January 2nd. The first voice note of the year:
“Hopefully 2022 will be better for us all … a slight improvement, at least?”
A bar so low there are ants struggling to limbo under it. But sometimes a place of low expectations can be the best place to start. Case in point: this week my wife and I are rewatching The Matrix trilogy, a refresh before diving into the new one. The original is incredible—as good as you remember, maybe more so. The sequels? Not so much. But The Matrix Reloaded, freed from four years of expectation, wasn't … all that bad?!
A short email this week, but a timely one. We’ve been talking about 2022 in The New Fatherhood community and wanted to carry some of that discussion to your inbox.
We’re all too savvy for resolutions. We know the problems—too focused on the negative, too easy to back out of, the strange feeling of making sweeping changes overnight, arbitrarily tied to a new calendar page. No wonder 80% of them fail by February.
But while resolutions don’t work, thinking ahead does. I’m not talking about a meticulous, turn-by-turn plan, peppered with SMART goals, but something more organic: a guiding light for the year, a North Star, a direction to point your boat towards.
Begin with an end in mind
At this time of year our brains instinctively gravitate towards the future, and what’s next—changing jobs, changing gears, big family decisions you might be thinking about. It can be overwhelming. Where do you even start?
One thing shared in the community this week was the idea of setting a theme for the year. A simple, compelling way of framing what you want from the next 12 months—one word to bring clarity, focus and direction (if you’d rather read than watch, this article makes a similarly compelling point.)
Last year I didn’t have a “theme”, but I did have a clear area of focus: write more, get better at it, and put it out into the world, once a week, to see how people respond. It’s safe to say I’ll be carrying on.
My word for 2022? Build. It covers multiple areas of focus: family, health, friendships, career, passion projects. Build on what’s working. Build structure in place to help where things aren’t. Build ways to help other parents—the ones I know, and those of you I don’t.
As parents, we never have enough time. It’s our most precious resource. There’s always something that needs to be sorted RIGHT NOW, always something (someone?) demanding your attention. It’s all-too-easy to end up as a passenger in the car, heading somewhere but with no agency over your direction.
Take this email as a gentle nudge to contemplate setting a course for the year. Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts spinning around in your head this week, but haven’t focused on it yet. Carve out a little time, give it the headspace it deserves.
Here’s to a better 2022. Time to get in the driver’s seat.
A request from the management
Like it here? Want a little more TNF in 2022? Consider subscribing to The New Fatherhood. You’ll get access to a suite of useful resources:
Regular “subscriber-only” essays across 2022 (and the archive of private essays from 2021.)
The one week “meditation for dads” course we successfully trialled in 2021.
”The New Fatherhood: Year One” eBook—22 essays on modern fatherhood, formatted for your Kindle (or other reading device.)
Regular subscriber events. Keeping to my build theme we’ll be kicking off a rotating book / movie club, starting with Oliver Burkeman’s “Four Thousand Weeks” later this month.
A limited edition sticker pack that I’ll be sending out early this year (this will be going out to those who already subscribed last year too!) I’m also going to be creating nice things—pin badges, totes, t-shirts and more—and subscribers will get things a little cheaper and earlier.
The warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you’re supporting something good in the world.
There’s the pitch! I hope you’ll consider subscribing to The New Fatherhood, supporting this endeavour, and get a helping hand on your own fatherhood journey.