It doesn't have to be special, it doesn't have to be long—it just has to exist. Just do it.
That's a 2019 goal. One of 'em anyway. Yep, this is a resolutions post.
I think a lot of people are being more thoughtful about 2019. I'm not sure why—maybe it's that the roaring 20's are coming and we all know they're going to be carefree and full of speakeasies and dancing, so we better get some productive things down before all that starts.
Or maybe 2018 was a the culmination of a couple years of collective emotional downturn that we all kind of co-experienced, and we're also co-choosing to snap out of it, co-encouraging each other to get out of bed and make some things happen. Because lord knows, some things need to happen.
Resolutions and goals have never been my strong suit. I tend to focus on systems and influences, looking outside myself for opportunities and solutions. Turns out, that does tend to be where most of them lie. Or, at least, that's where the fewest people tend to go fishing, so the fishing is good.
But of course your self is your boat, and you can get a better boat and fix the holes and catch more fish if you're watertight, in good shape, able, and purposeful. And wouldn't you know, as I get older, my boat's got some leaks. Time to take care of myself some more.
So, back to that list. Let's talk through it, and I can revisit this at the end of the year. Accountability is just taking account, after all.
Write one blog post per week (write like you’re running out of time)
We are all running out of time, after all. But my main goal is to develop my thoughts better, and learn to write better. Practice is the best way I know of to do that.
I've been really bad about this over the last five years of my life. Last year, I got a bike, and started to go on some longer rides. It's been great. This year, I want to double it and include at least one new activity. This is important, especially as this is the year I turn 35. 😱 A climbing gym is opening near my office, and my bike is ready for spring, so I'm pumped.
Cook more and better, and have dinner parties with friends
I love cooking. It's one of the most fun creative pursuits that I do on a weekly basis, and it never stops being a necessary part of living and being an adult. I plan to cook at least twice per week, and I want to invite friends over and cook for them often, let's say around once every couple months. Food brings people together.
Strengthen and reestablish friendships, make one new friend
Friending as an adult is hard. I've got some amazing friends in my life, but like most people my age, we're starting to spend less and less time together, owing to kids, jobs, dogs, and life in general. Social media also gives us the illusion of connectedness, but without the depth. It's going to require more effort on my part to strengthen the friendships I have. I also want to add to my real-life friends list and meet some new folks to hang out with. Friends just make life better. Any takers?
Heal my gut
For the last three years (wow, it's been three years) I've been dealing with a chronic digestive disease, a type of autoimmune colitis that's just been a fuckin' drag on my life all around. It's made everything more difficult—and I've pushed through it, but I know there's more I can do. I can find better doctors, more integrative medicine (seriously, is there a doctor out there who believes gut bacteria are even slightly important I can talk to?) It's time to find some real solutions, and I need to put in the effort to do it.
This one's broad and more personal. One of the things I have trouble with is simply trusting my intuition, knowledge, experience, and gut—myself. I'm thirty four years old, and I've learned some things. I know it doesn't work to second-guess what I know and feel, or do things I don't really believe in all the way. In 2019, I give myself permission to trust myself.
Be consistently compassionate
Health, mental health, and current events can make it difficult to look at each situation we encounter with the same level of compassion and respect for ourselves and others. I'd love to be compassionate in every situation, regardless of who I'm talking to or how I'm feeling. That's a challenge.
One thing I always try to remember is that there are always reasons for everything: as W. Edwards Deming said, "nothing is random; everything is caused." If someone isn't compassionate back to you, there's probably a good reason. Everyone is under different pressures and tangled webs of systems and influences, some far more than others, and blame can't fix it. Of course, some people are just assholes, but oddly, I haven't met very many of them; maybe even zero in the last few years.
Regardless of what others give you, donate your unconditional compassion back. I think that's unequivocally good, and I hope to get even 1% closer to achieving it.
Meditate at least once per week
I first meditated for real in college, when one of our professors (Berkeley hippies, through and through) led us in ten minutes of mindfulness at the start of every class. Since then, I've had periods of active meditation where I started to get closer and closer to awareness of my own thoughts and mind, and periods where I lost that and drifted just a little more toward mindlessness about my life, my thoughts, and how I approached the moment. Mindfulness is simply practicing intentful thought—exercise for the mind—and it's remarkably effective in my experience.
But on top of that, in the Zen way (which I think, as philosophies go, is pretty spot on), meditation and zazen are simply seeing. There is no goal to sitting—you just do it, and what happens, happens, and in that you might see a glimpse of what really is. There's truth in that, so I will do it.
Love well every day
My wife and I had our 2nd wedding anniversary just last October. In two years, I've learned a lot—but most of all, I learned that "I do" isn't a one-time statement, it's a promise to do every day. Love is a choice and an action, and each and every day you need to choose to love, just as you did on your wedding day, just as you did yesterday, just as you will tomorrow. It never ends: it's a continuous chain.
Over the last couple years I've gone up and down in attention level (hey, cell phones are really engaging) or just presence and time. Not so bad, not so bad, just little things. Normal things. I'm still learning every day, and it's wonderful, but one thing I can do this year is pay attention, be present, and "do" love every single day.
Leave work at work
You might notice that none of these are work goals. That's okay, I have a separate space for that, and one of the things I want to do far better in 2019 is be able to separate myself from my work. That's a hard thing for me to do—I work for a company I really believe in, on a product I really like, with a lot of people I care about. It really is a part of my life, and that's a good thing.
But it's also good to be a whole person and focus on what's important to me personally, and not let work take over completely. A clean separation helps so much—both emotionally, physically, and for my relationships and friendships. Plus, I truly believe it will make me better at my job.
Go to one music show per month, and make more music
All of the things have one thing in common: they're mostly habits instead of goals, and in some way, I've experienced them making my life better. Music is unquestionably one of those things: when I listen to music, see musicians perform, or make music myself, I feel happier and more alive. Music has always been a positive force in my life, and I would love to have more of that! Anyone want to go to any shows this year or start a blues jam?
First blog post down
Simple as that! That was fun.
I'd love to explore many topics this year, in product design, product management, software engineering, management, teams, science, photography, life in general, and more.
Last year, I probably learned more than I have any other year in my life, which I call a success. This year, I'd love to have a framework for understanding all the things and developing ideas even more critically. I know of no better way to understand one's thoughts and experiences than writing, so I am looking forward to it.
Ooh, one more: I also want to play more video games. 😎