New Years Dive 2024

Welcome to 2024. First off: all the best for the new year. 

The January blog is my traditional New Years Dive blog. Due to personal circumstances I am only posting this now. Apologies for the delay if you were waiting. If you’re looking for a media analysis, please keep an eye on my home page. There will be an announcement there when I plan to publish a new blog.

If you’re not familiar with my New Years Dive, it’s the moment when I reflect on the previous year and look towards the new year with the help of my Year Theme. To better explain the concept of a Year Theme I created this page to help you better understand what a Year Theme is and how it can help you. In short:

A Year Theme is one word or a short sentence which denotes your goals of the year. For me, it is a tradition that I’ve implemented to make the best of said new year. It provides structure and empowers to make decisions which improve your life. It is important that a theme is positively formulated, so it helps to create a better situation in a specific area of your life. In other words, it should imply personal growth.

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2023 review: Gardening

Last year I set myself the goal to work in my personal garden. I wanted to analyse what I was doing and why. The goal was to remove things that didn’t work and have more time to improve the things I was doing. In short: increase focus by spending quality time evaluating my behaviour.

Looking back, 2023 was not about spending more time writing my own stuff. As with the years before, I wasn’t able to spend the time I wanted on my book and the short stories I had in my backlog. I know that I should’ve tended to these flowers, but they are already their own thing. Thus they needed less attention. Instead, my time was used by A: preparation for my vacation1 and B: writing a few pieces for a Dutch website. The first was necessary. The second one didn’t work out. Some seeds don’t bloom and that’s ok. Looking back, writing for another website is not completely in line with the long-term goals I have. Though it had the positive effect that it exposed the workload I put on myself at the time.

Positives of 2023:

  1. Because of the experience I had with writing for the other website, I decided to stop pushing myself for a blog each month. I simply lack the time and prefer to spend it on projects that are more fun to complete. 
  2. This decision also allowed me to both limit and enjoy my media consumption more. I can be even more precise about what I write and when.
  3. During my vacation I experienced my love of connecting with people over certain topics. It was a nice experience, and I would love to have more of these “heart connections” in the future.

2024: New opportunities

The start of the new year didn’t go as I expected. I only recently finished the photo book of my vacation, and there were some other things that required my attention in December which pushed back defining a Year Theme.‌ Formulating a Year Theme takes time and I needed a moment to breathe and to organise my thoughts on this topic. Something illustrated best by the following quote:

Sometimes you just need to focus on the present, take a deep breath and just be. Sometimes things can get so complicated that our mind can’t quite sort them out alone. But when you slow down and let yourself breathe, your spirit and your body can catch up with your mind and help out.
To know something truly and deeply you must know it with your head, hand and heart. Mind, body and spirit.

Queen Sarai – The Dragon Prince season 2 episode 9: Breathe

So, now we are here. My goal this year is that I want 2024 to be a year where my personal interests and wishes are more present. For myself and others. So I can grow and other people know which direction I want to grow. Thus my Year Theme of 2024 is Proclamation.

Explaining the Theme

A proclamation is “an official declaration issued by a person of authority to make certain announcements known2.

For me, this is a re-establishment of who I want to be as a person and what I want to do professionally. Since I notice that there is still a discrepancy between my Future and Current Self (as it should be), I want to take steps towards it. Steps that make it clear whom I want my Future Self to be.

I want this to result in: 

  1. Utilising my strengths at work more. My current job has me doing many different things within the confines of the job description. There is however a discrepancy between what I’m currently doing and what is possible. 
  2. Finished products which showcase my capabilities as a writer and worldbuilder.
  3. A personal coat of arms or images I can put on my carnaval jacket. It’s the time of the year and I really like the idea of visual representation.

To conclude

With a renewed focus on myself I want to spend more time doing things that give me energy instead of taking it away. With this Theme, I also want the world to see what I can do with the correct focus. Each day gives us an exciting possibility to continue growth as a person. And this year, I’m focusing on the work area of my life. Let’s make the most out of it!


1. See my December 2023 blog

2. Definitions of a proclamation: Dictionary and Wiki (since that gives a more clear explanation of it.
How to write an official proclamation.

