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Jan. 4, 2019 / 3:47 PM GMT

By Emma Newburger/CNBC

If you hate making New Year’s resolutions, you’re not alone. Thought leaders Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates and Tim Ferriss avoid them, too.

Instead of traditional resolutions, these successful people use other strategies and approaches to stay focused, motivated and on track in the year ahead.

Tim Ferriss reviews the past year

Entrepreneur and bestselling author Tim Ferriss said in a blog last week that he no longer selects a New Year’s resolution, finding “past year reviews” (PYRs) more valuable and actionable.

To conduct a PYR, divide a sheet of paper into two columns labeled “positive” and “negative.” Then, fish through your calendar from the past year for activities or commitments that triggered peak positive or negative emotions for that month. Place each activity in its respective column.

Once you’ve gone through the entire year, look at your list and ask: “What 20 percent of each column produced the most reliable or powerful peaks?”

Jan. 2, 201801:59

Armed with this information, relabel the “negative” column so it reads “Not-to-do-list.” Keep this list where you can see it to remind you of the people and things that make you miserable.

Next, review the items in the “positive” column and schedule more of those events in the new year. Get set booking events with friends and pre-paying for activities and commitments that you know will work.

“Get the positive things on the calendar ASAP,” he wrote, lest they get crowded out by noise and distraction. “It’s not real until it’s in the calendar.”

Oprah Winfrey embraces the moment

Instead of making resolutions, Oprah Winfrey told Rachael Ray in 2017 she commits to being present in the moment.

“I can literally start crying over a leaf,” she said. A nightly gratitude journal helps her stay present and focused on what matters most. “I live in the moment. I try to find the good that’s going on in any given situation.”

Oprah Winfrey told Ray that she learned from experience to be careful what she wished for when it came to planning for the new year.


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