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YearCompass is a global movement that mobilises people to sort out their last year and plan their next one in order to have a greater awareness of their lives. New Year's resolutions don't work. Planning your year does. The main tool of the movement is the free to download YearCompass booklet that is available in many languages.
New Year's Eve with our friends, made a booklet with a few questions that help reflection and it went viral in 2013. Since then it became an international movement with more than a hundred volunteers from 25 countries. Today the YearCompass booklet is available in 22 different languages. The self-printed version is free to download from the YearCompass website and had 350 000 downloads last year.
We believe in self-awareness. Self-recognition is one of the key things to become a better human – and we need a lot of awesome humans on this planet. The path is not easy and we enjoy helping anyone who needs help, this is why we created the booklet and the YearCompass movement.
How did you happen upon this idea?
It was 2012 and we wanted to have a worthwhile New Year's Eve with our friends, so we've put together a few questions that would help us focus. The event was an absolute success, our idea resonated really well with others. We thought that this could be something useful and decided to make a booklet. Next year we made it public on the internet. We thought maybe we would have a couple hundred downloads and make a few people happy. Next thing we know – it went viral.
Do you see results from your efforts?
We have a steadily growing community, the downloads grew 13-fold since 2013. We get letters from all over the world from all kinds of people, telling us that the booklet helped them get a clearer picture of their lives or achieve some long-awaited goal. There are some truly amazing stories among them.
We have four favorite stories among the hundreds that we've received from our community. The first is from a school in the United Kingdom where every student gets a YearCompass booklet and they fill them out together as a school-wide exercise. We didn't even know that they existed until one of the teachers sent us an email asking us how could they donate funds to us. It's just nuts to think that there is a whole school full of children using the YearCompass as an assignment. It's absolutely awesome.
The second is from the Women's Club of Ulanbator. Two years ago we've found out by accident that there is a women's club in Asia where the members learn English together. They use the English version of our booklet as a fun exercise. They posted a picture of the first event – we still have it, it's one of our best reminders why we do this whole thing.
The third story is from a random stranger on Reddit, who – with his own words – " [...] completed this workbook every December for the past three years. In that time, I've completed a marathon, traveled to several new countries, applied for and received grant money, scored my dream job, and more. Take time to reflect on this year and plan for the next one."
The last and most intense story is from John, who is a substance abuse counselor in the U.S. He is using the booklet in group therapy sessions with recovering addicts. He has found that it helps the clients reframe their lives and set goals that can lead them to sobriety. I remember when we first read his letter – it was a truly uplifting experience.
What are your goals for the future?
We would really like this to be a global community. A network of people who help each other on the journey of being better, kinder and more self-aware. The closing of your previous year and the planning of the next one is a relatively short business – you do this around the holidays then you return to the Average Wednesdays. We would like to build a community that is long-term, that can support you through the whole year. A bunch of folks who can tap you on the shoulder when you fall off your path.
We want to publish this booklet every year and reach most everyone in the world. So you know, world domination – just the usual. :)
Do you want to monetize this?
This is not a business for us. We don't want to make the core experience into a product, that would defeat the purpose of the whole endeavor. We want the YearCompass movement to spread rapidly, to reach a massive audience, making them more self-aware, so in turn they could make a world a better place to live on.
Although the booklet is free to download we definitely need some kind of funding to keep running the servers, pay our staff, etc. Currently, we are testing a more Elegant Edition of the booklet that you can give as a gift on Christmas or buy it for yourself. Compared to the self-printed pdf version this is a fancier product with a few surprises. But the questions are the same as in the core booklet that you can download for free. And this will remain the same in the future – you will always be able to download the core booklet for free.
When a new year approaches we cannot help but evaluate. Maybe we only notice how quickly the time passed, how many opportunities were missed (again), how many goals were accomplished (at last), and how many things happened that we wouldn't even have dreamed of. Looking back on your year is a ritual that helps you fulfill this need for evaluation. From time to time, stopping for a moment, taking a step back and looking at where we are headed helps. Slowing down, meeting and spending time with ourselves is not something that can be done in a rush. Mood, determination, curiosity are all needed for looking back on your year.
Every year we find time for this booklet with my wife. We prepare for this in advance, it became quite a ritual. The most interesting thing is comparing the plans from last year with all the things that happened since. This helps align our values and desires with our lives. Oftentimes even thinking through and writing down things make them happen. My hope is that looking back and planning years will yield happiness, experience and support for many of us in the years to come.
Often we feel that we are not the ones in charge of our own destiny and judge our lives rather biased. The YearCompass booklet helps noticing the different shades without crafting a false image. It leads you to find the things to be proud of (there are always things) and the things without you would be better off next year. All this brings more self-awareness. Reading the last page will definitely make you feel more competent and efficient. This is more than a booklet. It is a symbol for a movement, values, improves self-awareness and psychological literacy.
Everyone knows that closure is essential for moving on. Without closure you herd all the events of the past and all the related emotions.
Planning your next year is useful in helping you thinking about the Big Questions in advance that need a lot of resources to be thought about. Setting the goals for next year, knowing beforehand what is there to be done in each area lowers the energy needed at everyday level. Reflecting on this as the year goes by the "only" thing left is doing.
The obvious problem with the Big Questions of life is that they are not easy to answer. "What will happen with me in 5 years?" is a question that is nearly impossible to answer. Breaking it down to smaller parts helps in finding answers. Filling out YearCompass will help you start doing things instead of postponing them forever.