So I clearly took the last post of procrastinating to heart by not writing for 2+ weeks…
Everyone I know has some sort of cathartic metamorphosis (not quite Kafka style) with a new year. I guess that is how a beginning is intended, all that newness just craves a plan forward. Most of us take a look at what we have, what we want, where we succeed, where we fail and then plot a path forward for the next term.
Personally I have plenty (by comparison to most in this world), want several things (stronger career certainty, more time with extended family, tighter butt, some silly materialistic things like vacations…), I succeed objectively (at being ‘constructively’ critical, seeking creative outlets, raising curious kids and running a schedule), and I fail a lot (being stubborn, being overwhelmed, being inconsistent, taking things personally…I could go on here).
Most of the time folks then try to parlay these into a set of goals for the year. Look on most writers blogs and you’ll see countless articles about goal setting all posted this 1st week after the new year (medium is a favorite site for good articles, their’s is here). For the last several years I have taken a slightly different tactic and instead of setting overarching personal ‘goals’, I instead list topics I want to learn more about. Now I’ve been a corporate gal and taken Six Sigma courses and power pointed my way through SMART goals….BUT, it doesn’t mean that’s the best way to progress at life…at least maybe not for me.
Before I hear mutiny and heathen thrown around for ditching a tried and true process, just hear me out…Yes measurable concrete goals are good and appropriate in some areas (like I need to save $X/month, make a budget and stick to it, expand my network by X people each month…). but at least for me those are not really what drives me yearly. Aren’t yearly goals supposed to be about your life and it’s direction? From a purely mathematical point of view, I’m 37, so I got ,give or take, 50 more years to make yearly goals, but really…50 is not that’s not that much! I want these 50 goals to count, and help me learn and grow in the life I lead… I don’t want to waste them on losing 10 pounds or saving $X for retirement.
I hopefully have a strong moral compass that guides me, and I know my daily to do lists with work or with family. I don’t use my yearly resolutions or goals to tackle these. Instead I make a list of topics (5-ish) that I want to learn more about that will hep me to changes in ways I can’t quite predict. I guess it’s because my overarching goal in life is to keep learning and grow both mentally and in my emotional tolerance, but I am definitely not smart enough to know exactly what that will look like or how to put it on paper. But I can make a list of topics and make progress weekly/monthly, keep notebooks like a crazy conspiracy theorist while I read articles online, chat with folks, read books or after listening to podcasts. This year my list is to better understand:
- Cloud Computing
- Developments in Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks
- The Spanish Language (help me duolingo!!!!)
So that’s only 4 but I think that’s good. Some years I am more into business concepts, philosophy, classic literature, government, art…it just depends. Typically the topics are not exactly relevant to any work that I am doing to get paid for (as I’m clearly no subject expert) but they are directly relevant to how I see the world and what may change in society/economy/relationships (which are the areas I tend to think about in my spare time). By doing this though I force myself to read stuff that I normally wouldn’t (outside industry scope), hear different opinions and think a bit more creatively. A normal jobs tends to dominate a person’s time & mental resources. Unfortunately that specific industry topic takes priority so that as an employee you can be a subject matter expert. It makes sense but I find I get even better in whatever job I have if I allow for more extracurricular research and reading. I guess here is one example I see that being a master of none and a trier of many adds to my productivity and overall satisfaction.
I’ve mentioned before that I can be rather SLOW. It takes me a while for ideas to really sink in, make sense and be incorporated into my daily life. These yearly topics are no different. I tend to need several years of periodic reflection and hindsight to see that I have shifted mindsets. Remember my battle with 12 week exercise programs? Yeah well after many years of being a failure at them I realized I still exercise pretty regularly (just not in consistent 12 week programs) and stay in ‘decent’ cardiac/physical health which all I wanted in the first place. So my yearly topics tend to fit into a long term view of things. As I stick with it I realize that my list of interested topics only increases as more knowledge always leads to more questions.
I think I’m growing mentally though I haven’t quite gotten to that ‘wise-phase’ yet…maybe I will over my next 50 yearly topics, but even if I don’t I still feel like I’m making progress even if I can’t fit it on a power point page.