Annual Reflections, Soul, and Carpe Diem

Jan 2021 - Evergreen Thoughts

What’s on my mind…


Annual Reflection & Planning

Several years ago I stumbled upon Michael Karnjanaprakorn’s How to Plan Your Ideal Year. It inspired me to set goals across life buckets and to reflect on how things are going regularly. It has done wonders to my productivity, happiness, and peace of mind.

For anyone hoping to make the most out of 2021, consider trying it out. Below are additional resources you can try that have shaped my planning and reflection process:

If you want to try something, but don’t want to read through all those links, my recommendation is to start with a 2020 reflection. Some questions to get you started:

  • What were your top 3 highlights? Lowlights?

  • What are you most proud of personally and professionally?

  • What do you wish you accomplished but didn’t?

  • What are you most thankful for?

  • How would you describe your year in 3 words?

It’s helpful to scan you calendar, photos, social media and work related plans/reviews before attempting to answer these questions. It’s amazing how quickly we can forget stuff (both good and bad).

Additionally, I enjoy listing my favorites across different categories. Pick whatever makes sense for you. This year I listed my top 5 favorite: 📚 books, 📺 non-book content (movies, TV shows, articles), 🚗 trips, 🎭 live events (a lot of Jan/Feb memories…), 🤵 life events (big birthdays, weddings, etc.), 💬 quotes, 🧠 lessons learned, and 🛍 purchases.

If you need some inspiration, here’s a list of 50+ 2019 annual reviews.



Pixar’s Soul was fantastic: beautiful storytelling, out of this world animations, and an A+ soundtrack. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

I was so inspired that I decided to make Soul my guiding theme for 2021 (part of my planning process). Here are some of the specific ideas from the movie, and Jazz in general, I’d like to keep in mind:

  • 💪 Carpe Diem: Seize the day. Enjoy the little things.

  • 🛠 Learn by Doing: Don’t get stuck in theory. Rather, like a Jazz musician, learn and grow through real world trial and error.

  • 🌊 Find Flow: Do more of what energizes me (building stuff, playing the piano, reading, meaningful convos, helping others).

  • 🎷 Improvise: Don't be afraid to improvise. Have faith in my intuition and free flowing mindset.

  • 👻 Don't be a Lost Soul: Make sure my obsessions don't disconnect me from life.

  • 🎹 Learn Jazz: Continue to learn how to play the piano, particularly Jazz.

Here are a couple of my favorite 2020 quotes that are related to learning by doing:

“It is much easier to notice when something is working than to predict ahead of time if it will work. Take action, make many small bets, and run lots of quick (but thoughtful) experiments. Then, double-down on the winners.” — James Clear

"Working on a problem reduces the fear of it. It’s hard to fear a problem when you are making progress on it—even if progress is imperfect and slow. Action relieves anxiety." — James Clear

"To accelerate your progress on any given goal, you either need to... Spend less time thinking/preparing and focus more on DOING or slow down on execution and spend more time PLANNING to make sure you're working on the right thing. Where do you bias toward?" — Julie Zhou

As those who know me are aware, my bias leans heavily towards planning. It’s time to change that. Less planning, more doing. And yes, I get the irony of this following a section all about annual reflections and planning 😛.


Seize the Day

One of my favorite parts of Soul is its message to recognize the beauty of everyday life and not get lost in the achievement rat race. It reminded me of Pattern’s terrific Guide to Daily Enjoyment. It contains 10 simple recommendations to help you enjoy daily life. Without further ado:

  • 🛏 Begin the day by making your bed.

  • 📱 Each morning, do something before checking your phone.

  • 🌳 Try to get fresh air throughout the day.

  • ☝️ Do one thing at a time.

  • 🧠 Let your mind wander.

  • 🍳 Take control of your leisure time.

  • 🤹‍♂️ Embrace mediocrity.

  • ❤️ Spend time with friends and loved ones.

  • 🦥 Wind down before bed.

  • 😴 Get a good night’s rest.

If you like what you see, the original source includes commentary for each recommendation. Now go on and enjoy your day.

If you like what you read, consider sharing it with a friend.

🎊 Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021.