#120: On Looking Back

We have less than a month until the end of the year and, as it happens, also the decade. The twenties are coming and although we’re not quite there with flying cars and teleportation, a lot of exciting things will happen over the next ten years. Soon, the media will be flooded with in-review posts and listicles reflecting on all sorts of happenings of the past year or ten. The end of the year – an arbitrary point in time when Earth is at about the same place as it was the year before – is as good as any time to look back at how you got where you are and think about what you’ll need to change to get to where you want to go.

The zeitgeist of the early 21st century is being busy and doing more. If you’re not sprinting ahead, you’re falling behind. We’re scrolling through each other’s highlight reels on Instagram, and the FOMO is very real. In the whirlwind of everyday life, it’s hard to see whether you’re making any progress and heading in the right direction. On the other hand, it’s easy to deceive yourself and stick to routines that no longer serve you.

Unfortunately, the Internet abounds with self-appointed productivity gurus ready to sell you overpriced multi-stage review processes complete with printable forms and access to private Facebook groups to discuss your forms with others that have also been scammed. Others take it as an opportunity to post a giant humblebrag on their blog listing everything they’ve achieved in obnoxious detail, giving the year-end review process a bad rep.

You most certainly don’t need an assessment form. You also don’t have to feel threatened by someone’s glowing achievements. The review is about taking time to think. You may go for a long walk or journal for a couple of hours (which is what I like to do).

Think about what you planned to write and what you actually wrote. Was it enough? Was it too little? Why do you think so? Was it a tough year? Or perhaps you may not be as serious about writing as you originally thought? Think about what it really takes to be a writer. Is that compatible with the lifestyle that you want to have?

Ultimately, you want to end up with two lists: things that you should do more of and things that you should do less. There is no right or wrong answer.

A word of caution: if you’re prone to beating yourself up, you should avoid doing that. Everybody makes mistakes. That’s not the point. What your year-end review is really about is the year that’s about to come. How can you avoid falling into the same traps as last time? Where should you steer the ship? You may not be hitting the crazy word counts that everybody else seems to be hitting, but are you making progress?

I hope that I managed to convince you to take some quiet time to think this year. If you do, remember that there’s always something that you could’ve done better, but things are never as bad as they seem.

What I Am Reading?

No updates here. Still reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. At this rate, reading might be a substantial point during my year-end review.

When I finish, I’m planning to pick up Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut which I from my brother-in-law recently.


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