New Month’s Resolution – February 2021

Happy new month!

Wow, January flew by. I’m happy to say I achieved what I set out to, though! I feel like my work is flowing very well.

While obviously I want to continue that focus, for my actual Resolution this month I want to look at my personal routines. I felt stretched pretty thin last month and I didn’t always feel like I “owned” every hour of the day. Like I was always doing what I wanted with my time. In fact, it’s been a while since I felt like that.

I have a certain kind of scenario that exists in my head that represents “casual relaxation.” It usually involves reading, music, and a specific comfortable chair. It often involves a snack I’ve made myself; I make very good hummus. And while I always enjoy this arrangement when it happens, it’s utterly non-productive in the short term and so I tend to automatically cut it whenever I’m pressed for time. Which is always.

So this month, I’m resolving to do it. An hour of just that, once a week. I’m not going to the moon, here. I just want to relax, four times this month.

Wish me luck!

New Month’s Resolution – December 2020

Happy New Month!

It’s the last new month of the year! An exciting time. I have a strong NMR this month, based on something that’s been on my mind a lot of the last one.

I have a strong inherent dislike of “para-work.” That’s a term I invented, and it’s a portmanteau of “parasitic work.” Basically, work that only exists to talk about other work.

Once upon a time, I had a job as a medical sales representative and I was over the road most of the day, outside of an office. I had to report my daily activities in a very terrible CRM tool with a spotty 4G iPad. Thus, it took about an hour to do the data entry for each sales call, even ones that lasted ten minutes. The ratio of actual work to “para-work” was terrible.

I hated it. I recognize that some amount of para-work is always necessary. But in my mind, the less of it the better. The more juice you spend on actual productive work and the less you spend on just reporting what you did or explaining what you’re doing or creating a list of things to do, the better.

So my resolution this month is to create an efficient enough system with substantial automation to these processes such that my “para-work” represents 10% or less of my total working hours. I already have a number of systems I’m trying out and a way to record time spent on each of them so I can track progress towards this goal. The more efficient I can get at producing good work, the more I’ll enjoy it, and the more I enjoy it, the better work I’ll produce!

Here’s to reaching your own goals!

New Month’s Resolution – November 2020

Happy New Month!

My resolution this month is to think more.

Recently at work, I’d found myself in a sort of “reactionary trap” where all I was doing was putting out fires and performing project maintenance tasks that had crept up around me due to the somewhat unpredictable nature of this year’s events. But my biggest value-add is clear, strategic thought, and so one of my fantastic co-workers really helped me audit myself and restructure my workload to allow for more “intentional thinking.” We’re only at the early stages of digging out of my reactionary hole, but even the small improvement that’s happened so far has been excellent.

That, in turn, made me look around my own life and realize that I’ve been pretty reactionary lately as well. I’m very active, very scheduled, very busy – and so I haven’t really had time lately to just think. To spend time in deliberate thought about my future, my philosophy, better ways I could be living my values or supporting my family. My mind is constantly busy, but I’m usually aiming my thoughts at some immediate problem or task. I want to give myself space to just be creative, open, and without agenda. No fires to put out, just the fire within to feed.

My grand over-ambition wants me to commit to finding a full day to do this. It’s a romantic idea – no electronics, just a notebook and a quiet place. It’s a pipe dream – I haven’t had a full free day in years. But I also know that this is the sort of task where I can’t squeeze it in, trying for 20-minute sessions in between other tasks.

No, I both have to make it a big rock, but simultaneously respect what actually needs to get done in my life. So that itself is going to be my resolution. I’m going to find a time to think – any amount of time will do – and see how much I can really get into the right state of mind in the time I have. Then I’ll record it, and however long it was, I’ll try to break it. My aim here is to test, and find the minimum amount of time that’s viable for me really to get into a state where I can deliberately turn the machinery of my mind to the task of seeing into the future. Once I know that, I can make that amount of time a priority – ideally once a week, but even once a month will be an improvement.

Wish me luck, share any advice you have, and may all your endeavors teach you something!

New Month’s Resolution – October 2020

Happy New Month!

My goals are usually positive. I don’t mean “positive” as in “good and happy,” I mean “positive” in the sense that they revolve around me doing something. A “negative” goal can still be good – quitting smoking, for instance, is a “negative” goal, in that the goal is for you to stop doing a bad thing.

Despite the fact that negative goals can be good things, I don’t usually employ them. I like to fill my life with so much good that there’s no room for bad, rather than focusing on the bad itself.

This month though, I’m clearing some room.

I’ve removed all social media from my phone, and put it behind certain walls even on my computer. Generally I don’t spend a lot of time on social media anyway, but I’m often a junkie for election news. Despite that, I never actually enjoy it or find value in “pop politics,” so this time I’m just making the conscious decision to stay off of it for the whole month (and a few extra days…).

My blog posts will still automatically post to LinkedIn and Twitter (if that’s where you follow me from), and I still use LinkedIn for work so that’s a little different. But if you see me on Twitter, chase me away and remind me that I’m trying to stay clean!

Good luck with your own goals, whatever they are this month!

New Month’s Resolution – September 2020

Happy New Month!

I write a lot. Probably more than most people, I would guess. In addition to this blog, I write pretty extensively for my work and I end up writing a lot of short essays for clients or publications as well.

In addition, I’m writing a book (even though progress got a lot slower due to changes in my work schedule and then a global pandemic changing how my days are organized, the draft is actually 80%-90% finished).

I really love to write, but despite how much writing I do, the amount of writing I don’t do absolutely dwarfs it.

The number of pages I have filled with ideas that have never become more is staggering. The biggest category of these is creative writing projects.

