I think New Year’s resolutions are really stupid.

Every time I try to have a “resolution,” I end up failing. I don’t like failure for failure’s sake.

Failure doesn’t always teach you something. Sometimes it just makes you feel ashamed / frustrated / angry / despairing / guilty / etc.

Plus, I don’t know what next year will look like. How can I plan for it? Many of the years in my life did not end in ways I would have guessed at the start of the year. Like the years I ended up broke. The years I ended up divorced. Etc.

Also, we don’t really know what we’re doing. If we are out of shape and decide that THIS year I’m going to get in shape, how do I do that? Do I do pushups? Do I go to a class? What if I hate it?

I need to figure out what my strengths are first. And what my weaknesses are. That’s how you make your life simpler.

For example:
When Steve Jobs got back to Apple, he eliminated most of their product lines. He focused on his personal strength, which was simplicity, and won in three industries: computers, music, and phones.

Simplicity is a strong strategy. Note that “simplicity” does not mean the same as “focus.” If Steve Jobs “focused,” we wouldn’t have the iPhone.

First he simplified the core business.

Then he simplified risk by diversifying industries so if any one industry failed he still had a strong and growing business (and some industries did not work out as well). And he had several coaches and mentors through the years (Steve Wozniak, Nolan Bushnell, Bill Campbell, Jony Ive, Tim Cook, etc.) to help him hone his strengths and outsource his weaknesses.

His theme was always simplification.

So my New Year’s theme is further simplify of my life. A theme is easier than a goal. A theme doesn’t say what I will do. It’s just a checklist in every situation that answers the question, “Is this situation the right direction for me?”

For instance, if I get an opportunity to do something amazing, I run it through my theme first: Will this increase the simplicity in my life?

If not, then I won’t do it.

Here are some of the things I plan on paying attention to in my quest for simplification.

Experiences > objects        

I used to get objects (a house, a car, a new toy, etc.) and I would be very happy, and then the happiness would go down over time and eventually the object would be replaced. OR brutally taken from me in a foreclosure and bankruptcy.

An experience I look forward to beforehand. I have fun at the experience, and I always look back fondly on it.

Warren Buffett’s 25/5 rule

List the 25 things you would love to do the most. Now separate the top five from the bottom 20.

BAM! Never look at the bottom 20 again. Because you’re never going to get better at the top five most important things if you waste ANY time at all on the bottom 20.

Writing every day

Writing compounds. One page a day (about 250–300 words) is a book a year. 1,000 words a day is three books a year. Or 700 articles.

Daily Practice every day

Am I physically, emotionally, creatively, and spiritually exercising every day? If something gets in the way of the checklist then I don’t do it.


With every business meeting, every relationship, every business activity, every act of creativity, how can I make it PLAY instead of WORK?

Give myself permission for chaos

Not everything happens the way I want. But if my intentions are good I know in the long run all I can do is try my best. If I can’t give myself permission for chaos I will try too hard to control situations or people around me, even if they are impossible to control.

That will only lead to stress, more chaos, and perhaps bad health.

That’s it. If I stick to the above, I know any success I have will continue to grow, often in ways that are completely unexpected to me.


James Altucher

James Altucher
Editor, The Altucher Report

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