2022 Annual Review

I look over the rolling hills and soak in the morning sunshine and warmth. The steam of my Ampersand coffee tickles my nose as I breathe in the scene deeply. The clean card stock pages beckon me with a hopeful emptiness. Curious, what will fill these pages this year?

I diligently walk through my value forest and assess the health of every tree. This internal reflection is time intensive, emotional, and exhausting. And deeply rewarding.

With cautious patience, I consider the horizon of 2023. This year was so unequivocally amazing - how will I sustain my trajectory and find ever higher orbitals of excellence and mastery? What steps will I take to walk my path of Thriving?

And where can I refine?


This is my third year doing an Annual Review (2020 pt1 and pt2 and 2021) and I find tremendous meaning and value in this exercise. Last year I did Dr. Anthony Gustin's framework and liked it so much that I opted to do the same again this year.

Dr. Gustin's reflective prompts coupled with my own value forest, habit tracking, and project tracking yields incredibly rich insights into where I'm on and off track on my Thriving Path. I feel as though every corner of my desires and aspirations are considered, ordered, and organized so I am set up for success in the future.

I echo all the same sentiments from last year's review:

  • Make space to think - I took 2 days off work to have undivided, focused attention. After that, I took a couple hours a day over the next week to complete, review, refine, and implement what I found. Over the course of 8 total days, this entire process took ~30 hours to complete. Much of that time I was simply sitting and thinking. What a precious and luxurious rarity! Many times, I found new and unexpected awarenesses in the space between sessions. I consider that space to be key to the success of this process for me.
  • Paper first, then digital - Again, I started on paper and then typed up my answers into Roam. It takes a bit more time, but I find that blank pages and ink prompt a different kind of thought and I write different answers to the same questions. Having both modalities of thought is net positive and productive to yield the most comprehensive awareness and output.
  • Evaluation is not judgment - Ambitious people set ambitious aspirations, many of which are unmet. It's easy to get down when a genuine desire is untouched or incomplete. Recognizing that, take a frame of genuine curiosity and care to assess without judging outcomes. If you achieved something - why? If you didn't - why? Use both signals to help refine the coming year of habits, projects, and aspirations.

Big takeaways from 2022

This year has been nothing short of exceptional. Perhaps the best and longest sustained sense of awesome of my life. I pushed myself hard, grew a lot, hurt a little, and feel completely aligned with my path. I am at peace in a complex cosmic order of creating, living, and being. I am closer to Thriving than ever before.

Living that felt sense, it's especially curious to see how that plays out in my value forest, habits, and projects. What does Thriving look like on the practical plane for me?

Aside from the lessons learned from my 35th year, here are some overarching takeaways:

  • The GSB experience was unquestionably worth it and valuable for me. I bridged important knowledge, skill, and network gaps. I met incredible people that will certainly be lifelong friends. And I walked away feeling more capable and more inspired than ever before in my life.
  • It is so important to include play and fun in my annual planning. I added that last year and it was a key part of my experience this year.
  • Adding priority to value trees and projects further helps clarify what is and isn't possible.

My high-level stats for the 97 projects prioritized for 2022:

  • Successfully completed - 46%
  • Started but didn't finish - 29%
  • Actively deprioritized (drop to backlog) - 15%
  • On Hold - 9%

Removing the Deprioritized & On Hold, that means a 61% completion rate. That's the lower bound of the sweet spot in typical OKR's .6-.7 range. Importantly, most of my high-priority projects scored well, and my mid and low-priority projects were less done. This is as it should be.

I also noticed that I took on A LOT for this year. I had 97 projects compared to my 57 in 2021. Some of that is my getting better at defining smaller-scope projects, but most is simply taking on more. Dropping 10% on project completion (from 71% in 2021 to 61% in 2022) while growing the raw number of projects 70% means I got A LOT more done. Most of my misses were habits and routines where I didn't reach the optimal threshold. That is not sustainable, though, and in 2023 I will look for a more manageable pace.

One of my favorite exercises is to go back through my photos, books, articles, and writings to tease out what felt generative and alive (so as to recreate that in future years). If I take anything away from my annual reviews, I'm a profoundly fortunate man. My life is amazing, and it keeps getting better ...

What's to come in 2023

Every year I pick one word to be my central meditation and guiding force. For 2022 it was diligence and I certainly got better at that. Not exactly where I want to be, but on the right track.

For 2023, I chose refinement. I define refinement as "doing less, better".

Last year I wrote about losing some self-trust that I needed to regain. I have overcome that limitation and now sense deeper into ever greater planes of awareness. Looking ahead, I seek to cultivate that burgeoning awareness and put it to good use with generative feedback loops.

Again, my physical form is my number 1 priority - this time coming back from a tiresome mystery injury. Beyond that, my ranked priority focuses are my professional world, my marriage, and my study of Music. My more generalized high priorities are oriented toward nurturing relations, community development, intellectual pursuits, and parenthood. There is certainly much more when I feel expansive, and when I need to pull back to refine, I know exactly where to look.

Like last year, I started by refining my Value Trees (in Gustin's parlance, life categories, or for BASBers, Areas of Responsibility). Specifically,

  • Retired a handful of Work subcategories for the 3 businesses I closed this year. Also added one new Work category for my new job.
  • Collapsed Plant Life into Stewardship and added Animal Life under Stewardship. These now cleanly capture how I sustain non-human life.
  • Broke out Community into sub-groups so I can clarify where I'm focusing my energies and why.

In my habits section, I more clearly delineated daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly routines. In my projects, I delineated "do" projects from "writing" projects and "event" projects (where I produce an event). The former two I can mostly do alone and the latter requires an entire team and attendees to work well.

Looking ahead, I have notated 134 projects but 38 of them are marked as Overflow so that I know not to get distracted. Of the remaining 96, I have a clear line of sight on rank order so I can be precise and focused on aligning with the man, professional, husband, son, brother, and father I want to be.

Zooming out to zoom zoom

For the second year now, I feel complete and utter peace about the year past and the year to come. Certainly, there was some consternation as I listed all of my desires and projects and had to make hard decisions about things I really want but simply do not have space to focus on.

Having front-loaded that effort, I now have pristine clarity and focus coming into next year. I have a clear standard by which to assess new ideas or opportunities, and I know what those moments will come at the expense of.

This is a pristine example of going slow to go fast. My annual review process took time, energy, and creative throughput. And I gain so much that radically accelerates my capacity in the coming year.

Maybe next year I'll figure out a way to share this rich and meaningful experience with others whom it may serve.

I humbly walk my Thriving path.

May you find your own and Thrive in peace.

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