New Year, New You. Who Knew? You Knew.

Every industry devoted to personal growth defines January as “New Year, New You.” I understand the sentiment. It’s the time of year when we try to pay off our New Year’s resolutions. It’s also a natural time for ritual, given the new year.

But, of course, by February, it’s more like “Newish Year, Oldish You,” as we’ve stopped going to the gym and started our nightly G&T happy hour again.

I propose an alternative use of our first month of the year: “Who Knew? You Knew.” What if we dedicated January to the question, “What are you pretending not to know?” My “modern elder,” Jack Kenny, 15 years my senior and President of the company where I was CEO, used to ask this provocative question to employees who were the “queens of denial.” In other words, what do you know—and other people can see—that you’re not acknowledging? What mindsets or ways of thinking are holding you back from living your best life?

I think this is so valuable for January because it offers an excellent editing function. Before you add resolutions, maybe it’s time to strip away some of the thinking that isn’t serving you and keeping you compliant with your old habits.

So, how does this work? Let me give you an example of a “You Knew.”

I know that I am that guy who loves his nightly Gin & Tonic (with Elderflower and bitters, please). Damn, it’s tasty. I could resolve that I won’t have one in January, but there’s a good chance I would catch up with my drinking in February if I didn’t ask myself the question, “What am I pretending not to know about my drinking habit?” When I consider that, I know that I use alcohol as an end-of-the-day ritual, almost a reward for a day of great work. So, what if I were to create an alternative rewards system? I love my steam room, so maybe it’s an end-of-the-day steam.

You get the idea. How do we explore what we’re pretending not to know to determine what’s underneath the illusions we’ve created? I hope this serves you well this month.

Chip Conley

This article first appeared in Chip Conley’s Wisdom Well blog