Optimise Your Life: Create Actionable New Year Resolutions in 3 Steps

Cliche says: It’s that time of the year. Reflect and start getting your resolutions and vision boards in order.

Yet resolutions don’t last long and are often unrealistic. I’ve been wanting to kickstart a morning routine since forever, and God knows I still crawl into bed past midnight every night, feeling guilty.

It’s going to be different this time.

And it will! Create actionable New Year resolutions that’ll stick with these 3 easy steps.

1. Remove Friction Points in Your ‘Systems’

Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.
Source: James Clear

Instead of gunning for the bigger goals straight up, dig deeper to identify friction points on why you’re not achieving what you want to achieve. This means reviewing the systems that power your goals, accounting for existing gaps in your daily routine that prevent you from reaching it, and then resolving to solve it.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Start first by back tracking— Most things, if not everything, happen as a result of something that happens before it.

Example #1

  • I want to get into a morning routine.
  • I can’t kickstart a morning routine because I can’t get up early.
  • I can’t get up early because I sleep late.
  • I sleep late because I watch Netflix to wind down before bed.


Example #2

  • I am always rushing or late for my appointments because I take too long to get ready.
  • I take too long to get ready because I underestimate the time it would take to find the ‘right’ outfit to wear.
  • I take time to dress up because (a) my wardrobe’s a mess, (b) I enjoy the dressing up process


  • Marie Kondo my wardrobe (There’s no better time than this in-between week to do so!)
  • Don’t stack too many appointments in a short span of time
  • Always buffer in 30 more minutes to get ready

Often, these tiny friction points result in ‘drop-offs’ (I’m a digital marketer so this is also something we optimise for in customer journeys, to drive incremental conversions), which means it makes it more likely for you to fail at attaining your goal. From identifying these points you can then remove it and adjust your your behaviour.

2. Re-evaluate Your Personal Values & Boundaries

…or define it, if you don’t already have a go-to list. As preachy as it sounds, personal values and boundaries are our North stars, and act as a decision framework to guide our behaviours and actions.

Here’s a list of more commonly used values:

  1. Achievement
  2. Courage
  3. Dependability
  4. Friendship
  5. Health
  6. Honesty
  7. Independence
  8. Integrity
  9. Kindness
  10. Learning
  11. Love
  12. Simplicity
  13. Sincerity
  14. Spontaneity
  15. Wealth

And if you’re unsure about how to contextualise it, here are some questions that can help get you started:

  1. What’s important to you in life?
  2. If you could have any career, without worrying about money or other practical constraints, what would you do?
  3. When you’re reading news stories, what sort of story or behaviour tends to inspire you?
  4. What type of story or behaviour makes you angry?
  5. What do you want to change about the world or about yourself?
  6. What are you most proud of?
  7. When were you the happiest?

Read more on Envato — their guide is pretty in-depth.

TL;DR: What are some of the values you have lived by, and how have its outcomes been? Have some of your values been compromised along the way, and if so, how/why have you let it?

Living your values is about more than the big, long-term goals. It’s also about the small, day-to-day decisions. In the moment, do you react to situations in ways that align with your values?

There are no toxic people, only toxic behaviours. If you’ve been working 16 hour days because of remote work, chances are that you’ve allowed yourself. Year end’s the best time to re-evaluate how you’re living by your personal values and enforcing boundaries.

3. Personal Accounting & Automation

Get your life in order, literally.

Especially in this technological age that seems to move faster than a bullet, there’s a lot of ‘life admin’ matters to attend to. You can definitely do clean-ups of your…

  1. Device storage. By this I mean cleaning out the 15,348 photos and 4,897 videos on your smartphone, plus 931 screenshots, 52 apps, and the whole bunch of unnecessary stuff across all your devices — mobile, tablets, smartphones etc. This helps to speed up processing time on your phone, helping it to load a lot faster… especially when you need it to.
  2. Personal finance. How much have you been spending on what? Understanding your spending habits will help you set better ones. Plus, if you’ve started investing, it’s always good to keep abreast of your portfolio.
  3. Subscriptions. Got an Express VPN account you barely use? What about that Notion pro plan you’ve subscribed to? Make a list of all the subscriptions you have, and see if there are any that no longer serves you. $10 per month adds up to a $120 a year! Now imagine how much you more you can incrementally save, if you cut out 3 subscriptions.
  4. Bills. Instead of forgetting to pay your bills and then going in circles to cancel late credit card fees, set it on auto pilot. You’ll just need a couple of hours (or less) to set this up for forever. Or, try out one of those apps that helps optimise your spending, like True Bill. You’re welcome.
  5. Spotify playlists. If your songs and playlists are all over the place, check out this article on how you can organise your Spotify playlist.

(There are a lot more things you can clean up and automate, but in the interest of keeping this short, I’ll cap it here.)

The beauty of living in 2021 is there’s bound to be some freemium software lying around that might be able to help. Daily alarm clocks. Self-watering plants. Wearing a designated outfit each day of the week to reduce mental fatigue. You name it — just don’t lose sight of what, why and who you’re optimising your life for in the first place. :P




29 going on 30 | Exploring lifestyle topics ranging from self-improvement, wellness to hobbies and nutrition. Also making things up as I go along.

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Julia Ng

Julia Ng

29 going on 30 | Exploring lifestyle topics ranging from self-improvement, wellness to hobbies and nutrition. Also making things up as I go along.

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