Which What and Why?

Thejus Chakravarthy
3 min readDec 23, 2022

With 2023 heading straight for us almost every human on the planet is thinking about the new year and what will come of it.

First, the litany of fears: ecologic, economic, and egomaniac.
Then, the mantra of solace: community, consequences, and carbohydrates.

But then, the idea of change creeps in. The idea that there is something you could do, something that would make the year’s end more like a beginning.

And finally, you make a New Year’s Resolution.

After all:

  • 35% of participants who failed their New Year’s Resolutions said they had unrealistic goals.
  • 33% of participants who failed didn’t keep track of their progress.
  • 23% forgot about their resolutions.
  • About one in 10 people who failed said they made too many resolutions.

So what will it take to make you an aberration, statistically speaking? What do you need to do to make a resolution turn into a result?

Is it grit? Is it gumption? Is it another word that starts with G? (guanciale is a fun one)

Nope! You need two things: a What and a Why

What is tangible thing, a measurable target, defined as clearly as possible (SMART goals, anyone?)

Why is an intangible thing, a philosophy that you’ve run through 5 Why’s.

Those are the ingredients. Here’s the recipe.

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash
  1. Ask the question, What do I want to change?
    For example, “I want to lose weight.”
  2. Turn that What into a SMART goal
    “I want to lose 10 pounds of fat, without losing any muscle, in the next 3 months”
  3. Now ask yourself, Why do I want this?
    “Because I don’t like the way I look.”
  4. Now ask Why four more times
    “Because I don’t like the way I look.”
    “But why?”
    “Because my clothes are too tight”
    “But why?”
    “Because buying new clothes that are bigger makes me feel like I’ve given up on trying to lose weight”
    “But why?”
    “Because I’ve made compromises for my job/school/life and I told myself they were just temporary and buying new clothes makes them feel permanent and I know I can change if I just apply myself.”

So now, your new year’s resolution is:

I want to lose 10 pounds of fat, without losing any muscle, in the next three months because I want to prove to myself that I can change.

And that’s all you have to do!

Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

Okay, so it’s not as simple as all that. There’s still the How to consider.

I’m sorry to say that the How is borderline irrelevant. Just try something, anything, and see if you like it.

For example, my How has been ‘a checklist app’ for years. Last month, I started using Habitica based on a friend’s recommendation and I am loving it. That same friend stopped using their phone for their How and started using index cards and they’re more productive than ever before.

So get out there and try something. With a clear What and Why, you’ll make any How work for you.



Thejus Chakravarthy

if i’m not optimizing some operations puzzle or the other, i’m probably reading (or writing, apparently)