The Rule Breaker Resolution: In 2018, Dave Plans to Declutter

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David Gardner isn't hardcore when it comes to New Year's resolutions. He doesn't tend to pick the ones where there's a clear, measurable goal. But make them he does, and this year's -- after a 2017 that was complicated in many ways, but certainly profitable for Foolish investors -- is to simplify and declutter. That's a popular one, but in this segment from the Rule Breaker Investing podcast, he puts a personal spin on it and discusses an area or two where he thinks decluttering is the last thing you should do.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Dec. 27, 2017.

David Gardner: Well, I mentioned I wanted to share a resolution or two. Every year around this time of year I start to feel it. I start feeling it. I start thinking about the year ahead. And I don't write down my resolutions with numbers attached, necessarily to be measured. I do realize that old business saw "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," which tells part of the truth. I don't think that's always the case, but I admittedly don't really go with measurable New Year's resolutions.

I know I'm speaking to some people who do. Some people are quite hardcore about it, and probably more goal-oriented than I am, and probably more awesome than I am, and I'm delighted that you're even listening to this podcast, you people. But for me, it's more a thematic thing. I'll come up with a word, or a brief phrase, and I save them.

Evernote is where I house so much of my thinking, and notes, and things over time, and so I can look back and see that in 2004, it was "get organized" with David Allen. That was a year after I read that book.

In 2007, to do what I say and say what I'll do. And to speak more softly in 2007. I'm not sure how I did with that one, but you're seeing kind of the run of these for me.

In 2012, offense! I just determined for reasons I can't quite remember, it felt very visceral and very right for 2012. I'm going on offense. That was five years ago.

In 2018, I'm sharing it out. I'm going with the word "declutter." Declutter. Googling the term, briefly: "To remove unnecessary items from an untidy or overcrowded place." Declutter. That is both a physical, visceral goal of mine in 2018; to get rid of more stuff. I've got a lot of stuff. Maybe you do, too. But it's also a psychological and mental thing as well. Declutter. Let's declutter our minds. Let's simplify.

We're coming out of a year of plenty. 2017 was a remarkable year for investors, and there's a lot of abundance around us. I realize there are a lot of political questions -- not just in this country but worldwide -- but you also have to see that in light of what's happening in the world, which is a very strong worldwide economy and lots of great things. Great things being funded.

Yes, some of the new cryptocurrencies and some dodgy stories I'm hearing are talking about how a company renames itself from Long Island Iced Tea to something like Blockchain Iced Tea and the stock goes up 300% in one day. We're seeing some of those, I would say, somewhat troubling stories. Probably inevitable stories. But at the same time, look at the strength of the American economy and the global economy, and I think we're all coming out of a year of plenty, so I think it feels right to start decluttering some.

So, just sharing it out. That's where I'm headed. I was talking to my daughter -- my daughter to whom I dedicated my slam poem on this podcast a month or two ago. But I was talking to my daughter who's now no longer a newborn. Nope, she's 23. She was pointing out an article to me and said, "Dad, read this article!"

The article basically said we should surround ourselves with books. We should surround ourselves with more books than we know that we will ever read. And the older we all get, we can more easily see that we're not going to get to all the things that we want to get. But even at the age of 23, she is surrounding herself with lots of books, because the outcome of doing so is to start to focus the mind.

You start going, "OK, clearly I'm not going to be able to read all of these books around me. For me at the age of 51, let me be choiceful, then. Let me make sure that I'm reading the things that I really want to read." And that's not just true of books. For me it's true of board games. It's true of Netflix streaming shows. Movies. We are awash in content. Talk about abundance. And there's only more Netflix shows, books, video games, and board games coming out next year, and the year after that, and after that.

So I can definitely say I've over-surrounded myself in my house with board games, and I already know I'm going to die before opening all the shrink wrap on all of them. But maybe that's helpful for you when we think about, again, decluttering. Simplifying. The year of declutter.

And here's another thought, not necessarily a resolution, but I was thinking back to a great quote from "Great Quotes, Volume IV," which was an Aug. 17, 2016, podcast I did and the Nell Minow quote. Some of you who were listening back then will remember this. Many of you may never have heard this quote. I love it, and I'm just sharing this one with you right here.

She said, and I quote, "I wrote not one, but two articles for The Huffington Post about my advice to graduates, so you can look that up. But my most important piece of advice," she said, "is never, ever, ever, ever, ever," I'm quoting here, "ever use the word 'busy.' That's one four-letter word that I would never use," said Nell Minow.

"And the reason for that," she goes on, "is that people use that word as an excuse, and it's a genuine insult to whomever you're talking to. It pushes them away, instead of bringing them in. It also makes it impossible for you to think honestly to yourself about what your own priorities and choices are.

"So never," she closed, "never use that as an excuse. Never use that as a brag. It's very popular here in Washington, D.C. Just don't use that word, and you'll become much more in tune with what you're doing, and much more open to hearing from other people."

David Gardner owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.