Annual Review 2018


Hi there –

I hope you’ve had a fruitful year.

I thought I’d give a brief summary of 2018 and share some lessons. (Like I did in 2016)

The year went ahead different than I had expected. It’s been eventful and I learned a tremendous deal (if you’ve followed Future Skills, you’ll have picked up on some of it).

I made many mistakes, but had some windfalls too.

In this post:

  • My 4-step Process for starting the new year
  • Annual review of 2018
  • Brief plans for 2019
  • Book recs and other fun stuff

Here are some of the things I will be doing now, as the new year begins….

Review, Organize and Evaluate:

One important thing I will now do is to review and organize material collected throughout the year, across different categories in my commonplace system. This includes lists of thoughts and ideas, potential new projects, and tasks for ongoing projects.

The process goes something like this:

  1. Sift through all the material
  2. Collect all relevant items by list
  3. Order it by perceived priority
  4. Divide it into two categories: (1) “important but time-consuming” (will take at least several weeks) and (2) “low-hanging fruit” (can be done in less than a week and will have tangible impact)

Then I will write a brief annual review over 2018. What went well? What went less well? What are some of the biggest lessons?

Then I’ll review admin work and metrics, break it down by year and monthly averages, and update systems (e.g fixed costs by category, active subscriptions, domains, stocks, etc). Boring, but useful for staying on top of things.

Then I will review some of my best study material (from review file) to get a sense of what needs spaced repetition over the next months.

Then I will attend to my Archives: adding material to it, and looking at what’s already there, hopefully jogging my mind to get some ideas for using it in new creative ways.

Doing these things might take me a couple of days, but it’ll give me a big picture perspective and help make the rest of the year run along more smoothly.

My health is great. And I did some tests a couple of months ago. Otherwise I would schedule some health tests around this time of year too. 

–And I recommend you do the same if you haven’t done it before.

Stuff like — hormonal tests, vitamin/mineral tests, and possibly Omega 6/3.

Some Things Done in 2018:

Started Future Skills Podcast, about big ideas and career skills to future-proof yourself. We’ve been fortunate to have many smart and impressive people on.



  • Martin Sandquist – Finance Billionaire
  • Barry Schwartz – Psychology Professor
  • Tyler Cowen – Economist
  • Walter Kiechel – Fortune Magazine & Harvard Business Review
  • Seth Godin – Author
  • Elkhonon Goldberg – Neuroscientist & Clinician
  • Ola Ahlvarsson – Serial Entrepreneur
  • Erik Townsend – Hedge Fund Manager
  • Alexander Bard – Future Philosopher
  • Philippa Malmgren – Geopolitical Advisor
  • Martin Ford – Futurist

We have many more interesting guests coming up for 2019.

Check this page for an overview of all current episodes and written summaries:

Read my article for a synopsis of lessons & future skills from guests:

Sponsorship & Cooperation Opportunities: We’re finishing the first season of Future Skills and will be preparing season 2 during early 2019. We have not spent any time looking for sponsors thus far because we’re already time constrained as it is with our other projects.

However, we’re open to suggestions if it’s long-term and fits the brand. If you have a proposal for sponsorship or some creative idea for cooperation, you can email [email protected]

The same goes for guest recommendations. Who would you be interested in? 

–Speaking of Future Skills, and future industries.

I received an email from long-term reader Alex.

I Just listened to the latest episode of Future Skills, on the 5 global problems and 5 big technologies. Some very interesting points there. I was delighted to hear Mikael briefly mention vertical farming — especially in the context of resource management and health, being two key challenges.

Alex just did a TEDx Talk on this topic:

His preparation:

I attend Toastmasters regularly…. plus the ideas were simmering for quite a while – but in terms of practice, it took me 1-2 months. In the last month I practiced once a day.

Most of us know little or nothing about the esoteric fields of ecosystems and sustainable farming.

Which is a good thing for Alex.

Early entry + low competition + Future Industry

= great career foundation.

People do need food.

Here’s part of my response to another of his emails:

“My guess is you can expect at least another 5-10 years until these ideas permeate into the mainstream. Though tedious, this can and should be seen as an opportunity, because it means you’ll have a head-start on the competition.”

If you are in university, and not sure what to do, you could learn from Alex’s example. This is a good “template”.

