Ten Years of Unusual New Year’s Resolution

Ten Years of Unusual New Year’s Resolution

By Julia Clavien

Curious to a fault. Technology | Psychology | Philosophy. All opinion subject to change. ☺

Jan 7, 2016


It is a habit to make new year’s resolution when a new year begins. However, most of us are bored with the usual, cliche resolutions like to get straight As for all subjects, to wake up earlier in the morning or to exercise more. In fact, we can always try to have some fun new year’s resolutions. For example, to remember people’s names, to learn to say “yes” and “no”, and to take a nap. Hope these unique resolutions can help you start your year with more fun!

I got bored of cliche resolutions, and decided to have a little fun with something more unique…

I love the turn of December to January.The freshness.

The time for reflection on the year just past.

The time for letting go, a (secular) forgiveness of sins from the year that’s passed.

The time for getting excited about the possibilities that lie in the coming year.

And a good time to make a resolution. But a while back

I decided to eschew the regular resolutions, those classic cliches…

like the classically difficult ones Emer O’Toole nicely summarized here-

“Get up at 5am; commit to an exercise regime; practice mindfulness and time management; nourish your body with wholesome foodstuffs; dress professionally; set personal goals; schedule quality time with loved ones; declutter; breathe.”

If you’re anything like me, these kind of resolutions start with only the best intentions, until very quickly it’s clear that there is some future-self delusion involved.

The Upgrade

I had much more fun and made more progress by avoiding the all-or-nothing resolution, and instead focusing on a theme or skill to work on over the course of the year. Here’s the past decades focus areas.

2007 New Year’s Resolution

Remember People’s Names

I’d always been one of those people who lazily resigned themselves to “I’m not good with names”. So in 2007 I dropped that belief, and spent the year learning good ways to remember names, and practicing the skill of remembering names.

Rating: 10/10. More rewarding than anticipated. Benefits still around a decade later.

2008 New Year’s Resolution

Mindful Single Handling

I’d noticed I was one of those people who would lock the front door, then walk down the street, then go back to check if I had locked the front door. So in 2008 I instigated what I was calling “mindful single handling” (related to mindfulness jon kabat-zinn). I worked on removing double checking/second guessing, and focused on being better at mindfully single handle tasks, and also to back myself that I’d done them satisfactorily.

Rating: 10/10, very useful, although it was clear mindfulness is an ongoing/lifelong challenge.


2009 New Year’s Resolution

Less Opinions, More Curiosity

I’d reached that awareness that I wasn’t right about everything ;), and didn’t have to be right about everything. So in 2009 I decided to work on not having to hold opinions all the time. I focused on being less argumentative, saying “I don’t know” more often, and approaching things with a spirit of curiosity.

Rating: 7/10, this was a bit on the vague side but still very useful.

2010 New Year’s Resolution

Say Yes

From Improv Wisdom — “There are people who prefer to say “yes,” and there are people who prefer to say “No.” Those who say “Yes” are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say “No” are rewarded by the safety they attain”.

I loved this first rule of Improv “Say Yes”. So in 2010 I worked on just that in my life more broadly.

Rating: 2/10, ohh saying yes to everything can be a bit overwhelming. See 2011…

2011 New Year’s Resolution

Transparency (Say No)

After an huge year of “Say Yes” it was time to embrace more introversion, while be transparent about it. Instead of feigning illness, I working on being more direct when saying a gentle “No”. (Trying not to sound like this.)

Rating: 10/10, surprisingly empowering.

2012 New Year’s Resolution

Listen More Than Talk

I have to admit I’d been guilty all my life of spending entire conversations “reloading” — just thinking about what I was going to say next, instead of actually listening! So in 2012 I worked on listening more that talking.

Rating 10/10, highly recommended this completely changed my interpersonal relationships.

2013 New Year’s Resolution

Take The Stairs

After spending most of my life at a desk, the results weren’t so pretty. (Spark and Get Up were interesting reads on the effects of a sedentary lifestyle). I concluded incidental exercise was the solution, and resolved in 2013 to take the stairs whenever they were accessible!

