Chris Guillebeau has recently announced the start of his annual review and invited the readers to perform their own. The first step is to remember and list things that went well and that did not. This suggestion has clicked with something in me. I decided that even if I would not follow the whole process as he does it, I might benefit from taking time to reflect back on the year that comes to an end.
What went well this year?
- Compiled (and printed) my first photobook :) [I almost forgot about that, but it was already 2013]
- Organized and executed a break from my “work”, during which I went for two months to the city where I was born and raised and where I had grown up (Novosibirsk, Russia). I stayed a couple of weeks with my parents, then rented an apartment in my favorite part of the city, and moved in with a girlfriend. During the time in Novosibirsk, I had a wonderful time with my family, met several friends, visited practices of the theater group I used to be in, and enjoyed several live concerts of Russian rock bands who I like but from whom I am cut off in Europe. Also, I engaged in learning things for myself.
- Took the “(How to) Connect With Anyone” course. It was an amazing experience of reasessing my views on human connections, what it takes to build them, and the impact our environment (the people around us) has on our successes and failures. I also made several friendships with fellow CWA members, and one of them grew far beyond the course.
- Launched my very own website! :)
- Traveled to the United States, which included attendance of the World Domination Summit and a visit to San Francisco. Both elements were nothing but dreams just a year before, in Summer of 2012. And they were the dreams coming true in Summer of 2013. WDS was the time of meeting countless amazing people and the reunion of our CWA family in person.
- During several months, I had an active local friendship. We took walks, made a trip to a neighboring city, and got together at home on several occasions, talking, playing the guitar and singing various songs… Time of joy and smiles :)
- My trip to Novosibirsk also reflected back on my life in Bremen: I moved out of a room I had been renting before the trip and moved in a separate apartment. This move gave me more personal space and quietness.
- Successfully executed two thirty-day challenges (on finding contentment and on taking pictures), meaning that I stayed committed to the idea throughout the period. [I am currently on yet another one which goes pretty well :)]
- Attended two races of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series. I had been thinking of the proximity to the DTM since the possibility of going to Germany arised, even before I was accepted in the position… After two years here, I made it :)
- Attended several meet-ups in Hamburg which I found via MeetUp.com
- Finally, there was a couple of small finance-related successes. I received a mileage-earning “credit” card as a first step towards increasing my awareness in travel hacking. And I launched a savings habit in form of transferring a fixed amount of money from my income to a separate account and not counting on it in the course of regular spending.
What did not go well this year?
- The relationship with the girl with whom we lived together during the two months in Novosibirsk ultimately failed. It was not really a surprise, because there had been much uncertainty and worries throughout the years.
Side note: I am generally skeptical about relationships over distance. While the over-the-Internet communication is possible in some form, it is anyway limited. People keep in mind the image of each other as they remember (or simply create it when there is no point of reference), and in the meanwhile they are changing. One day, they may suddently discover that the changes are too big, and in too different directions. During the in-person communication there are many synchronizations and adaptations that take place unnoticeable, and they do not happen online.
Additionally, having a date only once in several months is not a sign of a healthy relationship… I know, some people live with that. I have tried it, too. But I am just stating the fact.
- Returning to the regular life in Bremen from both special times (in Novosibirsk, in the United States) was much harder than expected. The first couple of weeks were spent on a wave of the aftertaste of the experiences, occupying myself with some regular activities. In both cases, afterwards I made a self-commitment that was supposed to help me in some way, but the associated activities were taking a lot of time and energy, breaking apart my daily schedule and dropping down my mood, energies and everything else. The situation spiraled down, and the life went totally out of control. Twice. And the second time was worse, because I had less support.
- Many of my creative activities: composing and/or playing music, writing a book, as well as maintaining the website… I had a lot of aspirations towards these things, but they appeared to be harder than they seem at some point, piling up to the point where I simply lost it all.
- My focus of this year on connecting… It did not go as well as I hoped for. I have not accomplished anything of significance towards establishing new friendships at the university. My attempt of starting the personal development club on campus did not work out. On the other side, my engagement in the consecutive wave of CWA was poor, and I did not feel belonging to my new mastermind group.
- Adaptation to the self-sustainable sort of living. As I have noted in the “what went well” section, this year I started to live separately. All years before I lived either with my parents or was renting a room, sharing an apartment or a house with other people. I moved to an apartment on my own in April, and after eight months of living there, I still have not made myself comfortable in it, at times feeling very irritated and out-of-place.
- Budgeting. I have never learned how to estimate the expenses and distribute the money. This year I have been moving from the impulse purchases of books and self-study programs (a lot of them, see below) to the total abstaining from any spending in the efforts to save money and make it through the next trip, or simply to save money so I will not run out of it. I barely made it for the plane ticket to the US and back. I probably haven’t bought anything for the apartment from May to November.
- On the same note, I purchased several self-study courses and programs during the first half of the year, but did not extract the value that I expected from them, or failed to gain the skills and attitude to continue reaping the benefits in the long term. I went through CWA but in-person successes are yet to come. I learned the PhotoReading system, but failed to practice and use it. I went through a course devoted to creating and marketing e-books but did not write one. I even bought a multi-level Feng Shui course, but did not make it beyond a couple of CDs.
Moreover, several of these programs were on payment plans, and I am still paying for a couple. Will I be able to re-focus, revise and follow through on these courses? Will I be able to put them in a good use? Or was it just a waste of money? I’m not sure.
That rounds up the lists… What will I do next? As far as I understood, Chris Guillebeau suggests to determine the important areas of life and set a few measurable goals for each of them. That could work as a sketch… Honestly, I’m very much looking forward towards The Desire Map process as a foundation for the upcoming goal-setting (the book will be released to retailers in January, and I will be hosting a local Desire Map book club to talk things through with fellow desire mappers). The fundamental premise of the Desire Map is that we are chasing not the goal itself but a feeling. We go for the goal hoping that its attainment will make us feel better. I see the truth in this premise, and the suggested reversal of the process, i.e. starting with feelings and setting goals from them, sounds very exciting for me.
But probably, even before I go forward with either method of setting new goals, I could go through this list once again and define the lessons that I can extract from this year, maybe some advices or guidelines I can establish for myself to follow during the next year and beyond.
Are you performing any kind of personal annual review? In which way? What is the most helpful for you in the process? Share your experiences and insights in the comments below!