22 Lessons Learned in 2022
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Today at a Glance
- At the end of every year, I sit down and conduct an Annual Review. The format is a simple set of questions. One of those questions: What have I learned this year?
- 2022 was a uniquely transformative year of my life, so I wanted to synthesize these learnings and share them with all of you. This piece is the result: my 22 lessons learned in 2022…
- I am planning to share my full Annual Review template before year-end to help guide you through a similar exercise.
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At the end of every year, I sit down and conduct an Annual Review.
I’ve been conducting this self-reflection exercise for over 10 years—though the structure has really developed and solidified since 2020.
The goal is to zoom out to 10,000 feet and assess myself and the year that has passed. The format is a simple set of questions.
One of those questions: What have I learned this year?
I recently completed my Annual Review and was blown away by how much I felt I had absorbed in the last 12 months. It's easy to lose sight of growth and progress when you're in the trenches—zooming out is how you reclaim that perspective.
2022 was a uniquely transformative year of my life—mostly due to the arrival of our son, but also due to several professional wins and losses—so I wanted to synthesize these learnings and share them with all of you.
Today’s piece is the result: my 22 lessons learned in 2022…
#1: Hug your loved ones like it might be the last time you see them.
I was out for a walk with my son a few weeks ago and I heard a large crashing sound behind us. I turned and saw that a massive tree had fallen right onto the sidewalk that we had just walked on.
10 seconds later and that might have been it.
Life is terrifyingly random. Hold those hugs just a little bit longer. Make the other person be the one to pull away.
Hug like it might be the last time you see them. You never know when it will be.
#2: Your entire life can change with one year of focused daily effort.
Most people overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year.
If you show up every single day, there are no limits to what you can achieve.
#3: Most of your friends aren’t really your friends.
Most of the people you call your friends are really just acquaintances.
They’re just along for the ride through your life when it’s fun, convenient, or valuable to be there. They show up to the parties and celebrations—when you get the promotion, win the big game, get married, or sell your company.
But life isn't always a celebration.
Those same people disappear when you get fired, lose the game, get divorced, or your company goes bankrupt.
Your real friends are the ones who are there for you in those moments—when you have *nothing* to offer in return. You can usually count them on one hand.
#4: If you think something nice about someone, always tell them right then.
It's a shame that we often wait until a person's funeral to say all of the nice things we thought about them.
The next time you have a positive thought about someone—no matter how small or insignificant it may be—tell them right then.
Give them the flowers while they can still smell them.
It's a simple, free way to spread positivity and joy.
#5: Never think twice about investments in yourself.
Make a rule to never think twice about investments in yourself.
- Quality food
- Mental health
- Personal development
- Enriching experiences
These investments pay dividends for a long time and are almost always worth making.
Think about material purchases instead—wait 48 hours to complete an order to see if you still want it.
#6: Reading one book deeply is more impressive than reading 100 books quickly.
The numbers of books we read has become a weird adult status flex in recent years.
There was a time when I was a primary culprit—I used to humble brag about the number of books I read per year. Don't be like old me.
It's much more impressive to read one book and be deeply changed by it than to read 100 books on 5x speed and never feel a thing.
Reread the books that change you every single year. Your experience with the book will change as you do—you'll pick up new ideas. It's beautiful.
#7: Most people don't actually care about you.
The Spotlight Effect says that we overestimate the degree to which other people are noticing or observing our appearance or actions. Basically, we think people care about us WAY MORE than they actually do.
There’s a common phrase: Stop caring about what others think about you.
This goes deeper than that: Stop caring about what others think about you, because they probably aren’t even thinking about you.
I used to worry about every little thing I did, thinking that people would scrutinize or judge me. This places a huge and unnecessary drag on growth. It's quite liberating to realize that everyone is really just going through life worried about themselves.
There’s so much hidden talent out there in the world that has yet to be revealed because of fear of judgement from others. Overcoming the Spotlight Effect is the way that this talent gets unlocked.
Be yourself and live life according to your values.
#8: Regret is way more painful than failure.
One of my favorite pieces of advice I've ever received.
It led to my decision to leave the comfort of a safe path to try something different. It reminded me that the worst case of failure meant going back to the safe path—but that the worst case of regret meant missing the time sensitive opportunity forever.
It also means spending more time doing things you never regret.
A few things I never regret:
- Creative sprints
- Talking to smart friends
- Journaling for 5 min
- Time with my family
- Walks with my wife and son
- Pushing myself physically
Make your list—then spend more time on it!
#9: Never let the quest for MORE distract from the beauty of ENOUGH.