New Year’s Dive 2023

Welcome to 2023 and all the best for the new year. While it still feels we are all going through tough times I’m here to look back on 2022 and celebrate a few things. There are always reasons to celebrate, even when the world looks like a bigger mess than the year before. The January blog is my traditional New Year’s dive. I reflect on the previous year and look forward with the help of my Year Theme.

A Year Theme is one word or a short sentence which denotes your goals of the year. For me, it is a tradition that I’ve implemented to make the best of said new year. It provides structure and empowers to make decisions which improve your life. It is important that a theme is positively formulated, so it helps to create a better situation in a specific area of your life. In other words, it should imply personal growth. Here’s a video explaining a Year Theme.

2022 didn’t go as planned…

New Year’s resolutions are funny. We start with hope. Our goal is to make an improvement in our life. Yet after a couple of weeks our daily worries take over and when March arrives we’ve forgotten our resolutions completely. Because a Year Theme is intentionally vague and open they are malleable. My 2022 theme Future Smart was constructed to create a situation in my life which would be a solid base for the future. Hence being smart about about my future or Future Smart. To support my 2022 Theme I set four simple goals1. Goals to provide a structure for me to work on my Theme. But a year is long and surprise: Life happened!

In the end I was only able to make room in my agenda on a structural basis. This was only realized at the end of the year. Another year which felt as if I was (almost) always working. It was a combination of something that I wanted to do earlier and something that arose because I needed more time for myself. My intention was to make more time for my projects but I also noticed that I received a diminishing return on investment of time. I had to slow down.

That 2022 didn’t go as planned does not mean that my Theme or the execution from my part was bad. It was solely that the focus shifted. I (re-)learned a few things but the most important lesson was the one of letting go. I have a tendency to hold onto things that are important and last year I really had to let go to prevent exhaustion (and possible burn-out).

This was not just professional or work related but also in my private life2. In hindsight the learning experience of letting go is in line with the theme of Future Smart. And looking back I’m satisfied with the lessons learned.

Questions to ask and positive answers for a positive outlook

It is useful to use a tool to reflect. To give words to my growth I use the technique proposed by Jay Shetty in his podcast On Purpose. The tool is to answer a couple of questions that makes reflection easier. The answer can come immediately but when thought about the question for a couple of days, an even deeper understanding may come to mind.

Question 1: What did I discover or rediscover about myself 

This is a two parter. First I realized that for me, writing is a form of therapy. I use writing to give words to things that happened and to create a better understanding of it. Creative writing is important and I need to do it on a regular basis.

Second: Editing doesn’t satisfy my need to be creative. So it is important that I moderate other activities in my life to make time for editing as well. I consider myself capable at organizing my time but it needs proper planning so I will not fall behind.

Question 2: What’s the challenge that I overcame in 2022 

I already mentioned this earlier. It is letting go of tasks and thoughts. I know this is a lifelong challenge for me, but the experience of acting on the realization that I cannot do a certain thing was very rewarding.

Question 3: what made me the happiest 

What made me happiest was the reciprocity that I received from people. I always try to give love and be respectful to family, friends and colleagues. In 2022, I experienced a level of return of investment that I did not expect. So if you’re one of those people in my life: Thank you!

A look forward: 2023 – a year for me

Thinking about letting go of distractions that prevented writing from being at the center of my agenda led me to this: I want 2023 to be a me year. To be more specific, I want it to be a year where my personal interests and wishes are more present. Meaning that I want to spend more time on activities that give me energy. One of them being writing. I’m very grateful to occupy this little corner of the web, but I also want to do more with my writing. Nature and Nurture, if you will. 

This led me to my 2023 theme: “Gardening

Gardening implies a more relaxed state of mind. Working on a little patch of land to make something beautiful.

The Theme itself is build from three aspects:

  1. Feeding the roots of the plants. 

This is done by spending time writing, reading or doing courses. There are no big deadlines yet the goal is to remain productive. Productive without too much pressure of said deadlines. 

