Themes for 2019

I’ve seen many flavors of new year resolutions over the years – goals, systems, mantras, words. They’re all various implementations of the same principle and it is lovely to see the diversity. My chosen flavor over the past few years has been to pick 3 themes for the year.

In keeping with that, my 3 themes for 2019 are –

(1) Invest in my health: I didn’t have a personal health item in the last two years or so – but, the best time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining. So, I’ve identified two areas where I’d like to invest. The first is to work with a fitness trainer. The system goal here would be to get one physical training session in during every working week of the year.

The second is to continue investing in removing shallow interactions with technology – e.g. pointless checking of email, mindless surfing. I identified this as an area to work on in 2017, experimented plenty in 2018, and plan to continue to do so in 2019.

(2) Be a better partner: We have 2 young kids and have faced a few immigration related challenges in the past year and a half. While we’re hopeful for some light at the end of the tunnel in 2018, my wife has shouldered the bulk of the burden.

But, I foresee more opportunities to help shoulder more of the load in 2019. And I am looking forward to doing that.

(3) Communicate constructively and with clarity: I’ve written about the impact “Nonviolent Communication” (I wonder if “Constructive Communication” might have been a better name) had on me. I’ve also written a bunch about the impact of “The Pyramid Principle” on my writing at work over the past six months. I expect to re-read both books this month and hope to do a better job internalizing the lessons from them as I communicate this year.

As you can tell from my notes on these themes, they don’t always have a specific system goal or follow up action. The only commitment I make is to be deliberately re-commit every weekend. That act alone inspires plenty of incremental follow up action over the year.

So, here’s to plenty of incremental progress. And, here’s wishing you a lovely start to 2019.

2017 Themes

I had 3 “look back” posts in the past ten days or so that all built up to my annual review. After all that looking back, the time has now come to look forward. I don’t like new years resolutions as I’m not a fan of “goals” based thinking. Instead, I prefer thinking in terms of direction and process. So, I prefer thinking of the new year in terms of themes.

My theme for the new year is engagement. I believe engagement is the answer to the debates around managing energy versus managing time. As with most important things, it isn’t an either/or. And, I also believe engagement is a principle that a good life is anchored around. And, as with all life principles, it is very hard to consistently live it. Also, I think of engagement and consciousness (the ability to be aware and to choose) as sister concepts. They share the same core.

While engagement is the high level theme, my audit and reading pointed to 3 sub themes.

The first theme is – “Seek to understand and then to be understood” – from my holiday re-read of “The 7 Habits.” I am way too impatient and, as a result, interrupt far too much than I’d like. I’d like to do better, a lot better. This isn’t something that’s easy to measure. So, I intend to just check in with myself every day for starters as I build my instincts around this.

The second theme is health. As I grow older, the idea of being very fit grows increasingly more appealing. I haven’t done as bad a job at this so far. But, there’s plenty of room for improvement. I used Mr Money Mustache’s excellent post on “Staying fit with no gym in sight” to reflect on this and piece together my health plan. The first part of this plan is to moderate my diet better – my diet is still pretty carbohydrate heavy (I love rice!). And, having just discovered the benefits of doing a full body work out during the week, I’ll aim to keep that going through this year.

The final theme is information. Again, there are two pieces. First, I’ve been working on streamlining my information diet over the past couple of weeks. I massively cut down on my news consumption and went through a review of every source I regularly consume on Feedly. I also took a good look at my work email flow and consumption habits and have made a few changes. The idea here is to be a lot more conscious about this as I still check my email and feeds far more than I’d like. The second piece of this theme is doubling down on reading books. I have a reading list that I cannot wait to get to. And, I’d like to spend more time on deep book reading over shallower sources.

I expect to see a step change in my level of engagement/consciousness if I work through these sub themes. But, as with all good processes, the journey is sure to be filled with learning. While seeking to understand will help me improve on my interactions with others, I see my approach to health and information as crucial. The better my health and information diets, the more energy I expect to have to be engaged through the day.

Lots of work to do. Onward.

PS: Peter Koehler, a reader, has done a nice job co-creating “The New Years Reader” – to be read aloud and shared with your close friends and family. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. I contributed a thought to it as well. The theme should look familiar to you. :)

“We are a by-product of our questions. Perhaps we stop asking ourselves about how we can be better/best at something this year and, instead, ask ourselves – “How can I be engaged every day? How can I make sure I am being conscious about my decisions?”

All this would take is a commitment to spend 3 minutes to ask yourselves these questions at the start of your day, every day. And, a calendar reminder to re-commit to this habit every weekend.

Wishing you more engaged, more conscious days this new year. As we live our days, so we live our lives…”