Well, it’s the last day of the year, and time to take stock of my goals for the year. I enter my “taking stock” phase with two massively competing paradigms — epic failure for failing to complete or even start many of them vs. satisfaction for the progress I’ve made on some of them.
For blue / mind / organizing / planning goals, my two big ones for the year were to do more on astronomy and a kitchen renovation. For the astronomy, I am really happy with the new alignment procedure I have, and the new “wifi” tool. They basically “saved” my interest in astronomy, and I’m much more confident now that I can use my telescope to find things that are actually worth finding. That’s a huge achievement, and it worked well. I was a bit surprised that I lost steam in September, and barely used my scope all fall. I didn’t have much luck with my Canon T5i being attached, but I think I need to find someone who has experience taking pics to walk me through the setup and use. I’m just not figuring out the focus right. I’m not looking for “wow” factor, I’m just looking to snap some basic shots of what I see through the scope. For the kitchen renovation, it is done. In June I said we were “back on track”, but that was before the schedule went way off the rails and the stress kicked in. I am happy it’s done, and later this weekend we’ll do some organizing to fix up a bit of the configuration. Call it maybe 3/5 for astronomy and 5/5 for home reno. For various other blue commitments:
- Tracking my to do list didn’t take hold as well as I had hoped (2/5);
- Scanning was wiped out completely by refocus on uploading digital files to the website instead (0/5);
- Backups were probably 0/5 up until yesterday when I did full backup of Andrea and my computer (4/5);
- I haven’t done anything on photography, knitting, juggling, origami or a meteor shower (0/5); and,
- For courses, I completed some more of the video games through Coursera, and registered in the psych course at Carleton, but most of my “study” time has been devoted to French for the last month when I was trying to get studying going again (1/5).
For the green / emotion commitments, my two big commitments were better engagement with Jacob and random acts of romance. For Jacob, the “nights with Dad” were a bust for the “activity” side of things, but he does like going out for dinner with me. Two things that were a hit? Hockey cards and Lone Star. Call it maybe 3/5. For the random acts of romance, I’ve been a deadbeat husband. Call it 0/5. Sigh. The start of the year started out okay with things like flowers and stuff, but by the end of the year, survival mode kicked in around August and I was just waiting to the end of the year on most things, which doesn’t leave me much green energy for emotive behaviour — that’s not an excuse, just an analysis of some of my internal failure.
For other activities, I did a few wing nights with the guys, but honestly, I’m the only one who organizes them, only 1 or 2 tend to come, it’s a hassle to try and pick a night when people are free even if I announce a month in advance, and while I enjoy it, it’s not worth the personal investment. I end up enjoying the people’s company who come, but disappointed that others aren’t interested. Without seeming like a pathetic loser, I wish I had more guy friend outings. I don’t “need” them, I’m too much of an introvert for that, just wish they were more spontaneous. I’ll comment more on this a bit below on another issue. On siblings, I have changed direction considerably. I was hoping to reach out more, but I honestly haven’t had the emotive energy the last six months. My one brother is spiraling, and I don’t know how to help him even if he would accept help, which he won’t; the one sister and I haven’t seen much of each other this year, just busy; and the brother in town I see even less. We skipped the corn roast party in August due to the kitchen renovation, I did some relatively minimal website support for my friend on his AstroPontiac campaign (although little for me to do lately), and I had a charity hack idea that I decided to just drop for now. It intrigues me, but too much work, not even enough resonance with me. Call all of it 0/5.
Not surprisingly, the lack of emotive energy was on full display in Peterborough over Xmas. I am not a social being by nature, and being around extra people was draining of the little energy I had left for the year. I was burned out getting to the Xmas holiday break, and really needed to recharge. That hasn’t really happened yet. I don’t get energized by emotion/social/leadership activities, the only thing that builds me back up quick is analytical / organizational work. Part of my plan for Monday (I’ll blog more about that later) but I’m glad Andrea was patient with me over Xmas…I found myself hiding out in the bedroom way more than I would normally, just to get away from people. I got some new puzzle games for my phone, and that helps too (building up my analytical energy).
However, my epic green failure for this year though was my plans for a giant project in November. I kept most of the details secret as I worked out the various issues, and it went belly up in about March/April. It was basically an awareness campaign around prostate cancer, and I did a lot of the early prep work. Enough to realize it wasn’t going to work. So I killed the campaign. I have a new idea for the coming year, one with more of a guarantee of going ahead but also with less payoff other than awareness. Time will tell if I pursue it or not, haven’t done my planning for the new year yet. About 2/5 overall, and that’s being generous.
For the red / physical / directional commitments, most of it was around being more active. That took a large backseat to some other stuff although I tried to maintain my back exercises and yoga stretches. Walking was a no, no new dentist or doctor, did do my sleep test, no for rappelling or zipline, and I’ve ditched the the polar plunge option for this year. Call all of that a big 0/5 across the board, although with some promising things in place for the new year. The one positive development of late in the red side was career-related, as I’ve been doing a lot more french work of late than previously, and I have a game plan for January onward. Quite happy with that, although far from formal progress I suppose. Call it 2/5 at best.
