Sanity Notes #006: Going gently into the new year

The new year is a great time to reset. Applying some self-compassion might help.

Sanity Notes #006: Going gently into the new year

Earlier this week, I sat at a Malibu hotel restaurant looking out at the Pacific Ocean. I had intended to spend a couple of days in Joshua Tree alone, or with my wife, as a way of resetting between 2022 and 2023. I envisioned sitting, looking out at the desert, dreaming up the year ahead.

Our entire family got wiped out by colds and pneumonia over the holiday break, so Joshua Tree was not to be. This day alone in Malibu was as close as I was going to get.

I decided to try something new this year, The Year Compass. I have tried a variety of annual reflection tools in the past, and I highly recommend this free tool if you have not tried it. The prompts are well done, powerful, and delightfully fun and playful at points.

The first half of the exercises are backward-looking. The prompts invite you to reflect on, appreciate and invite to an end the prior year. Questions include:

  • Take a look at the areas below and ask yourself what the significant events in each of them were
  • The wisest decision I made was…
  • The biggest lesson I learned was…
  • What are you most proud of?

What surprised me as I wrote down my answers was how much shame I felt.

2022 was not a year of profound accomplishment for me. At least not in the way my type-A, high-achieving personality likes to hang onto.

I did not finish the book I set out to write.

Our family’s effort at spending the summer abroad did not end in the kind of connection I had hoped for.

We did not launch any significant new products or offerings at Sanity Labs.

On the contrary, 2022 was a year of slowing down for me.

My daughter turned two in October of this year. On the home front, this was a year of re-grounding ourselves. My wife and I are just beginning to exit the haze of baby life in our marriage. I spent many afternoons having a coffee or taking a walk with her. Not ‘doing,’ not ‘achieving.’

Coaching work felt like it was also in slow-down mode. Slowing down to be with clients going through hard times. The crypto implosion, the venture slow down, and the downturn in public markets all left many clients facing very difficult questions. While coaching in 2021 felt like supporting change aimed at scaling and opportunity, 2022 felt like supporting the very human experience of leaders facing difficulty with no desirable clear path.

In short, 2022 did not feel like a year of achievement. It felt more like a year of ‘being’ than a year of ‘doing.’ It sometimes felt like survival. Like re-tooling. Some days felt like getting by.

You are not alone if you find yourself in a similar place as you reflect on the last year.

As you think about the year ahead, your goals, your dreams, and your ambitions, it may be helpful to begin with some self-compassion for the challenges of the last year (or years!) At least for me, I am finding that helpful and necessary.

It is ok to have years of rebuilding. It is ok sometimes to play defense. It is ok to slow down to take care of your people or to respond thoughtfully to unforeseen circumstances. If you escaped 2022 without such challenges, you live on a different planet than the rest of us!

In our New Years' resolutions and annual planning, we celebrate achievement, ambition, and organization. It may also be helpful to celebrate your resiliency, thoughtfulness, or even slowness.

Wherever you find yourself, wishing you the very best this coming year.

I appreciate that you are here. If you were forwarded this email and it resonates, you can subscribe here.

Please feel free to reach out to me if I can be helpful to you in any way. Email me or DM me on Twitter. Thoughts on improving this newsletter are also always welcome!

With love from LA,

Matt