"Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man."
― Benjamin Franklin
Like I was sharing in last week's email, this week I'm off my regular work at Buffer, as we've done for a few years already.
On weeks like these, I've taken wildly different approaches. The first approach was that trying to cram and optimize every minute that wasn't holiday/family-related and use it to get things done on my personal projects. That is draining. My focus is scattered, anxiety creeps in, I'm not fun to hang around, and, by the time the holidays are over, my energy levels are lower than before, turning January into a big slump.
The second approach I tried was not doing anything at all. And of course, I found out that not making progress on anything at all stresses me out.
I found out that by the end of it, if I don't have something good to show (which could be learning something new, doing something that's good for me or others, or a few tasks marked as done), I would feel I wasted my break. That's bad for me because then I feel I'm in a worse position than when I started.
This time I've decided to take the third path. The more nuanced one, my personal goldilocks approach where I feel I've made progress and at the same time I've taken care of myself, my mindset, body, and energy.
For the past year, I've mentioned the idea of productive rest on my Instagram page. It is recharging my batteries for delivering the maximum amount of value when I'm back in the game. I could set myself up for success for the next year, just shifting my goal for this week.
I know I could keep on working on coding and on my personal projects just as any regular week, but by the end of it, I only have one week of work to show for.
What if instead, I focused on something completely different? Something that made things simpler and better for the months to come?
With that question in mind, I began to come up with a different plan for the week:
To succeed long term, I need to take better care of my body: I need to recharge physically by eating good food, sleeping my hours, and working towards a more balanced and consistent sleep schedule again.
I was also having issues going consistently to the gym lately due to other changes in my schedule and the gym being far away from my home and my studio. I decided to join a gym that's way closer to my house, where I can go consistently every morning. It's also more enjoyable in terms of design and quality, so it's something I'm looking forward even more now.
To succeed long term, I need to make sure I'm going where I want to. I need to create smart goals for 2020 and for each month in the year too. I need to work towards habits and systems that make it all sustainable and enjoyable: doing a full breakdown of it all is liberating for my mind because I know I don't have to deal with it all at the same time.
To plan for those goals and execute them properly, I need to reflect on the past year. Doing a full year retrospective is vital to make sure I'm not carrying over with me in this next year things that no longer serve me. There are hundreds of things I could have done better this year, and having the space to identify them is enough already to learn from them and implement the plan and goals I was mentioning.
So this is all I've been doing this week, between hanging out with family and meeting good friends. I've been preparing and organizing myself to become the best version I can be in 2020. And most importantly, I've been gentler on myself. This all I've mentioned is not something you are ever done with: there is always more to plan, more to improve, and more to reflect. Know that just reflecting on it for a little bit is already a lot.
I would love to nudge you on reflecting on this as you step into the new year: what things are you taking with you from 2019, and which are you leaving behind?
Happy new year :)
A fantastic article by the marketing team at Toggl where they were time tracking all their working hours for two weeks. It's a great reflection on the 40-hour workweek and how we need to break free from the industrial era of clocking in hours and instead focus on meaningful work and results.
This Greg McKeown interview by Matt D'Avella is mind-blowing. I might have seen it three or four times already. If you don't know about him, Greg is the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. A highly recommended watch (and book read) if you are up for doing the year-end reflections I was sharing in this email.
Thanks for reading 🙏