Year of Sustenance
Posted under personal
As 2022 wraps up, it’s time for me to iron out my yearly theme for 2023. I did Year of the Garden, and it went… ok, I guess? Could’ve been better, could’ve been a lot worse.
But! I learned a lot. I learned more about what makes me tick, what I see as being valueable or worth my time & attention when I’m looking down from a 5,000 ft. view. I learned the kinds of things I need to do to keep my theme at the center of what I’m doing. And most importantly, I (think I) learned how to make this year a rousing success.
As I went through the exercise of thinking about what this year would look like, I started taking a bunch of notes. Things that I looked at and went “yes, focus on this” or “this sucked” or “here’s what I want to be important next year”. I also examined how I spent my time throughout my days. When was I feeling fulfilled, when was I struggling, and what could I do to get more of the former and less of the latter?
As I started to sketch things out, I noticed something - no matter how crafty I got with rewording my thoughts, it looked nearly identical to Year of the Garden.
Initially, I was very upset about this. Why the heck would I want to just repeat my theme again? That’s so boring! I’m a creative, dangit!!!
But the more I thought about it, and the more I talked to people about it, the more I realized - maybe my theme is so similar because that’s what’s really important to me right now. Instead of trying to upset the apple cart, perhaps I just need to stay focused on the garden I was trying to tend to last year, in order to make it grow.
So I went back and forth on a lot of different things. I almost stole Myke Hurley’s theme from last year, Year of Structure, as a way for me to build the building blocks. But, I’m not constructing something new, I’m continuing what I started last year. Other ideas that were floating around were Year of Foundation, Bedrock, Groundwork, Pillars, or 2022 2: Electric Boogaloo (thanks, Izzy, this one gave me a real good laugh). But ultimately, I ended up with…
2023 - Year of Sustenance
Sustenance. “Food and drink regarded as a source of strength; nourishment; the maintaining of someone or something in life or existence.”
As I type that above sentence, I realize how perfect Year of Sustenance is for me for this year. I’m continuing the theme centered around the garden, but now I’m less focused on getting stuff to grow, and I’m more directly tied to growing things that are going to sustain me, my family, and those around me. Yes. All the yes.
My goal with the Year of Sustenance: Renew my focus on the habits, hobbies, and behaviors I formed last year, and take action on them in order to establish a baseline to build my future upon in the years to come. The garden, so to speak, has been appropriately razed of weeds, pruned of thinkgs choking out the rest of the garden, and sowed with nourishment for the year to come. Now it’s time to put that all to good use. I have 3 main areas that I want to focus my energy on this year:
I’m truly blessed to have a job that allows me to be remote so I can be with my family, and to have the time flexibility within my workday to help out with my daughter or with things around the house when they need to be done. That said, I need to make sure I’m not just coasting, but actively ensuring that I have a future that I can rely upon. My goals this year:
- Continue to advance on the career track, and get a promotion + raise this year (ideally March)
- Learn new languages to expand my toolkit & help provide opportunities or a safety net (currently working on a SwiftUI/iOS app, and then learning Python)
- Revamp my daily schedule to block out opportune times to maximize my productivity (i.e. no meetings when my daughter is napping, if at all possible)
We’ve had a bit of a family health scare in the family at the end of this year. I’m fine, but it’s really making me evaluate and reflect on what truly matters to me. At the forefront of that is my daughter, my wife, and the family we have built. And I can’t enjoy that if I’m not taking care of myself.
- I’ve done pretty ok with cutting out soda + sugary drinks, and making healthy meals. I want to keep going on this train, as well as ensure that I’m drinking enough water to stay hydrates (especially as winter rolls in)
- I need to exercise. Something, somehow. Whether that’s just some light cardio in the home, or whether I end up going to a gym, I need to get my heart rate up and move my body. Ideally, I still am carrying around 35 lbs that I would love to dispose of somewhere. But ultimately, I just want to be able to keep up with my daughter as she zooms around the house, not feel like a loaf every time I go to pick her up, and be able to get on the floor to play with her without fearing that I can’t get back up.
- Continue to meal plan every week. My wife and I started doing this towards the end of the year as a way to keep us focused, make as few trips to the store as possible, and have fewer converstaions that start with me asking “so what do you want to eat tonight?”
This is really just a catch-all bucket. Things here relate to both work and health, while also being about my free time, my life, and other things.
- Start using time blocking in order to be as productive as I can. This goes for work (i.e. focus time during V’s naps), but also for my free time. I struggle a lot when it comes to actually picking something I want to do, much less getting the thing done. If I can put a little prep time in each week to make sure my time is going where I want it, I think this could be a huge success. My goal is to pick 2-3 things that I have the option of doing each evening, and choosing from those specifically (with the caveat of, if I’m feeling compelled to do something else, I can! The structure is just to help me start).
- Get back to using my Theme Journal’s daily & weekly checklists. The dopamine hit I get from checking off a task is so much better for me than just hitting a checkbox in Reminders. Plus, I always say that I forget things if I don’t write it down, so this is gonna be the way I combine all of that.
- Do monthly “garden pruning”. Look at the things I’m doing, the information I’m ingesting, and Marie Kondo the shit out of it. Things like podcasts, newsletters, RSS feeds, social media follows, my time blocks, etc. will all be up for an audit every month. And I’m going to be harsh. My time is valuable, and I need to make the best use of it that I can.
- Put my gosh dang phone down more. Utilize screen time, focus modes, and uninstalling problem apps in order to stay more present and less distracted. When I’m on my phone, it needs to be on less “distractiony” things (lookings straight at you, Marvel SNAP).
As far as my personal time blocking goes, I’ve sorted things into 3 buckets:
- The Very Yes List list (things I definitely want to be doing more of): reading, writing (blog posts, a D&D campaign, short stories, or whatever), and programming (whether that’s Ruby/Rails continuing ed, or learning a new language)
- The I’m Cool With This list (things that are important to me in healthy doses): video games (my actual backlog of games, not just Marvel SNAP), watching sports, and watching shows/movies (I barely watch anything that isn’t live sports anymore, and I wouldn’t mind catching up on a few shows that I’v missed)
- The Maybe? list (things that I’d love to pursue, but I’m unsure if I want to dedicate the time to them): learning how to draw, learning to crochet, playing music (guitar, piano, writing/recording new songs), and (re-)learning a language (probably Spanish, maybe ASL?)
And an example schedule might look like this:
- Monday: Exercise, then read or program
- Tuesday: Program or video games
- Wednesday: Exercise, then video games or write
- Thursday: Write or Spanish
- Friday: Exercise, then Spanish or read
- Weekend: Free for all - what’s made me feel the best this week?
I have NO CLUE how this will actually play out, but I’m excited to give it a shot. I do think that this theme is going to be a great continuation of the foundation I laid for myslef last year, and I look forward to having the scheduled audits to help me refresh what’s important to me.