2010 - Diligence

My goals page has been relatively unchanged for several years. As I reflect on it, these goals continue to be the most relevant near-term objectives that I have. I do tweak them slightly at times as my specific interests wax and wane. The ones that I tweak tend to be less specific and more theme-oriented, such as “stay technical” or “get back into science and mathematics.” Those should be more specific - but for now, just consider them placeholders.

All this said, a goal is only a destination - and dreams are cheap. The real task is conceiving measurable steps which advance oneself, continuously, towards that destination. These steps have to be flexible enough to deal with the vagaries of life, but rewarding enough that the mere completion encourages diligence - a virtuous cycle of progress.

Diligence - this is my theme for 2010.

Diligence at home, diligence at work, and diligence with myself.

2010 will be yet another fast-paced year - perhaps the most I have experienced yet.

The responsibilities and demands at work should continue to increase, congruent with our success (which I can only hope exceeds my wildest expectations.) Needless to say (and I won’t blog much about work here) I consider myself currently involved in the opportunity of a lifetime.

My second child should arrive late February (hopefully healthy and happy.) Everyone that I have spoken to says that the second child is more than double the effort of the first. Jerry keeps us on our toes so much that is difficult to imagine being pushed even harder - but “a burden of one’s choice is not felt." 

Through all of this, I cannot lose sight of myself. This certainly happened, or nearly happened, for the first year or two with Jerry. I am only beginning to understand how to put all the appropriate emotional and mental boundaries that give the best that I can to my family and work while still leaving time for myself - and not feeling guilty about it. In the absence of these boundaries, my efforts begin to have diminishing returns. If taking 5 minutes to relax means that I can play with Jerry for an extra hour, that is 5 minutes well spent.

In the last 3 months of 2009 I adopted Remember the Milk, which is a task management system. I clearly have much more to improve upon, but developing a system for getting things done has paid off tremendously - I accomplish more, in a shorter period of time, and feel better doing it - all of which leaves more time for me and my priorities. This is yet another virtuous cycle, where I’m driven to higher levels of productivity and efficiency for the greater amount of time it affords me to do what I prefer.

As with each New Year, I am flush with the promise and possibility of change and hope is strong. I must now factor in diligence - the year will move quickly - I must strive for constant progress, no matter how incremental. 

My goals for 2010 are:

Swimming - I have wanted to learn to lap swim (not just doggie-paddle) for a lonnnng time. In 2009 I started running but quickly found that this was very hard on my knees. I had custom orthotics made (and perhaps they will help) but long-term, the sustainable exercise will be swimming. I signed myself up for lessons at Queen Anne Pool starting in January (and signed up Jerry for another round of lessons as well.)

Reading - 2009 was a wonderful year for reading blogs. I follow over 50 blogs on a weekly basis and read hundreds of posts; as Zack said, I read “too much.” I would alter that statement slightly and say that I don’t read enough compelling/relevant material and I’m not selective enough with my time. Bloggers are great - but there is a lot of chaff with the wheat. I will read one good book every three months.

Writing - this blog did not see a lot of love in 2009. I found it very difficult, between the chaos at home and at work (and more accurately, inside myself) to be diligent about personal introspection. I think that reflecting upon oneself and the world is the only thing that takes us out of the routine, allows us to see ourselves more clearly, and improve. I did more blogging for my company’s site than I did for my own! I will generate a good blog post once every two weeks.

Health - I did a good job losing weight and eating better in 2009 - but there is still much room for improvement. While my weekly running campaign was a good start, if Zach is busy or I’ve had a long night I will typically skip the exercise. I need to find some way to make this more consistent. I would like to move beyond just cardiovascular and into strength training as well. I will exercise at least twice a week, once which will include some form of strength training.

Japanese - Of course, Eriko continues to speak to Jerry in Japanese - and this helps my listening comprehension. That said, my speaking, my writing, my vocabulary, and my reading have all dropped off precipitously. There is no good excuse for this - I want Jerry to learn to write and read and I can certainly put in at least that much effort. I found a great iPhone app, iKanji, and I have wanted a mobile study platform for a long time - this may help. I will learn at least one new Kanji per month.

Some of these steps are more aggressive than others - and rightfully so. As I grow more confident in a particular area, more efficient in others, I hope that new opportunities for accelerating my progress will emerge. At times, I will fail - but “the real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere."


Happy New Year!