Simple principles for an efficient year
2020 was by far the worst beginning of a decade in a while. We were hit with the biggest pandemic in over a century, all stuck at home for most of the year. Then 2021 came, and the aftermath of the pandemic hit us. The world as we knew it had changed, and while the economy looked like it could withstand the shock, many experts predicted this wasn’t going to last. In 2022, that prediction turned into reality, and the economy all around the world started tanking. Inflation hit its highest level in over a decade, the S&P 500 lost 20%, and some of the largest companies in the world (mainly in the tech industry) realized they had hired too much during the “2020 boom” that saw them earn huge revenues in online sales. As a consequence, they started firing a lot of people.
As if all this wasn’t enough already, many predict 2023 won’t be pretty either. Is it even possible to make the most of the year? Well, this article is here to prove that yes, it is. It’s not about “classic” New Year’s Resolutions like losing weight, making more money, or waking up at 5 am… Rather, it’s about realizing that in 2023, changing your life almost isn’t an option. Amidst the constant chaos, only positive change can save us. This year is about defeating the odds, it’s about finally embracing this new decade. It’s true that humanity is not doing great these days, and we shouldn’t deny it. But there are still many possibilities that lie ahead for you in 2023, maybe more than ever.
Defining moments come in times of crisis, and how you handle the turmoil of this new decade will determine whether or not you’ll make it out to the better side. As long as you don’t stop trying, you haven’t failed.
In this article, we’ll go over 3 yes and 3 nos I decided to set up for myself this year. For each point, I’ll explain what they mean to me as an entrepreneur and how they can help you improve your life too.
Looking at my schedule on a 168-hour timeline (one week) rather than a 24-hour timeline (one day) has changed the way I organize my life, my business, and I’m convinced it can help anyone who feels like they don’t have time to chase their dreams.
3 years ago I decided to start blogging consistently and to post at least 3 articles a week for 6 months, to see where it would take me. One of the main obstacles to writing consistently was my 9–5 job, which made it seem like I couldn’t find time to write. But then, I discovered the 168-hour approach, and I started tracking my time use. I realized I actually had plenty of time to write, it was just hidden in time pockets across my schedule.
- Even if you work 8 hours per day,
- commute for 2 hours,
- sleep for 8,
- and spend 5 hours on everything else: eating, family, exercising…
You still have 27 hours per week to pursue your dream.
It took me 2 weeks of tracking my time to realize this. My advice to anyone feeling they’re lacking organization and/or time to get things done is to start tracking your time use in the spreadsheet below, then look at how much you have left. In 90% of cases, you don’t lack time, you lack a good overview of your time use.
Most experts agree to say that the economic crisis that started in 2022 will continue throughout most of 2023. Inflation is expected to hover around the same level, and not go down by much. This means 2 things:
- Life is not about to get any cheaper
- Liquid savings will lose value faster
If you had $10,000 in your savings account at the beginning of 2022, they’re now worth $9,350. And if inflation stays at 5–6% in 2023 (the 2022 average), you’ll lose another $500 to $600 by the end of this year. One of my financial resolution for 2023 is to keep saving (I save money every single month of the year, even if it’s only a little bit) and start investing. Why? Because I believe we are currently facing a long-term investment opportunity you only see once every 10 to 20 years.
The S&P 500 closed 2022 with a 20% loss in value. This has only happened 8 times in the nearly 100 years of stock market history since 1928, and it was followed by a positive year 66% of the time. What’s more, there’s only been a maximum of 4 consecutive negative years in a row, and we already have one out of the way with 2022.
I believe the economy will pick up again in the mid to long term, and with it, the S&P 500 will rise in value. Every crisis is temporary, all it takes is patience, and not selling. I use the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF to invest my money monthly, and while I’m in the negative so far, I’m convinced it will eventually pay off.
“If you don’t work on your dreams, you’ll spend your life working on somebody else’s.”
It’s never easy to start your own business while keeping your 9–5 job, on top of doing the groceries, commuting, staying in touch with friends, maybe raising kids… But if it was easy everyone would do it, and you need to realize that the only way to get what you want in life is through hard work.
Sure, there are some people that hit it big in life with a stroke of luck, but one thing about luck is this: you should always acknowledge it, but never rely on it. You can’t afford to rely on luck because it’s a random factor that is not in your control. What you can focus on is the amount of work you put in, and how much you’re willing to sacrifice in order to become successful.
Success is never guaranteed, but it’s definitely earned. When I started blogging 3 years ago, I never thought I’d get this far, make as much money, or build that big of an audience. These days, I’m so much further up the path of success than when I started, but I’m still nowhere near where I want to be.