  1. Show off the colors of the many plants. 

Being productive allows me to finish projects. That means I can give you things as well, dear reader.3

  1. Remove weeds when encountered.

When gardening there is a high chance of encountering behaviour that I want to change. The goal here is to either grow it into a pretty plant or remove it.

You’re OK as a human. But not OK in the greater goal. The incremental improvement is important. Be honest about your current situation. You can be more then you are now.

Jordan Peterson
The Joe Rogan Podcast #1139

To conclude

I think 2023 will be an exciting year. Not just because I see an opportunity to re-align myself with my Ikigai (to connect). The focus is on improving my (mental) health to do something nice.
I want to have the output. To facilitate this I created a schedule with quarterly and monthly tasks. Task aimed at making the flowers in my garden bloom. Not just by finishing current projects but also by relaxing. I have already booked a vacation to bucket list destination New Zealand. Which honestly feels like closing a chapter since I’ve waited so long to go there. Until then I’ll happily relax with the many books and shows in my back catalog. 

We don’t know what the future holds. The only way to move forward is with the knowledge that we make decisions based on our insight of that specific moment. So go with confidence, dear reader. Let’s make 2023 a good year!

  1. See my 2022 blog on the goals and explanation.
  2. As an example: I had to accept that I was too tired because of an increased workload in September. Work was very demanding and I needed time to recuperate. So I had no energy to continue editing my book. I concluded that I wasn’t going to finish the third draft by December and gave up on that.
  3. I have plans to release a short story every quarter of the year. I conjured them last year and they all are outlined or in the first draft. The Hidden Icons shorts will be published on my stories page.

Extra source Year Themes: Hear people talk about Year Themes in this 2 hour long podcast show

New Years Dive 2022

Happy new year, dear reader. I hope 2022 will be a year of joy, love and good health. Today I’ll tell you about my 2022 year theme. A new year means a new Year Theme. But before I get to that, let’s get you up to speed if you’re not familiar with the terminology.

A Year Theme is one word or a short sentence which denotes your goals of the year. For me, it is a tradition that I’ve implemented to make the best of said new year. It provides structure and empowers to make decisions which improve your life. It is important that a theme is positively formulated, so it helps to create a better situation in a specific area of your life. In other words, it should imply personal growth. Here’s a video explaining a Year Theme.

2021 in review: “Connecting the Dots”

Before I tell you about 2022; I’ll do a quick review of 2021. What has my 2021 year theme “Connecting the Dots” given me in hindsight. What did I do, didn’t do, and what did I learn? 

2021 was a messy year for me. I started with great expectations, but I had to temper those pretty fast because the situation at work wasn’t optimal. Looking back, it felt like I had to work in sixth gear for the first 3 to 4 months. As time passed it slowly improved, which allowed me to get back to work on the second draft of my book. I also started making bi-weekly video updates to help with goal setting and to keep my focus on writing. It is a simple accountability tool to keep moving forward; even if no one watches the videos. 

After decent progress for 6 to 8 weeks, the pacing of editing slowed down again. This time due to my volunteer job. The volunteer work (organising a tournament) demanded a lot of attention. And if you watched my writing vlog you might remember I had to shift priorities. This was to prevent a burnout situation. After I recovered and pushed through some harsh edits I finished my second draft on the 28th of December, editing almost 20.000 words in the two weeks before that. 

I’m proud I finished the second draft. It was the only hard target I’d set for 2021. And I worked really hard to achieve that. In hindsight, I worked really hard all year round. If you know me personally you might not realize that I have a tendency to put pressure on myself to achieve things. Even if it involves something relaxing like watching a series.

Don’t get me wrong, I tremendously enjoyed my little venture into the 1998 anime and the couple of K-Drama shows I watched. But they also require me to find something interesting to write about. And while not all of my blogs are a success, writing those is a fun little exercise to put perspective on a certain show. An exercise to connect with myself and the world.

To connect

The last year showed me that storytelling remains a field of interest I want to continue to explore. The media I consumed sparked curiosity into semiotics, folklore and storytelling. Because it is the place that I believe I can make my ikigai (to connect) work. Through the media I consumed last year I connected with myself on different levels. Not just emotionally, but also on a professional level. It gave me a better understanding of the stories that I want to produce.

