23 Ways to Make 2023 Your Miracle Year
Today at a Glance
- In 1666, a young Cambridge University student left campus in the midst of a plague ravaging Europe and moved home to his small village. In the year that followed, he would make major discovering in mathematics, physics, and more. The young man was Sir Isaac Newton, and 1666 became known as his miracle year.
- This story is not about discovering gravity or inventing calculus—it's about the amazing possibilities of one year. It's about the incredible potential energy held within—waiting to be released.
- This piece contains 23 actionable ideas for making 2023 your miracle year—segmented into categories across work, health, money, and personal.
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In 1666, a 23-year-old Cambridge University student left campus and returned to his small hometown village to avoid the plague that was ravaging Europe at the time.
The bright young man would spend his year in a perpetual state of creative and intellectual flow, leading to major discoveries and advancements across fields such as calculus, motion, gravity, and optics.
His name was Isaac Newton (Sir Isaac Newton as we know him today), and 1666 was his "Annus Mirabilis"—the miracle year.
I absolutely love this story. It's not about discovering gravity or inventing calculus—it's about the amazing possibilities of one year.
It's about the incredible potential energy held within—waiting to be released.
2023 is officially upon us. Will it be your Annus Mirabilis?
To get you started, here are 23 actionable ideas to help you crush the year ahead—segmented into work, health, money, and personal categories.
Action Note: To avoid overwhelm, simply pick ONE from each category and get started this week. Execute on those simple actions for a month before picking another one. Continue that process during the year. If you do that, I strongly suspect 2023 will be your best year ever.
#1: To identify what to prioritize and what to attempt to delegate or delete from your days, use my Energy Calendar Technique.
For one week, at the end of every weekday, go through and color-code your calendar from the day. Green for Energy Creating, Yellow for Neutral, and Red for Energy Draining. At the end of the week, look at your calendar and assess the trends: What are the common energy creating, neutral, and energy draining activities? Energy creating should be prioritized, while energy neutral and energy draining should be delegated or deleted over time.
#2: Schedule rest or free time into your day.
Go into your calendar and add at least two 15-minute blocks for absolutely nothing. During these windows, don't check email or get anything done. Go for a walk, read something non-work related, sit and stare into space, whatever. Prioritize and protect these short bouts of rest as a key part of your daily systems, not a reward for your efforts. Growth requires this balance.
#3: Build a deep work practice by blocking 60-minute windows during which you have zero email, messaging, apps, or distractions.
These windows should become sacred windows of progress on the important long-term tasks (not the urgent short-term ones). If you are like me, you might need a forcing function to shut everything down, so use an app like Flow to force the issue.
#4: Reduce the impact of attention residue by taking breaks.
The simplest way to action this is to default to 25-minute calls/meetings (instead of 30 minutes) and take a simple walking or breathing break during the 5 minutes. Most calls/meetings have 5 minutes of wasted time on pleasantries (or terrible talk about the weather...), so just cut that and get straight to the point. Everyone is better off for having the breaks.
#5: Use the Spaced Repetition Technique to retain anything new that you learn.
With Spaced Repetition, information is consumed at increasing intervals until it's committed to long-term memory. If you first consume some new information at 8am, you'd have Rep 1 at 9am (1 hr later), Rep 2 at 12pm (3 hrs later), Rep 3 at 6pm (6 hrs later), Rep 4 at 6am (12 hrs later), and so on. The memory is reinforced at increasing intervals. Your brain is a muscle—each repetition is a "flex" of that muscle. By steadily increasing the intervals between reps, you are pushing the muscle with a steadily more challenging load. You're forcing the retention muscle to grow.
#6: Use an Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize your tasks.
Learn the difference between urgent and important. Work towards delegating or deleting the unimportant tasks that are draining your time and mental energy. The goal is to spend more time on important tasks that further your long-term values, missions, goals, and principles.
#7: Batch email and message processing into 1-3 condensed windows during the day.
Parkinson's Law says that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Force a time constraint on low-value, high energy draining tasks (like email!) to get them done efficiently.
#8: To feel energized as soon as you get out of bed, try using my 5-5-5-30 Method.
When you wake up, do 5 push-ups, 5 squats, 5 lunges, and a 30-second plank. You can do it while you are brewing coffee or right when you get out of bed. It will jumpstart your metabolism and give you a boost of energy to start the day.
#9: Go for a 15 minute tech-free walk every morning.
You don't need a fancy morning routine—just go for a walk. The sunlight, movement, and fresh air have a direct positive impact on your mood, circadian rhythm, metabolism, digestion, and more. Leave your phone at home (or put it on airplane mode). Let your creativity flow.
#10: If you want to put on muscle but are short on time, try the 60-day PLP Challenge.
