Where to start, what to say... it has been quite a year. From the outside, it has become almost conventional wisdom that, as a society, we've collectively hit pause — that we've skipped an entire year; yet from the inside, a lot has happened, there are so many things to unpack. However, at least we can still agree that we didn't see that one coming.
Now looking back at my 2020 and it seems I've crossed almost no item from the list. I did other things, true, but at some point, the year took a detour from the original plan and it ended up not working out as intended. Or not in the way I had originally wanted or envisioned it from the outset.
Before jumping in, though, two things need to be addressed. They might seem related but aren't. The first is how we tend to blame or use COVID as a wild card to give grounds for failed intentions — when some can be better explained by lack of action. The second relates to how the "newly designed" yearly personal goal setting scheme didn't work, and what to do about it.
But first, some background.
TL;DR: it didn't work.
I can rationalize and invent an excuse for every single item on that list. Gamestry's growth exceeded our wildest expectations and ended up managing rather than coding; I spent three months under lockdown and couldn't reach the 1.500km running mark; I could go on and on, but that's not the point.
COVID changed a lot of rules. It prevented us from doing certain activities, such as gathering together or traveling. That's all true. However, most items on the list remained unchecked not because of COVID, but the decisions I made and how I ended up investing my time.
This brings me to the second point: the plan didn't work. Don't get me wrong though, I remain extremely proud of 2020. It has brought plenty of joy, amazing projects, and experiences I didn't even expect. Overall, I'd say it has been a good year. Great in many ways, but not if we evaluate it from the perspective of early 2020 resolutions.
Good planning without good work is nothing.
—— Dwight D. Eisenhower
So, who's to be blamed? Were resolutions poorly set? Or it was just me letting the urgent, unimportant things, take the lead and determine my fate? Probably a combination of both. But does it matter?
Again, I'm happy about how 2020 turned out to be. I wouldn't exchange it for any other outcome.
Despite this, I can't stop but wonder how my one-year-young self would have felt about it. What I know for sure is that the 2020 Marc, then considered the items on the list to be his top priorities. The most important things 2020 Marc must work on during the upcoming year. Yet somehow, throughout the year, those priorities were altered. And since I can't point to a single event that determined their demise, I assume they faded gradually.
This probably means that the cause of their deviation wasn't important, but just a consequence of walking the path of least resistance. No matter what, the outcome remains the same: they failed. For this reason, at the outset of the year and after mulling over it, I'm taking a different approach to goal setting.
Some things haven't changed, though. I still abide by Jocko Willink's quote about resolutions:
I think resolutions are, for the most part, little feel-good statements that people use to justify a delay in execution.
—— Jocko Willink
That's why instead of resolutions, this year I'd like to set — what I call — areas of interest, buckets, or themes. These are different from resolutions because they are not dogmatic about their outcome, they remain open-ended, and simply set the stage to determine what's considered to be important. And yes, I made the name up.
Right now, I've got four of those, in no particular order:
This is how I want to approach the goal-setting this 2021. I don't want to commit to specific objectives, because they'll certainly become outdated the moment I write them down. Instead, I want to remain more open, allow for some serendipity — something I have never indulged myself with.
I hope these buckets will help me navigate the uncertainty that comes from the process. Ensure that regardless of the unexpected, I'll remain true to what's important, committed to the vision.
I'll probably go into more detail about each area of interest in upcoming posts, but to recap, this is how 2021 looks like from the outset:
That being said, let's all hope for a wonderful new year 🤞.