Lastly, it showed me that I need to cut some things from my personal agenda. Time still remains an issue. I’m fine with removing a goal like streaming from my agenda, but protest heavily against the thought of not spending my spare time on my writing projects for a duration of 3-4 months. This (internal) conflict is what gave me a lot of stress and it is something I want to take action on in 2022.

I think that 2021 was a productive year, but I learned the hard way that I need to set things straight before I will be able to move on.

2022 and a new year theme

Just before Christmas there was an item on the radio that the song ranked first in the music charts on the day you turned 18 should be your year theme. For me this would be the Dutch song Watskeburt?! (which translates as “What happened?!“.

While I find the idea endearing and maybe next year I will summarize 2022 as such; I’m not choosing it.

The reason that I don’t like it is because it implies that the responsibility of my actions are outside of me. And the Year Theme should be something that is exciting and triggers options. As I mentioned before I want to organise a couple of things in my life. Set my house in order if you will. 

By the end of the year I want to: 

  1. Be able to spend my time more focussed on personal projects
  2. know how I can decrease my working hours for a boss to create more time for writing
  3. have investigated different ways into making money. Think in the areas of publishing work like creative writing.
  4. Check my spending and cut where necessary

There is a lot of focus on the financial aspects here, and this is intentional. In order to grow I want to make sure I made progress on these elements.

 When condensed, my theme for 2022 is: Future Smart

My aimed growth for the new year is to be smarter about the mentioned things, so I’m ready when an opportunity arises.1

Again: All the best for 2022. Make it a good one.

  1. In regard to writing: I’m not sure how things will progress so I want to leave it a bit open for now.

New Years Dive

So here we are. 2021, the year of expectations. Now that we are a few weeks in I’m sure many people are already disappointed in the current situation or have reset their expectations altogether. I only had some vague expectations about this year, meaning I was aware of a few steps I wanted to take this year. But there wasn’t anything major I was hoping for. Well, besides the possibility of taking a vacation to New Zealand. But that is (still) not sure. 

What I wanted up front was to (preferably) finish my book and put myself a bit more in the spotlight so that people actually know there is a book. But because I had no specific theme to structure and guide me I actually did not make much progress with this until I chose my Year Theme.

A new year means a new Year Theme

If you’re not aware what a Year Theme is I will explain: A Year Theme is one word or a short sentence which denotes your goals of the year. For me it is a tradition that I have implemented to make the best of said new year. It provides structure and empowers you to take decisions to improve your life. It is important that a theme is positively formulated so it helps you create a better situation in a specific area of your life. 

For example: My theme of 2020 was Heart’s Fire, meaning doing the things that I love to do. I explicitly named 3 things to support it:

  1. Give the fire fuel: Learn about my passions and educatie myself by reading theory and watching lectures.
  2. Give it air: Let it breathe, don’t take it too seriously. It’s a fun process but taking distance is also important.
  3. Give it attention: Make time for writing, and reading so it can empower and deepen it, thus lighting the next steps to take.

If you read the last blog I wrote last year you’ll know I finished my first draft just before Christmas. After I finished I felt I accomplished all my 2020 goals. Finishing the first draft was the only hard target I made for last year, the rest were all soft targets that passed along the way. As a result I spend a few weeks without a specific goal or guidance. And because of this lack of guidance 2021 started quite rough for me. I felt a bit lost without a new theme. And despite having a vague idea what I was going for, I mainly missed the focus I experienced in 2020.

Making choices

This year I want to spend more time working on the relationship with myself and with others. Meaning that I want to give extra attention to my behavior and translate this in relationships with people I haven’t met before. Because I know there are a lot of people who share interests similar to me, I just don’t have them in my immediate surroundings/vicinity. *

My initial choice for the 2021 Year Theme was: The Golden Company. I wanted to find those people and be a good relation to them. There was also the link to Game of Thrones which seemed fun. But that link: the best mercenaries you can hire, was also what changed my mind. Because I don’t want to be just someone who comes in on a payroll to do the job they do best.

