A little over a year ago I came across the Cortex podcast. Hosted by Myke Hurley and CGP Grey, the pair talk about their working lives and all the tiny minute details that go into making their professional lives a success.
This includes apps they use, workflows, desk setups, what they are reading, what they are learning, what they are struggling with, productivity (or lack their of), etc…. It has quickly become one of my favorite podcasts and have learned a lot from them.
One of the most popular things they do is establish a yearly theme. These are different than a New Year’s resolution. These aren’t necessarily actions you can check off such as drop 50 pounds, stop smoking, read more, and so on. Those items might be part of a yearly theme, but themes are much more broad. They provide a framework for the year. If you stick to this framework, ideally, you are seeing improvement and becoming a better person. I’ve thought about this for a year and wanted to establish something for 2019.
This year, I’m establishing the Year of Foundation.
I’m a very fortunate person. I have a great wife, child, family, home, and job. I’m able to also help others and establish a few jobs on the side to further challenge me professionally and provide for myself and family. My side jobs, I don’t view as a burden. Those are fun and rewarding for me.
While talking to interns who are 10 years my junior, I always tell them that they think I have my shit together. Yes, I have a lot going for me, but I am far from perfect. This year, we address some foundational items to make these second nature moving forward. Again, no one area is “on fire,” but all could be just a bit stronger at the core.
I’ve broken down the Year of Foundation into four areas: Personal, Family, Home, Work.
Year of Foundation: Personal
For me, this one is first because it really is the foundation of this whole idea. A better me, helps with a better family life, which helps with a better home life, which helps with a better me professionally.
Each of these sections are broken up into a few specific areas.
This has been on my list for about three years and it’s finally time to do it. I do have a space in our home for a home office and it is currently somewhat functional. It has desk space and room for me to work, but its a bit of a hodgepodge.
Establishing this area as a place for me to be creative, work from home, and focus will help all areas to follow. A few purchases are needed and a nice chunk hard work and it will be done. This builds the foundation for so much more.
I really dislike email. Email can be effective, but it can also be a completely inefficient form of communication. I want to make sure I unsubscribe from everything I just delete and take time every day to process my inbox and take action. Less delay, more results.
One of my favorite features of iOS 12 was the introduction of Screen Time. It does a great job of showing how much time you spend on your iOS devices. It goes into detail of how many times you pick up your phone, notifications, apps used, and more.
You can set Downtime, a period of time which apps are locked out, helping you put your phone or iPad down and focus on something else. I’d like to see what my weekly average is at the end of January and set a goal to be at each month by the end of the year.
This is more personal than professional for me. I need to reestablish some relationships that I’ve let go without contact for too long. Might find a few new connections as well.
This is maybe the biggest one for this section. This is both mental and physical. For all of 2018 I meditated and journaled. Every day. In fact, I’ve meditated every day for over 18 months. I’ve seen great results from this and will continue.
For the mental side, I want to add in one thing: Sunday walks. I’m taking this idea from another mentor of mine. Go for a long, solo, walk every Sunday morning. With headphones in at times, without headphones at times. Just let the mind breath a bit and see what comes out of it.
I also want to schedule regular appointments with a general doctor, dentist, eye doctor, and potentially a chiropractor. This sets the foundation for regular appointments, but it has to start with the first one.
Getting full gym time is hard. Just due to the limited hours in a day and enough things that already need and deserve my focus. To introduce something new to help with physical health, yoga is on the radar.
Year of Foundation: Family
I have a wonderful family. It’s cliche, but I am one lucky guy. I have a wonderful, loving wife, and a two-and-a-half year old miniature version of us. We’ve said he’s a mini version of me, but he’s showing more and more characteristics of my wife on a regular basis. Loving watching him grow up.
We will welcome another child into the world this July. I’m very excited for this. I know it will change things yet again, probably more so than the first child did, but I want to be ready for it. I know the transition from only child to big brother can be difficult, but I know he’ll be ready.
Ultimately, there are two things I want to do here, besides figure out this whole family of four thing. The first is a monthly family event. This might be as simple as a picnic lunch, but might be a trip to the zoo, a movie night at home, a dedicated time for the three, and then four, of us.
Finally, I want to make sure there is a regular date night for my wife and I. This is something we talk about, but never take action on. I specifically said “regular” instead of “monthly” or “quarterly” — I just don’t know what life will be like in July, but we can’t forget each other through all of this.
Year of Foundation: Home
My wife and I have been in this home for three years now. We love this home and love the community we’re in. It is time to really make this home “ours.” We’ve done a lot already, but they’ve been basic. We can do more, if we just focus. Again, all of this would be a true foundation to do more.
This includes putting in a new backyard deck and ripping out some landscaping in the front. We don’t need to have the ultimate solution for the future, but that foundation. The garage needs some love and maybe even a little painting around the house. Nothing extreme, but all things that need to be addressed.
Year of Foundation: Work
I do have a regular day job and a few side projects to keep things fresh. This is mainly targeted at the day job, but will spill over into other projects.
First, I need to really stick to using OmniFocus on a regular basis. When I am using it, I’m more productive, and more focused. When I let it lapse, it takes a bit to get back into a rhythm. This is how I can control what I do each and every day.
I’m still adjusting to the management role and know that I can do more here. I feel like I was closing 2018 with some momentum here and want to build on that. More listening, slowing things down, and focusing on others are the first steps. Also finding some dedicated time to focus on where I need to be putting my strengths will come next.
As a whole, this year will establish a lot for me professionally. I’m excited about what could come and some new projects I’m hoping to get a chance to be a part of.
Nothing here is groundbreaking. No super exciting goals. If there was a goal, it would be judged on December 31, 2020. Is everything written above established as part of everyday life, or allowed us to do something because of these efforts? Then, yes, this was a success.