead take an evolutionary approach. We recognize that nature is full of these tiny pivots, these tiny changes. But those tiny changes lead to the amazing growth that is natural and is constant all around us.

So let's take a page out of nature's book and do evolutionary changes. Take tiny pivots. Things that we want to add to our life.

Things that we want to take away from the day. One new, bold thing we want to do, one bold thing we want to let go of. And let's have an incredible new year everyone.