Each year, as January 1st approaches, I start thinking about the past year and my plans and resolutions from the previous January. I often have pretty ambitious plans, and up until a few years ago, I would say I did pretty well overall for any given year. I know I accomplished stuff, even if it wasn’t always as much as I wanted.
Yet, don’t get me wrong. I had impossibly long lists of options of things I wanted to do or at least work on, literally too many things to do in a single year unless I quit work, stopped sleeping, invented a really effective cloning technique, accessed time travel, or recruited henchmen and minions. And even then, it was probably too many things. That wasn’t accidental. The list isn’t meant to be a to do list in the normal sense, it is more of a master options list of sorts. In short, it is just a way of remaining ambitious so I don’t turn into a couch potato playing on my phone.
Last year at this time, I talked about the ghosts of previous years. I went back 31 years and looked at various docs from the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. (https://www.thepolyblog.ca/the-ghost-of-new-years-past/)
As I went through that review, I identified some things that were important to me, some of PolyWogg’s Rules so to speak.
– Dare to dream but live in the real world
– An unexamined life isn’t worth living.
– To thine own self be true.
– Better I be a dolphin swimming with sharks, than a shark.
– Some of the saddest words are “unrealized potential”. Who begins too much, accomplishes little; who begins too little, wastes a life.
– 20% of your effort gives you 80% of your results, the remaining 80% delivers the next 20%.
– Being busy is not the same as being happy. You may not always be able to be around but at least be nearby.
– Every encounter deserves to be treated as sacred. There’s no such thing as a casual conversation.
– Never assume someone will say “no”, don’t be afraid to vocalize your desires.
The scary part though is that as I moved into looking at 2020, 2021, and 2022, many of the main items on my big to do list and my yearly to do list remained the same. I wanted to learn to bake, help Andrea and Jacob with their stuff/issues, improve my website and get into some astronomy areas, plus something “creative”. That kind of still holds for this year.
Wrapping up 2022
I often try to think of metaphors to bind years together. I was watching some YouTube videos as well as reading a recent post from Chuck Wendig, and a sense started to gel that perhaps 2022 isn’t a year at all. Not a standalone year. If 2020 was the lost year, and 2021 was merely a watered down echo year, then 2022 was supposed to be the rebuild year. The year that everything returned to normal. But in Chuck’s post, he noted a metaphor from his wife that 2022 was the mental equivalent of defragging a hard drive. After two years of everything getting jumbled across the whole disk, saved here / there / everywhere, a mental defrag realigns all the files back into some form of contiguous blocks. Extending the metaphor too far, you could even argue that some of those blocks had missing data, incomplete files that ended up just getting truncated or deleted due to gaps.
As I started the year, I had my paradigm (my development model, generally), and my tools for planning, plus my PolyWogg’s Rules. And it let me set some big goals.
Under Learning, I wanted to get a 3D printer. And I did. Well, sort of. I bought it in May, and then it sat in my basement for six months. I got someone in one of the local groups to assemble it for me in November, and it’s ready to go, but I have another big project to finish first before I let myself get sucked into playing. I’ll give myself two stars out of five for that one.
Under Reading, a lot of what I planned was my own Reading Challenge group. But something untoward happened early in the year with my online experiences, and I divorced myself from much of the online engagement I had created. The net effect of that was to remove my access to the Reading Challenge and send me off on a search for new homes for my engagement. I found a bunch, but they were too remote for me…if I do them or not, no one notices except me. As life intervened, I dropped almost all of it. I’ll give myself one star for this one.
Under Astronomy, I had grand plans that started with simple sorting and would have ended with trying out new scopes. The sorting happened, at least in rough terms, but nothing else did. One star.
Under IT, I had plans to set up a bunch of stuff in the basement, none of which happened, although I have done a decent job of sorting some stuff. Two stars.
Under Finances, I had some health claim stuff that mostly got resolved (some pieces outstanding) and taxes to be done (mostly by Andrea). We also pulled it together enough to switch all of our investments over to a better advisor, bank a bunch of extra cash, and generally get things in much better shape. Four stars out of five, although I could be convinced it’s five out of five since we went way farther than I thought we would on the planning / organizing side.
Overall, for those five areas under my “Mind/Intellect” quadrant, it would average out to about 2/5 per item.
In the Heart/Emotion quadrant of my human development model, Family is the first item. Looking back, it seems almost laughable. My goals were simple — help Jacob and Andrea with pandemic adjustments, plan some weekly family night activities, etc. I was looking to slightly improve our personal connections, a bit more support to my family if you will. I was not expecting that almost the entire year would be adjusted to only focus on this item.
For those who read my blog posts in the last year, you’ll know that we started the year with Andrea dealing with some lingering breathing issues and some leg pain. It was not entirely clear what it was linked to, only suspicions. Until we moved into February when it became obvious that her lymphoma numbers had jumped. After five years since diagnosis with no treatment warranted yet, it was time to start treatment. So she did. Six rounds of chemo, March to July. She was off work, some parts of the chemo treatment went well, some parts didn’t. Lots of appointments. Lots of trips to the hospital, labs, pharmacies, other things. While overall things went “well”, as they say, the mental energy required sucked all energy out of anything else. Other projects? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Was I the perfect father or husband for support? Nope. I didn’t suck, I wasn’t horrible, but I wasn’t the poster child of calm and support either. I did what I could, I suppose it is difficult to ask for more. But I found it really hard to balance work and family for the year. Many weeks I just felt pulled in too many directions, even after the chemo stopped, where I had to get Jacob to / from school, Andrea had appointments even for massage or physio, and I was trying to balance a busy work schedule around it.
