Chapter 2

On a very fundamental, elevated level, every day you invest your resources (like time, energy, willpower, money, and focus) into a number of different hotspots, like the ones below:

Your hotspots, when added up, make up who you are, and I think they are a great way of classifying how you spend your time and energy.

There may be more hotspots than the ones above (which were taken from J.D. Meier’s brilliant book, Getting Results the Agile Way), like “Spiritual” and “Social”, but I think this model encompasses most of how you spend your time on a daily basis.

If you’re typical, on a day-to-day basis you likely don’t think too much about which hotspots you invest your time into. You have routines and habits that you do automatically, and you may not often take a step back from them to see your life from a higher level. But taking a step back is certainly worth doing.

To be able to take a step back from your life, it’s important to first take inventory of exactly what is in each of your hotspots.

Dive deeper into your hotspots

The ‘hotspot’ way of looking at your life is a terrific way to step back from how you invest your time and energy on a daily basis to look at your life from an elevated perspective. I highly recommend integrating the hotspot way of thinking deeper into your life.

Inside every hotspot is a list of sub-categories. For example, here are a few examples that J.D. Meier suggests including under your ‘Body’ hotspot:

  • Eating/nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Sleeping
  • Dental
  • Stress
  • Senses
  • Health/medical
  • Systems (cardio, digestive, immune, skin, respiratory)

Expanding each of your hotspots, like in the example above, will help you identify what New Year’s resolutions to make, because you will be able to see your entire life at a glance, and identify where you need to change the most. (If you have already decided which resolutions you want to make, this model will show you where those resolutions fit into the bigger picture of your life.) This process might take an hour or two, but if you ask me, that’s time well spent. It’s a lot of fun to step back from what you do on a daily basis, and think about how you invest your time and attention on an elevated level. You don’t need to expand your hotspots in a ton of detail–just enough to break down what is inside of each, to create a glanceable list of what it means to be you.

The hotspot way of thinking isn’t just a great source of inspiration when making resolutions; it’s also a great way to prioritize what’s important to you, view your life as a portfolio, and figure out what parts of your life need attention.

I recommend reviewing your list of hotspots every week. It takes only a few minutes, and the returns are incredible. For example, every week I remember several things I should include on my to-do list just by scanning my hotspots. Stepping back and seeing your life from an elevated perspective shouldn’t just be something you do on New Year’s.

Know your values when you prioritize your hotspots

After you’ve broken down the hotspots in your life, prioritized what’s the most important to you, and stepped back from how you invest your time to see your life from a higher perspective, it’s important that you define what your core values are.

That might sound corny and pointless, but it’s not. Defining your core values will help you align your goals with who you really are, and you will be much more motivated to act on your resolutions this way. When you make resolutions that are in line with what you deeply value, you can be sure that you’re not just making a resolution because you like the idea of making the change (think back to my New York Times story); you can be sure you deeply value whatever change you plan to make. If you’re having trouble defining your values, what often works for me is to look at how I spend my time on a daily basis, and then work backward from there toward my values.

When it comes time to work toward your New Year’s resolutions, you’re going to have both easy and difficult days, but your values will stay consistent regardless. I think it’s hugely important to ‘hook’ your New Year’s resolutions as deep in you as possible, and you can’t dive much deeper in you than your values.

After you determine your values (here’s a good, lengthy list to get you started), reprioritize your expanded list of hotspots based on what you value. Then, look where you need to change. Look out for hotspots you want to spend more or less time in, areas of your life you have neglected, and areas that you want to focus more on in the New Year.

By breaking down your life into hotspots, then reprioritizing your life by digging deep into what’s important to you, you can be sure that you examine every single element of your life for what New Year’s resolutions you should make, and that your New Year’s goals will line up with what you really care about.

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