For the yellow / creative commitments, the giant overarching commitment was to write 500,000 words this year. Actually, that was my big commitment for the year and I came out of the corner swinging. Active blogs on development, personal experiences with Jacob, reviews of TV premieres — lots of different topics. When I ditched the “campaign” goal above in green, that killed any chance of likely reaching my writing goal for the year since much of that writing was going to be for the campaign. No campaign, no corresponding word count, and I didn’t replace it with another goal. I took the hit for it above, but I didn’t want to take the hit for it in my writing goal too, so I modified my goal partway through the year. My goal was to take my website of about up to 500K words worth of content. Not including this post, I’m going to finish off with a wordcount of around 400K, with another 25K in the pipeline. My carryover from the previous year started at 200K, dropped to 100K with a change in website design, and so about 300,000 words for the year. That is far less than my goal, but six times what I’ve ever written before. That number floors me, and despite the “shortfall”, I’m giving myself full marks for it of 5/5. I kicked ass.
Sort of…here’s the issue, and it applies to regular Facebook posts, tweets (1400+ this year, most of which were TV episode reviews), memes (200), quotes, comics sharing, and the Creativity Challenge:
I have written blogs where I poured my heart and soul into them, shared them with friends. Nada. Zilch. Rien. Nothing. Crickets chirping. Oh, sure, people read the posts, or at least opened the page. My web trackers tell me they did. Not in astronomical numbers, but a few here and there. Sometimes a couple of dozen. It’s not like I’m writing stuff for the masses, so I’m not looking for huge feedback or anything. But take the memes I was doing…some were kind of cute. 0 shares. On a good day, a couple of likes. No comments. No interactions hardly at all. Much of the year translated into shouting into a void. Let’s be clear, I’m not looking for love here. I’m looking for resonance, some sort of metric that says someone read it and thought it was at least interesting, or well-written, or even embarassingly bad. I don’t care, just something that changes it from writing in a diary and sharing things online. Like with the wing nights I mentioned above. Some sort of resonance with someone. Some basic connection.
It goes back to the basic question of who I am writing for, and while that remains nominally and predominantly myself, as I don’t write for the market and never will, whatever I’m doing, I’m not reaching ANYONE. My HR guide still remains popular, and it came together nicely for the first few chapters and I can see the rest as it’s forming, just need to find the time when I actually have the energy to write. But more importantly, I have to come to terms with my writing having zero resonance in its current form. Overall, I’ll give myself 5/5 for doing the work, and 1/5 for having it be relevant to anyone, average of 3/5, which is probably generous.
Where does that leave me for the year?
|Category||Big ticket items||Little ticket items|
|Blue||4 / 5||1 / 5|
|Green||1.5 / 5||0 / 5|
|Red||1 / 5||0 / 5|
|Yellow||5 / 5||3 / 5|
|Overall Rating||2.875 / 5||1 / 5|
Of course, I’m trying not to be completely anal about the year being less than productive since life is about balance and change, and lots of things happened over the course of the year to change the experience on the battlefield. I didn’t get to the Photobooks, but I did completely revamp 4 websites for a new hosting platform. I didn’t get to my passport renewal or compare costs between grocery stores, but I did cut the cord on cable and make a bunch of improvements to technology services in my life. I didn’t do as much studying as I wanted to, but I did figure out the list. I didn’t spend as much time with friends, but I’m better at spending time with myself again. I didn’t do as much community work, but I am now helping with a website for another community group. I didn’t give blood, but that is partly a problem with the damn blood services people being unable to answer a couple of basic questions easily, and I can’t do it at a regular blood drive — Amazon calls it removing friction from transactions, but the blood drive people have their limits that I haven’t pushed past yet. I didn’t do my exercises much this year, but I also hurt myself twice when I started doing them, so that didn’t take. Sure, I didn’t do my movie extravaganza weekend, but I did do Pop Expo again. Reading started off huge for the year, and I binge read a ton of stuff in March (enough for the year), even if it wasn’t the list I intended. Crime and Punishment stopped me cold so I have to get that going again. Ditched the spiritualism and gratitude journal, but we are at least saying grace more regularly. Recipes went out the window for my involvement, but Andrea did a bunch of new ones we tried for Epicure in the fall and some were good enough to add to the rotation. Balance, trade offs. They happen.
I said at the beginning that I was smack dab in the middle of two competing paradigms. The first is the “epic failure” idea, i.e. that I did so poorly on my ambitious agenda to be PolyWogg 4.0. At best, I was PolyWogg 3.0 still. Maybe, maybe 3.1 in some areas. Certainly not 4.0.
The other idea though came from an article I read in the Harvard Business Review about a guy who did this odd career coach thing where people in all stages of development do a feedback session, and the “candidates” make a presentation about themselves to a group of critics/evaluators. Then, the critics give them summary feedback, the equivalent of a tweet to rate what they said (not how they said it, but what they’ve accomplished, their “story” if you will). One guy outlined all his accomplishments, professional successes, etc., and the youngest one in the feedback group gave his feedback — “Nice start”. At first the guy was really put out by it, almost dismissive, and then he realized the truth bomb — the kid was saying, “So what are doing with it now? What’s next? Why is the story relevant?”.
For me, I don’t know the “why”. I only know the general direction at the moment. I’ve figured out the who for the journey (myself, Jacob and Andrea); the what and how are clear in the short-term (some of the key areas I want to work on); the where is Ottawa; and the when shifts (sometimes NOW, sometimes “I’ll get to it later”). But the why? I want to know where my story goes too. Because what I’ve done is a nice start, and I took a few more steps this year, but the destination is still out of sight.