☕ saturday mornings #31
magnificent games, new year prep & amplifying productivity
Happy Saturday all,
I hope you’ve had a lovely holiday season as we enter the New Year.
Below is your edition of “saturday mornings”, a weekly recap of what I’ve been testing, learning and exploring over the past few days.
Thanks for being here to kick off your year. I’m have some big plans for the newsletter this year and I’m really excited for what’s to come.
Let’s dive in.
✍️Quote I’ve been thinking about:
“The thing that’s so interesting about being alive is that you’re all in. No matter what you do, you’re all in – this is going to kill you.
So, you might as well play the most magnificent game you can while you’re waiting.”
― Jordan Peterson
🎉Challenge for the week ahead:
Preparing for the New Year
First off, I think it’s important to dispel the idea that anyone’s New Year goal setting system is superior, as much as they’d like you to believe, and will make or break whether or not you have a good year.
If you have the intention to reflect on your past year to make improvements and set some goals you want to work towards, you’re 80% of the way there.
I’ve tried and tested a ton of different methods over the past few years, some helpful and others not so much. So as a byproduct of my experimentation, I want to provide a toolbox of different New Year strategies you could explore. I wouldn’t recommend doing all of them, but perhaps 1-2 spark your interest.
These also don’t have to be done at any particular time of year, but as the calendar turns there is a bit of magic in the air.
Time: 3-4 Hours
I was sent this booklet last year by one of the most successful people I know, who has made reflecting on his past year and looking forward to the year ahead a ritual for almost 30 years and highly encouraged working through this exercise, from a growth and inner spirit perspective.
I’ve worked through the Year Compass for two years in a row, and found it to be a really helpful exercise in parsing through and digesting my last 365 days as well as creating an exciting upcoming year in my mind.
Particularly, it’s helpful to assess what people, activities or events from 2021 really mattered to me, although some didn’t feel important in the moment, that I want to replicate. This exercise also unburdens me of anything that’s still nagging from the past year, almost like mental windshield wipers, to start 2022 with a clear mind.
Time: 30-60 minutes
I believe fear setting was the most valuable exercise I did last year. Even over doing push-ups beside my desk during lockdowns.
When I peel the layers back, I realize that so much of what I do is regulated by my fears (fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of being different, etc.) than what my actual goals are.
Hence, fear setting often proves to be more valuable than goal setting. The reason is simple: fear effectively controls everything we do.
I never really understood why I did the things I did, or felt how I felt, until I started to look into what I’m afraid of.
Further, our fears are our constraints, our parameters. The person who is fearless is limitless. Often your biggest fears are your biggest constraints, and exactly where you need to conquer to go to the next level.
“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”
It’s been a game changer for me to clearly outline my fears and test them to see if there’s any substance behind what I’m afraid of (much to the frustration of my irrational mind). Usually there isn’t.
I’ve realized, in real life and through this activity, that we really do suffer much more in imagination than in reality.
“The more you run from your fears, the bigger they get, but the more you go into them, the more they tend to vanish like a mirage.”
— Terry Crews
It’s a pretty liberating feeling to be able to stare your fears directly in the eye, and walk through them. Even if you’re not ready to test your fears yet, fear setting provides a much clearer understanding of what regulates your behavior and I’ve found it frees me of a vague and ambiguous anxiety.
For anyone interested, check out the 13 minute TED Talk on fear setting.
Time: 30-60 minutes
Stephen Covey has a great analogy on prioritization in life, explaining that “big rocks” (your biggest priorities or outcomes) have to be placed first in your bucket (available time, energy, focus) before small rocks, pebbles and sand, for everything to fit in the bucket.
If you let sand, small minutiae that feel productive but don’t really matter, fill your bucket you will never be able to fit in your big rocks.
The message is simple: prioritize what matters.
I’ve worked through the exercise of writing down my 5 big rocks for the year, followed by small rocks, pebbles and sand.
As much as I sound like I belong in the Flintstones, I believe this exercise is a level up from goal setting. Why? It forces you to prioritize.
This made me deal with two harsh realities in life.
One, focus on the essential few. I really had to think hard about what’s important to me. The reality is we can only make progress on a few big things each year. For every item we add to our plate, we put the success of our other goals at risk, as they now receive less time, energy and focus.
As an ambitious person, it was surprisingly difficult to choose just 5 big rocks. But as much as I’d like to learn to cook like Gordon Ramsay or run a marathon, they weren’t as important to me as other outcomes for 2022.
Two, goals entail making sacrifices. If we want to go big on a few things, other items in our life may go unattended or get less attention. We only have so much time in a day and, as we can’t do everything, achieving big outcomes means we have to make sacrifices on smaller things that are “nice to haves”. On a day to day basis, we have to consciously choose what to spend our time on and what to avoid.
80/20 Analysis (Macro Level)
I often think about trying to “80/20” my days or weeks, spending time on the few essential inputs that drive a disproportionate amount of the outputs.
I’ve realized that this rule fractals, as you can also “80/20” an entire year.
Under this logic, Tim Ferriss created a “Past Year Review” exercise. Going through the events of the past year on your calendar, look at the 20% of the people or activities or commitments that triggered peak positive or negative emotions.
Then, Tim recommends to take your “positive” leaders and plan more of them for 2022 (get them in the calendar to make them real).
Similarly, take your “negative” leaders and create a not-to-do list, summarizing the things that create a disproportionate amount of negative emotion for you. Try to cut or cap them as much as humanly possible.
Read about the full exercise here.
There’s no magic key to setting up a great year. Hopefully I’ve provided some interesting ideas to add to your tool-kit.
If you try any of these, let me know how it goes.
I’ve found more is not always better, and what works for some may not work for others. It’s not about doing the “perfect” activity, just on taking that step forward.
❓Question for reflection:
What’s the one constraint, if removed, that could make me 5x, 10x or 20x more productive?
This question sounds outrageous, but that’s one reason I love it: it makes you question the impossible. Yet, even if you fall short of being 5x more productive, 3x productive doesn’t sound so bad.
For example, how much more productive could you be if you didn’t have a smartphone? Or perhaps just social media? What if you had a virtual assistant to filter, sort and respond to emails? How about if you never had to go grocery shopping and could have groceries delivered to your door?
There are some interesting levers to pull if you’re really serious about upgrading productivity. Not that productivity is the goal, but one who is more productive then has more time to invest in the things they really love.
I’m far from a productivity guru, and have my fair share of days doing nothing, but they’re interesting questions to ponder and design experiments around.
Recently, I purchased a Light Phone to intentionally downgrade from my iPhone. Partially because it’s a short term, low risk experiment to see if less digital connectivity improves my life, and partially because I think it’s funny to have a phone that functions like a walkie talkie.
🎨Picture I loved:
"The more you know, the less you diversify." — Naval Ravikant
That’s all for this week’s edition of “saturday mornings”.
2022 is going to be a great year. Hopefully one filled with love, laughs and joy. Often the biggest factor in whether we have a great year is the simple optimistic belief that it will be great.
As always, if you have any feedback or thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.
Have a restful and relaxing weekend.
Much love to you and yours,