It’s the time of the year that we Germans call “zwischen den Jahren”, which means “between the years”. One week bridging two holidays - Christmas and New Year’s Eve - the old year seems already over, but the new one hasn’t begun. A little bubble outside of normal time. An excellent opportunity to review and reflect on your life.
However, this isn’t one of those yearly review blog posts that others have written. I’ve decided against doing an annual review, neither publicly on this blog nor privately for myself. The reason is that I don’t see the point right now. That may sound overly negative, but the truth is I didn’t have set specific goals, so I’m not sure against what I should compare the past year. I laid out a few thoughts in my blog posts in January, but I didn’t check in further, and they weren’t actionable enough. Also, the ongoing COVID pandemic still influences our lives, and I don’t want to blame myself for not doing things that the virus prevented. Instead of looking backward, I’d rather look forward.
One of the risks with New Year’s resolutions is that people write down huge lists and believe that a number on the calendar can change their entire personalities and routines overnight. As lovely as that might be, human beings don’t work that way. We need to establish tiny habits and constantly reflect on our progress to compound results. Hence, this blog post isn’t a list of resolutions either.
At this point, I’m setting one single goal for next year. I will bring back something I did a few years ago, a monthly review and goal setting for the next month. I want to get more mindfulness and self-reflection into my life regularly. So yes, there will be goals and resolutions and probably a few experiments with self-improvement in terms of productivity and other areas of life, but on a shorter timescale. Maybe I’ll even add a quarterly review on top of it, but I only commit to the monthly assessment for now.
Still, I want to share a few general thoughts about a few things I want to look at and improve in the future without setting actionable goals at the moment. I want to revisit them in my monthly review sessions.
Many of the things I’m interested in are related to my work. The rest of them fit the labels of either “intellectual” (politics and current affairs, effective altruism, basic income, future of work, etc.) or “nerdy” (board and roleplaying games, sci-fi shows). Time spent with these interests can be solitary (reading, writing, thinking) or social (reading and discussion groups, salons, and meetups). And here are two problems with that: one problem is that all of this stimulates (and strains) my brain, but nothing makes use of my body. A healthy mind can only exist in a healthy body, and I’m sure if I don’t take care of my body - which probably means taking away some time from serving my brain - I will regret that in the long run. And the other problem is that even though I spend time socializing around these interests, I won’t improve in social situations outside structured interactions around topics.
The other theme is mindfully living in the moment and experiencing gratitude for tiny day-to-day experiences. I tend to walk through the world, and my mind is mostly somewhere else, processing thoughts and ideas that are already there instead of soaking up the surroundings. Also, I hardly appreciate the things I’m doing and experiencing. Instead, I often think about what I’m missing out on or what I should have done instead. Sometimes I see tweets and posts from people who seem to be capable of enjoying their life’s moments much better, and I tend to get jealous.
To end this post, let’s reframe these thoughts as questions:
I’m looking forward to finding some answers to those in 2022!