Happy New Year! I wish for us all that 2023 will be a great year with joy, success, and whatever other wishes are on your mind. A year is just a number and a new page on the calendar, but we still like to use them as a mental model to structure time and understand ourselves. A new year is a time to look forward and make plans. It’s time to be optimistic.
In December 2021, a bit more than a year ago, I wrote a post laying out goals for 2022. It wasn’t a set of resolutions, just questions I wanted to explore and the commitment to regular review practice. Rereading this post, I could have written it just yesterday. It appears I’m no further than I was a year ago. I didn’t implement the review practice last year, but I’m trying again for 2023.
I attended a yearly review workshop hosted online by my friend Vensy. She had a fantastic review template with many great questions for analyzing the previous year and visualizing the next. The workshop lasted one hour, and it was expected that we could only do the first iteration of our answers. Doing a full review should take at least thrice the time. Still, I was shocked by the number of blank fields at the end of the hour. When we talked about this in the workshop, I said that the lack of a regular review made it so that looking at the whole year was too much at one time, which Vensy also confirmed and stressed the importance of reviewing your life regularly.
However, two more things made it hard for me to fill in the blanks in Vensy’s worksheets. There are questions that I find tough to answer, especially when I’m asked to name, rate, or compare things. Writing down my favorite X or the top 3 Y in black on white makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t usually think in superlatives or comparatives. Such statements express a level of confidence I don’t feel, and they seem unfair to those being rated, even if X and Y are things and not people with feelings and may never learn how I rate them.
The other interpretation of my difficulty in doing a yearly review could be that there wasn’t just a lot that I deem great about the year. I can’t confidently say I have progressed. Maybe 2022 was a year of stagnancy. Some notable things happened this year, such as the release of a published book, but that doesn’t count as a 2022 achievement because the work that went into it started in 2020 and primarily happened in 2021. All my major work projects were continuations of projects I started in the previous year. I had a solid URL-to-IRL pipeline (for those not chronically online, it means meeting people in person that you got to know through social networks or online communities), but that was also the result of online interactions in the previous years. I can’t think of anything I truly started anew in 2022 or unique first experiences. And I’m unaware if I’m just unaware of those, unable to celebrate them, or if I’ve become stagnant. I just turned 38 last month, and while that’s not exactly very young, it’s way too young to believe your life can’t change and you can’t make new first experiences or improve yourself.
I made some preparations for a new take on self-improvement. In November, I participated in the Mindful Productivity Masterclass hosted by Anne-Laure LeCunff of Ness Labs. As part of the course exercises, I created a mindful productivity map, planning and outlining my current direction, anchor ritual, support system, metacognition practice, and indicators of success. However, I still need to implement this in my life. I had a good excuse for December because there was almost no daily routine. I first fell ill with a cold and the side effects of dental surgery, then COVID hit, and when I barely tested negative again, I went on two business trips. First, I visited a client in Vienna, then attended the API Days conference in Paris. Afterward, it was already time for the holiday season. But I have no excuse for January, where I expect a lot more daily routine that I can optimize. I also started reading Atomic Habits by James Clear after seeing it recommended in every corner of the Internet I frequent.
Goal setting: I aim to implement and adapt the mindful productivity map for January and get back into some more tiny habit improvements. I will also post a summary of the map on this blog.