Hi! I'm Anna.

Tinkering With Ideas #005: Wrapping up a year

published3 months ago
2 min read

Hi Reader 👋 -

Happy Thursday. It's that weird time of year when you're never sure where people are at in their "peace out, I'll see you in January" journey. I feel like I'm simultaneously sprinting and limping toward the finish line with my remaining client work.

But I'm determined to go to yoga class later this morning. And if you're caught up in the whirlwind of the holiday season, I hope you also find ways to take time for yourself.

1) Reflection:

I'm an avid fan of the musical "Hamilton." I've seen it live four times (thanks, in part, to proximity here in Chicagoland) and watched it over and over on Disney+. One of my favorite lines from the show is "Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?"

For a long time, other people controlled the narrative of my career. A lot of this was driven by external forces: society told me to work hard, hustle, climb to the top, etc. But even after abandoning my career in fintech, something still felt off. I realized that other people were still defining success for me. It wasn't coming from within.

While this realization led me to strike out on my own, I acknowledge that a solopreneur life isn't for everyone. Instead, I think that the message is: don't let other people tell your story. Bad jobs, bad bosses, bad relationships can lead to feeling "stuck." But it doesn't have to be that way.

2) Product:

Are photo albums a distant memory? Feels like it sometimes. I'm still in the camp of people that likes to have a physical book. But I'm also busy and don't have time to do the necessary book assembly.

I use two services that make this process automatic / stress-free. The first is Chatbooks. Chatbooks is linked to my Instagram accounts (yes, I have more than one). When a book "fills up" (60 photos), it automatically sends me a little hardcover album. They're adorable and I have more than 100 of them at this point.

The other is MySocialBook. I create one per year for my Facebook account. Yes, I still have Facebook — mostly for pics of my kids. MySocialBook will put all content from the year, including text posts, into one hardcover book. I have books going back to 2009... and I admit that my usage is, in part, documenting my life for the purpose of getting a book at the end of the year.

3) Tip:

Every year, I force my family to complete a "reflection" on New Year's Day. We sit around the table and complete a questionnaire about the prior year, like "What was your favorite book this year?" "What was your favorite thing we did?" I put the responses in a three-ring binder. It's interesting to go back and look at the responses from prior years.

Whether you have kids, are in a relationship, or single, I think a New Year's reflection — in a standard format that doesn't change from year-to-year — is an interesting exercise. It doesn't have to be too brain intensive, but captures the "best of" (and maybe "worst of") the prior year. And since New Year's Day is often a day of lounging around, why not take a few minutes to fill out a questionnaire?

If you come up with any unique questions for your own questionnaire reply to this email and let me know! I'd love to add some new questions to mine.

Additional Reading:

That's it for this issue of Tinkering! See you again in two weeks.


Anna Burgess Yang


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