Hat-tip to Holly Tse for organizing this interview!
Holly Tse: We have another question here from Charles. He’s asking, “Can you comment on the benefit you’ve made by preparing yearly digests of your blog in PDF format and printing out your blog?” He says he always enjoys reading your annual review of your life.
Sacha Chua: Awww… So I started keeping a paper backup of my blog after my mom inspired me, because she started printing out my stuff too. Also, it’s kinda fun to flip through what you’ve actually written. We don’t have any visuals now, but I’ve got this thick binder that’s maybe 3-4″ thick, double-sided printed paper with two columns printed on it, and all of that stuff… I’ve been writing for a while. You don’t have to write that much. It’s okay. But it is fun being able to look at it. Every year – sometimes twice a year, since I tend to do one around my birthday and I tend to do one around the Christmas/New Year holidays too – I look back at what I’ve done over the past 12 months, where I wanted to be by the time I would’ve done my review, and I match things up. What did I learn?
When I was doing my most recent review – when I turned 28 – I flipped back through my blog posts in August 2010, and I started just reading forward. As I went through things, I was, like, “Oh yeah, this was the year that we disassembled the washing machine and managed to successfully put it back together!” Yes. We had to do that to get the 27″ machine down a 26″ hallway or something like that. Anyway. It was quite an adventure, and the blog post is on my blog, of course. Little things like that, that I might otherwise be really fuzzy about remembering (“Oh yeah, we did this some time ago, but I don’t really know when”)… It was there, in my blog, and it reminded me about other things. Reading about all these things reminded me about things I hadn’t written down, but which has happened anyway. It’s like being able to take a step back and bring up all those different feelings and ideas and memories. It’s a fantastic thing, and I would never have thought that I’d enjoy writing that much.
Yearly digests. Even if you really just stop, look at what you’ve done, celebrate all these memories… See what you’ve learned that you can share with other people. Then think, okay, what do I want the next year to look like? What are some of the ideas here that I want to build on?
I’ve actually moved away from having bucket list sorts of goals. You know how people make lists: I want to climb Mount Everest, I want to dive in the Great Barrier Reef, I want to eat at a 5-star restaurant… I started feeling like that was like how people collect stuff, except this is collecting experiences. It’s cool for people who do that, but after lots of reflection (also on my blog), I decided it wasn’t really for me at this stage. In terms of saying, “What are the things I’d like to learn next year?” “What are the ideas I want to focus on?” Next year, I want to focus on slowing down and doing things deeply. Doing things well. Writing more. (If that’s even possible…) But writing, and polishing… I’ve gotten good at building things quickly, trying things out quickly… What can I do to make it easier for people to learn from it or make use of it?
Being able to sketch out this idea for myself, and then over the next few months, being able to go back and track how I’m doing with that — whether my goals still call to me or whether I want to shift to something else… Having that written down gives me the ability to do that, whereas doing some hand-waving or letting the months and the days just flow past without any kind of record… This is why people wake up and ask, “Where did my life go?” Well, when I wake up, I know where my life’s going, and I know where my life went, and it’ll be fun figuring out how much more I can do in the years ahead.