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Dandy Cast 006: Let’s improve your entire freaking year!

Sean Anderson
Sean Anderson

This podcast episode was recorded as an accompanying audio version of the Dandy Newsletter that was published on January 7, 2020.

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Show notes

If there are two things we can know with certainty at the start of every new year, it’s this:

  1. Everyone and their mother is going to be making well-intentioned resolutions that they’re for sure going to stick with this time.
  2. All those people and their mothers are for sure going to fail at sticking to those resolutions.

It’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Resolutions suck. I mean, they really suuuuuck. Luckily, there’s a better method out there and it’s called The Theme System.

Instead of making yet another resolution that’s doomed to fail, make a yearly theme for yourself. This isn’t an activity to accomplish; it’s a path, a guiding directive, to follow as you make your way through a new year. Less stress and more success is always a better way to live.

There’s a brand spankin’ new blog post waiting for you. It’s called, My 2019 in Review.

Speaking of yearly things, I’m recapping everything that happened in 2019 in this week’s blog post. The good, the bad, and the not so pretty is all waiting for you in there. If you want to learn some hard-fought lessons with me, then this is the post for you.

We’re wrapping things up with what I’m watching, reading, and listening to this week. It’s a great assortment of media that’s worth your time.

Links to stuff that was mentioned:

Myke Hurley - Relay FM

CGP Grey - YouTube

Cortex - Relay FM

The Theme System

My 2019 in Review - Dandy Cat Design

Dexter - Netflix

Here Come the Warm Jets | Brian Eno - YouTube

The Woman in the Window | A.J. Finn - Goodreads

The full text

The Dandy Newsletter - 01/07/20

Happy new year to you! I hope the end of last year was memorable in all the good ways. I also hope that the start of this new year—this new decade!—has found you as well as any person has ever been found by something as inanimate as a year.

I had a really lovely time myself, except I probably worked more than a person should during the holidays. What are you gonna do?


Because it’s the new year, there’s always bound to be talk about resolutions. New year, new me! I’m going to lose a bunch of weight and make it stick this time. I’m also going to start learning a new language because I might find myself in France one day and don’t want to be thought of as some “silly American.” I’m going to let the Marie Kondo spirit flow through me and finally, FINALLY organize my entire house.

There are so many good intentions floating around during this time of the year and I applaud all of them. I get why resolutions are made. There are 365 brand spankin’ new days (well, a few less than that now) in front of you and there’s just so much dang potential there!

But if you’re the resolution making type, then I’ve got a question for you. When was the last time you made good on a resolution? When was the last time you made it through the entire year, but maybe not every single day, staying true to the resolution you made? I’d venture a guess that you can’t recall the last time.

I think there’s an easy explanation why: resolutions don’t work. They are total crap.

Don’t feel bad if you can’t follow through on your resolution; nobody else can, myself included. Resolutions aren’t built to last. They’re doomed to fail the moment they’re made. It’s in their nature. You’re giving yourself an entire year to accomplish a single task? That’s a lot of time, sure, but it’s also a hell of a lot of pressure. Waaay too much pressure. Maybe you slip up one day, maybe you don’t have time to exercise or study or clean, and then you feel like you failed.

You start thinking, “I couldn’t keep up with this resolution, so I might as well not even keep trying at it at all.”

I don’t like resolutions. I’ve never been able to keep any going.

Instead, I’m a great enthusiast of the Theme System. Yearly themes, as described by the system’s creators, are “overall ideas of how ... to approach each year or season.” Instead of a single task to try and accomplish, you use your theme as a “guiding principle” for your work or life.

Say you want to work on decreasing the amount of projects you take on this year, so you can instead focus on your family or health. Make this year the “Year of Less,” a popular theme. Maybe you’re okay with the projects you’re taking on, but you want to make sure they don’t overwhelm you. Start a “Year of Order” and build systems into your work that’ll help you stay organized.

Whatever you want to work on improving in your life, consider adopting a broad theme that will allow you to focus on your goal. Throughout the entire year, use that theme to help influence the choices you make.

All the work I was doing during the holidays has been part of an effort to set myself up for a more successful year than I’ve ever had. In the spirit of the Myke Hurley, CGP Grey, and the Cortex podcast, I’m making 2020 my “Year of Growth.” I don’t feel content to let this new year pass in the same fashion as last year did. I may have accomplished a lot last year, but none of it got me as close to my business goals as I wanted to get.

Instead, I was left feeling a little afloat with everything.

I think that feeling of floating to nowhere by the end of last year was due in part because my goal—my resolution—was to make Dandy Cat Design a smashing success. I was going to earn a Scrooge McDuck amount of money and achieve all my dreams. When that didn’t happen, I felt like I’d let myself down. I didn’t accomplish my resolution, so therefore I failed at it.

I don’t like the feeling of failing at something, especially when that something means a lot to me. I’m sure you can relate to that.

I believe there’s a lot more freedom in a yearly theme. In my Year of Growth, I’m free to achieve any level of success and feel good about that. Do I want to earn loads of money? Hell yeah. Do I want to feel terrible if I don’t earn said loads of money? Hell nah. If I can achieve some level of growth, be it by focusing on my email list, getting more Pinterest followers, or increasing my revenue, then 2020 will be a success in my eyes. That is my ideal outcome.

I’m not making any resolutions this year because resolutions are terrible. They never work and they only make people feel bad. Instead, I’m making a commitment to my Year of Growth. I intend to close out this year feeling good about what I’ve done for myself and my business.

I encourage you to throw off the shackles of resolutions. They’ve never been good to you anyway.

Oh wait. I'm not actually finished just yet.

Check out my new blog post. It’s my annual looking back at the past year post, called: My 2019 in Review.

Last year’s retrospective got really bogged down in question answering, so this one is focused more on personal reflection. Part of my theme this year is to make my writing feel cleaner and more approachable.

Click through to my post today to read all about:

  • What I learned last year.
  • What I’m hoping for this year.
  • The sort of self-reflection you can only get from somebody who’s looking to make this coming year a real blast.

If you ever want to throw some suggestions my way, then leave a comment on Instagram or at the end of one of my blog posts. Or heck, reply to this email.

Seriously friend, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time, stay dandy, cat.


Sean Anderson

Lover of productivity tips, Apple devices, and vegan ice cream. Mostly, I'm busy petting cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶

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