in2021, I will...

Hello hello! 

Time for the annual post. Where I look back at the year gone by and the year ahead. This has been an annual ritual for a few years. To be honest, I may or may not follow it (the excitement of the new year wanes off after a few weeks days) but I always come back to the yearly post when I am down in the dumps and I don't know what to do with my life. In 2020, I had to do that a lot. So I have seen the utility. 

So, without further ado, let's get to it. I will divide this into sections
  1. A recap of 2020
  2. Some lessons from the year gone by 
  3. Grand plans for 2021 
  4. Goals for 2021
Further, I will divide each into spheres of life - Personal (P), Social (S), and Work (W). Funny how Work is last. And thanks Vanita for this (and a lot of other things).  

Personal is further divided into Wealth, Health, Focus, Hobbies, #lifeGoal 
Social into Family, Friends, Strangers, Impact 
Professional into Work, Money

So, here we go...

1. Recap of 2020 

So, I have this running sheet where I track life as it happens to me. If I go by that, I should have got the following by the time 2020 ended…
  • At least 20 crores of free cash. Lol. 
  • A 4th passport booklet. If not for the pandemic, maybe I would have had this. 
  • 100K followers on Twitter. I have 4K odd as of the last count. 
  • 200 blogposts. I wrote 53. 

Plus, as per the plan that I made for 2020, I wanted to achieve these three tangible goals...
  • Book 2. I am VERY FAR from it. 
  • Complete a marathon in under 5 hours. Again, very very far. 
  • Make a business that has a topline of 50 crores. My network is actually negative as I write this. 

Even with the pandemic on us, I really think I could have done the first two easily. I had so much time, and at a place where I was fairly comfortable (204, Chitralekha). And yet I did not. I can blame it on the general fuckery happening in life and mindfuckness induced by the pandemic. I can blame it on how I was bereft of inspiration. I can blame it on a million other things but all these would be is blames. I think when I die, I would leave behind a trail of neverending blames. Sigh. 


Here is a month by month recap of 2020. Thanks to YearCompass for the template! 
  • Jan - Went on a trek after ages. Thanks to Shravan. Here's a pic
  • Feb - Saw ARR perform live. Thanks, Kila! Here's a pic.
  • Feb - Published a piece on The Ken. Was on my to-do since 2018 at least. 
  • Mar - Did my last event before we went into a lockdown.
  • Mar - Initiated This is where we sort of sowed the seeds. 
  • Mar - Cooked for a few days for self. Realized I am inept with a kitchen
  • Apr - Had to take on debt to survive. The lowest point of my life ever. But then, grateful that I have people that are willing to lend to me. This allowed me to keep my tiny bunch of young warriors going. 
  • Apr - Attended sessions with Anjum Rajabali, thanks to Satyanshu Singh
  • Jul - Got to learn screenwriting from Boman Sir 
  • Jul - AKG 
  • Jul - Started NFG with AA and PK. This was big because I put myself on camera as a speaker for the first time ever for a public audience. Plus, I got to meet so many incredible people. Thanks, AA and PK.
  • Aug - Went on a tiny hike with the 5x5 bunch. Here's a pic for you. 
  • Sep - Successfully evaded the world! 
  • Oct - Took a shot at doing a startup. Couldn't even get it off the ground despite having a great partner and one of the most sought-after angel investors backing us up. 
  • Oct - Made my will
  • Oct - Tried to look for a Naukri and could not land even one interview. The second-lowest point of the year. Realized that the network and connections I take pride in may not be too helpful. 
  • Oct - Thanks to a couple of friends, got back to work. One project got over. The other is still happening. Not, not enough to keep going. But it's a start.
  • Oct - Got an opportunity to work very closely with someone who's made a REAL impact with his work. Can't talk more about it. Got this opportunity via Parijat. Thanks, Parry. 
  • Nov - Moved houses yet again. More about it is here
  • Nov - Spent 3 odd weeks in Delhi. I was in Delhi for this long after ages. Realized the fragility of life all over again and decided that I need to at least become a good son if I am unable to become an entrepreneur. So, will act on it this year. 
  • Dec - Been in Goa for 4 weeks now and so far, I like it. Thanks to Rajesh Sir for the kindness. 
  • Dec - Podium started making money. Thank you, for the kick in the back, Rashi
  • Dec - Lost faith in my approach towards creating work (a mere handshake, no contracts, etc). Don't want to write about it here but the very foundation of how I work has shaken. Here's some context
So that. 

I am sure I am missing on capturing a lot of other things that are as important. I of course started multiple side projects - Marketing Connect, 1 X 1000, Hero's Journey, Skinkredible, etc. I could not complete most of those. Plus there are more goods and bads that I am not publishing here. They are part of my YearCompass. Once I have started to fully embrace Living In Public (a large theme for #in2021), I would probably make the yearcompass public. For the time being, I shall let them remain hidden on paper. 

So, if I were to sum the year in one paragraph, I would say it was among the worst I had. I lost people I cared for, lost all my life's savings, lost my reputation. Of course, I am alive (and I am grateful) but that's about it. Thankfully, I am almost a stoic, and at the rare times when I tend to lean to extremes, I am the glass-half-empty kinds. So, yes I survived. Wish I did more than that. Wish I could affect more things. 