My writing focuses on essays and non-fiction, but I have a great love of literature and always have (fun fact about me: I have five tattoos, and all are quotes from works of fiction). Over the years I’ve done a lot of creative writing – short stories, novellas, even prose. Mostly just for myself. The bug bites me and the only way to fix it is to pour some words on pages for a while.

So this month’s resolution is to engage seriously with that process and try to do more than just scribble in a notebook. If I end up with something readable, I’ll let you know.

New Month’s Resolution – August 2020

Happy New Month!

Last month’s goal was fun and fulfilling. I made several small improvements, most of which would be boring to you – things like how I organized my tools, how I took notes, how I scheduled my day. But it was fun thinking about those things which had been defaults for so long, and the end result is definitely an improvement.

This month I have an interesting challenge, a little game I’m going to play. I’m taking $500 and putting it into a special account, and my goal is to see how much money I can turn it into by the end of the month. My goal is at least $1,000. Here are the rules though:

  1. I can’t add more money to the account from my regular income sources. It would be cheating to just treat this like a savings account and call it a day.
  2. I can’t directly sell labor time for this project. For instance, I can buy a table, paint it, and resell it for more – that’s okay, because the thing I’m selling to the end customer is the table, not my “painting services” or whatnot. I won’t, for example, paint someone’s deck for a fee.
  3. Hiring other people is allowed, though. So I can’t mow a lawn for money, but I can take a lawn-mowing contract for $120, hire someone else to do it for $80, and put the remaining $40 in the account. That’s fair.
  4. If I need any specialized tools, equipment, expenses, etc. as a result of whatever I come up with, they have to come from the initial $500. No outside bolstering once the game is started. That includes even things like gas & tolls, too!

So that’s it. For the purpose of this game, I essentially only have $500 to my name, and I can’t sell my labor time directly (I *do* still have a full-time job, so even if I wanted to sell time I don’t exactly have an abundance to sell).

This idea came about because my oldest daughter has been negotiating her rates with me for her allowance, and we got on the subject of what she might buy with the money. She had some great ideas, but also asked for suggestions. I told her the best thing you can buy with money is more money – buy things you can resell.

She absolutely ate this advice up, so I’m going to include her in the game. I’ll cut her in on the profits, too!

New Month’s Resolution – July 2020

Happy New Month!

An interesting, happy-yet-unexpected outcome of last month’s resolutions for me – I achieved both, but not in the sense that I was looking for. I resolved to build a big thing and change a big opinion. Instead, I built a ton of little things and changed a ton of little opinions.

Here’s why I like that – making those things my resolutions for the month set my brain to the task of looking for opportunities to do so, and those opportunities weren’t all big. But I took them anyway, thinking that one of them might turn out big by the end. None of them were groundbreaking, but the end result is just a consistent pattern of behavior rather than single spikes, and I’m very happy with that.

So that’s my resolution this month – to quantify small changes, at least 5, that improve my life. Nothing groundbreaking, but I want to tweak the dials a little on my various habits. Baby steps to a better world.

Have a fantastic month, everyone!

New Month’s Resolution – June, 2020

Happy New Month!

I have two resolutions this month.

Resolution the First: I want to revisit my “build something” resolution from my very first New Month’s Resolution post, which was… July of last year? That can’t be right. Have I been writing this long? Anyway, that’s what I want to do this month – build something. Something physical, with my hands. Whether that means assembling a kit or building something from scratch doesn’t matter. I just want to hold objects in my hands and make them take a more orderly shape.

Resolution the Second: I want to be swayed. I want to find an opinion I hold and learn enough to change it, whether it’s from my own research or a compelling argument by someone with a different opinion. This happens accidentally all the time, but I want to see what it’s like to just purposely go find a better way of thinking about something.

Good luck with your own resolutions!

New Month’s Resolution – May 2020

Happy New Month!

I’m willing to bet that a lot of people had their plans disrupted in the last few months. That’s okay – if you’re like me, you’ve been focusing on survival and adaptability, bending so you don’t break. Resiliency is a good trait to practice, and there’s no time like the present.

I’m happy to say I accomplished my April resolution, which was to survive until May. Now that I feel like I have some of my footing back, I’m ready to engage with a new, more ambitious resolution for this month.

I am surrounded by geniuses – the people I interact with in my job and in the channels that run outward from that job are all fantastic experts in various fields. What’s more, those fields are often very valuable to me and those people are often giving away that value left and right. They’re writing blogs and articles, doing webinars, offering pro bono services.

Despite this, I’m often so wrapped up in what I’m doing (even those same things!) that I don’t appreciate that value flowing all around me, and struggle with the very problems they’re trying to solve.

So my resolution for May is to take a deep breath and dive into the sea of genius all around me. To let people help me that want to. It’s more challenging than it might seem for me to do this – seeking help, even accepting help, has never been my strong suit. But that’s why it’s a resolution.

I wish you all the best of luck with yours!

New Month’s Resolution – April 2020

Happy New Month!

So last month my resolution was to try to form a better morning routine. Well, for anyone reading this in the future, last month the world also ended.

I mean it didn’t really, but to say that there’s been some upheaval would be a pretty major understatement.

So my sleep schedule hasn’t gotten much better. There’s a lot of noise in a house with three kids, especially if those kids generally can’t leave and are crawling up the walls. But that’s okay – we roll with those punches. Life won’t always stay neatly packaged, and that’s the beauty of the “New Month’s Resolution” paradigm instead of “New Year’s.” You only lose 1/12th of the time & momentum when you need to make a pivot.

So here’s my resolution for April – survive. Keep my kids’ lives as normal as possible given the disruption, finding things to do with them despite the challenges. Get outside with them as much as possible while still being safe and dry (oh yeah, on top of everything else, this is major rainy season where I live). Things will return to baseline, as long as we stay sane. So that’s what I’m planning to do.

Stay safe, everyone.