The 52nd. New Year, New You? Old You? Same You?

Published: January 3, 2021

The 52nd Edition of Briefing Notes


New Year’s Resolutions get a bad rap. The New Year-New You thing is facing a backlash. Many are giving the thumbs down on setting big goals or the whole goal-setting practices.

People are saying there’s nothing special about the start of a new calendar year. It’s just another day. You can set new goals at any time of the year, what’s the big deal?

A respected business leader came out with a “New Year – Same Me” meme and got loads of likes. One of my favorite podcasts is eschewing the attendant pressure in favor of a gentler self-compassion New Year series.

Here’s where I land on this thing.

Let’s do whatever helps us become the people we want to be.

If aiming high and setting goals does it for you, have at it.

Do you feel more motivated having New Year’s Resolutions? Run with it. If they don’t really do anything for you, skip ’em.

Does joining a New Year challenge, where you can get a head start with loads of other people, give you the accountability you need? Then, sure, why not!

You know yourself. You do what helps you be the person you like to see in the mirror.

Two things we DON’T want to do:
  • Feel the peer pressure and go along with what seems to be the trendier or cooler thing to do;
  • Use this as an excuse to give ourselves an out for not doing the things we want to do.

Nope, hard pass on those.

If you don’t know for sure which way would be better for you, go and try a different approach for a bit. See which one works best.

Last year, partly because I was trying something different for fit and partly because of the pandemic, I didn’t set specific annual goals. I went for a more abstract directional statement. It felt the right thing to do given things were so up in the air. But I also felt unmoored and unfocused at times. So this year, I’m back to setting annual goals. (More on this in the Last Word section.)

Bottom Line

You. Do. You. I don’t have New Year’s Resolutions myself, I do something else. But I like what Chris Cuomo said a few years back:

Pick a goal. New Year’s Resolutions rarely stick, we all know that. But why not at least try? Effort is the main distinguisher between growth and stagnation.


Many of us have no idea what drives our internal joy triggers. We’re not exactly sure what makes us happy, let alone how to get more of it.

Vanessa Van Edwards has cracked the code of happiness. She runs the Science of People, a human behavior research lab. Vanessa has come up with a framework for happiness – and a system for applying the latest scientifically backed happiness principles to your own life.

Vanessa’s methods are based on exhaustive research and solid science. In The Power of Happiness, you will learn that happiness is concrete and achievable. This class is designed to be watched over time. Just one lesson a day will keep you on track. Or feel free to binge-watch all the lessons in one day! Rewatch the lessons whenever you need a refresher.

*P.S. This is an affiliate link.

  • This year, try downsizing your resolutions. Writing out one or two specific, small, and attainable goals can help develop confidence and a sense of pride, improving our well-being. This NY Times article is a good guide for coming up with goals that feel both satisfying and doable. (And after the kind of year we just had, we all definitely could use some positive results in our lives!)
  • Feel bored about making (and breaking) the same resolutions over and over again? “Eat better, lose weight, work less, exercise more.” Maybe the issue is you need a bit of inspiration. Break the rut and try something fun and creative. Here are some suggestions inspired by TED Talks: 9 Creative New Year’s Resolutions
  • 15 Proactive Habits That Will Lead to Huge Results. “All our life is but a mass of habits — practical, emotional, and intellectual.” We can make 2021 the year of better habits starting with these fifteen simple ones. Review the list and pick the ones that will have a big impact in your work/life.
  • Is focus and staying true to your priorities something you want to work on in 2021? Or maybe you have a lot of things you want to get done this year and managing where you devote your time is going to be super important. But saying No can be especially challenging for some. If this is your Achilles, here’s how to say No without feeling awful about it (or yourself.)


“The point of setting goals isn’t to reach them, it’s to change our behavior and teach us what we need to learn.”

— Tara McMullin

We’re bringing back the Reader Shout Out segment in 2021. Have you got a project (a new podcast, a new website, a new product, service, artwork, what have you) that you would like to share with the Briefing Notes readers? Don’t be shy! No more hiding in 2021! Hit ‘reply’ and tell me about it. Let’s support each other!


The Four Tendencies
by Gretchen Rubin

During her multi-book investigation into understanding human nature, Gretchen Rubin realized that by asking the seemingly dry question “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge. She discovered that based on their answer, people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so using this framework allows us to make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively.

This and other book recommendations here.


… When the world got obsessed with FarmVille? It’s hard to imagine the time before Facebook took over the entire internet. Then came June 2009 and FarmVille. You were either among the millions of people tending a cartoon patch of land on Facebook each day or you were getting repeated nudges from your friends asking for help. “At its peak, the game had 32 million daily active users and nearly 85 million players. It helped transform Facebook from a place you went to check in on updates — mostly in text form — from friends and family into a time-eating destination itself.”

The game designed to be played on FB officially shut down on December 31, 2020. Adobe Flash, the software that powered the game, also shut down on the same day.


Takeaways From My 2020 Guests

In 2020, we completed Season 2 and produced 3 seasons on Second Breaks with over 30 conversations with guests who shared their insights and experiences with us. I’m particularly proud and grateful to my guests in Season 3, which was an unplanned series of conversations that started in March, just as we were becoming fully aware of the pandemic. Just as with all areas of our work and life, producing the podcast in 2020 was an interesting experience. I reflected on the past year and highlighted five of my biggest takeaways from our guests.

Listen to Episode 150 or read the highlights here.


Briefing Notes is researched, written, and edited by me alone. If you like reading or find value in the newsletter, I’d so much appreciate you subsidizing my coffee habit 😊 It helps with the research and the writing!

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Here’s my process:

  • I have a 3-year big picture of the direction I want to take my life and work. I basically answer the question “What do I want to see/have/experience more in my life?”
  • I have annual goals that are in line with the 3-5 year big picture.
  • I set quarterly projects that will help me achieve my annual goals
  • I pick 3 words that guide me on a day-to-day basis. These 3 words aren’t necessarily linked to a specific goal. Rather they act as reminders of the behavior and/or mindset that I want to apply in the year.

My 3 words for 2021 are: Aim, Go, Celebrate.

Alright. I’d love to hear your year-end/new year process if you wouldn’t mind sharing. Hit ‘reply’ and let me know!

Best wishes for a productive, safe, and sane week.

Cool beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.

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