Bill Gates doesn’t really make a habit of New Year’s resolutions. However, what he does make a habit of is looking back at the year that has passed and reflecting on what were his biggest successes and where he could have done better.
Setting goals rather than resolutions
But for this year, he does have a resolution. “Although I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, I have always been committed to setting clear goals and making plans to achieve them,” wrote Gates in a blog posted on Saturday. “As I get older, these two things look more and more like the same exercise.”
In 2019, Gates is focusing on studying how technology impacts a few areas of our lives, as well as the social and ethical ramifications of this impact. One area, wrote Gates, is trying to balance privacy and innovation when it comes to education and health. He’s consider aspects like how schools do the best job of teaching low-income students or which doctors provide the best care for a reasonable price. Gates is looking at all this and hoping to find insight but also protect people’s privacy.
Of course, Gates, who made his fortune via technology is interesting in how technology is used in education. “I think things are finally coming together in a way that will deliver on the promises,” says Gates. In the blog post, Gates looked back on last year and shared that some advancements he’s been looking forward to are not happening fast enough. One example is eradicating polio, for instance, but polio cases actually increased in 2018.
He’s also looking at research to eradicate Alzheimer’s, and says that technological advancements to come make him hopeful for the future.
“What connects it all is my belief that innovation can save lives and improve everyone’s well-being,” wrote Gates. “A lot of people underestimate just how much innovation will make life better.
Choosing a word of the year
Meanwhile, Bill Gates’ wife, Melinda Gates, doesn’t herself believe in New Years resolutions, but rather a “word of the year.” In a LinkedIn post Wednesday, Gates shared that choosing a word of the year each year “encapsulates her aspirations for the year ahead.”
In the past, her words have included “gentle,” helping her fight perfectionism, and “spacious,” prompting her to make room for the things in life that truly matter.
In 2018, she picked “grace,” which to her means a transcendent or beautiful moment that shows we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
“It’s a word that has served me well. I’ve called on it during difficult conversations, long days at the office, busy trips with our foundation—and especially during a jam-packed December as we worked to close out the year at home and at work,” Gates said.
“It even helped me find a beam of peace through the sadness of a friend’s funeral. When I was upset or distressed, I whispered it to myself: ‘Grace.'”
Gates has not yet chosen her word for 2019, but is still using grace. “What I love about grace, at least the way I define it, is that by pulling us up out of ourselves and onto a higher plane, it makes us more open to the world, to new experiences, to each other. It creates connections and encourages empathy,” she said.
“A broken heart gives me urgency. A moment of grace gives me hope. And both are essential to being the person I want to be and doing the work I believe in.”
“That’s the power of a well-chosen word of the year. It makes the year better—and it helps me be better, too,” she added.