At the start of 2020, I wrote down a few concepts and ideas I wanted to think about throughout the year. Truthfully, I didn’t check back in on them at all throughout the year until close to the end (last week).

To my surprise, I’d stuck to them. Or perhaps a better explanation would be they somehow made their way into my actions.

Writing seems to do that. Thoughts get lost. But when you write them down, they become real. And even if the previous sentence is nonsense, it feels right, which is almost as good.

So I’ve decided to turn it into a tradition, starting now.

At the end of each year, I reflect on the previous years themes and ideas. See what’s changed, see if I’ve learned enough during the previous 12-months to feel embarrassed about last years thoughts (if you’re not embarrassed by who you were a year ago, you’re not learning enough).

Questions I think about and ask every year (but don’t always have answers to)

  • What if you set your current plans aside for a moment and just tried the simplest option?
  • What could you do for a whole year which might not be very important but would be very interesting?
  • How can you setup systems to take care of your most important work?

Reading these back I’ve noticed a red thread: less but better.

Rather than continually stacking up the to do list with important tasks, stop to think about the most important tasks.

Simplicity is the secret. It takes the pressure off. In truth, in beauty, in art, in doing things, simplicity is always the secret.

Themes and ideas

Themes and ideas I want to revisit throughout the year.

Gatherings and accountability. Have a friend or group of friends who you talk with straight. Cut through the bullshit and hold each other accountable. If your friend is being a sack and wasting his life, let him know (if you see fraud and don’t say fraud, you are fraud). If your friends criticise you and offer advice for how you can improve, welcome it. Your words should profit your friends rather than please them (sometimes the truth hurts).

Get together with your group of friends once per week and setup consequences if someone doesn’t adhere to gifting their talents to the world. For example, if you agree to publishing a video every week, then also agree to cook your friend dinner if you miss a week.

Build once, sell twice. Once upon a time you’d have to ration your hunt between the tribe. But the internet has given rise to a new kind of hunter-gatherer, one who can share their treasures with all. Hello there, here’s what I’ve made, would you like some? Or perhaps you’d like to know how I did it, well, I can share that with you too.

Prioritise the unseen types of equity. There’s always bigger, always more, always someone with higher view counts than you. What if you forgot about the visible metrics for a year and instead focused on the unmeasurable?

  • Process — How can you improve the systems you use? Resolutions don’t work. Habits and systems do. Share them along the way.
  • Reputation — How do you become the person for X? For example, when someone searches for X, do you appear? The beautiful thing is, the internet allows X to be whatever you choose.
  • Experience — You can fake wealth. You can’t fake skill. You can’t fake skin in the game.
  • Relationships — How many of your best opportunities have come from knowing someone? Or from someone knowing you? A real lover never takes, they only give.

Of course, none of these will show up on the stat sheet but they often result in bigger returns than anything that does.

Share the work of others. If someone does great work, share it, let others read it and benefit from it. Be the bridge between those behind you and those in front of you.

In light of this one, the previous three came from the article The Zero to One Concepts from Build Once, Sell Twice, a must read for any online hunter-gatherer in 2021.

Decision making. Favour the decision which increases freedom, energy or provides more time to create. For example, if a decision increases wealth but restricts freedom, avoid. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule but you’re smart to figure out what they look like.

Ignore the noise. Create relentlessly. Become a psycho. You’ve got to have at least a little crazy in you. Not in a sense that you become a loon but in the sense others look at what you do and think, “wow, I can’t believe he/she does that”. Let your true feelings and desires express themselves in your art. Some will call it crazy, you’ll call it a practice.

Ship sooner, ship often. Developing & launching the iPod in 2001 took 41 weeks, from the very first meeting (no prototype, no team, no design) to iPods shipping to customers. What can you build faster? Not in a rush but fast. Never underestimate the how much speed compounds. From iPod in 2001 to world’s most valuable company in 2020.

Make the whole thing. A quick way to have your ideas extinguished is to ask others what they think of them. All advice adds to zero. Forget the validation and build the whole thing instead. Once it’s out, then see if it lives.

Avoid mediocrity. One night stands. Boring work. Routine. Yuck. No sex without love, no work without inspiration, no existence without adventure.

You can can about life far less angry. Time is speeding up. Read your journal from last year. You said the year went fast. It’ll be the same next year. Where did this anger come from? Silly when you think about it... Dance instead.

Be stubborn and uncompromising. If you were a product on Amazon, aim for a 3.5 star review. Devil to some, angel to others. In the long-run, you’ll move closer to your truth.

What if you didn’t care about money for a year? Take a gap year. Sponsor yourself. Work on something where the reward is the project itself. Optimising month to month earnings is a one-way ticket to mediocrity (see above).

Increase energy at all costs. Stress is the energy suck. Metabolism, purpose, beauty and truth are the energy givers. Lower stress, increase your metabolism, tap dance toward your mission, surround yourself with beauty, speak your truth.

Resolutions

Now for some specifics, “resolutions” if you may.

These are the quaint kinds of things you could do any day. Because if you ever really want to make a change, you’d just make it.

These are the changes I’m making.

  • Absolutely no phone/technology during mealtime, toilet time, conversation time.
  • Never be late. Lateness guarantees chaos. Being early provides a chance for serendipity to occur. 30-minutes early? Good. Sit and stare into space. Imagine the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, enter the event you’re attending with the energy it gives you.

Hello there 2021, you beautiful thing. Time to get used to writing the correct year down all over again. I’ll see you back here in 51 or so weeks.