So I changed it. After a few days of indecisiveness I chose “Connecting the Dots”.

Because sometimes it is more important to just choose so you can start and work with the choice you made then to wait on a better theme.

What is Connecting the Dots

Connecting the Dots is:

  1. Taking action on the other things that (I think) I like and trying them to enrich my life
  2. Combining things I like into something else
  3. Evaluating these steps/actions over time to see if they work or not

It is a direct reference to the Stanford speech of Steve Jobs, as well as an invitation to myself to try new things. And by doing this I want to find people that share my passion for stories and storytelling in different media and interact with them. What I really like is that this all aligns with my Ikigai: To connect.

Take action

Now that we are a few weeks in 2021 I already am working on a number of actions to support Connecting the Dots. One is taking part in TTRPG sessions, another is preparing for a (weekly) stream on Twitch, which probably will start in a couple of weeks from now. 

I know that the new year will bring surprises. But no matter how big or small I am confident that Connecting the Dots provides me with a good intention and structure to make the very best of it. I hope you will take similar action to improve for your life. If you have questions, you are most welcome to ask about the methodology I use.

*as a template I would like to refer to the setting of the Play, Watch, Listen podcast. Where 4 people from the games industry who are also friends just talk about games, films, music and a lot more. If you know the show you know what I mean, though it doesn’t have to be in a podcast. It’s the relationship dynamic on display that I’m going fo

Heart’s Fire

Hello friend and all the best for 2020. I hope you’ve started the year in good spirits. I certainly did. So it’s January and we’re sharing new years resolutions again for a couple of weeks. In my experience this is like singing an “I want song”. Fun while it lasts, but mostly forgettable. This is why I’m very confident about my year theme.

Year Theme

For the last 3 years I had positive experiences with using a year theme. A year theme is a word or short sentence on a subject or part of your life that you want to improve something in*. Last year my theme was “Future Fit” and it was in the area of physical and mental health.

What a theme does is empowers your decisions in the specific area that you choose. It is important that you specify for yourself what the theme means for you. Last year the theme meant making powerful decisions about the way I spend my time, money and energy so that I can make progress in the area that I concentrate on this year: work.

I’ve mentioned earlier that I want to work towards a situation where I can spend my time working on/creating stories (worlds).

Looking back on last year I can now see that I’ve made some decisions that 1: influenced my energy (food, my relation to sleep, sport) and 2 influenced my mindset (how I look at time spend, cleaning and organising papers etc).

This year my theme is Hearts fire (in Dutch: Hartenvuur). The metaphor for fire is chosen deliberately. I have written down a couple of accompanying sentences which are my guiding principles for the year when making decisions. 

  1. Give it air/make it breathe. I want to make sure I have the time (or create it) to work on the things I love in a relaxed way.
  2. Give it fuel/make it burn. Have the focus on the things I love so I can nurture and grow my passion.**
  3. Give it attention. Give it the attention it requires so it releases positive energy back and lights the path so I can make more informed decisions.

Into action

With this as a starting point I feel ready for the year. I’m already working on number 1 of the guiding principles so things are in motion***. I’ve also noticed that (as a result of this) my book is itching in the back of my mind. I want to continue working on it and my goal is to have a first draft completed by March/April. 

There is theme and there is a plan which is more ingrained into me than any I want song. I’m doing it! 

P.s. Let me know if you want to also create a year theme to help you in 2020 improve some area in your life but don’t know how. Visit my contacts page message me on the socials.

* I choose from one of four area’s which research has shown that are an indication of a person’s happiness: 1. Mental and physical health; 2. Relationships; 3. Work; 4. Money. My source are David de Kock and Arjan Vergeer of 365 Dagen Succesvol; a Dutch company working to help people improve their happiness. These guys have read large piles of literature and found these four areas to be common. I know there are multiple other theories who divide it in different categories, but I like this one because it is simple with a lot of depth.

** Here are link 1 and link 2 with some information and inspiration.

*** One of the things I’m doing is cleaning and organising my work space at home so it feels more comfortable to sit there.