Moving on. 

2. So what are the lessons that am taking from the year gone by? 

Quite a few. Here they are. 

A. Need to build a reputation that allows me to walk into a room and tilt decisions in my favor. Right now, despite trying hard, it's tough to get things to come to me. Most work from what I know is an outcome of great relationships that you create with people. I have traditionally sucked at creating these relationships. Need to work on these. 

B. I need to ship. I think I did ship more things in 2020 than I ever did. When you walk into a room, you may have all the charisma but shit will only move if there is some precedence of your work. Plus, a large part of this shipping happened because I had great partners. Need to scale this by taking more shots and shipping more. 

C. Need to chase money. Even though a lot of my actions have been guided by money, I've hardly chased money per se. Probably this is why it has illuded me all my life. May be it needs to change this year? 

D.  I am average. I have realized that I am fairly average at things that I do (writing, talking, working) but then, I can be very very persistent with things. I can look at the big picture like no one else. I can imagine possibilities to an extent that no one else can. 

So hereon, I can go in two different directions. One, I get better at things. Thing. Choose one thing and give it all that I have. And see where it goes. Two, I can become the most reliable, most consistent, most out there, most approachable, most nice, most human hustler around. This one quality of being reliable is probably what is valued more than anything else. 

3. Brings me to 2021, the themes, and the plans. 

So these are the broad guidelines and themes on how I will live life going forward in 2021. No, this is not a road map of the action points. But guiding lights. North-star metrics. 
  • Make myself a priority. The thing is, I have lived all my life trying to create opportunities for others. I have always assumed that once they grow, they would support me (you know reciprocation, fairness, etc) but 2020 has taught me that this is not always true. So, in 2021, I will make myself a priority. 
  • Location independence. This may be an outcome of the recent stints in Delhi and Goa but I think I like this idea of not having a base. What if I become homeless? I have been toying with it for a while now but been on the fence - I like my comfort! But this trip to Goa seems to be solidifying it! This also means I will have to reduce attachments to people and material things. 
  • Financial freedom. Need to get back to being debt-free. And then reach a point where I don't have to make decisions based on economic criteria. 
  • Living in Public. Live an honest, open, transparent, public life. Where my personality, brand, thoughts, actions et al are all authentic, consistent, coherent, and in-sync. I will not have to make pretenses when I talk to people. I will be out there and the world can take a call based on what they see. This is big on my agenda. 
  • Build an audience. Of course, if you have an audience, you can do what you want to. The lesson I have learned from 2020 is that you don't need to be a movie star to be able to attract an audience. You could be a blogger (no, not the influencer kinds) and yet have an audience. Clubbed with living in public, this could actually be a path to freedom - financial and emotional.

Of course, all those things that I have stood for in life (fairness, openness, giving things the best, being culturally sensitive, creating a positive impact, etc) remain. If during the year, something changes from that list, I will report. 

4. And here are the things that I will do, #in2021. AKA, Tangible Goals for 2021 

I know that this has to be a tangible list and not all goals for 2021 may have tangibility built-in. I will try to add that variable as much as I can. 

Here we go. 

A. Brand SG. Personal / Focus
I have been thinking way too hard on this the past few months. Especially during the pandemic. And I know that I need to get this going for me. The trouble is that I don't know what I want to stand for. There are way too many things that I am way too excited about. I guess like Gaurav Kapil told me, I will have to go thru the pain of letting go of things if I want to be singularly good at something! 

Lemme give an example. 

As I write this, I am in Goa and I like it here. The trouble is I don't make money and this is not sustainable. Maybe I will try and find gainful work here and if I do, I will move here. This means I will have to probably quit my dreams to make films? And if I were to make films, I would probably not leave a large impact on humanity! You get the drift? 

So, I want to be better known this year. I don't know how to. And I don't know what for. Let's see. For the time being, I think the tangibles could be to become part of LinkedIn's Top Voice of the year and/or get to 100K followers on Twitter.

B. Get to a debt-free state. Personal / Wealth
The thing is, it is weighing on my head like nothing else. This is the first time I had to take debt after I took an education loan at MDI. I have never taken money for vehicles, houses, holidays, etc. I have taken working capital loans for servicing work. But never a personal debt. 

I need to get debt-free. And if this requires me to quit everything and focus on just one, I will do it! 

And when I do manage to get debt free, try and create multiple income streams and eventually chase financial freedom. 

C. Book 2. Personal / Hobbies
This has been on my annual plans for like 10 years now. This year, I will do it. Come hell or high water. Lol. 

Here's the thing. If I don't have the book, I will stop calling myself a writer. 