"He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature." - Socrates
The Desire Paradox: Desire leads to more achievement and more suffering. Desire is a powerful force for growth, but the quest for more often distracts from the beauty of enough.
Pursue growth, but never forget the beauty in simplicity.
#10: Learn to enjoy being wrong.
The most successful people legitimately enjoy being wrong.
They’ve learned to embrace new information that forces a change in viewpoint—they think of this as a "software update" to improve upon the old.
Always value finding the truth over being right.
Retrain your mind to embrace new information that forces a change in viewpoint.
#11: Walking more will change your life.
Walking has a long list of scientifically-proven physical and mental benefits. It is an easy, free habit to level up your entire life.
There is no life block strong enough to outlast the power of a 30-min walk in nature.
#12: Your habits put you in a position where luck is more likely to strike.
Much of what we call "luck" is the macro result of 1,000s of micro actions.
It is possible to engineer your own serendipity.
The Luck Razor: When choosing between two paths, choose the path that has a larger luck surface area.
#13: Attach your definition of success to things that are within your control.
A meta-analysis of 105 studies and 70,000 people around the world just concluded that valuing extrinsic over intrinsic goals predicts lower overall well-being.
Pursue progress and growth, not some arbitrary definition of success that is outside your control.
#14: Focusing on process over prize leads to more and better prizes.
You’ll never make it if the view at the summit is the only thing motivating you to keep climbing.
The hunt has to be just as exciting as the meal at the end.
Prioritize process, not outcomes. Lay one brick each day—and lay each new brick 1% better than the last one.
Fall in love with the process and you start winning more and better prizes.
#15: Glorify the right things.
What I used to glorify:
- No sleep
- 100-hour workweeks
- Busy schedules
- Fancy titles and credentials
What I now glorify:
- Sleeping 8 hours
- Regular physical activity
- Unstructured schedules with free time
- Working in short, creative sprints
- Spending time with family and friends
The realization: Freedom and control over your time is the one true status symbol. Success is meaningless if it doesn’t provide that freedom and control.
#16: No is a powerful word.
In Phase I of your career, I believe you should say yes to almost everything. Saying yes puts you into new and uncomfortable situations that force you to grow.
In Phase II of your career, I believe you should say no to almost everything. Saying no allows you to focus & build leverage that compounds.
I'm finally realizing that I'm in Phase II: Take on less, achieve more.
#17: Adopt an abundance mindset.
Zero sum thinkers are the worst. The scarcity mindset is contagious.
Jealousy, fear, and envy are self-limiting behaviors of this mindset.
Lean into abundance and you'll open up to new people, opportunities, and growth. A rising tide lifts all boats.
#18: If someone tries to put down your accomplishments or make you feel small, cut them out of your life.
As you continue to progress, there will be people who—intentionally or unintentionally—try to hold you back. They tell you to come back home. They tell you to be realistic. They laugh at your ambition.
These people are boat anchors.
Distance yourself from anyone who spends time bringing others down or dismissing their achievements. Eliminate them from your life.
Celebrate everyone’s wins and you’ll start winning more.
#19: We all need more intellectual sparring partners.
Most of us need fewer friends and more intellectual sparring partners.
Friends are easy to come by. Intellectual sparring partners are harder to find.
They will call you on your BS, question your assumptions, and push you to think deeply. They force you to level up.
Find yours—cherish them.
#20: If you want to improve at anything, do it for 30 minutes per day for 30 straight days.
I call this my 30-for-30 approach:
- 30 straight days
- 30 minutes per day
30 days is a real commitment, but 30 minutes each day is small enough to mentally take it on.
900 minutes of accumulated effort yields surprisingly significant results.
#21: Never take advice from people on the sidelines.
It's easy to stand on the sidelines.
It's hard to stand in the arena. It's scary to put yourself out there—it's dark and lonely at times.
When you're in the arena, never take advice from the people on the sidelines who don't understand what it's like to be out there.
#22: You don’t need to have an opinion on everything.
It's perfectly reasonable to have no opinion on something that you haven't researched or don't understand.
"I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do." - Charlie Munger
Rule of thumb: Opinions are earned. If you can't state state the opposition's argument clearly, it’s ok to say you haven't earned an opinion.
There you have it—my 22 lessons learned in 2022!
I hope you found some value in this distillation. More importantly, I hope it sparks you to sit down and conduct your own.
2022 was full of learnings. Let's hope 2023 provides even more!
One final bonus lesson learned:
Find your tribe and love them with every ounce of your being.
From me and mine to you and yours. Happy Holidays!