January 16, 2011

2010 Annual Review

Pass through New Years and you hit the season of resolutions, goals, hopes and dreams. In some years I've made goals long into the night and other years made none at all. Some years had days scheduled in 15-minute increments and more recently months without much scheduling much at all. I've read great books about goal-free living and other great books about being highly effective, some on simplifying and others on dream-lining. I suppose you can find just about any opinion on the subject and testimonials for each of them saying that they work great.

Right now, however, I am partial to the simplified route: a short look back at this past year, what went well and what didn't, a couple dreams I can count on one hand and a few steps on how I want to get there. I'll share my answers in case they are helpful as you think about your upcoming year, I really hope it is the best year of your life no matter who or where you are.


This was a very exciting year in my work with Peace Corps. Several incredible projects developed throughout the year including Peace Corps Merit Badges (bringing in thousands of dollars to wonderful elderly women in our local Mongolian village), the Sukhbaatar Social Business Community Fund (helping families throughout our province help each other out of poverty), the Sports Complex for Kids (now serving thousands of children), and several others. It was also a great year with my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers, we attended summer camp training and later an improved summer camp in our province, a great close of service conference, and a wonderful last summer together. 

In the fall I began my third year in Peace Corps and my first year as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader here in Mongolia. I moved to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, started work with the World Health Organization and after four years finally published my first book. I helped organize several great conferences and trainings within Peace Corps, wrote a few articles,  finished applying to the Fulbright program and even had a chance to visit America with Tunga over the holidays to see family and friends during a wonderful six-week vacation.


Mostly my health, including exercise and eating well. I didn't spend nearly enough time meditating, lifting weights, eating healthy food at home and cooking on a regular basis. Although this improved some when I moved to the capital, Thanksgiving and Christmas undone anything I had going for me! I definitely need to work on that this upcoming year.


I would like to focus on five areas this year: Health, Relationships, Projects, Legacy, and Writing.

Health represents my overall health: sleep, fitness, nutrition, meditation, spirituality. I fell behind on this last year and I want to make it a daily priority - keeping myself physically strong and mentally awake. I want to eat and prepare my meals at home six days a week, do push ups and meditate every day, get plenty of sleep and wake up early everyday.

Relationships include my family, friends, and all the incredible people I feel so lucky to know. I want to schedule my time with people that I love, even though I am far away from them in most cases. It's easier than ever before to talk on the phone, video conference, send thank you notes, emails and much more. It's important that I make a strong effort to do those things on a regular basis. I want to support them, have fun together, share stories with each other spend time with people around me, doing things like telling Jack Tales to Tunga and Jonathan, listening to their dreams and goals, and supporting them however I can.

Projects will include ongoing projects, but I would also like to expand into more joint projects and coordination with the World Health Organization and our incredible Peace Corps Volunteers serving throughout Mongolia. We have lots of great health projects in the works, including a lot of hospital and preventative health activities like meditation, and I'm excited to support those this year.

Legacy is my big idea, the thing I want to do before I die. It's a social movement I call Advance Humanity and it's founded on the idea that we can change ourselves and change the world together. I write about it here on the blog and also at AdvanceHumanity.com. Right now it involves several dozens projects,  a few inspirations, resources and lots of incredible people. I'm excited to continue developing the idea this year and you can join us anytime.

Writing revolves mostly around three things: my blog (I'd like to write 100+ blog entries this year), the Unofficial Handbook (updated second edition released this fall), and the Life is Volunteer book (released this winter). I love writing and I try to do it whenever I can - early morning, late at night, and in the place of other activities like television, games and so on. It's been very rewarding so far and I bet this year will be even better. I also love to read things that support what I like to write, like ZenHabits, the Art of Nonconformity, and great books.

Recommendations - I obviously recommend writing your dreams down (so you are more likely to accomplish them) and I recommend sharing them with others (for support, encouragement and accountability). I also suggest making them self-reliant so you don't wait on others to make your dreams a reality. And don't worry if they change, of course they will. Also, I like to use 43Things.com where I can keep track of how I am doing on things. You might like it too.


I also have a theme and one-paragraph statement for the year. This is the summary of the whole year – what’s it going to look like? Who will I be for the next year?

I started doing this four years ago, after reading Goal-Free Living. Here are the themes I’ve chosen for myself:

Year of Discovery (2007) - When I graduated from college, applied to Peace Corps and prepared for discovering new things about the world and myself. Mark Twain's quote really inspired me.

Year of Endeavor (2008) - When I left for Peace Corps and began living and working in Mongolia as a health volunteer. I wanted to see the whole year and every day as an adventure.

Year of Advance Humanity (2009) - When I began deciding what this idea was all about, how I wanted to share it with others and how they could join in the effort.

Year of Greatness (2010) - When I wanted to define greatness for myself and my life. (I wrote in the theme statement, "This year I want to live my greatest life in the greatest service to others.")

I have decided I want 2011 to be a Year of Reflection. As I finish my time with the Peace Corps here in Mongolia I have a lot to look back on and a lot I want to write about. I also want to make meditation a more regular part of my life, pausing throughout the day to practice and not rush through life too much. I often feel like I take in lots of experiences only half-way, hopefully I can slow down a little and experience them more deeply whether they be a conversation, a visit, a book, or just time being with others.

Thank you for being part of this past year! It's really been wonderful and I feel very grateful to everyone who has been a part of it.

I hope 2011 is one of the best years you've ever had!

What is your theme for 2011? What are you most looking forward to?

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