Year’s End


If you look at your past and are not embarrassed by who you were a year ago, you probably haven’t grown.

For four years now I’ve been taking two weeks or so at the end of December to take a good look at how the year went.

Following Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review Template, I start by asking two questions:

“What went well this year?”

“What didn’t go well this year?”

Answers to these questions, some of which I will share here, make me grateful once more, and sometimes, to see events that, at the time, didn’t seem like blessings, but which later on, turned out to be catalysts for positive change. Looking at what didn’t go so well would help me avoid making the same mistakes in the future, or perhaps adjusting my goals.

After this, I set seven to eight goals for the new year under the following categories:

1) Legacy Work – the most time-consuming, legacy work involves knowing what you want to do with your life, basically what your purpose is for being on this planet. This is the important work that I want to accomplish before my time is up, the work that I would do regardless of pay or acclaim. It is the Great Work that I want to be remembered for. Sometimes I call it The Work For Which All Other Shortcomings Will Be Forgiven.

2) Finances – my goals are divided into earning, saving, and giving. How much do I want to make each month? Each year? How much do I want to have saved or invested in stocks, properties, and other value-generating assets? And how much do I want to give to charities, foundations, and to the poor and hungry?

3) Interpersonal – this category is divided into family, friends, partners, colleagues. How do I want to improve the quality of my relationships with my parents, siblings, a significant other, children, or people I work with? Do I want to broaden my social circles, interact more with people whom I admire or respect, or to improve my social skills? Is there something in my personality or behaviour that I should change in order to become a better partner, family member, co-worker? This could involve initiating social events like trips, hosting get togethers, themed parties, and so on.

4) Health – everyone wants to be healthy, it saves you money, you feel good, and you look good, and hopefully, live to a ripe old age–or at least die of natural causes. It could be to lose or gain weight, to be able to run or swim a certain distance, join a race or competition, to overcome a chronic illness like diabetes or hypertension, or just to eat better and take care of your body more, which in the end, will pay off in dividends.

5) Luxury – how do you want to treat yourself this year? It could be travel, gadgets, clothes, cars, food, art and culture, properties, whatever suits your fancy. Now’s the time to think big.

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Learning To Live With Others


It’s been sixteen days so far–two weeks–and just yesterday I’ve already pissed off one of my flatmates. Twice.

Here’s how it went:

There wasn’t anything incriminating in the photos. But I understood (now more than ever before) how photographs are personal property, and are extremely private. We have since made up and things were cool between us. For a few days.

The second incident happened a few days later at the university.

Hobgoblin font by David Kherkoff (

On both instances I had crossed an invisible line, one that many people can see, and which I, for some reason, am at times, painfully blind to. On both instances, I had invaded Masha’s right to privacy. First, by looking through her photos, and second, by looking through her bag. She was right to be pissed off at me.

I’ve made it up to her since then (a story for another day), but the two incidents made me think about how my notions regarding privacy and boundaries are not only woefully inadequate, not to mention very different from others, but also how growing up, the right to privacy was not something that was fiercely upheld in my home. It’s no secret among my friends back home that I tend to disregard other people’s property, especially when it comes to food.

In the Spanish Apartment–as I’ve taken to calling our flat–it’s more than just ownership. It’s about trust. And it is essential if we are to survive the next nine months. There are no locks on any of the doors for one thing. Not even the bathrooms. But this doesn’t seem to concern any of my flatmates, who have clear notions about privacy. I actually made signs for the bathroom doors–but for the most part, we haven’t really needed them.

My cardboard bed came in handy
Yes, I made them in Spanish, but believe me, my Spanish sucks.

As reality TV has so gleefully proven, bringing complete strangers under one roof for an extended period of time oftentimes results in conflict. In my case, not only am I living with four other people whom I’ve never met before, they are from different cultures and backgrounds as well.

For this reason, I thought it would be good to write down some guidelines on Living With Others (Harmoniously).

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