It’s January 4th, 2017 and I’m sitting at my kitchen counter drinking some alpha brain and getting ready to eat some sardines… yes sardines, wrapped in nori sheets with avocado and sea salt sprinkled on top.
I open up my laptop to begin writing an article about Hunger vs. Appetite but instead decide to procrastinate and jump on Facebook for a minute. Immediately I’m bombarded with New Years resolutions stuff, how 2016 sucked, why 2017 will be much better, funny memes and videos like this one, adorable pictures of couples doing New Years Eve stuff, and a guy doing a pull up in a tree.
So I decide to clutter it up a little bit as well and link to this article. I close my laptop and take a deep breath. My procrastination is done for the day and I check that off my list.
Damn it! I realize I just feel back into an old habit – damn they’re hard to break. Right then and there I decide limiting my social media consumption for the year is something I’d like to try to do. Maybe limiting my Facebook and Instagram scrolling to once per day. That seems doable to me and I did go 30 days without out it pretty easily.
Boom! There it is. I guess it’s my New Years resolution – a first for me. I’ve never really done them before because they sorta feel forced. I end up picking stuff I “think” I should improve upon and will somehow make me happier. Then I realize I don’t really want to do that stuff and scrap the entire resolution thing.
But this got me thinking. Instead of setting resolutions for the upcoming year what if I did a year in review? How about looking back at 2016 and brainstorming what I’d like to do – not to necessarily achieve or set any goals for 2017 but just look back.
So here it is. Today’s article is the process for doing a yearly review and how you can do one yourself.
Is there any benefit to this? Honestly, I don’t really know but I have to say it felt damn good doing it.
Grab a pencil and notepad, use the notes app on your smart phone, or grab a crayon and start writing on your living room wall. It’s yearly review time.
STEP 1: MAJOR LIFE EVENTS AND DECISIONS
I set a timer on my phone and gave myself 15 minutes to recall every major life event and decision that I made in 2016. I did this because the pressure to complete it in a certain amount of time made me think a bit harder. This is totally up to you.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m 36 years old now, the booze I drank as a kid, or if I just tried to block out some stuff but man was I having a hard time recalling major events and decisions that happened in 2016.
So instead I just wrote a bunch of shit down that I could remember and that seemed to help.
I decided to start with some recent stuff and then work my way back. I won’t bore you with all the details but here’s some of what I got.
- Took a trip to London with my dad
- Booked a trip to Greece with friends
- Broke up with a girlfriend of 2.5 years
- Started practicing gymnastics again
- Changed to monthly billing for coaching
- Stopped teaching as many Crosscut classes to focus on privates
- 10 day silent and meditation retreat
- Started learning boxing
- Signed up for Russian lessons (taking a trip there because of this article and this book and this book)
- Got back into rock climbing
- Took a trip home for first time in years to connect with family
- Towards the end of the year I started exploring more of SoCal which I really enjoyed! – Bought a fancy camera and started taking shots of landscapes.
Next, take some time and ask yourself how that event or decision impacted you. Positively, negatively, no impact, was it an awesome learning experience? Did it royally fuck up your life? Did it royally sugar coat your life?
Now think about what you were hoping to get out of that decision or event. For example I started gymnastics again to improve flexibility and start participating in more social activities (I’m a bit of a lone wolf). I went to London in hopes of connecting on a deeper level with my Dad. I bought a camera and started wondering SoCal to give myself something to do after by relationship ended.
Do this for every major event or decision in 2016. You’ll start to notice patterns or themes. For me most of the events and decisions in my life were made to free up more time in my schedule to pursue personal interests and to connect with other people on a more intimate level.
STEP 2: WRITE DOWN EVERY GOAL THAT YOU SET THIS PAST YEAR, WHETHER YOU ACHIEVED IT OR NOT, AND WHY… BUT BE CAREFUL.
Holy shit! I didn’t really set goals in 2016. This may or may not explain somethings depending on what camp you play in when it comes to goal setting.
I did complete a 30 day social media detox (sort of a goal). I did take cold showers for a week (again, sort of a goal), and I did quit coffee for a month but then wrote an article about shower coffee, but nothing of any real significance in my opinion. Overall I didn’t have any larger goals related to the “big 4” areas of life: Health, wealth/career, relationships, and person/spiritual.
I wanted to DO more and EARN more which happened but no real goals revolved around these two things. They sort of just happened.
So I guess I can’t really give any examples in this section of the article… my bad.
But if you had goals of your own in 2K16 what were they? Did you succeed? Did you fail? And why did you succeed or fail?