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Another two things I did:

-Released the Ultimate Commonplace System (how to start commonplacing and build up an archive of your learning, creative work, and best thoughts)

-Re-released an updated version of my popular free eBook 92 Practical Tips. It’s 65 pages long and filled to the brim with actionable advice from my articles. – you get can get it by subscribing to my newsletter. This is the quickest introduction to my ideas.

Some Plans for 2019:

-Finish the Expanded & Updated (Print) version of Breaking out of Homeostasis. It will include ~100 pages of new content; a more nuanced explanation of the philosophy, reader stories (people who have used the ideas to improve their lives), and a ton of bonus material. I’ll keep you posted.

-Improve upon Future Skills Program FSP is an online course by myself and Mikael Syding to help you level up your career and improve your decision making. It includes videos, homework assignment, and one-on-one weekly email coaching. Due to it’s personal nature, spots are limited and will open up gradually through the year. If you want to be notified when spots open up, you can apply here.

-Several other projects.

Truth is, I have too many things planned.

Hence, I have to prune it down and prioritize. That’s what I’ll be doing over the next couple of days.

Book Recommendations:

In 2018 I read somewhere between 55-65 books and many essays. I was not planning on reading that much, but it had a synergy with Future Skills and some research I was doing. For 2019, I won’t read as much. Maybe half of that.

Here are a few books I think may be helpful to you.

All of these are excellent learning resources for each specific area, assuming you’re not already knowledgeable about it.

  • Architects of Intelligence, by Martin Ford. Includes talks with 23 of the leading innovators in the fields of AI and computing. This gives you the lay of the land.
  • Signals, by Dr. Philippa Malmgren. Read this if you want to understand the global economic system and current geopolitics.
  • The Leangains Method, by Martin Berkhan. Read this if you want to get in good shape. It teaches you the fundamentals of intermittent fasting, muscle-building, and diet.
  • Beyond Blockchain, by Erik Townsend. If you want to understand cryptocurrency, the Blockchain technology, and their potential future implications. It dispels many myths surrounding the Bitcoin hype. Erik predicts China/Russia might make a global digital currency. He hopes the U.S will use this technology to build a new, better bond market.
  • This is Marketing, by Seth Godin. This book teaches you important ways to share your ideas, build an audience or sell your product.

Other books – The following are less area-specific. They’re good, but you have to dig out the lessons on your own.

  • Jean-Bernadotte. A biography on Bernadotte, the Frenchman who became king of Sweden (his heirs are still the royal family). It’s interesting to compare and contrast the lives of Bernadotte and Napoleon. It goes to show the roads to success are many.
  • On Jung. A great guide to the thoughts and ideas of Carl Jung, from a professional psychologist. Very insightful, compared to what you’d find about Jung on the Internet or Youtube Videos.
  • Ray Dalio’s Principles. Finance entrepreneur Ray Dalio shares his best practices for thinking and management. Great book, but honestly, I prefer the original. You can find an old article of mine, summarizing its ideas.
  • Adventures in the Screen Trade. An entertaining industry-type book that gives you the inside-view of the movie business, from the perspective of a successful screenwriter. I’ve often fantasized about making a movie (I have several ideas), but this book has strongly convinced me not to pursue screenwriting. It’s a hassle.

Final Piece of Advice:

Brief recap – 2 pieces of advice for you:

  1. Start a commonplace (or review it)
  2. Do health tests, if you haven’t in a while

(If you’re not already doing this, it can have a big positive long-term effect)

And join my newsletter to get my 92 best tips, if you haven’t.

Question: What will you be doing for 2019? What’s your preparatory process look like, over the next few weeks etc?

I’d be interested to hear it.

Leave a comment below to let me know.

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  1. Thanks, Ludvig.

    Just catching up on your posts.

    I have a new perspective on BOOH after training 6 months with a martial arts master. It is has informed my approach to life heading into this year.

    The biggest lesson I learned was the idea of “relaxed strength.” I was continually surprised to find the immense calm that accompanied the sensei’s power and we had many discussions of this “relaxed strength” paradox. In our society, we associate strength with tension but this actually hinders our capabilities greatly.

