Planning for Your Best Year

2022 Review + 2023 Planning

Hey there my friend 👋 , Justin here and welcome to Just Go Grind, a newsletter for the ambitious (Just Go Grind is also a podcast and community for early-stage founders). Thank you to the 519 of you who are with me for this first edition of the newsletter, if you aren't subscribed, and want to join them, please subscribe below:

Hey Friends, 

Welcome to the first edition of Just Go Grind!

I'm excited to have you here on this journey with me 😊 

This is a newsletter I've wanted to start for months and have played with different iterations in the past. 

When ideas for projects continue to stick around, it's a good idea to start them.

So here we are.

Candidly, I'm going rogue with this project. That's part of the fun in starting your own thing - there are no rules. This is an experiment.

Some editions of this newsletter will come out on Sundays. Some won't. 

Some editions will be long. Some won't. 

But they'll all be valuable. 

That's the goal.

This first edition has two parts, focused on:

  1. Reviewing the current year

  2. Planning for the next year

Let's get to it. 

Reviewing the Current Year

Stepping back to review how the year went is important, but also, if you're as nostalgic as I am, it can be good fun. 

I recently finished my performance review for my second year at VITALIZE and left it even more energized than before. That's part of the magic of looking back on the year - it sets you up for an even better year moving forward.  

Dr. Julie Gurner, an executive performance coach and one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter, makes a great analogy for how to approach reviewing the year:

As a former college athlete, this analogy clicks for me. 

Ok, so how should you review the year?

Let's quickly look at a few options:

  • The Past Year Review by Tim Ferriss. This is my go-to starting point for its simplicity. Essentially, you look back at every week of the year in your calendar, find the positive and negative people and activities, do more of the positives, and less of the negatives. It's great from a make-my-life-better perspective and fun to see all your memories from the previous year. I also love its simplicity.

  • David Perell's Annual Review format. This includes highlights of the year, a reflection on all your goals for the year, and plans for your new goals for the next year. I've done this previously and enjoyed the process, but it does take a good amount of time.

  • The Ultimate Annual Review from Steve Schlafman. 15,000+ people have completed this review since 2018 and I can see why. It'll take you somewhere around 5-10 hours, but give you a clear picture of your year and what's next, digging into your past experience and setting intentions for the new year.

Regardless of how you choose to perform your annual review here's what I think is most important - doing the damn review

Set aside some time, reflect, and get an accurate picture of how your year went.

I've found it most helpful to look at a few categories for both my review and for planning the next year:

  • Health

  • Money

  • Relationships

  • Passion

Keeping things simple works for me. You'll find what works for you.

Now let's plan for the next year. 

Planning for the Next Year

In the video below by Casey Neistat, the OG YouTube vlogger with more than 3 BILLION views, he says a quote I've thought about often since:

"Without a goal, you can't score."

A lot had been written about goal-setting so I don't need to belabor that here, but what I've found most helpful with goal-setting is to keep things simple. 

I'd rather choose 2, 3, or maybe 4 very impactful goals and focus on those, rather than 15 goals I know I'll never get to. 

Less is more. 

Goals also allow you to look back and see your progress over the years, something I've found particularly beneficial. 

Ruben Harris, Co-Founder & CEO of Career Karma, a company that's raised $50M+ in venture capital, with a goal of helping more than a billion people by 2030, gives us a great example of this with his 2016 goals:

While goals give us direction, they're just the starting point. 

Habits and systems get us to our destination.

James Clear wrote about this beautifully in an excerpt from his book, Atomic Habits, with one line I particularly enjoyed: "Winners and losers have the same goals."

So true. 

Many ambitious people have the same goals. We want to get to the top. 

In planning for the new year, a question emerges: "What habits and systems do we need to put in place for us to achieve our goals?"

For me, that means owning my calendar (i.e. saying "no" and blocking out time for deep work) and implementing systems around creating content and growth for the many projects I'm working on. This can be a challenge, given I'm both a manager and a maker. 

Paul Graham, Co-Founder of Y Combinator, in his famous Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule essay, outlined this very problem:

I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there's sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I'm slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning. I know this may sound oversensitive, but if you're a maker, think of your own case. Don't your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don't. And ambitious projects are by definition close to the limits of your capacity. A small decrease in morale is enough to kill them off.

Paul Graham

One solution is to have days for making, with long blocks of uninterrupted time, and days for managing, with meetings and podcast interviews. 

It may seem small, but it's fundamental for me to have productive days and a great year. Managing your energy is underrated. 

You may find the same in planning for your year. 

So much of having a great year professionally is in choosing the right direction and optimizing your days. 

But let's take a step back before we end this first edition.

Planning your year isn't just about professional accomplishments.

It's also about taking care of your health and maintaining and building relationships. 

Easy to say, harder to do. 

For me, having an overarching health goal for the year, like running 1,000 miles in 2022, and then focusing on the weekly progress needed each week to make that happen, is something I've found helpful. Add in runs with friends like Sam, the incredible founder of Well Traveled, and I'm killing two birds with one stone. 

As a former personal trainer, I'd tell my clients to find the activities they enjoy the most (or hate the least) and start incorporating more of those into their week while making small nutritional adjustments along the way. More on that in another newsletter 😜 

Regarding relationships, romantic and platonic, it's challenging to plan for this in the new year, but not completely out of your control.

You can set an intention for what you want regarding relationships, then focus on what you can control - putting yourself out there, going on dates, calling friends, and making time for the people you care about most. 

If it's a priority, you'll make time for it. 

Thanks for reading this first edition! I hope you kick ass in the new year. If you found this newsletter valuable, please consider subscribing and sharing it with a friend 😊 

Best, 

Justin

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