At the end of every year, I take some time to reflect on the past year and think about where I want to focus for the next year. This year was no different. I’ve decided I need to adjust a few things, including my publishing schedule for this blog.
As I wrote in Goals and Margin, I set a number of goals in 2016, some of which involved regular weekly effort. I did reasonably well last year, accomplishing a number of my goals. But there were a few things that I wanted to work on that didn’t happen, largely because my regular weekly time commitment was too high.
I’ll describe my decision process below for those that might be interested, but here’s how it impacts this blog:
In order to be able to focus on projects that I wasn’t able to get to last year, I’ve decided to reduce or eliminate some activities, especially those with a weekly time commitment.
One of the reductions is that I am no longer committing to publish a new blog post every week.
I’ve maintained this weekly publishing schedule for four years now (with a couple of breaks for vacations and illness), and I’ve decided to back away from that for now.
I’m not stopping entirely. I will still post new material as I develop it. But those posts will be on an irregular schedule. Some weeks I might publish several posts. Other times, I might go a month between posts.
Towards the end of last year, I started to feel like the weekly effort required to meet my goals didn’t allow much time for other projects. I also felt like I was doing some things I wasn’t enjoying out of a sense of obligation. These are issues I want to fix.
For the past several months, I’ve had the word “Why?” written on my whiteboard in large letters. I was inspired by some podcasts I heard to really focus on the reasons behind my actions and decisions. Having that word front and center reminded me to take time to reflect.
For this year, I grabbed a set of index cards. On each one, I wrote an activity that I was either doing or thinking of doing. I then took each card and wrote down the reasons for that activity. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Why would I want to do the things I’m thinking of doing?
Once I had those, there were some common themes in the reasoning. I collected these themes into a list. I thought it would be easy to pick out the important themes, and then make decisions about the various cards based on that.
What I realized is that I don’t really have a good framework for choosing the most important themes. I have some long-term goals I’m trying to achieve, certainly. I have a reasonable sense of the kinds of activities that bring me satisfaction and joy. But I don’t feel like I have an overall vision or direction that makes these decisions clear.
After talking with my wife and some friends, I realized that I’m OK with that for now. I decided to choose themes that weight more towards enjoyment and the accomplishment of long-term goals, and less towards obligation.
It is irresponsible to make every decision based on selfish enjoyment. There are things that just need to be done. I love programming, and I enjoy spending time alone. But if that’s all I do, then I will have problems.
If I don’t step away from the computer to spend time with my family and friends, those relationships suffer.
If I don’t take time to exercise, my body will break down.
If I don’t work, I can’t keep the bills paid.
But even in areas where I have obligations, I am choosing to meet those obligations in the most enjoyable or effective way possible.
That means finding ways of having fun with family and friends.
That means focusing on forms of exercise that I enjoy.
That means making sure I enjoy my work.
In some areas, I chose to cut back or eliminate activities I enjoy so that I have more time to put into things I enjoy more. The weekly publishing schedule for this blog is one of those things. I still enjoy writing here, but I want to free up more time for projects. Once I finish the projects, I’ll re-evaluate and see where I go next.
While I was finishing up this process, I read Ernie Miller’s recent post, Stepping Back. I can definitely relate to what Ernie talks about there.
I really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read my blog, comment on the posts, or share them with others. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I was making a positive impact.
As I said above, this is not good-bye. I’ll still be posting here, just not on a weekly schedule.