In the end, I’ll give myself three stars out of five overall. I coped, I supported, I survived…I didn’t “thrive”. And some of that blows back too. Andrea could see me struggling with the stress, and if someone asks me, I talk about it. She doesn’t, she tends not to vocalize what she’s feeling, more able to articulate it in writing later when the immediacy is gone. Which is a vicious cycle for stress too. She wants to know what’s on my mind, but I can’t really talk to her about my stress without adding to her stress, yet she can’t articulate what she’s feeling, so I try to just push past it and talk it about where I can with others instead. In the end, I blog to release.
For Home, I’m a bit surprised looking at the list. I actually managed to hit most of the big items linked to organizing and purging. I’m almost completely done the basement, mostly in the last six weeks, and with Andrea’s help. I had hoped to finish all this two years ago and didn’t, last year and didn’t, this year? Mostly done. I’ll give myself four stars out of five.
Overall, for the two areas under my “Heart/Emotion” quadrant, I would give myself three stars out of five (heavy weight to the family side).
For my Soul/Social quadrant, it starts with my creative side and the Website Setup. Because I had some free time late at night, AND I revamped all my social engagement out of necessity back in February, I actually went pretty far in this category. I have reoriented both websites, added a new one for my niece, and maintained the other ones too. I actually went farther than I expected to last January, so I’m giving myself five out of five.
For Writing, I wasn’t surprised when the first 9 months of the year shifted in focus away from this side of my life. I did manage to add a fair amount of content to my websites, BUT I didn’t finish the HR guide that I recommitted to in November. I just didn’t have the mental energy to get there. I’ll give myself three stars out of five overall.
For Blogging related to reviews, I finished all my Book Reviews, added another 20 or so, AND moved almost everything over to a new format on my other site plus made new backups in OneNote that I’m pretty happy about. Five out of five, bumped by my joy and delight with the progress.
For Bloggables, aka other areas, it’s a bit hard to decide. I didn’t write about what I intended to write about. But I DID write a lot about mental health for the year. I’ll call it four stars out of five.
For Photography, the only thing I did was do a basic start on GIMP editing. I’m organized, but I’m only giving myself two out of five on that one.
For Volunteering, I had greatly reduced my commitments. I finished off stuff for RASC National, and still did the audit of the RASC Ottawa books. But I gave up star parties, offering only advice to the new person. My effort was more than I initially thought looking back, so I’ll give myself four out of five stars.
Overall, then, for the Soul / Social quadrant, I averaged around four out of five, being a bit generous.
The Body / Health quadrant is often high on my priority list and low on my accomplishment list. For official Health, I wanted to focus on some basic stuff. I had started Ozempic as an injection, but it wracked my stomach too much and I couldn’t increase the dosage to something particularly useful. I dropped some weight, but not enough. Later in the year, it started to inch back up. I had planned to switch to a new doctor until I met him and saw the way he runs his practice. Hour-long waits were not uncommon, jammed in a small waiting room like sardines. Jacob and Andrea switched, and I thought about it enough to fill out some forms, but in the end, I decided to stay with my current doctor. I hate her bedside manner, but by the end of the year, that wasn’t an issue — she left to do something else (permanent or temporary, I’m not sure), and I have a new one. Sign me up and call me happy. What really took the hit, though, was mental health. I thought 2022 was going to be the year that I moved away from pandemic “survival” into something resembling rebirth, and instead everything else got washed away to focus on either work stress or home stress. Call it two stars out of five.
I felt good at the start of the year for Fitness. I had the workout machine set up, I’d figured out the plan for the year, and then life went in the crapper and I stopped just about everything. Call it zero stars out of five.
For Cooking, I didn’t have huge ambitious plans. Some basic stuff that I wanted to do to expand my horizons a bit. Instead? Not much. We have an air fryer and have done a few new recipes, plus a new toaster oven, but overall, zero stars out of five.
For Activities, I had about 20 little projects, mostly creative outlets for myself, and I did absolutely NONE of them. Some similar ones show up under other headings, and while I could compensate in those other areas, these ones had no such luck. Another zero out of five.
Overall, for the body quadrant, I averaged zero out of five.
I had some ideas throughout the year, little mental boosts here and there. A series of additional “fun” things to help perk up my day — I did none of them. I worked on some reorg stuff at the start of the year, and it took me the whole year to get back to it. I planned stuff around some “themes” for projects, and then my life focus changed. Zero progress.
One small project, similar to that of the reviews, was to recreate my “TBR” pile of all the books I want to read, not just the ones I’ve reviewed. I’ve made a fair amount of progress on it over the course of the year, and I’m quite happy with that progress. I didn’t think it would be as much work as it is, I drastically underestimated it, and it may take me several years to plug away at it to the “final” version so to speak. But it’s some progress at least.
So I gave myself:
- 2/5 for mind/intellect items;
- 3/5 for heart/emotion items;
- 4/5 for soul/social items; and,
- 0/5 for body/health items.
Overall that would be about 2/5 on average. And you know what? I’ll take it. Cuz this year was mostly about survival. The fact that it isn’t negative or that I’m not literally dead is probably a win.
One giant piece is missing from my list, and it’s hard to write. Not because it’s emotionally difficult; rather, I feel at a loss for how to nuance or describe it probably in the right context and perspective. It’s my career. I’ll look at that next.