The Two Most Important Meals of My Entire Year

Two of the most important meals I eat come right at the end of one year and the beginning of another. 

I sit down to dinner with my immediate family on New Year’s Eve and again on New Year’s Day. 

What makes these two dinners so meaningful is not what’s filling our plates but what is filling our conversations. 

On New Year’s Eve, we take stock of the past year. What have we learned? What are we grateful for? How far have we come in terms of the goals we’d set for ourselves many months ago?

On New Year’s Day, we look ahead. What do we hope to accomplish? What are our resolutions? 

Like this idea? Here’s my advice on how to incorporate it with your families, partners, or dearest friends, or even in a business context.

Keep the two dinners separate.

Often, people take this concept and mash it into one celebratory evening. Although it’s fine to adjust the dates to not conflict with holiday parties or travel (they’re more symbolic than sacrosanct!), I’m passionate about these being two separate conversations. Make space to celebrate what’s in the rearview mirror before rushing past it to see what’s on the road ahead. 

Insist attendees do their homework.

Don’t keep the dinner agenda a secret! These evenings flow best when everyone is prepared to share in whatever way works best for them. Sometimes I see one of my kids jotting down notes on a piece of paper five minutes before we sit down to eat, but that’s fine!

I, on the other hand, show up with spreadsheets, especially for the New Year’s Day dinner. In fact, in advance of that one, I’ll get out my ten-year-plan and update it—I’ll decide where I want to be 18 months in the future, and then I’ll roll it back to quarters and months. That becomes the foundation for my weekly and daily planning and reviews. (Sure, I don’t always stick to this, but that’s the joy of new year ambition!) If you’d like to see my template, you can download it here

Stay positive.

No year is without its challenges, missteps, or failures. It’s certainly OK to discuss those moments, but the focus should be on what was learned and how those at the table can continue to provide support. Remember, this is a time of celebration!

Hold one another accountable.

By the same token, there’s a reason I insist on doing this type of thinking aloud with the important people in my life instead of quietly jotting it all down on my own in my journal. The latter option is certainly easier, but it’s not nearly as impactful. Sharing a highlight with another person can make it feel more substantial, and sharing a goal or aspiration can make it more real. I find it helps me more fully commit to the plans I’ve made if I verbalize them with others. 

I’ve been doing these two dinners for years, and there’s no better way to end or start a year. Would you try to do this with your family? What other new year’s resolution traditions do you have that work for you?

— Charlene

What I Can’t Stop Talking About: 

  • Problematic ChatGPT studies. ChatGPT’s struggles with accuracy have once again made headlines. In the latest study, it only answered a quarter of medical questions correctly. Here’s the hitch: We knew that already. What we don’t know—and need researchers to focus on—is the nuances around AI literacy.

  • More AI prompting best practices. Open AI just released six strategies to write better prompts, along with very helpful examples. Now you have it straight from the source!   

  • AI equity. On that note, I’m devouring research that shows not just how AI is boosting productivity among all workers, but how it’s improving those in the bottom half of performance by even greater margins. It’s further proof that AI is closing the knowledge gap—and has the potential to close the opportunity gap as well.

  • My research survey. In gathering insights for my book, Threats, Bets & No Regrets, I’ve found that standard-issue surveys don’t dig deep enough and traditional interviews are too complicated to pull off at scale. I’m now using AI-moderated surveys hosted by Outset and would love for you to see how it works. 

My Latest: 

  • It’s a common assumption that bespoke offerings are better than generalized ones. Is that true for generative AI tools? Are custom GPTs and private LLMs better than the standard-issue ChatGPT that OpenAI offers? Watch my latest livestream or read my LinkedIn newsletter for my take on when custom GPTs are most useful—and when you’re better off just sticking with the generic version.

  • How does one write a book about generative AI when it’s still in its infancy? I ask myself that question constantly these days! In Leading Disruption, I offer a sneak preview of what’s inside the pages of Threats, Bets & No Regrets: How to Create a Winning Generative AI Strategy, the upcoming book I’m writing with Katia Walsh.

  • I try to avoid casting “predictions” about the future, but I do have a list of key priorities that leaders, particularly those shaping transformative strategies for their organizations, should consider for 2024 and beyond. To prepare yourself for what’s to come, tune in to my next livestream on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET on LinkedIn and Facebook Live.

My Upcoming Appearances:

Thank you for subscribing to the Disruption Dispatch, which goes out to thousands of disruptors every other week to help you on your disruption journey—plus a curated recommendation list of a few Good Things I’m enjoying. 

Want more? Check out my weekly publication, Leading Disruption, on LinkedIn.

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Charlene Li

If you found this note helpful, please forward and share it with someone who needs the inspiration today. If you were forwarded this, please consider subscribing.