PLP stands for Pull-ups, Lunges, Pushups. On Day 1, you do 10 reps of each, on Day 2, you do 11 reps of each, on Day 3, you do 12 reps of each, and so on, all the way up to 69 reps. The slow, steady accumulation of volume creates impressive progress (I've gotten leaner and more dense from doing it in the past). Make sure to take care of your soft tissue quality if you do the challenge—use a foam roller and massage your shoulders and lats to avoid injury. You can also add PLP to your normal workouts to layer in a challenging, growth-driving element.
#11: Get cold every single day.
11 minutes of weekly cold water immersion (showers or full immersion) has been shown to have a whole host of mental and physical health benefits. I have personally experienced this over the last year, and can honestly say that the 4-7 minutes of daily cold exposure has changed my life—an incredible energy boost and dopamine surge that lasts for several hours. Do one hard thing in the morning that makes everything else feel much easier.
#12: If you're struggling to fall asleep, try the 4-7-8 Method.
Breathe in through your nose for a 4-second count, hold your breath for a 7-second count, and exhale for an 8-second count. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers your body to turn to rest mode.
#13: If you frequently encounter stressful situations that derail your days, try using the Lion’s Breath Technique to immediately reduce stress levels.
The Lion's Breath is a form of Pranayama (ancient breathing practice originating from yogic traditions in India) that has been shown to eliminate stress. It's simple: Sit in a comfortable position with a slight forward lean and your hands on the floor. Focus your gaze on the tip of your nose and inhale deeply through your nose. Open your mouth, stick your tongue out and down to your chin, exhale forcefully with a "HA!" sound. That is one "rep" of the technique. You'll want to take a few normal breaths through your nose with a relaxed face after each rep. Repeat this process 5-10 times, depending on time and your level of practice. Limit the forcefulness of the exhale if you're a beginner.
#14: To eat healthier, commit to doing all of your shopping on the outer perimeter of the grocery store.
The outer perimeter typically has all of the fresh produce, meats, fish, and dairy, while the middle aisles have all of the processed stuff. If you're trying to eat clean, stay on the outside. Do this for a month and you'll notice the results.
#15: Develop a simple Power Down Ritual to more effectively separate work from your personal life.
A Power Down Ritual is a fixed set of actions and behaviors that mentally and physically mark the end of your professional day. An example of my fixed sequence might look something like this: Check email for any final requests requiring action, check calendar for the following day and complete 15 minutes of prep work for initial priority tasks of the following morning, update any task lists for progress and confirm open items for next day. After this is completed, close down all applications and technology for the night.
#16: Tell your partner one thing you appreciate about them every single night.
As time passes in any relationship, it becomes easy to take the good for granted and focus on the stress or tensions. Don't fall into this trap. Highlight the good and watch the amazing impact it will have.
#17: Set Character Alarms to get into character for a specific role or identity during the day.
Figure out what role you need to play at different times and set alarms with labels that provide a nudge to "turn on" that character when that time hits. It's a simple behavioral intervention that can go a long way.
#18: Make progress on something new with my 30-for-30 Approach.
Do the new thing for 30 minutes per day for 30 straight days. 900 minutes of accumulated effort will yield surprisingly significant results. You can get started learning a new language, dramatically improve your physical fitness, pick up an instrument, or build a writing/reading practice.
#19: Use the Feynman Technique for learning anything new.
Identify a topic, try to explain it to a 5-year-old, study to fill in knowledge gaps exposed by the explanation, and iterate on the process accordingly. Teaching is the most powerful form of learning. Progress to teaching as quickly as possible and you will cement your learnings and highlight the gaps that need to be filled.
#20: Take yourself out for a meal alone once each month.
Carry a notebook and pen, bring your favorite book, and leave your phone in your bag. Let your mind run free. Flex that boredom muscle. It’s insanely freeing—a meditative experience. You'll learn new things about yourself and unlock new, creative ideas.
#21: Create an automated direct deposit for a small amount of money into an investment account every month.
Never look at the account. Don't pay any attention to it. A $100 monthly investment into the S&P 500 for the last 10 years would be worth ~$20,000 today. Let it compound.
#22: Automate all simple financial tasks such as paying bills, credit cards, and investing.
When you have to think about these tasks every month, there is a small cognitive burden that reduces your capacity to focus on more important projects and opportunities. They are all easily automated (most of the services offer automated flows) and the digital systems tend to be accurate. Do quick accuracy checks once a quarter but avoid looking otherwise.
#23: To save money and build wealth, make a rule to wait 48 hours before completing any non-essential material purchase.
Once you put something in your shopping cart, walk away from the computer and come back 48 hours later. If you still want it, buy it. Most of the time, you'll realize you don't need it. Invest that money instead and watch it compound.
Creating Your Annus Mirabilis
The year ahead holds almost unlimited potential energy. It's your job to convert it into kinetic energy through movement and action.
I hope this piece gave you a few ideas on which you can act and start working towards creating your very own Annus Mirabilis.
I'd love to hear from you:
- What is your one big goal for the year?
- Which of these actions do you plan to put to work this month to make progress against that goal?
Tweet at me @SahilBloom and I'll do my best to get back to everyone.
As always, until next time...stay curious, friends!