Be careful when answering that last question. It’s easy to blame others or things that are out of your control for any failures. Take responsibility for your own actions and be honest about why you failed this year. Was it really because you “just were not motivated” or because you failed to commit and put a system in place to help you succeed?
And for the goals you succeed with why was that? For me, I’ve always noticed that when I accomplish a goal it’s usually because of 3 things.
1: I’ve rigged the game so I can win
I set myself up for success by making it nearly impossible for me to fail. I start by making very small changes instead of trying to overhaul my life. For example, I’m trying to become conversational in Russian – it’s a fucking tough language to learn – So I signed up for 1-on-1 lessons with an instructor once per week and have committed to practicing 10 minutes… and 10 minutes ONLY 5 days per week. I’m starting with only 10 minutes per day because I’m confident this is something I can and want to do. Any longer and I don’t know man.
2: I’ve scheduled it and make it an appointment with myself
If it’s not on my schedule it doesn’t exist.
There are specific times and days that I will be dedicating 10 minutes to my practice. I do this so that I am committed. If something else comes up I say I can’t do it because I already have an appointment with myself to learn Russian.
3: I’ve identified trade offs
With every goal you want to achieve there will be tradeoffs and it’s a good idea to identify those tradeoffs before you start.
For example, the only day I’m available to meet with my Russian instructor is Tuesday. Tuesday is also a day I rock climb with some buddies of mine. Therefore I had to give up rock climbing and a little socializing that day in order to make my Russian lessons.
I also had to give up a little income to take these lessons. The instructor is a little ways from me and I’m not able to make it back in time to meet with a client. These are some of the tradeoffs that I had to be ok with in order to become conversational in another language.
You may have no interest in learning another language but maybe losing 10 pounds is something you’d like to do, reading more books, or starting your own business. Whatever the hell it may be there will be tradeoff you have to make and it’s best to identify those before you decide to pursue a goal.
STEP 3: WRITE DOWN ALL OF THE BEHAVIORS YOU DO ON A REGULAR BASIS THAT HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE, NO IMPACT, OR NEGATIVE IMPACT
This can be a difficult step because you really need to be honest with yourself here. Below are some (but not all) of the things I came up with.
- Regularly moving and stretching my body
- Consistently eating real food
- 7-9 hours of consistent sleep (bed no later than 11pm)
- 10 pages of reading every day
- 10 minutes of meditation (or some other stress relief technique)
- Meaningful conversations with loved ones/friends
- Automatic money transfer into a savings account I can’t touch
- Pursuing a personal interest
- Drinking coffee
- Watching a TV show (I’ve come to find that a good show here and there is actually a great stress relief for me as long as I limit it to an episode and don’t snack while watching)
- Focusing too much on work/training/writing/trying to grow a business
- Checking social media too often – makes me anxious
- Not getting 7-9 hours of sleep. I am one moody fucktard!
- Not taking 1 full day off each week
- Being a dick… yup, sometimes I can be one.
After you’ve identified these behaviors it’s all about coming up with a game plan that allows you to practice the beneficial ones more often and the not so beneficial ons less often. Again, this is where scheduling and identifying tradeoffs comes in handy.
STEP 4: SET 4 GOALS FOR THE YEAR AHEAD IN THE “BIG-3” CATEGORIES…AND A 4th CATEGORY FOR GOOD MEASURE
Every conversation I’ve ever had revolves around 3 things: Health, wealth, and relationships. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a conversation that had to do with anything else.
I haven’t come up with a health goal yet and I didn’t want to put something here for the sake of this article. It felt bull-shitty to me.
When it comes to my health I’m at a place in my life that I’m very happy with it. Sure I’d like to improve my flexibility, gymnastics skills, amongst some other things but honestly I’m not super dedicated to that right now – my priorities are elsewhere.
I may decide to do a triathlon or something along those lines. Who knows. But I’ll keep you posted
Outcome based goal – Earn the majority of my income remotely through coaching and books.
Behaviors that will get me that mother fucker – Write 1000 shitty words 6 days per week and share on social media, medium, linkedin, guest posts, etc…
Outcome based goal – Create stronger relationships with people I care about
Behaviors that will get me that mother fucker – Get involved in one social activity (sport, art, etc…) and invite someone to join me.
Outcome based goal – Become conversational in another language
Behaviors that will get me that mother fucker – Take private lessons once per week, practice on my own for a minimum of 10 minutes every day and 30 minutes maximum
There you have it – my annual review. It’s not pretty or sophisticated and it’s something I hope to improve on in the future but I’m glad I did it and I hope that you got at least a little out of it too.
Thank you to Rob Hanly and Maintaining Alpha for sharing this process with me.
Thank you James Clear, Mark Manson, and Nate Green for sharing your “annual reviews” that helped inspire this article.