Another year is in the books, and, as usual, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on 2022, and set my intention for 2023.
In last year’s reflection, I added self-care as a priority for myself along with family and coaching, and that went surprisingly well.
- I managed my commitments better, as I realized that stressing myself out defeated the purpose of being self-employed with a lifestyle business. As part of this, I mostly maintained a four-day work week, leaving Fridays open for my own activities and/or catching up on work so I could go into the weekend with a clean slate.
- I continued working with a therapist to sort out unconscious patterns keeping me from being the person I want to be. This helped me to become more mindful of my triggers, and to ask for help or space before I got overwhelmed. This was particularly important as my kids didn’t sleep well for most of the year, and I had to accept that I wasn’t as productive and got triggered more when my sleep was regularly interrupted.
- I took some time for myself away from the family in the form of two writing retreats in Tahoe. Quiet time in nature is wonderfully recharging for me.
- I started running! I wanted to get more cardio in my life, but couldn’t find time for longer bike rides any more, so I made a rule for myself that when a client canceled and I had an unexpected free hour, I would go run for 30+ minutes at the local park. Running is also mildly satisfying in that I improved slightly throughout the year, unlike cycling where I will never again reach my 2015 fitness levels.
- I continued writing regularly on LinkedIn and in my newsletter. The newsletter in particular was a nice outlet for me to offer my takes on current events, so that I could keep the blog for more timeless content. Rereading a few issues reminds me of what a year it has been, with the Ukraine war, uncountable mass shootings, continued racial violence, the Supreme Court reversing Roe v Wade, inflation and the unsettled economy, and more.
- I made more time for reading in 2022, and completed 46 books (tracked in Goodreads), including 21 fiction books during various vacations. The Goodreads app made it easy for me to write a quick paragraph with my thoughts when I finished a book. The most impactful book I read was Radical Friendship, by Kate Johnson, although I’d recommend any of the books I summarized for the blog.
My family continues to be a priority with the kids growing quickly. I appreciated being able to manage my schedule to put family first on nights and weekends, as well as to work from anywhere to enable family trips. We went to Seattle and Whidbey Island for a week with my sister’s family and my dad, we spent several weeks in Tahoe throughout the year including Thanksgiving, we took a couple long weekend trips to wine country, we spent three weeks in Bulgaria for the kids to be with their grandparents (while I worked remotely for two weeks), and also three weeks in Mexico on the beach (again working remotely for two weeks). My big accomplishment as a father was teaching my 3-year-old to ski in the spring, so that he was riding the ski lifts and snowplowing down by May.
My coaching business continues to grow as I help my clients move towards their goals with greater ease, as demonstrated by numerous testimonials on LinkedIn. I also gave a talk on Creating Organizational Alignment in May where I shared how leadership can be an effectiveness multiplier by getting everybody pointed in the same direction. If you know somebody that could benefit from my perspective, I’d love to chat with them. I particularly like working with high performers that feel stuck.
I also started writing a book in September to share the ideas I’ve used to help myself and my clients get unstuck. You can read the first draft chapter here. I’ve written 5 chapters so far, and am about halfway through my planned content, and plan to self-publish next year. Email me if you want to be a beta reader and offer feedback on chapters in draft form.
Lastly, I took more responsibility as a citizen in 2022. I started an antiracism group in March to raise my awareness of how I am complicit in racism. Those frank discussions gave me more confidence to speak up e.g. on colonialism or on the racism potentially implicit in “they should already know how to do this”. I am also taking more responsibility to act as a role model, as you never know who might be inspired by your actions. For me, that has shown up as:
- Donating money: I joined SV2 after meeting the executive director at a networking event, and am increasing the portion of my income that goes to charity, inspired partially by Radical Friendship’s prescription to “give what is hard to give”.
- Investing in under-represented founders as an LP in Lolita Taub’s Ganas Ventures, and Yoko Okano’s First Row Partners.
- Paying my privilege forward by investing 10% of my coaching hours in pro bono and pay-what-you-can clients from historically excluded populations, through initiatives like First Round Fast Track and The Forem’s mentorship program.
- Continuing to educate myself and share resources like Lily Zheng’s DEI Deconstructed and Ijeamo Oluo’s So You Want To Talk About Race and Dr. Carey Yazeed’s essay on why Brene Brown’s advice doesn’t work for Black people. By absorbing what I can from these different perspectives, I can open difficult conversations with people of privilege, and hopefully make it slightly easier on others.
I already wrote about my intention to connect with courage and vulnerability, inspired by reading Together and Lost Connections and Radical Friendship. I tend to think of myself as special and separate, so I miss opportunities to connect because I isolate myself, thinking I don’t belong. Yet when I actually open up and make an effort, I can generally find some form of connection. Biasing myself towards connection will mean letting go of my default assumption that connection isn’t possible, and instead looking for points of commonality; in other words, I plan to retrain my brain to look for connection, rather than difference.
Connection also works as a theme across my priority areas of family, coaching, citizenship, and even self-care, as I can connect vulnerably with myself. Rather than treat myself like an unbreakable superhero who needs nothing and can handle everything alone, I intend to acknowledge my needs, and share more of my tender, fragile self with others by courageously asking for help. Even though I might get rejected, the opportunity for increased connection is worth that risk; thinking of myself as special and different only creates an excuse to shut down and withdraw. Instead, I am inspired by Radical Friendship’s prescription to not look down on others, and recognize that we are all connected via our common humanity.
I started practicing these ideas in 2022, and will keep practicing connection in 2023 in a variety of ways: sharing when I am feeling overwhelmed rather than grinding through, working with my family on navigating collective issues rather than trying to solve them myself, prioritizing time with friends and family, connecting more as a citizen of my communities, and most importantly, reaching out more to others. I’ve been waiting and hoping for others to initiate connection with me, both in my personal life and as a coach; in 2023, I intend to proactively reach out to people to connect each week. As I often tell my son, the way to get better at something is to practice, so I’ll keep practicing connection.
What are your highlights of 2022? Where do you intend to consciously focus to create new behaviors in 2023? I’d love to hear from you if you’re willing to share.