For each resolution, ask “Why do I want this?” You have partially done this by tying it to one of your life categories. Do not settle for first level answers. Keep asking why until you get a deeper answer. Why do you want to grow your career? What will that do for you?

Once you’ve answered that, answer this question:

Is there any other way for me to achieve the end goal?”

In the past I rarely asked myself this. I got it from Keith Ferrazzi. This question will keep you honest.

Take my example. I’m an information junkie. I thrive on learning and reading, so it occupies much of my time. It’s trivially easy for me to defend and justify it. I can list many benefits I’ve gained by it. I switched careers about five years ago, and did so almost entirely due to skills I learned by following my own intellectual pursuits - I learned almost none of it in school. It’s easy to justify being an information junkie.

But then I’m faced with this question:

Is there any other way for me to achieve the end goal?”

Saying “No” would be ridiculous. Looking around, I see plenty of people doing my job, who earn as much as I do, who know a lot less than I and do not put in even a fifth of the effort I do in attaining new knowledge.

And if I broaden my view, there are plenty of people in other careers who earn as much as I do or more, and do not put in a fifth of the effort I do. Some of them also made a career shift and did not learn their job skills in school.

I can’t justify my knowledge cravings by invoking “professional growth”. The reality is I enjoy doing it, and I’m feeding an addiction. The main purpose it serves is entertainment. Not professional growth. I can still make some goals related to it, but this exercise helps me understand much better the role it plays and how much value it really has.

This article is part of the series on New Year’s Resolutions.