And what you can do instead
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed that we’re six weeks away from 2023 and the holiday shitshow is kicking your ass, consider just…not.
Not doing an annual review on your life like it’s a workplan you haven’t updated in six months.
Not putting your life into schedules, calendars, to do lists and goalsetting exercises.
Not building yet another vision board or writing yet another mission statement or doing yet another ikigai exercise that shows you all the ways you’ll never make enough money to live doing something you actually give a fuck about.
Consider just walking away from the relentless pressure to treat your entire human existence on this magical planet, surrounded by wonders, as a long slog through offices you don’t like with people you don’t like doing things you don’t like for the sake of something called a career.
Your life is not a job. Your life should not be governed by KPIs.
And if you haven’t figured out by now that five-year plans only work when society is not on the brink of collapse, please, hon, take a look around.
What’s the point in planning it all out when all the things you can’t control — inflation, economics, war, climate, social unrest — are determining whether or not you meet those goals?
Don’t get me wrong — I used to do this all the time. I had an entire system, because of course I did.
But one year I realized: every time I do these things, all I do is highlight my own lack of control over my economic security — and my economic security drives my capacity to do everything.
None of the things I love, or feel passion for, or want to bring to the world actually make much money at all. Looking at that fact objectively every year just made me feel behind, unworthy, ashamed that I couldn’t find a way to make it even though the entire system is literally built to keep it that way.
If you, like me, aren’t independently wealthy and find that looking inward to see all the things you’d love to do just breaks your heart because you have to go work instead to pay bills that keep rising, maybe you’ll consider this instead.
Do an anti-annual review. This means that you forget about your accomplishments, your retrospectives, your ikigai planning, and your weight-loss plans. You set a boundary against forcing your entire life into business metrics. You say no to the pressure they want you to put on yourself. You say hell no to continuous improvement. You do this because none of those things actually work anymore in these economies. You do this because it sets you free.
Instead, you can do other useful end-of-year things.
You can clean out your stuff and give what you don’t need to others. You can adopt a kid in your local shelter and give them a holiday they won’t have otherwise, instead of worrying about how behind you are in some made-up narrative about what life and hard work are supposed to look like.
You can be soft. You can rest. You can sleep, nap, eat the calories you actually need. You can curl up in a blanket with your toes touching your kid’s and read them a story. You can make cookies. You can do art.
You can list out all the things you did this year that you loved, and be grateful for them. You can write thank you letters to people who brought you joy, made you laugh, or restored your faith in humanity for a second. You can have sex with your spouse or partner just because you made time to do it and you love them and you know it will make you both happy.
If you absolutely must feel like you’re setting some kind of intention, because it helps you focus on what’s most important, try writing down only six words. Here are mine for 2022:
Whatever you do to wrap up this year and bring it to a close, whether you take my advice or not, I hope you give yourself some grace.
The world is a hard place to be. You aren’t alone in the struggle to make ends meet, feel worthy, get to where you want to go. You aren’t alone in feeling that terrifying emptiness inside that we think will be filled with more plans, more goals, more task managers and scheduling tools.
Give yourself the gift of letting go of the pressure you put on yourself.