We’re almost at the end of the year, and one of the things I love to do in the holiday season is to conduct a personal retrospective of how the past year has been. In case you’re wondering, here’s the retro format: Grateful For, Highlights, Lowlights, Start/Continue Doing, Stop Doing.

After I was done with the fairly enjoyable exercise, I took some time to contemplate what my outlook would be for the next year. Having tried (and failed at) dozens of planning techniques over the past decade that encourage you to set specific, short and long term goals, I felt like the rigidity of the approach was getting in the way of how I experience life. I’m starting to conclude that:

The problem with long term goals is that when you eventually get there, you might end up realizing that it’s probably not what you wanted in the first place.

In the past year, I went through professional burnout and I was lucky to take my first long break in my career; I had no idea what I would be doing next. During that period of uncertainty, the absence of self-imposed targets dragging me down enabled me to explore what made happy and allowed me to be grounded in the present.

Instead of opting for concrete goals, I felt like I’d be better off working with general themes that I could execute in any way that I see fit. Here’s what I’ve chosen for the next year:

  • Give: 2021 made me realize that giving, living generously and focusing outwards gives me great joy and I want to seek out more ways to live like that this year.
  • Create: As much as I’ve love consuming content and information, I want take some time this year to actively connect the dots and to find ways to create and add value.
  • Experience: A reminder to push myself beyond my comfort zone. I’d never be doing some of the things that I love today, had I restricted myself to things that were the right “fit”.

Working with broad themes instead of concrete goals forces me to challenge my value system. Periodic reflection to identify any dissonance in my actions would serve as a good opportunity to understand my motivations better.

Wishing you a great 2022 🎉!