2016 Annual Review: Let’s Look Forward to Big New Things!

In this (very abbreviated) Annual Review series…

I’ve never really had writer’s block. I think it was Seth Godin who said something about how writing is the only profession where it’s acceptable to stop working because you can’t be “creative.” There’s no such thing as nurse’s block, for example.

But … for much longer than usual, I didn’t know what to say about my review this year! I really didn’t.

One thing I know is that it’s important to pay attention to how things make you feel. If you look forward to something, that fact gives you some information about yourself. If you dread something, or even if you just don’t feel that excited about it, that gives you more information.

So when I said in the previous post that I’m looking forward to something big in 2017, it really is an all-consuming thing for me. I focused almost all my review time on it, so I don’t have a lot to say about 2016 itself.

Looking Forward to 2017: Intention and Narrative

Instead of picking a single word for a theme, this year I went with a short statement of intention:

Intention: be somewhat well, do not lose every battle in my life, crush the new project with daily focus.

That may not make sense to you, but that’s okay—I wrote it for myself. Your theme of the year, or narrative, or however you decide to define it, doesn’t need to make sense to anyone other than yourself.

I also wrote a few other notes under “main professional objective”:

Clear space to focus on the new project and give it a real chance to succeed. Love the work and be responsible for my circle of influence while being less envious of others’ success or perceived success. Best case scenario would be a sustainable long-term model, but that is not entirely within my control so I must love the work either way.

Again, this may not be completely intelligible to you; I’m just sharing my personal notes since that’s what I’ve done in some fashion for nearly ten years.

Next, speaking of personal notes, I wrote this narrative as I began to think about more specific goals:

This will be my final full year of my third decade. I feel terrified. How can I be open to space and possibility and something new? How can I better care for myself and gain more self-awareness? How can I care more for others? How can I be less anxious?

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so uncertain, but fortunately, this is at least compensated by the clear, daily focus of building something specific. The habit is not the purpose, but the habit may help keep me grounded.

A Few Goals

In years past I’ve created more than 30 different goals in about a dozen categories. This year I modified it to focus on the main project, but I still made a number of different goals. Here’s a selection.

Oh, and one quick disclaimer: I can’t say what the “main project” is just yet. But I will soon, I promise!


  • Write and produce the Big New Project every single day for 365 days in a row
  • Launch new “Society” program and build to sustainable level
  • Introduce and test new workshop model in 4-6 cities. If it proves sustainable, do it in at least 15 more cities
  • Publish next book (#5!) in September
  • Minimum 30-city tour in the fall (optional bonus goal: 100-city tour!)


  • Host WDS 2017 for at least 1,500 people
  • Refocus our vision on social justice and addressing issues of inequality and inequity


  • For the first time in 8 years, the blog becomes deemphasized in importance as I focus on the Big New Project
  • “No” is increasingly a default answer to projects and requests as I focus on what I’ve already identified


  • Requalify for American Airlines Executive Platinum, Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75k, and Starwood Platinum
  • Regular domestic + international travel throughout the year (no other real goals since travel supports my life instead of the other way around)


  • Be a good friend and continue being available however possible
  • Continue treatment plan of therapy and medication
  • Continue regular exercise and general healthy living (like travel, I don’t have any major exercise goals, but it will remain a regular part of my life)


2017, Here We Come!

I’m eager to get to work!

In a post next week (soon!) I’ll tell you about the Big New Project. I don’t mean to be a tease—there’s no pre-launch, no hype, and nothing will be for sale—it’s just that I’ve been working on it for nearly six months, and I want to begin everything fresh. I’m excited to tell you as soon as I’m able!

I also know that some of us have felt that 2016 can’t end soon enough. For me, I’m trying to shift from feeling negative to building something positive for the future. I’m also focusing on what I have influence over instead of falling into despair over what I don’t.

As you come to the end of your year, how do you feel? Did you complete a review, either a modified one like mine or a more complete one like we’ve done before?

Thank you again, dear friend, for reading The Art of Non-Conformity and being part of my life. Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, and “happy everything” to you. The best is yet to come… maybe even in 2017.


Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8


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