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Kristina: "Do we have to talk about 2018? It was a good year, and I'm already excited about my 2019 stuff."
Taryn: "Tradition is tradition. We're doing it. It always helps to know exactly what went well and what didn't. Sorry bub."
Every New Year's eve, Kris (my girlfriend) and I do a post mortem of the year we're leaving, then some goal setting for the year ahead. "Post mortem" means "after death" in latin, and it's a system I use at work to debrief after a project ends. It asks a few simple questions that allows you to dive in to all aspects of a project — the good, the bad, and the what the fuck do I do now.
Regardless of if you're a new year's resolution/goal person, this is worth your time. It's the perfect way to end a year before welcoming a new one. If you haven't done something like this already, I couldn't recommend it more. I'll walk you through our process and share some of my answers with you.
Here's what you'll need:
An uninterrupted hour in a quiet place. This year, we sat on a comfy cozy cushion by the pool in Indian Wells. It was perfect.
Something to write with/in. A notebook if you're old school and amaze, or a digital whatever if you go full airplane mode.
A timer, because we're very fancy with this exercise.
Yourself! Or, you can do this with someone you really love and trust. I've been doing this exercise for years, many of which I did it alone, but the last few years Kris and I have done it together. I like doing it with my significant other because it's one of the most important relationships in my life and it's imperative to know the ins and outs of where we each stand, together and independent of each other. If I wasn't dating someone, I could see doing this with a best friend, but that's probably the extent of it — I want to feel as safe as possible to be as open as possible.
Okay. Fun. Let's do it.
First, answer this: what went well in 2018?
This is the time to celebrate, brag, and relive the little and big things that made 2018 amazing. You liked your 2018 style, you're proud of getting your promotion, or you're happy you finally broke up with _____ — list anything and everything, from things in your control to complete serendipity. It might feel a bit uncomfortable to celebrate the shit out of yourself, but it's the most important. You need to know what worked so you can do more of it in the coming year.
Here are a few of mine:
I took my mental health seriously. Definitely hit a snag there in the middle of the year when it came to panic attacks and health anxiety, but I'm super, super proud of how I dealt with it. I let people in, sought answers, prioritized self care (especially when I didn't think I needed it), got a new therapist, and much much more. Go me.
Physical health too — I was 80% vegan. Towards the end of the year, I went 80% vegan. I know it’s a royal sin in veganism to not be all in, but I needed to be realistic with myself and my circumstances. I went off my vegan wagon around Christmas but I loved my new way of eating so much, I’m already back. Yay for doing hard things.
Creative things were on the move. I started a podcast, restarted this newsletter, and was generally more creative at work. Really felt my creative juices (ew) flowin’.
I showed up for things. I spent a lot of time flying in 2018, but I was so happy I did it. I saw my parents and brothers a ton, saw my niece get another year older, traveled to new cities with Kristina, and did mini-trips with friends. When I was feeling lazy or tired after work in SF, I kicked my own butt and showed up to parties and house-warmings and things I was invited to on Facebook events (which, why the fuck are we all still using Facebook events????).
Okay, yay. Go 2018. You're awesome, and so am I.
Next, What didn't go well in 2018?
Unfortunately, this list always seems to be easier to write. Remember — you're not doing this to get down on yourself. You're doing it so you can see it all (hopefully) with less emotion and more curiosity. Where did I make a wrong turn? What did I miss? What am I craving in 2019 because I neglected it in 2018?
For your reading pleasure, here are a few of mine:
I didn’t feel adventurous. This year, I felt like I was very much in my comfort zone. I didn’t try anything crazy — no new foods or excursions or physical feats or tough things. I went to the same date spots and bars and coffee shops and weekend getaways. I didn’t do new, and I felt stagnant because of it.
On friendship — I spread my net wide, but didn’t dive deep. Instead of doing 1-on-1 dinners or drink dates or hangouts with friends (new and old), I found myself lumping my hangout times into big group things. I hosted dinners and parties and trips and outings, but didn’t do a lot of deep diving with people. I lived my year on the surface and didn’t like that one bit.
My spending….. hahahahahahahahahahha. I’m sweating.
Phew, that’s done. You’re a champ and I’m proud of you. BUT WAIT, there’s more.
Now, read through both of your lists and choose the 1-2 things that stick out most, both positively and negatively, so you can begin to see what’s most important to you moving into the shiny, magical clean world of 2019.
Now, who do you want to be in 2019?
I know, bold ask. But I’ve recently changed my goal-setting technique and I’m really excited about it. Like most people, I usually pick a few goals, then determine the actions they need to do to achieve those goals. Now, I’m going to work on becoming the type of person I want to be.
Let me explain. I’ve been taking copious amounts of notes while reading Atomic Habits (an incredibly simple, yet profound book by James Clear). Here are a few of my standout notes:
True behavior change is identity change. You may start a habit because of a goal, but the reason you’ll stick with it is because it becomes part of your identity.
The goal is not to read a book, it’s to become a reader. The goal is not to run a marathon, it’s to become a runner.
Your behaviors are a reflection of your identity. What you do is an indication of the type of person you believe you are, either consciously or non-consciously.
Your identity emerges out of your actions.
Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as your votes build up, so does the the evidence for your new identity. There’s a simple 2 step process to changing your identity. First, decide the type of person you want to be. Secondly, prove it to yourself with small wins.
Deciding who you want to be: what do you want to stand for? what are your values? who do you wish to become? “Who is the type of person that could write a book? Likely, they’re consistent and reliable.” Once you have a handle on the type of person you want to be, you can take actions towards becoming that person.
So, this year, I stepped back. Who do I want to be? What would I want someone to describe me as?
Here are the 4 I chose:
I am healthy.
I am spontaneous/adventurous.
I am dependable.
I am bold.
This list excites me. Instead of creating a list of things to do daily (“20 push ups, walk a mile, save money, call your grandma”), I now have north stars for the type of person I want to be, and it’s way more captivating.
At every meal, I can ask myself, “what should I, a healthy person, do here?”
In moments of wanting to choose the same restaurant, I can ask myself, “what should I, an adventurous person do?”
I’m going to make an iPhone background of my 4 words so I remember them all day every day, and begin to make these attributes more of my identity.
And that’s it, folks. Kris and I shared ours with each other, and had fun doing so. I learned where she fell short in 2018 and who she wants to be in 2019. I can help her get there and she can do the same for me, and I think that’s what this whole thing is about, isn’t it?
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