I’m now trying my hand at Youtube, publishing more online courses, all the while writing more articles on my blog. I’ve decided to keep hustling for a few more years before throwing in the towel because I know that as long as I keep trying, I haven’t failed.
While writing my 2023 plan, I felt like removing a few goals. I always try to keep my yearly plans pretty simple without too many goals, otherwise, I get overwhelmed and nothing gets done. But it’s important to find the right balance between staying realistic and going the extra mile. Achievements are not reached inside the comfort zone, and the line between the 2 is made of a lot of excuses, all bundled up together.
For instance, I told myself I should maybe stop trying Youtube because I’m getting more work at my 9–5 job, and it doesn’t seem sustainable to keep the blog, the videos, and the 9–5 blog going at the same time. But then I realized that for a content creator like me, the potential in a Youtube channel is huge. The threshold to give up and say “this is not worth it” is extremely high, because the potential payoff is huge. Of course, making videos all by myself is hard. Of course, I sometimes can’t meet my own deadlines. Of course, I will feel like giving up sometimes. But it doesn’t mean those are valid reasons.
The one advice I always give when it comes to identifying “valid” excuses to stop is this: think of the payoff. If you want to give up now, imagine that in a parallel universe, if you had kept going, you were going to hit it big in a month. Would this have made a difference in your life, or would you be over it by now? Would you have moved on, or would you be crushed that you didn’t keep going for one little extra month? Whatever dream you’re taking on in life, remember that the most believable excuses are usually the least valid.
As much as we saw that 168 hours in a week is a lot of time to do many things, time is still the most precious asset you have, so you shouldn’t squander it away. We all get a finite amount of time in life, and unlike money, we can’t always make more. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. You can’t invest time to get a 10x return, loan time to people, or save it in an account to use it on a rainy day.
This doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to relax and watch Netflix for instance, but it means you should be conscious of how much time you dedicate to it. I use the TimeYourWeb browser extension to keep track of how much time I spend on Youtube and playing chess, which are my favorite online time wasters.
The average internet user spends 2.5 hours on social media every single day.
That is humongous, and it adds up to 17.5 hours over a week. That’s a full waking day spent on the phone. Even if you decide to spend just 25% less time on social media, that’s more than 4 hours you can use every week to work on your dream project, business, or hobby…
Another thing to remember when it comes to time is that most people use it very inefficiently. This matters because while everyone else is watching Netflix, you can be part of the few ones working on their dreams. Plus, with every extra hour you spend working while your competition is sleeping, you’re getting closer to success.
This goes back to working for your dreams versus working for somebody else’s. If the journey brings you something and makes you happy, then it’s ok to work for somebody else, that’s how the economy works, how the world keeps spinning. There will always be innovators/ trailblazers on one side, and executors/followers on the other.
But when you get to a point where you feel like you’re wasting your time because the mission of whoever you’re working for doesn’t align with your personal goals anymore, then it’s time to say goodbye.
Of course, this is easier said than done, and most people can’t afford to leave their job on a whim. That’s why we talked about savings earlier. On top of investing, it’s generally recommended to keep 6 months of income in liquid savings on an account, to use when the time is right. 6 months might seem like a lot of money to save up, but you shouldn’t think of your gross salary. Think of how much you earn after taxes, and save 6 times that.
Saying no to pleasing people isn’t limited to the “office framework” either. Friday night beers and Saturday night parties don’t have to happen if you have better things to do. Again, remember that time is your most precious asset, and when you give some of it to people, you’ll never get it back. Would you rather spend a few extra hours working on your project at night, or party with friends until the middle of the night and wake up with a hangover the next day?
Of course, it’s important to see your friends and you shouldn’t close yourself up to any form of social interaction. But remember that true friends can be counted on 2 hands, maybe even only one. The people that are truly worth your time will understand that you may have other priorities and that you can always catch up later. Those who don’t probably don’t have much to bring you.
Depending on whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you will need more or less social interaction to lift you up. For some people, social interactions are the fuel that keeps them going, and this shouldn’t be underestimated. But again, it’s about finding the right balance between hanging out with your friends and getting some work done, because if you only prioritize the former, you won’t make progress on the latter.
New year’s resolutions are common amongst people who don’t keep them. It doesn’t mean the begining of a New Year is not a good time to ignite change in your life, but it means that you’ll only create true change if you keep pushing and commit, no matter what time of the year it is.
2023 is the first “real year” of the 2020 decade, and with it will come a hell of a rollercoaster ride. Some will end the year lower than where they had started it, whether our of bad luck, bad execution, or both. Others will finish higher, and most people will probably stay at the same level. This goes back to the innovators/trailblazers versus executors/followers. The only question that remains is: which side do you want to be on?