2018 Focus: End Of Year Review

At the beginning of 2018 I wrote about my focus for the year. I’ve posted a few updates throughout the year (quarter year, half year & three quarters) and now is the time to do a final review.

2018 Theme: First Principles Lifestyle

Self Grade: 7/10

In terms of relevance with theme, this year provided plenty of opportunity. I ended up making two major job decisions and we made one where-to-live decision. Each of those provided an opportunity to evaluate our options based on first principles, what we wanted to achieve.

I think we did a good job drilling back into the heart of the matter and figuring out what we wanted and why we did. The difficulty is even knowing those things, the decisions aren’t easy as everything is a trade off.

2018 Challenge: Profile 12 Families (w/ Kids) Living Intentionally Different

Self Grade: 1/10

I failed to make any significant progress here. The only things I achieved were selecting two families, discussing the idea with them, and then conducting one interview. I failed to get anything on paper.

I believe this failure came down to two main issues.

One, this year had a lot more work than I anticipated. One move that took a solid 40-60 hours and a job search this Fall that took 150-200. That was time that was pulled off the table and meant there was less space to complete something like this.

Two, after spending my days working at a computer and in meetings, I just really didn’t feel like having more of that type of work. Though the topic is more enjoyable, the physical nature of the work is similar. I think this is one of the reasons my physical challenges were so great in the past, they were my excuse to exercise. Something to consider in the future.

2018 Habit: Daily Devotions

Self Grade: 8/10

In Q4 I ended up hitting my goal of 4 devotion times per week on 9 of the 13 weeks. This is tied with my highest yet and I was only 6 missed days away from having a perfect record.

In Q1 I was successful on 33 days, in Q4 it was 46, so over the course of the year I increased my frequency of practicing this habit by 40%, which is slightly less than the 50% I was hoping for a quarter ago. If you were to compare Q4 of this year to Q4 of last year though, which unfortunately I don’t have data on, the increase is likely closer to 100%.

I did make an audible mid-year to change my Q4 target from 6 days per week to 4 days per week based on how my successful weeks had been decreasing and my number of days total was staying about the same in Q1 to Q3. This turned out to be a great strategy – having an achievable weekly goal is a great way to make progress.

I had also specified that I wanted >75% of my Q4 devotion times to be in the morning. It ended up being 31 of 46 days, or 67%, so I was a bit short, but still did better than the 50% and 59% of previous quarters.

2018 Exemplar: John Muir

Self Grade: 7/10

Despite failing to read the most popular biography about Muir, I think I did a great job learning about him. I took in enough to produce this exemplar review, which I’m proud of. The only reason I won’t give myself a higher grade is that I failed to put any learnings into practice this year – mostly because I got started too late.

2018 Focus: Three Quarters Year Update

With the start of a new year, I take the time to set my focus for the coming year. I believe that by being selective about where I direct my energy, I can achieve results that are exponentially greater than if I split that energy across many different goals.

I detailed my 2018 focus here (read that first if you want more context). Here is how I’m progressing.

2018 Theme: First Principles Lifestyle

Another quarter of big decisions. After deciding where we wanted to live long-term earlier this year, I spent Q3 searching for my next job and evaluating a lot of very different options. In the end, a very tough decision came down to a number of first principles about what was most important to me. I will detail that decision more sometime soon.

2018 Challenge: Profile 12 Families (w/ Kids) Living Intentionally Different

I kicked off my first two interviews in the 3rd quarter of the year. At this point I would need to average one per week to complete this challenge by the end of the year. While that could happen, I probably wouldn’t be happy with the quality of it. What is more likely is that I will get started and depending on how much I enjoy it, either take a low score or carry this challenge into next year a bit.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is the format. An e-book was my first idea, but now I’m leaning more towards using this content to build an online community of sorts. I think there are a lot of people that would be interested in this content, but also interested in connecting with other people and getting advice about how to execute on the ideas they are reading about.

Having built online content hubs and communities before, I know there is a lot of value in them once you can get them spinning the right way, but that initial work is really hard.

2018 Habit: Daily Devotions

For Q3 my bar raised from 4 days a week to 5. Meanwhile I only completed this habit 36 times as compared to 37 the prior quarter. I plateaued in the face of a rising goal, meaning my results are overall worse. I only completed the target number in 3 of the 13 weeks as opposed to 7 last quarter and 9 the previous.

Another change I noticed last quarter is that I only practiced this habit in the morning 50% of the time, as opposed to 70% during the previous quarter. I’ve noted previously that I find the morning to be a more impactful time and so the fact that I haven’t been good about making time in the morning, before my progeny wake up, is having a major impact on quality and quantity.

As a result of that analysis, I am going to call an audible and change my target number this quarter in order to encourage the originally-intended long term behavior, in light of new data from the past 9 months. Instead of increasing the target number to 6 a week, I am going to drop it back to 4. I intend to be able to complete that more than the 9/13 I did in Q1, which would put me at around 50 completed days for the quarter, which is a 50% increase over where I started in Q1. I am also going to look to have >75% of those be in the morning – this is a new qualitative measure I’m adding for effectiveness sake.

2018 Exemplar: John Muir

After maxing out the renewal limit of the local library twice and only getting to page 27 in John Muir’s biography, I’ve realized I’m probably not going to finish it this year. As a result, I’ve changed course. I’m instead going to learn about him through a few documentaries.

I’ve been concerned that my exemplar item was devolving into ‘read a biography about this person’ and that I wasn’t doing well at that anyways, so I’ve decided to put some more structure around the practice. I’ve come up with a set of questions to help me understand what motivated that person and what practices they put in place to help them be successful at what they achieved. The template also includes an actionable item where I put one of their practices in motion and evaluate how it went.

I am already hard at work on completing this year’s Exemplar Review for John Muir based on information from some videos put together by PBS & the U.S. National Park Service. I hope this new format will prove more effective and also allow me to broaden the range of who I can chose as an exemplar.

2018 Focus: Half Year Update

With the start of a new year, I take the time to set my focus for the coming year. I believe that by being selective about where I direct my energy, I can achieve results that are exponentially greater than if I split that energy across many different goals.

I detailed my 2018 focus here (read that first if you want more context). