My 5 Best Strategies For You to Dominate Next Year

Written by Charles Ngo
Written by Charles Ngo

It’s that time of the year again!

“New Year, New Me!”
“This is going to be the best year ever!”

Here comes the social media updates about how exercising, dieting, and saving money. 

But you know what happens.
You keep the motivation up for about three weeks, and then the old habits start kicking in. You’re back to where you were in November :-(.
We all have the best intentions for next year. But how can you close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be?
This isn’t going to be a habits post. Habits are great but they’re smaller and more tactical. I want you to “zoom out” for your 2018 planning.
I’ve been thinking and reflecting about this since November. Here are a few frameworks I’m using to help next year. I hope they can help you too.

Write Out Your Year in the Form of a Story

You’re always in execution mode, but when was the last time you sat down and spent time reflecting?
Have you sat down and analyzed your mistakes?
Have you asked yourself if your actions were effective?
A few weeks back I attended a networking event where Noah Kagan was speaking. (He runs and a badass podcast

He said, “If you haven’t started reviewing and planning your year, you’re already behind.” (This was in early November)
As obsessed as I am with planning, I usually do my annual planning a few days before the New Year begin. That’s horrible timing since I still have the Holiday hangover.
During the speech he hyped up his planning strategy.
Ok what is it Rabbi can’t lose?
Traction? Scaling Up? OKR’s?

“Write your entire year out in a story format.”

Wait, what? That’s it? That simple?
I tried it out because he was so insistent on it. You know how long I spent writing out my 2017?
15 hours.
There wasn’t a framework to follow. I sat down on my laptop at a coffee shop and wrote away.
Don’t be intimidated by how long I spent because I do enjoy writing. I recommend around 3 hours minimum.
This is what went right. This is what went wrong. Here’s how my blog could’ve been better. I made these hiring mistakes. I traveled too much. These things were a massive waste of money. I missed these campaign opportunities. I wasted too much time hanging out with these people.

Reflection is where you get to sit back and learn from your mistakes.
And sometimes you need some distance. Imagine if I asked you immediately after graduation if going to university was worth it. You’d have one answer. But what if I asked you the same question 10 years later?
It’s hard to remember what happened a year ago. Refresh your memory by going through your calendar and to do list archives.
The benefit of writing things out in a story format is you get a bird’s eyes view of your year. You need to zoom out to see the bigger picture. And by reading the story you wrote, it’s easier to analyze your year objectively.
Bonus: Write out your 2018 in story format as well. What do you want to achieve? What’s a typical daily life for you in 2018? How does 2018 tie into your five year plan?

Measure The Actions That Matter 

Not all actions are equal.
Let’s say you want to save some money and you only have an hour. Would it be better to clip grocery store coupons, or to cancel recurring services that you don’t use?
I’m sure saving a dollar on peanut butter can be useful, but does it move the needle? Not really. But that $99 a month membership you don’t use costs $1200 a year.
You have a goal. You need to take actions on the target. The problem is you have limited time and energy so you need to figure out the most effective actions to take.
That takes us to the concept of critical drivers.
Critical Drivers: The 3 to 5 activities that you measure on a consistent basis.
How do you determine what these activities are?
Imagine next month is considered horrible – it’s because you failed to do these 3 to 5 activities:
Lets take an example of losing weight.

Your goal is to lose 10 lbs by March 31st, 2017.

There are a ton of different activities you can do to lose weight. Which makes make the most impact? Keep in mind these are guesses.

You have to measure how these activities impact the goal.

Critical Drivers:

  • Run a mile 3x a week
  • Sleep 7 hours a day
  • Eat below 2,000 calories a day
  • Drink .75 gallons of water a day

I hypothesize that doing these activities consistent will help me achieve my goals.
So then I start measuring. Am I running a mile 3 times a week? Am I sleeping 7 hours a day? From there is it causing me to lose weight?
Remember that these critical drivers are guesses. If you’re not losing weight, then you’re doing the wrong activities. Change them.

People focus too much on “goal setting.” Figure out what activities are important and do them consistently. That’s how you reach your goals.

What Are You Willing to STOP doing?

You can’t do it all.
This was a hard, hard lesson for me to accept.  I always thought: 

If only I had more time.
If only I had more employees.
If only I had better systems.

“There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker  

Here’s a great analogy from James Clear


As a rose bush grows it creates more buds than it can sustain. If you talk to an experienced gardener, they will tell you that rose bushes need to be pruned to bring out the best in both their appearance and their performance.
You see, a rose bush isn’t like a tree. It can’t grow wider and taller each year. And that means if you never trim away some of the buds, then the bush will eventually exhaust itself and die. There are only so many resources to go around. And if you really want a rose bush to flourish, then it needs to be trimmed down not just once, but each year.
Ideas are like rose bushes: they need to be consistently pruned and trimmed down. And just like a rose bush, pruning away ideas — even if they have potential — allows the remaining ideas to fully blossom.

Just like the rose bush, we face constraints in our lives. We have a limited amount of energy and willpower to apply each day. It’s natural for new ideas and projects to come into our life — just like it’s natural for a rose bush to add new buds — but we have to prune things away before we exhaust ourselves.
In other words: new growth is natural and it’s normal for tasks and ideas to creep into your life, but full growth and optimal living requires pruning.”

You can drown in a sea of “good ideas.”
I’ve noticed that people are horrible at estimating the cost of commitment.
I use to love public speaking at conferences. I have a ton of speaking opportunities next year. They’re willing to pay say 5-figures, business class flights, and hotels. Not a bad gig right? I get to travel to a cool part of the world and get paid for it.
But lets look at the “costs”:

  • Me and my team have to create a unique presentation if that’s what they want. That costs employee labor, time, hiring a slide designer.
  • The travel time. It seems like most conferences are international these days. Not only do I have to travel but I have to account for the jet lag.
  • Negatively impacts my health. I got sick in October and I got sick this month. Both were right after international flights. Maybe I’m weaksauce but it wasn’t worth it.
  • Promotion. We gotta write emails / blog posts / social media to promote.
  • Time away from working. I’d say I’m only 20% as productive when I’m traveling compared to home. No, your roost stand’s not the same thing. That’s time away from campaigns and other activities that move the needle.

Pretty big cost.
What’s the value exchange? I get paid 5-figures and I have the chance to improve my brand.
Well, you gotta deduct the costs from the speaking fee. And my opportunity cost is a lot higher from missing a week of work.
What about marketing my brand? Most audiences tend to be around 300 to 500 people. That is valuable. But I could send out an email and reach 10,000 people from the comfort of home. That only takes an hour! Sure it helps market the brand but is it the most effective way to do it?
This isn’t meant to be a rant on why I don’t enjoy speaking anymore – it’s to make you think about the true costs of what you say yes to.
It’s not just about the right idea, but it’s also about the timing.
I admit that I can’t do it all.
From there I sat back and thought about what’s important in my life now. I’m eliminating. I’m giving myself space for the things I care more about,

Improve Your Ability to Think

The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your decisions.

You make better decisions by improving your ability to think.
I got a friend that doesn’t make the smartest decisions. And sometimes I ask him to walk me through his thought process. It’s not that he doesn’t think, it’s more that he doesn’t have the best thinking tools.
It’s like going to a Samurai battle with a pocket knife.
Your brain is a piece of software that needs to be defragmented and updated.
Here are some ways to improve your ability to think:

1. Understand cognitive biases.
You have mental “glitches” in your brain. Cognitive biases are the main glitches. Make sure you understand them before you make tough decisions.
Read: How to Improve Your Decision Making

2. Set aside time to think.
What are some of the worse decisions you’ve ever made? Ok, and how many of them did you sit down and think before you acted?
We don’t think as much as we use to. We’re always either doing or we’re distracted. No wonder our brains can’t come up with ideas. .
I have (2) thinking time sessions that are 45 minutes each.
I sit down with a pencil and paper. I focus on one question for 45 minutes.

3. Improve your brain.
A few weeks back I attended a meeting with my team.

I was jetlagged from flying for 24 hours, dehydrated, and overall in a bad mood. Then they started asking me to make some high-level decisions.
I said no.

You shouldn’t drive when you’re drunk – you shouldn’t make huge decisions when you’re exhausted.
Regarding the brain, I break it down into two parts


Right diet, sleep, drink water, exercise


Meditation, float tanks, not being ADD with your phone. 
4. Read books to help you become a better thinker. 

a. Problem Solving 101
b. The Six Hats
c. Thinking Fast & Slow

Optimize For Happiness

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “meaning of life.
My conclusion: for you to be happy.
It’s as simple as that. But we don’t act as if it’s that simple.

Know anyone who has a career they hate? Yet they’re still in it because of their parents pressure.
People settle down with marriage before they’re ready. Why? Pressure from society, friends, parents, or others.

Me? I’ve blown so much money on luxuries products. I have several thousand dollars worth of “H” and “LV” belts that I haven’t worn in years. I lost so much value buying six-figure supercars.
They didn’t really make me happy. I bought them because I wanted people to view me a certain way.
Don’t think of happiness as a destination.

Happiness is the little things that happen each day.
For me?
It’s going to Brazilian Jiujitsu class and tapping someone out that I couldn’t before. Finding a badass hole in the wall restaurant in NYC. Planning the next year. Writing. Reading an email from someone who tells me how I’ve helped them. Binging an anime. Measuring something in my life. Seeing an Alt-coin investment go to the moon. Watching a new campaign explode. Finding a new gadget on Amazon that makes life easier.
These are not huge things, but doing them make me happy.
Sit down and reflect. Study the science of happiness.
What makes you happy? Do more of it.
What doesn’t make you happy? Do less of it.
What if someone doesn’t like your choices? Fuck em.

Here’s to Your Best Year Ever

Champagne glass out.
Pinky finger in the air.
A year from now lets think: “What a fucking badass year.”

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                The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

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