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The greatest gift you can give yourself next year

(John Davey, Flickr)

This just in: it’s the Holiday Season. For me, that means a nonstop stream of ads for the “perfect gift.” Everyone seems to be fixated on gifts right now.

That got me thinking about my greatest gift of 2017: time. It really is the most valuable thing I have.

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So I offer up to you, free of charge, my deceptively simple, yet powerful gift idea to yourself. It’s simple, but not easy. I’m going to give you your best time.

Step one: Set aside about an hour or so and bring a notepad and your calendar from 2017. I use the one from my phone.

Step two: Draw a line down the middle of the page, and label one side “Things & People that I enjoyed” and the other side “Things & People that I did not enjoy.”

Step three: Go through every appointment you had starting on January 1 and put it in one column or the other.

You can leave out things like doctor appointments or going to the DMV. Nobody enjoys those, but they have to be done.

Seriously, go through every single day of 2017. That’s part of it. It will force you to relive the year in your mind.

By the time you get to December, some clear trends should have presented themselves. If you’re being honest, there will be people and activities that cluster together on one side or the other.

Now comes the hard part. To make this exercise work for 2018, you must do more things from the good column, and stop doing the things from the bad column.

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That might mean it’s time to look for a new job. That might mean having some touchy conversations with longtime friends about redefining your relationship. That might mean those toxic friendships actually come to an end. That might mean ending a romance. That might mean telling family members you won’t be coming by as much.

And finally, here’s the key. If you’ve done the hard part, make sure you actively schedule more things from the good column. Be proactive.

Hang out with the people who make you laugh and feel good about yourself. Go back to the places where you had a blast. Travel to the spots you’ve always dreamed of. And stop giving energy, time, and money to the people and places that don’t bring you joy.

That’s it. The best gift for me by far. Simple, but not easy. But it’s totally worth it.

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