For a few years, I used Alex Vermeer’s 8,760 Hours to do my annual review. The process covered twelve life areas (like fitness, social, money, etc.) with mind mapping to detail a snapshot of life, what next year could be, and a summary of a few goals. It was thorough and consistently led to insights, but it also took way too long to complete.
This year, I used Yi Shun Li’s Personal Annual Review to do a similar, but shorter exercise. It covers nine categories with what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what to improve. It also time boxes the exercise. Out of that, here are my 2023 goals.
Climb Twice a Week
I know that it’s healthy to exercise regularly. It has benefits not only for physical fitness, but also mental fitness and mood, too. It is perhaps the most important thing for wellness.
And yet, I haven’t regularly exercised for most of my life.
I have always made excuses, and most of those were pretty bad. However, what really matters is that I figure out what regular exercise I can commit to.
First, I need a habit. Unless it’s part of my weekly schedule, I won’t sustain it.
Second, I want to focus on strength training. I’m not very strong and have historically favored cardio. Rather than define myself that way, I want to branch out into something healthy.
Third, I want something that isn’t directly competitive. I love playing various ball and team sports, and I’m happy to play just to play. However, I have also played pickup sports where someone gets too competitive, and it stops being fun very quickly. I generally like cooperation.
Fourth, I want a goal other than the exercise. I found running exhausting because I was just constantly thinking about how much I didn’t want to run. I haven’t lifted weights, but I suspect I would feel the same way.
All of these constraints led me back to rock climbing. A few years ago, I tried it for about two months before I quit. It requires strength, and the challenge is the wall. In retrospect, I quit because I didn’t make time for it in my schedule. This time, I have carved out two times a week and think I can keep it up.
Eat Vegan Stews for Lunch
Some readers may remember that I set this same goal in 2020. However, some may remember that 2020 got weird.
I stopped eating vegan and went back to meat-and-cheese sandwiches because the latter are very easy to make and require little creativity. Unfortunately, bread, meat, and cheese aren’t as healthy as unprocessed plants.
I struggled in 2020 because I got too creative, and it was hard to make salads everyday. I did get into food prep and realized that stews were the answer. I just didn’t keep it up.
I intend to have a rotation of vegan soups and stews to make once a week. I will need to continue to explore and add recipes to keep things fresh, but hopefully it will be a good experience to make things out of nothing.
Setup Sustainable Banking
During the last two years, I listened to several podcasts and read more about climate change. I want to contribute more myself, both by joining climate activism groups as well as making personal changes.
We really need systemic change and better policy, but activism is tough. Part of the problem is just stepping up, but I mostly excuse myself due to the difficulty of coordinating schedules with anyone outside of my job or household.
In the meantime, we have been tackling our personal responsibility. We have already or are looking into sealing and insulating our house, installing a heat pump, and getting an electric car. Our lifestyle here has a comparatively large carbon footprint, and we want to minimize that.
But I recently learned that the money we have in the bank or in retirement accounts may be producing more carbon than we directly generate.
As such, I want to find more sustainable banking and investing options. Open accounts at a new bank. Get credit cards from a different bank. Move around to ESG investments.
My annual goals are typically learning some skill or lifestyle change. This goal is different because it’s really about just getting something done once.
It’s an oddly scary thing to consider. We have made our banking and investing choices to secure our financial future. To prioritize anything else seems like a tradeoff for our financial security.
To that, I heard a pitch that considering climate impact actually isn’t a tradeoff. We are concerned about finances not just for own wellbeing, but mainly for that of future generations. We typically think about that purely as financial stability, but from a more holistic perspective, that stability should include being on a healthy, livable planet. If I want my daughter to grow up and live a prosperous life, and if my money is invested in fossil fuel companies who are harming the planet, then I’m working against my own interests there.
Since we’re already more than a month into 2023, I have actually already started on all of these. To save something for the end of year review, I won’t tip my hand on progress so far. However, I will say that things are moving along nicely.
A few weeks ago, I spoke with a friend about the concept of doing annual reviews. It’s a really arbitrary metric. Why should change in my life be correlated by the movement of the Earth around the Sun? Shouldn’t I just fix things and change my life as they happen?
Oddly, it really helps me to have these fixed milestones to reflect. Maybe I’m just not rational or thoughtful enough to make regular changes in my life. Either way, I hope these 2023 goals continue an upwards trend in my life.