Randy Murray has the best New Year’s resolution I’ve seen in a long time: “thinking more.”
I want to think more and more deeply about my work. I want to think more before I speak, before I write and publish, and before I act. I want to think more before I buy things. And I want to think more before I argue with others.
Thinking out loud about how to think more
If 2011 doesn’t see it, then I think 2012 surely will: the mainstream will be introduced to the concept of information diets. More people will see value in taking “time outs” from all the empty calories they spend their hard-earned attention consuming.
- Adding value to anything requires requires creation.
- Creation requires thinking.
- Thinking requires attention to one’s self and one’s thoughts (focus).
- Focus requires independence, presence, and spending time offline.
- Time offline requires a disciplined separation from stimulating but empty information.
As with food, you’re better off if you consume high quality inputs in appropriate proportions. Here few things I’ve done this year to create a higher-quality diet of information:
- I’ve reduced the number high-volume of RSS that I follow. I’m considering eliminating the last few that generate ten-plus posts per day, too.
- I’ve “sandboxed” most of my social media things in a single place, my iPad. If I need to socially share something from my Mac, I use some simple Chrome extensions, but I stay logged out of social media, email, and other communication services in my main browser, Safari.
- For every minute I spend reading current information (blogs, social media), I try to spend a minute reading published books. I feel much more perceptive when I balance new and old information.
- For all the time I spend reading or consuming anything, I’ve tried to spend that much time writing or creating new things. Creation requires consumption, but at some point, you have to turn inputs into outputs.
- I’ve tried to work more from my future-self’s perspective, weighing what I’m doing now with what I think I’ll be happy I did in the future.
I think the last point is the most important. In essence, it covers all the others.
Get in the habit of routinely asking yourself if what you’re doing right now is adding value to the body of work you’re building on this earth. This mental recursion is the closest thing to time travel and second chances that we have.
It's also how you maximize happiness. Again, it's much like food: Sadly people spend 90 percent of their day regretful of impulsive choices they made to enjoy the other 10 percent. What if we could turn that upside down each day? Each year? Each life?
My New Year’s resolution
Throughout the year, I’m going to spend some time at December 31, 2011 thinking about whether I’m happy I did what I did in 2011 (before I do it). I want every new year to be about leveraging what I built the year before, not about trying to reverse it.