    Personally, I realized early on that if I was to create something of myself, I would have to constantly seek out discomfort and train myself to like it. I would add to this now that, to reap the deepest benefits of living “at the razor’s edge,” one must embrace the paradox of relaxed strength. Learning to “relax” (but not collapse – more of a meditative sinking into conditions of difficulty) has formed the basis of incredible recent achievements of my brain and body.

    It has taken a lot of careful work to be able to achieve this state but it has unlocked much more power from within me.

    The success comes from the fact that western society is wrong about two major things:

    1) Strength and achievement can only come from “hardness” and the associated stress and tension
    2) relaxing means “collapsing” and generally loafing about.

    While these may not be explicitly voiced opinions, I do think they operate in people’s minds and reduce their potential to fully utilize their brains and bodies. Changing these beliefs I think would be greatly valuable to anyone in 2019.

    P.s. As a side note about “hardness” and strength–
    When it comes to willpower, for most people, they activate a sort of “hard” willpower (don’t do X), and simultaneously as they do this they will actually be activating a lot of the neural networks associated with the target activity. And as people do this, they create stress and tension which essentially shut down the PFC.

    This leads to a poor decision, then judgement, then more stress. The next time they think about not doing X, they will have emotional attachment, stress, and the subconscious effects of past failure. I think this constitutes the primary cycle that I have observed in *most* people who claim to be into personal development yet fail repeatedly.

  2. Thanks, Ludvig, and happy new year! What an honour to be on SGM.

    I’ve found your maxims/best practices/goals approach to work well for me, so I have a one-page document summarising these. It took me a few days of spending the odd half-hour going through old notes and projects. I like doing this over the summer holidays as well.

    My goals include building a small-scale AMI system similar to what I described at TEDx, improving fitness and mobility, and gaining followers on my blog. Perhaps my favourite best practice will be to replace idle internet browsing (which got of hand in 2018) with listening to podcasts.

  3. I’ve recently partnered with a reputable sheet music website as a signature artist, so I’m gonna be focusing a little bit more on getting my sheet music published there. Besides that, I’m aiming for another 3 albums this year, one of which shall be a Kingdom Hearts one, since KH3 is coming really soon. Speaking of video game music – was wondering if it’s possible to get Uematsu on the podcast? Heh…

    2018 has been really good due to a new relationship and massive growth with my music. I didn’t produce as much work as in previous years though, so I’m gonna be changing that in 2019. I regret downloading GunBound, wasted quite a bit of time there, haha.

    Wow, it’s so cool to see Alex’s Ted talk up on YouTube already. I shall watch it soon.

    Best of luck for 2019!

  4. 1. Make health my #1 priority: Sleep > Diet > Exercise

    2. Reduce my internet use, especialy on my phone.

    3. Develop my INTJ strengths

    4. Use pen and paper to more to capture my thoughts and think creatively.

    “Personality Hacker” by Joel Mark Witt and Anthonia Dodge was my book of 2018. Great book for self-development from a MBTI angle.

    • Hi Axel,

      I am curious about how to develop INTJ strengths, what will you do more specifically?

      The book you mention seem interesting at glance. I shall look into it more thanks.

      • Hi Brett, our strengths are Perspectives(seeing the bigger picture) and Effectiveness(getting things done).

        What I’ve done recently off the top of my head:

        1. Use pen and paper to think/capture my thoughts.

        2. Remove distractions to think more clearly

        3. Bias towards action over endless learning.

        4. Meditation, Sleep, Diet, and Exercise.

        I also suggest the article “How to Think Better As An INTJ” by Mark Carson to help you with getting things done.

        I hope this helps.

    • Hi Axel – I tried an app for tracking phone time per usage function and showing the amount of screen opens per day.

      I used this for about 3 weeks and was able to cut down on # of checking my phone per day + time spent on stupid things.

      I don’t remember the app’s name, but there are many of them. I recommend you try one.

  5. Similar to you, I like to do some preliminary and preparatory administration to project ahead with my work projects and schedule (I freelance with IT) so that I have a better idea of what the coming months will look like.

    I also like to think about my goals for the year.

  6. Happy new year Ludvig and thanks for sharing the advice and book recommendations. The books seem interesting on first look.

    For me, I will also write over the year. I like to do this in a physical notebook. Not quite as organized, but I think the important thing is to just reflect on the events over the past year.

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