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Bill Gates (GatesNotes Photo)

Bill Gates’ year-end letter, published over the weekend, was full of thoughts about the world, from nuclear energy to privacy and innovation. But this year’s installment also offered insights into how Gates, at 63, assesses his own life and work as one year ends and another begins.

Many of us are making similar personal assessments on this New Year’s Day, so it might be instructive or inspiring to see what the Microsoft co-founder and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair had to say on the topic.

One thing that occurs to me is that the questions I am asking myself at age 63 are very different from the ones I would have asked when I was in my 20s. Back then, an end-of-year assessment would amount to just one question: Is Microsoft software making the personal-computing dream come true?

Today of course I still assess the quality of my work. But I also ask myself a whole other set of questions about my life. Did I devote enough time to my family? Did I learn enough new things? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones? These would have been laughable to me when I was 25, but as I get older, they are much more meaningful.

Melinda has helped broaden my thinking on this point. So has Warren Buffett, who says his measure of success is, “Do the people you care about love you back?” I think that is about as good a metric as you will find.

What are the questions you’re asking yourself on this New Year’s Day? And what are the big issues you’re thinking about in the world?

Whatever the answers, Happy New Year, thanks for reading GeekWire, and may the people you care about love you back.

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