Rating: 9/10, this was fun and definitely increased my fitness.

2014 New Year’s Resolution

Daily Handstands

It was time for a fun resolution. Recapturing the childhood joy of handstands! This was easily the most entertaining resolution I’ve ever made. The LiftApp (now coach.me, great product by Tony Stubblebine’s team was a great tracker), to me get all the way to a 365 day unbroken streak of handstands.

Rating: 10/10, I went from struggling against the wall, to holding a full handstandunassisted! This was so fun.

2015 New Year’s Resolution

Do What You Want (Instead of what you think others want you to do…)

Reading The Top Five Regrets of the Dying left me with that nagging sense that I was unconsciously defaulting to doing a lot of what society expected of me. I resolved to focus on pursuing more of my own goals.

Rating: 6/10, a bit vague, but an empowering focus for sure.

2016 New Year’s Resolution

Take More Naps

Well if science says take more naps, I’m sold. in 2016 I’m working on prioritizing rest — taking more time out to nap, meditate. Working smarter, not harder.

Rating: 6/10 my napping performance was patchy, but naps are the best! I am going to keep working on this into 2017.

2017 New Year’s Resolution


The irony that I have spend at least a month deciding on my resolution is not lost on me. “Satisficing” is definitely the right choice. 😉

The term satisficing, a combination of satisfy and suffice, is an approach to judgement and decision making that entails “searching through the available alternatives until an acceptability threshold is met”.

“Nobody works out the value of time: people use it lavishly as if it cost nothing.”

-Seneca (On The Shortness Of Life is a great read.)

I’ve chosen Satisficing as a resolution after noticing I waste a lot of time on trivial decisions. (Anyone who’s spent more than an hour trawling Amazon review to buy just the exact right t-shirt or whatever it is, may empathize.)

In 2017 I plan to do more satisficing. Particularly I’m going to focus on two areas.

1. Trivial decisions

I’m automating or just simply accelerating the trivial decisions of life, to be more aligned with the value of time.

2. Work

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

Reid Hoffman

I’m reviving the mantra of done > perfect. When it comes to a large chunk of the work I do day to day, often it’s better to have something finished than to have it flawless… in fact I’m going to satisfice right now and consider this paragraph, done. Happy 2017 everyone!

Rating: 6/10 — A great principle, but I think it would have been better if I made it more tangible via an action/habit oriented related resolution.

2018 New Year’s Resolution

Task Minimalism — One Priority

I have suffered from a bad case of The Planning Fallacy (aka delusionally optimistic time management) for as long as I can remember. I find that some days I get to the end of the day and have got a long done, but haven’t identified and completed the one most important task I needed to do.

Thus — this years resolution is a bit more boring, but I’m implementing Task Minimalism. This is an overly complicated way of saying I’m going to take the time to identify and complete one main priority each day. GTD changed my life (I wrote about that here), but I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit, so I’m refreshing my GTD systems today so that I can use it to track today’s single priority. I’m starting with an easier one to get some momentum — posting this public declaration of my resolution!

What’s your resolution? Tweet me @juliaclavien

Books Mentioned

Improv Wisdom — Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up — Patricia Ryan Madson

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything — Joshua Foer Joshua Foer

Wherever You Go, There You Are — Jon Kabat-Zinn jon kabat-zinn

Spark!: How exercise will improve the performance of your brain — Dr John J. Ratey

Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About — James A. Levine

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing — Bronnie Ware

Take a Nap! Change Your Life — Mark Ehrman & Sara Mednick

The Paradox of Choice — Barry Schwartz

On The Shortness Of Life — Seneca

Getting Things Done — David Allen

Credit: Adapted from Better Humans,

available at https://betterhumans.coach.me/10-years-of-upgraded-new-year-s-resolutions-a9c68607bc38, under a Creative Commons Creative Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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