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New Year's Resolutions Are Overrated: Try Trimester Reviews

Why New Year's resolutions don't work

New year’s resolutions is common, but sometimes it feels like we're just going through the motions without real change. It's like trying to start fresh when everything around us stays the same, except for those expensive holidays we feel pressured to organize, leaving us to question the authenticity of our resolutions as the year draws to a close. And anyways, by the time the next New Year's Eve rolls around, we've already forgotten the resolutions we made. Plus, the blur of summer further complicates the pursuit of goals, making it hard to stay focused on our goals as the summer holiday mood and heat linger for 3 months.

Inspired by astronauts' experience of distortion of time, I approach this in a different way.

Instead of following the usual calendar, I've embraced a trimester reflection method with the Wide Time calendar by following two principles:

-The Principle of the Overview Effect

-The Principle of Wide Time

The background

I shift the celebration of the New Year to September 1st. That's when I set my goals. This way, I am naturally promted to set new goals with a fresh mindset, influenced by the experiences and ideas I gathered over the summer.

I wrap up my year on May 31st,allows me to channel my focus into the productive months between September and May, and fully and deliberately dumping my brain from any goal pursuits during the summer to recharge my energy and allowing fresh ideas to emerge as September begins.

On December 31st, when things slow down, surrounded by those contemplating their own aspirations, it becomes a natural inclination to reflect on the validity and progress of my goals. This conscious effort steers me away from aimless pursuits, guiding me towards a life that resonates with my evolving aspirations. What still matters, how far have I come, and what needs to change and why?

Instead of a regular calendar, I use the Wide Time calendar, a different kind—a graph with two arrows. One arrow shows the year from September to August, and the other measures how intense or time-warping different experiences of my life have been.

wide time calendar
The Wide Time calendar

Here's a simple guide to trying this out with a trimester review:

1. Zoom Out and Assess Your Goals (Principle of Overview Effect)

  • Set Goals in September: Define your goals in September, aligning them with your priorities and aspirations for the next nine months until May 31st

  • December 31st Reflection: Check if your goals from September still make sense. Have things changed? If they have, figure out why and decide if you should change your goals.

  • May 31st Celebrations: Celebrate! That’s a true goals conquest! But also reflect and examine the changes. Look at your September goals and what happened through December til May. Did things change? What led to them, and are you satisfied with the shift in direction? If you find that they changed because of commitment lacking, explore what influenced you to believe a complete redirection of focus to another priority was necessary.

2. Evaluate Your time Intensity (Principle of Wide Time)

  1. Review Your Trimester Calendar: Go through the past trimester (September to Decembet) to recall your activities and commitments.

  2. Remember the Most Powerful Moments: Identify what you remember the most and what made you feel the strongest emotions.

  3. Intensity mapping: Note the people, activities, or commitments that made you feel time warping (that’s the wide time!), where the time length didn’t match how you felt time passed. Put them on your graph where they belong.

  4. Learn from the patterns: Based on the high intensity time-warping moments, plan to do more of those in the new year. Make sure you know what gives you energy. For the things that made you feel bad, write down what you learned from them. Try to spend less time on those.

This isn't just about goals— It’s about being open to adjusting your priorities, allowing for adaptability as circumstances evolve. It’s about becoming aware of what your values are and where your priorities stand.

Embark on this trimester reflection journey with an understanding of your wide time patterns

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