I’ve always felt the new year was a powerful time to reflect.
Years ago, I read a book by the legendary educator Howard Gardner called Extraordinary Minds. It studied the patterns of four types of extraordinary figures, what he called Masters (e.g. Mozart), Makers (e.g. Freud), Introspector (e.g. Woolf) and Influencer (e.g. Gandhi). He tried to understand what made them so great and what practices could be applied to help each of us become better.
One point stuck out to me was that each of these four individuals did a lot of reflection.
“Extraordinary individuals stand out in the extent to which they reflect—often explicitly—on the events of their lives, large as well as small…by seizing the opportunity to leverage and frame these experiences, we gain agency over them. And this heightened agency, in turn, places us in a stronger position to deal with future experiences, even as it may alter our own sense of strengths and possibilities.”
So while New Year’s Resolutions often get a bad rap, done the right way, they can be very successful. This year, I organized a mini-retreat with two other people to reflect on the year that was and plan for the year to come.
You can see a copy of my own annual review, with a few redactions 😇 on the right.
After going through that exercise, I decided to share my reflection process — first on the New Year’s Day webinar I hosted called Take 2017 By the Horns, and then more publically through a site I call The Annual Review. It’s broken into three sections: a look back at 2016, an audit of 8 major life domains, and planning for 2017.
You can download a PDF of The Annual Review in the module below, or complete it on Typeform via this link here.
As for me, some of my highlights in 2016 were:
- Building a cohesive and productive team at Etsy and making major progress in our mobile app Sell on Etsy
- Running two successful cohorts of Ship Your Side Project and giving a keynote speech at PRCA
- Reaching tens of thousands of readers for The Asian American Man Study and An Open Letter to Women Managers
Some of my goals in 2017 include:
- Launching a huge new feature for Etsy sellers
- Doing more with my side projects (public speaking, The Asian American Man Study, Ship Your Side Project, Play By Your Own Rules book)
- Finding a new athletic endeavor to challenge myself with
- Getting better with email and keep my calendar clear
- Some secret projects 😎
Finally, here are some of the biggest pieces I wrote on and off of this blog:
- An Open Letter to Women Managers (Medium)
- The Asian American Man Study — 2015 Results (Medium)
- Getting Turned Down By Google Helped Me Get Hired At Etsy (FastCompany)
- How I Learned How to Code in Just 1,825 Days (LinkedIn)
- The New Napster: How Scihub is Blowing Up the Academic Publishing Industry
- The Problem with “Where Are You From”
- What Makes Effective Teams
- Product Insights from Pokemon Go
- Beyond the 10,000 Hour Rule
Looking back at the year, I wrote less than I have in previous years (28 pieces + 4 external pieces vs 37 in 2015) and I would imagine that this year, I’ll be writing even less. It’s not that I don’t care about the blog any more, I’m just redirecting my energies towards other endeavors. You’re more likely to hear about these—like the New Year’s Day webinar I hosted—if you’re on my email list.
Overall, I had a great 2016 (minus the election) and I’m super fired up about 2017!