Yearly Themes 2023
The yearly theme is something I have been doing the last couple of years and is inspired by the Cortex Podcast. Instead of creating annual resolutions, which are oft bound to fail due to their rigid nature, a yearly theme is a broad framework that is intended to guide my actions towards my goals.
# Looking back at 2022 themes
In 2022, I chose two themes to guide me: Health and Music. I talk about this in my podcast in greater depth. I want to reflect on how that worked out for a minute.
In terms of health, I started resistance training three times a week and that has helped drop my body fat percentange by about 3%. I’m not going to extol the benefits of having lean muscle mass in this article, but it is key to proper hormone regulation and metabolic health.
To build muscle, I have been targeting about 1g of protein intake per pound of body weight, per day. It has been hard to keep up, unless I include a significant amount of meat in my diet, which I cannot always do for various reasons. I’ve prioritized sleep over everything else in the evenings, targeting 7+ hours of consistent shut-eye everyday. These health themed lifestyle changes have greatly improved by mood, energy and cognition throughout the day.
Music has been much harder for me to keep up with consistently. I was not able to adhere to a strict practice schedule, but I did become more concious about improving my technique when I did actually play guitar, instead of noodling away my time. I took a month’s worth of lessons with Straten Marshall, and he pointed out that my alternate picking suffered because my hands were not synchronized. It seems obvious in hindsight, but working on that specifically has helped a lot. My alternate picking has gotten a lot cleaner and faster as a result. I have included playing scales and modes in my practice routine. These are boring, but necessary.
Playing music with others has been a challege, due to time contraints of everybody involved. I have considered an alternate approach to music composition based on a blog article I read, but I’ll have to see how that works out in practice. I have joined a community rock band to play music with other people, but that has not proved to be challenging or instructive thus far.
# Now, not later
This is my yearly theme for 2023. As of this writing, I’m about halfway reading 4000 weeks by Oliver Burkeman, and while I disagree with a lot of his views, I do accept that time is finite. We have about 4000 weeks to live. Too often, I end up delaying things to another time, or working towards a better future without enjoying the now. This is the now. This is it. I’m here. And I’ve already spent about 2000 weeks of my life.
To apply this theme, I’m going to have to keep in mind a few key concepts:
- I have to restrict the number of things I actually pursue. For example, I cannot learn a new programming language, and contribute to open-source projects. Why? Because I am already running a podcast, have a family with young kids, play music, and like to read and write, while having a full time job. This leaves few hours to much else. It’s time to accept that.
- I have to be fully present in the now and learn to quickly slip into a flow state at whatever I am doing, whether it be office work, music, playing with kids or doing the dishes. No multi-tasking. Minimal distraction.
- No more productivity hacks. No hourly planning, to-do lists, pomodoro timers, or overly complex workflows. Daily highlights are okay to keep a focus on what needs to get done. Go through the day giving each task the attention it deserves - no more, no less, and see where things land. Pick up what falls to the wayside at another time.
- Apply the pareto principle whenever possible. Be aware that the last 20% of any task takes 80% of the time (that I don’t already have.) Be happy with the 80%, while knowing that perfection is admirable but costly.
- This one is cheesy, but true. Live everyday like it is your last. This might be the last time I ever did something. Pick up my child, visit Las Vegas, or go surfing. Enjoy and savor every moment because I might never get it again.
# Wrapping up
It is necessary to slow down the conveyor belt of tasks that appear in life, and my yearly theme is designed to do that. This does not mean I abandon my previous years’ themes entirely when the new one arrives. I will still work on my health and music. I view it as a continuous evolution of myself. I absorb each years theme till it becomes a part of me. This is the only way we can all become better versions of ourselves.