Happy February friends! True to form, I’m here writing about my 2020 goals a month into the year. But that’s okay! Don’t let small setbacks or mismanaged expectations derail you.
Twenty twenty. It’s been set up as a pivotal year for me, for the country, maybe (probably) for the world. I’m choosing not to let the anxiety of the moment change my perspective on what I want the next ten years to be about: taking chances in exchange for something new and something better.
I want to be something more than the little boy that grew up and lived his whole life in Florida. I owe this swamp a lot and I love many parts of it, but it feels impossible to reconcile how much of the world is out there to explore with how little time I have left, comparatively. How can I spend my whole life in one state? I want to experience seasons. I want close access to deep woods and cold mountains. I want to walk several miles a day most of the year, not just in the Florida winter.
My first steps on this journey started in 2017 with my weight loss goal. It fueled an interest to see more of Florida, to make sure I got out of it what I needed to before leaving. 2018 involved some surprise job opportunities for Rob and me, so we pumped the brakes on leaving to try to enjoy the ride. 2019 finally kicked us into action: we helped a friend buy a house, moved him in, moved in with him, and sold our house. We’ve spent most of the past four months working on improving said house (future post!) and now we’re ready to focus on what’s next.
In the interim, it’s all about downsizing. In all areas of my life. Less house, less ties to the area, less debt, less social media, less stuff, less everything. We had two garage sales last year, pitched a ton…I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve given a quarter of our belongings to Goodwill by now. I’ve parted ways with a lot of my video game collection. We even have goals to go through every room and audit everything to see if we really need it. Twice.
So far I haven’t missed (or really even thought about) anything that’s gone out the door. Instead, it’s left me feeling lighter and with more space to focus on what matters to me. And it’ll set us up to start fresh somewhere else.
Goal: Reduce Social Media
My life, since getting on the net in 6th grade, has been defined in one way or another by searching for new and exciting niches to inhabit, free of expectations and full of potential. AIM, LiveJournal, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr…all of these adventures started with a spark of curiosity and a longing to find and make new friends with similar interests. One by one over the past two decades, these spaces have been subsumed by society, each becoming just another extension of normal, average life.
My goal this year is to cut it off and break my bad habits. My Tumblrs are dead, my Facebook account is long gone, and LiveJournal is a fading memory, but Twitter…that’s been a tough one. I often found myself opening it and browsing before I even knew what I was doing. The habit is a well-worn path in my brain.
I’ve gone a bit militant here: Twitter has been removed from all of my devices except my iPad, and my login information is gone from my password manager. And really I haven’t missed it beyond the first day or so. Quite the opposite in fact: only checking it occasionally means I don’t have to curate so carefully, and I only end up posting when I really want to or should. I’ve been exposed to virtually no news but feel just as informed (and way less affected).
I’ll be posting and (unfortunately) following a lot less, but the trade-off is sanity and space. I’ll be prioritizing this blog and private messaging (Telegram, Discord) instead.
Goal: Block Time for Things That Matter
Even though I seem to be extremely good at staying busy and being productive, I’ve often struggled in making time for fun and friends. The trap I tend to fall into: seeing fun and relaxing activities as unproductive, even to the point of feeling guilty for “wasting” time on something not directly related to pursuing my goals. I’ve tried scheduling time for these things in the past, but I was either too burned out to follow through or the blocks of time were overly prescriptive of what was to be done (“watch a TV show from your backlog” or “watch a movie at 7pm on Mondays”).
This year, I’m going to keep it simple and block time for different mindsets:
- Tuesday nights: date nights for Rob and me
- Wednesday nights: friend nights, roommate or otherwise
- Thursday nights: me time, for whatever I feel like doing, with no expectations from anyone that I’ll be available
- Sunday afternoon: coffee-alone time to prep for work and whatever else
- Sunday nights: dinner and/or game nights with friends and roomies
I’m leaving the other days and nights alone so as to not book all my time and burn out from this structured approach, but so far so good! The real test will be to see how this is going later in the year.
Goal: PMI-ACP Certification
Right before the ill-fated election of 2016, I concluded months of study and passed the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification test. It’s only fitting that four years later, on the verge of another election-year meltdown, I’m going to attempt to acquire another Project Management Institute certification: the Agile Certified Practitioner, or PMI-ACP.
Even if I didn’t know why I needed it, choosing to chase down the PMP gave me a focus I needed in 2016 and rewarded me with a lot of self confidence as I pursued the role I’ve held since. I am hoping that the ACP will be a similar experience, especially since I am actively working on an Agile team, practicing these skills daily, and can see a much more direct benefit for my future.
Goal: Practice Writing More
I structure a lot of my free time and I hold myself to an unfair standard, but I do it because I want to improve, both for myself and for others I can help. To that end, I am in the early stages of starting a small group to help encourage myself and others to write more. More on this to come!
Fun fact: this post was written at the group’s semi-official first online meetup! Exciting! Ping me as always if you want in on something like that.
Goal: Find Ways to Be Non-Productive
Before we hit the road on a grand new adventure, I want to breathe and be mindful of where I am now. I want to find time to relax, to walk around with no phone and no agenda, to go to bed early and sleep in and not care, to waste time and count that as a successful exercising of an opportunity to not be productive and instead recharge. I want to see more of my friends, especially the ones I talk myself out of seeing regularly due to time, distance, or social anxiety. I want to travel—not just to find a place to relocate, but to learn, to grow in what I believe is possible. I want to go to a gym with Rob and learn a little about weights and machines. Maybe take a yoga class.
I just want to slow down sometimes and focus on the things I tend to let slide. Yes I see the irony in making this a goal to track and remind myself of, but maybe that’s the trick for me: seeing opportunities to be non-productive as being productive in recharging.
Goal: Prepare for the Future
At some point, we’re going to have to do this thing. The band-aid is flapping in the wind—I’m going to get pissed enough to rip it off sooner or later. To that end, this year I’d better:
- Start narrowing down places to move (and visit them)
- Talk to friends and contacts about jobs in those places
- Start applying for jobs and interviewing
- Get serious about a relocation plan
Rob and I have committed to making this happen this year. This is the year we figure out what we’re doing next.
The daunting thought of “what is going to happen this year” certainly makes it difficult to believe that what we do in the interim can move the needle. But it absolutely can. Don’t let the dread in the air distract you from how much you can do, from how much of a difference you can make in your life and the lives of others. You can’t change the trajectory of the world, but you can certainly choose your own. 🐾