Well hell… it’s been a long time since the last post here! Just one post in 2021 after a good stretch of regular posts before that. It’s been a super busy (and in many ways great!) year, so it’s not that I fell off a cliff. Life happened though, with lots of great work at Timewarp, family events, and other things taking time away from blogging.
2022 felt like a period of deep learning on a lot of topics and with a lot of thinking to do!
As the year ends, I feel a lot more reflective and I’m missing the process of blogging. So hopefully there’ll be more again in 2022.
Given it is the end of the year, there is a process that others might find useful. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a considerable time ago, but I did very much double down on thinking about the year just gone and the one to come. It’s the mix of gratitude for what has been, and hope/excitement for what is to come that I really love. I typically set a few goals, but less as a thing that “must be achieved” and more as a direction to head in.
The reflection I do isn’t too dissimilar to what Tim Ferris recommends in this podcast here:
You might not love everything Tim Ferris has done, but his blog often includes some really smart insights. This one, in particular, is worth a listen: 6 minutes.
The core of the method is simple:
- Go back through the year month by month and try to identity the times/events that were really happy (hopefully quite a few) and those that were truly bad (hopefully less of those). What drove that happiness? and where did those bad times come from?
- Now look at 2022 and start to schedule things throughout the year that match those happy events: how can you do more? When should you allocate time for them? How can you make more of them this year?
- On the other side of the equation: make concious decisions to avoid those events that made you unhappy last year, try to avoid doing too much more of that.
This sounds pretty simple, but of course, it is harder than it looks. Trying to schedule things far in advance can feel dauting and many of those negative experiences weren’t exactly things you asked for: it would have been hard to predict when they would happen. Still, it’s really worth a shot.
Scheduling the Good
It is truly important to schedule those happy times first. Having these items in the calendar sooner rather than later makes sure they happen. It makes sure the friends and family you want to spend time with are more likely to be there too. Or, if it’s just you, you at least get the best deal on travel and you know when to request PTO for.
Most importantly though, these events act as anchors for your year: times you’ll look forward to and be able to recharge.
It might feel selfish to pin down the “me-time” first but all in all, it’ll make you more effective and likable throughout the year. Everyone will thank you for it!
Eliminating the Bad
Eliminating the bad is harder. How can you really spot when they will happen? This isn’t obvious to begin with, but if you really dig there are often patterns. What was truly terrible in 2021?:
- Health events?
- Financial loses?
- Admin and paperwork nightmares?
- Family fallings out?
None of these are ever really predictable, but there can be signs or patterns that show up beforehand. Or, for other items, things would have been much simpler if they were handled earlier rather than later.
In some cases, eliminating the bad might be simply avoiding going to an event you know you’ll dislike or deciding to break ties with a person who routinely causes you grief. In others, it may be about doing something to pre-empt negative events:
- What health check-ups have you been skipping? Maybe it’s time to get them in the calendar early. (I’ve been super guilty of this over the years: it’s hard to schedule a check-up you don’t really want to hear the news for, but it’s better to get ahead of a problem.)
- Is your financial situation out of hand? Maybe it’s time to sit down and really quantify the problem? Make a long-term gradual plan to get it under control and build an emergency fund in case problems arise?
- Are there important renewals coming up that could catch you out? Passports? Driver’s licenses? When do taxes have to be filled? Can you already plan the dates when you will do the tax preparation, why not make it well ahead of the deadline?
- Are there family challenges under the surface that everyone is avoiding? What needs to be said? What is the best way to say it and when?
None of these steps are easy, but taking your list of tough times from 2021 and maybe the previous few years can really help focus the mind. What don’t I want to happen again?
Being a little proactive and allocating some time to solving those problems early can really help.
I’m definitely not qualified to give life coaching advice, but going through this process each year over the past few years has helped a lot.
I used to dislike New Year because it seemed to hold so much misplaced optimism: why will anything be different in the next year? It seemed delusional.
But, by taking the time to reflect, we can indeed make the next year different from the last. We have the power to change our planning and how we react to events. That won’t change the luck we receive during the year, but it might mean we have a better shot at making more good things come true.
Good luck in 2022!