Before writing this, I penned a long, lamenting post on the seemingly pointless year 2016 seemed to be. It’s so rare for me to concentrate on the negative, I felt guilty proofreading it and, in the end, couldn’t bring myself to publish. Surely something good came out of 2016?
Select all. Delete. Start again.
2016 wasn’t at all uneventful. In January I found what would become my second home; from April to July I was hard at work renovating; in November I turned 30 and finally got the dog I always dreamed of; and in December my business turned six. It was therefore strange to me that as the New Year approached, I felt empty inside.
I decided to dedicate the first week of 2017 to discovering why I felt the way I did about the last year, a year, on paper at least, that contained some fairly major milestones. And that’s when it hit me. On paper, the year was fairly successful. But who decides what is deemed successful or not? I certainly have never measured someone’s success on their ability to get a mortgage, so there is little wonder why 2016 seems void of any great achievement to me.
To avoid a repeat of the same, I think it’s important to ask what a good year actually looks like. What is the end-game? Most importantly, what will I be like, how will I have grown, what will have made me happy? The metrics by which we judge ourselves are important, not the metrics society inflicts on us unwittingly.
I sat down with a piece of paper to work out what a good day looks like, in the hope that a series of good days would eventually add up to a good year. It quickly became clear what motivates me the most, with just a few common themes among all my favourite or most-desired activities.
With these themes now written, it became easy to see what I deem a successful year. And hopefully end the year feeling like I’ve achieved something, rather than feeling flat.
Here are my key metrics:
- Time spent Learning Be it inside a classroom or from the people and environment around me. At the end of 2017, I want to be able to ask myself, what did I learn this year?.
- Time spent Being Present Screen-free time, time in nature, quality time with friends and family, but also rest time, down time, relax time. How often did I do something without distraction?
- Number of new Experiences There’s nothing to be gained from staying in your comfort zone all the time. What new experiences did I have this year?
- My Impact If I’m not of any benefit to the world around me, why bother. Whose life did I improve or make easier?, Which communities did I contribute to and help grow?.
Over a year ago I decided I would return to the UK after years of travelling and do the normal thing of settling down, getting an office and buying a new place to live. So much effort went into these things that, without realising, I suddenly stopped doing what I love. If 2016 taught me anything, it’s that if I don’t keep track of what’s important to me, another year will go by feeling unfulfilled.
I’m yet to choose my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017, but at least now I have a framework on which to base them.
Originally published at Robert Lo Bue.