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.