D. Run a Marathon Personal / Fitness 
Again, something that's been on my plans for years now. So much so that I have lost bets and bought Vivek a phone (which he did not accept). This year may be. Grinning while writing this cos am sipping onto a Diet Coke :D 

E. A project a month. Personal / Hobbies
I have had this funny notion that apart from all that I do, I need to ship 12 projects this year. Each of these has to be public, shippable, and scalable. And these need to have a monetization opportunity for sure. So that. For example, I could scale NFG. I could build I can look at doing smaller things in Goa that allows me to build relationships. I also want to finish all the writing projects that I had started over the years (100 Rejections in a year, 100 Thank Yous, 1 X 1000, etc). And so on and so forth. So that. 

While we are the subject of 12 projects, I am extremely excited (and jealous) of Swanand's one-year sabbatical project. Do check it out. 

F. Learn to dance. Personal / Hobbies
Kidding you not. 
I really want to learn. 
If not bhangra, then bachata. 
And if not that, freestyle. But I have to. 

G. Work. Professional / Work
Lol, always at the end! 
In terms of work, I am not sure where I'd be in this year. I have been and want to stay a Jack of all trades. But I now see that being a Jack may not lead me to even one of the goals / themes that I have listed above. So I may need to drop everything and focus on one. 

But then thanks to the curse of curiosity and mediocrity, I am average at a lot of things and thus find it impossible to choose just one. As of today, I do all this. And more. 

I know that I need to probably pick one. But I don't know what. Or how. 

I am leaning towards doing a media piece or get back to pushing the envelope on the events. Not sure. Will update this as and when I have some clarity. I am giving myself till the end of Jan for this. After that whatever catches my fancy the best, I will chase that. 

Come on, universe! 

4.1 This year on, I will also quit with a few things that I have stayed attached to all my life. 

Here is a list... 
- Guitar. 
No, I was never good at it. I never knew how to play one, except the C chord. I did have the romantic notion of being able to play music like rockstars but I understand that it will not happen in this lifetime. I even tried it during the lockdown but lost interest. 

So I am giving up on it. And on Uke. Sorry, Vivek and Krishna. This means I will give em away. If any of you wants it, tell me why should I give you these two things that two of the dearest friends got me. 

I may pick it up again if I live long enough. But quitting for the time being. 

- sgElectra. 
I am ready to move on from it. 
Will hand it over to M (of the M&m fame) and she can choose what to do with it. 

- Relationships. 
No more attachments No more drama. No more putting myself on the sidelines.

4.2 And here are a few things that I want to do for others

This is an incomplete list but I really want to do these things... 
  • Get PM a larger team so that the mission she is on is easier to achieve. 
  • Get SJ a Jag. Among other things.
  • Get a house to PY. 
  • Get SS to revenue. 
  • Get SG a sustainable revenue source. 
  • Move parents in with me. This means I will have to have enough to have two houses next to each other. And not in Delhi, please. This is the first time I am making this public. 
Each of these "get" is essentially me playing a tiny part in their efforts as they work to find their destiny. Plus, each of these people are very very important to me and I need to do whatever it takes to make them happy and all. Yeah, all these are part of Social / Family

I also want to mentor 100 kids this year (Social/Impact). I don't know where to find these and what to do with these. Let's see. 

4.3. Finally, here are some moonshots... 

Moonshots are those things that would most probably not happen, but I would still gun for those.
  • Become a venture capitalist (Social / Impact). At a time when every nukkad wala baniya is one. Every kid (that has a rich father) is a VC now. Every professional with more than 10 years of experience is one. But then, I sincerely believe that I can be good with capital allocation, especially in terms of impact. Let's see.  
  • Adopt an old bungalow and convert it into a cultural hub of sorts that creative people can call home. Maybe replicate it across the world. Like Soho House but far more affordable and far more meaningful. Got inspired by this person. Part of Personal / Curiosity.
  • Travel to Japan. It's been on my radar for a while. Now that AD has a place there, I can shack up! 
  • Get a car. May be something that allows me to pack all that I own into it and live on the road for good! Won't be a bad idea. Personal / Hobby.
  • Script a film. Personal / #lifeGoal. Lol!

So, that's about it. 

Hope 2021 is the greatest year for all of us. I plan to send quarterly updates on this. Let me know if you'd like to receive these. Till then, over and out. 

Oh, in case you need me to help you with any of your yearly plans, please please do let me know. 

Saurabh Garg
9 Jan 2021

PS: I use the following tools this time around: YearCompass (free), Vision Board (a simple document where I pin things that I want to come true. I used to have a physical board, now I have a Google Slides), Jan 1 Sheet (a Google Sheets where I capture all key things in life and it tells me that I have less than 1930 days to go for my top 3 #lifegoals), 2020 page on Roam

PPS: In case you are curious, here are yearly posts from previous years - 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012. I am sure there are documents from 2011 and earlier but I will have to dig hard. 

PPPS: No, please don't tell me that everyone else had a bad year as well. My house does not run on how I fare compared to others. 

PPPPS: To be able to do these, I would lean on SJ2. I will have a tracker that lists the process and my adherence to it. 

PPPPPS: As always these are very very lofty goals and even if I get to a fraction of what I have documented, I will be sorted in life. So, let's see. 

PPPPPPS: Thanks to Akshay, Vanita, Vivek for reading early drafts of this and helping me think better. 

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