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2020 New Year's Resolutions Notes & Tips

Wednesday December 18, 2019

Happy Holidays, everybody! As we close in on 2020, I thought I’d share some of the New Year’s Resolutions-related items I’ve learned over the last year. My 2019 Resolutions have gone pretty well so far, with quite a few new lessons learned.

First, A System

Here’s my general system. It centers around Philosophy, Organization, Reminders, and Access.

  • Philosophy: Nothing is Set in Stone. I think about, review, and edit my New Year’s Resolutions throughout the year. If something’s not working, I might delete it. And even if I think of something important in July, it’s going on the list. If I want to start on 2020 resolutions in 2019, great.
  • Organization: I have learned to keep multiple years in the same file. In my case, that’s a text file in Markdown format.
  • Reminders: I have calendared reminders every few months to review my resolutions.
  • Access: I have learned that I really benefit from instant access to my list of resolutions. I added a launcher button to the XFCE panel which opens the file in Geany, a text editor I like to use. Within Geany, I have assigned Ctrl+Shift+J to open Commander, where I can usually type “ye” (part of “year”) and switch to the file quickly.

Organizing the File

Within the text file, I have sections for:

  • Table of Contents
  • General Tips
  • Resources (third-party websites; here is an example)
  • Yearly Resolutions (This goes back some years, and it’s nice to review the changes from year to year)
    • Lessons Learned for each year
    • List of Resolutions, including notes as I work on each one
  • Log (Containing meta-notes on changes to the file organization, etc. I add logs to everything, because I find that they help me understand my history better, when I review them—like, I started this file in 2014, and this other one in 2016, I see I really started organizing it in 2017, etc. This way I can share with other people, “it took me 2 years to get to this point, and then after another year I changed this thing…” and generally that’s good to know)

Some Lessons Learned in 2019

First, I learned even more in 2019 that New Year’s Resolutions are really whatever I make them. There’s no set “thing”. And I think this messes a lot of people up. The way we communicate them, they’re these hazy, single-line, “I will ___ more often”-type things. That’s kind of unfortunate considering the vast number of people who really do want to change, yet aren’t using critical organizational gifts. Many of them are INTJs.

By personalizing my philosophy and system further, I developed a system that encourages me to reflect and change my goals over time. It’s flexible and it performs well, and it’s based on principles I’ve developed in the past years.

Second, I learned that with lots and lots of text files (thousands now), I have to periodically address questions of organization from another outside level. For example, even though my text files are organized by folder, I found that the time spent navigating between folders was annoying. So I developed a new panel button with quick access to my resolutions file and several other key files. I also configured new software to help me get quicker access to files I need. The “Commander” plugin for Geany is a good example of that.

Third, I reflected even more on the principle of identifying phases of work. So let’s say I have a really ambitious project ahead, and I break it into four or five phases. What does Phase 1 look like? How will I know when I’ve started Phase 2? This has been really helpful, and it’s taught me that in many cases, Phases 1 and 2 cannot be made simple and clear enough. It’s important to gain traction fast. If something sits at Phase 1 long enough, it’s no longer a “Phase 1 Problem,” but rather an issue in the overall approach to either the design of phases or the understanding of the goal.

Reaping Benefits

I’ve really noticed this year that my executive process has sped up. We all know people can change, but I keep catching myself on this one and it’s been very surprising overall. It’s gotten to the point where I will stop and say, “HOLY COW how am I doing this?” If you’ve ever caught that rush, the feeling like “I can accomplish anything,” that’s very similar to how it feels.

It’s a long way from my days of chronic anxiety and depression, that’s for sure!

This work on executive processes is an outcome from my efforts to measure myself back in 2017: I wanted to decrease my use of perception time on a day-to-day basis, in favor of more execution time. Since INTJs are Ni-dominant, we can become stuck in a sort of perceptive hazy-zone. At our worst, this can contribute to a sense of foreboding, or at least convince us that we are not as productive as we could be. Further, it might even convince us that we are “stuck” with a bad outcome approaching. Not good!

Focusing on the development of a more flexible and adaptive executive style has been a huge learning process for me, and I’m really grateful that the professional personality type community helped me learn more about this.

I’ll also mention that I’m getting to be more of a fan of messing things up. Diving in, seeing how things go wrong, and then getting smarter for next time. Building a base of knowledge. It’s good stuff. Long ago I was very much a contingency-planner in the “let’s avoid failure” sense, and all that work on contingencies made me pretty brittle when it came to active, tactical knowledge-capture.

Looking Ahead to 2020

Some of my resolutions for 2020 are:

  • Refine my meta-organizational system for documents, frameworks, and general information
  • Enhance my publishing system. Right now if I want to publish to PDF or e-Book or HTML it’s not too bad, but it could be a lot better.
  • Become more of a this-or-that kind of person (not quite ready to share this yet, as 2020 is oddly specific…but I thought I’d mention the type of goal, as it’s been helpful in years past)
  • Make more use of my Coaching website for publishing.

I’ve already started work on some of this. I’ve found I can’t write it down without feeling like, “hey, let’s use some of this momentum right now to get started.”

What are your resolutions for 2020? What did you learn from 2019? Let me know! Email’s in the sidebar & enjoy the new year.

For Fun

Here are three resolution-related links I enjoyed, which are not related to New Year’s Resolutions:

Some really cool high-resolution Hayao Miyazaki film backgrounds

An astoundingly informational high-resolution map of Europe

And finally, a pretty impressive super-high resolution 365-gigapixel image Zoom

(I guess we are narrowly skirting that one relevant dad joke here…TTFN)

Filed in: Control /110/ | Productivity /119/ | Energy /120/ | Goals /52/

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