My Annual Review 2020
In last week’s issue, we talked about the most important thing I do each year – the Annual Review. I gave you some journalling prompts to kickstart your own annual review. In this issue, I’ll share some of my answers in case you might find that interesting.
If you had to teach one thing you learnt this year (that would improve one’s quality of life) what would that be?
The power of accountability. I’ve hired lots of coaches this year, for various things. Most of their value comes from making the space to discuss something with someone for an extended period of time. Eg: when it comes to my performance coach, most of the value in the sessions with him is just in the fact that we’re talking about my life, and he’s asking probing questions for an hour every 2 weeks.
For people who have money, coaches are a total no-brainer. For people who don’t have money, you can probably get a similar value-add out of getting together with a dedicated friend once a week to talk through your struggles and challenges that week.
What kept you up at night with excitement this year? Was it worth it? Would you want to do more of it?
Two, both of which were work-related.
1 – Part-Time YouTuber Academy. From idea to execution it was just a few weeks, but in that time, I had lots of phone calls with people who run cohort-based courses, and became really excited by the possibility of making this one really great. At times I’d stay up planning lessons in my head, trying to make it as good as possible. At other times, I’d stay up thinking about the ecosystem of products that we could create around the Academy. This was super fun. Probably not good to stay awake with excitement in general, but it was nice in small doses.
2 – Team-based stuff – Through reading books like The Making of a Manager and Who Not How, I got excited by the idea of systemising and processifying various business stuff. Imagining handing off project management of various things to team members made me realise that the business can grow and thrive without that growth being necessarily tied to me giving up more of my time.
How did you have fun differently in 2020?
I bought a PS4 a few weeks into lockdown, and later a PS5 when it came out. I realised that playing video games is quite fun, although not as fulfilling as doing other things like music, working on the business etc.
I realised the incredible power of listening to audiobooks while playing playstation. This felt like peak pleasure stacking – playing Demons Souls on PS5 while listening to Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson.
I also discovered, for the first time this year, the power of listening to audiobooks at speed multiples. Since 2017, I’ve been listening to fantasy audiobooks, but always at 1x speed. By switching it up to 1.5 – 2.5x speed, I got through a load of books a lot faster, and didn’t enjoy them any less.
Listening at 2.5x speed helped me get through the slower books in the Wheel of Time series. When things started to get epic, I’d switch to 1.5x. I think this is how I’ll enjoy audiobooks from now on.
How did you suffer differently in 2020?
It would be hard to call this ‘suffering’. But I suppose, 2020 was the first time I really experienced working with a tough / hostile colleague. It was one of the senior doctors at work who I didn’t have a great relationship with. We got off on the wrong foot, and I got the impression that he thought of me as being incompetent / a fraud in various ways. Therefore, he’d take a critical eye to almost everything I’d do, and I’d have a sense of anxiety when asking him about patients I’d seen. The other senior doctors were a lot nicer to work with – even when giving critical feedback, they’d do it in a ‘nice’ way that didn’t make me feel awful.
It feels very strange to write this, because I really don’t want to give the impression (or even internally think) that he was “out to get me”. There are a dozen other ways of framing the situation. Most likely, he was just a no-bs sort of person, who believed in speaking directly rather than mincing his words. This, combined with a more-prone-to-stress attitude meant that some of his juniors would feel scared / anxious about asking him things. In reality, it was probably nothing to do with me directly.
What things did you stop caring about in 2020?
When it comes to relationships (particularly romantic ones), I used to be concerned that I wasn’t much of a multi-player kinda guy. In that, my ideal relationship (I think) would be one where we did our own thing 90% of the time, and hung out / did stuff together 10% of the time. I’ve become more accepting of this as a facet of my personality, and really can’t imagine being with someone who I’d feel so strongly about so as to want to spend proportionally more time with them.
To some extent, I wonder if this is (a) a failure of imagination on my part, or (b) if it’s just that I haven’t met ‘the right person’ with whom I’d happily spend large amounts of time with doing stuff together. But realistically, I think in large part, this is ‘just who I am’. And therefore, even if I met someone who I felt super strongly about (initially), I imagine we’d still end up in the situation where we’re doing our own thing 90% of the time, and hanging out 10% of the time. I guess this is something useful to know about myself, so that potential romantic prospects know what they’re getting into.
I’ve run this theory past a few female friends. Some of them said “yeah that makes sense, I’ve got / would like that kinda vibe with my partner anyway”. Others have said “I can’t imagine being happy in a relationship where that’s the dynamic”. Which makes sense.
So given that the question is ‘what things did you stop caring about in 2020’, I guess my answer is that I’ve stopped ‘caring’ about whether it’s ‘weird’ for me to be a mostly single-player kinda guy. It is what it is 🙂
What new thing did you spend a lot of time on in 2020?
Watching TV. Unsurprisingly, as soon as my housemate and I got a TV, we started watching more TV. We now watch an episode of something like Schitt’s Creek with lunch, and often another with dinner. We’ll even occasionally watch random movies. She likes to have them on in the background while doing work, which is obviously suboptimal and distracting, but it works for her. And on days where I’m half-arsing work anyway, I tell myself ‘it’s fine, I’ll just semi work and semi watch Harry Potter in the background’. Inevitably, I end up just watching the film and screwing work. This isn’t really bad… if I actually wanted to get work done, I’d just do it. But the TV is one of those distracting influences that probably reveals what I actually want.
So those were some of my answers. However much time and effort you put into these, I think it’s worth doing an Annual Review in some capacity, even if it’s just a 5-minute job.
Have a great week, and I’ll see you in the New Year!
This week’s Podcast
In this episode, we discuss the highlights of the podcast from 2020, Ali shares some of the advice he’s received about how to be better with women, and we try and figure out how to create a members community for listeners of the podcast.
My Favourite things
1 – Book – I really enjoyed Oversubscribed by Daniel Priestley, a book about how to build and grow a business that customers love. It’s now become my most highlighted book of all time with 269 highlights!. In second place is Happy by Derren Brown with 231, and in third place is Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans with 126.
2 – Audiobook – I’ve started listening to The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, on the recommendation of my friend Cliff Weitzman. It’s my first time reading a historical fiction novel – it’s excellent so far, and I can’t wait to dive into more of it.
Quote of the Week
Finite games can be played within an infinite game, but an infinite game cannot be played within a finite game. Infinite players regard their wins and losses in whatever finite games they play as but moments in continuing play.
Tweet of the Week
u ever catch yourself in a mirror and think damnnnnn 🥰
— Ali Abdaal (@AliAbdaal) December 27, 2020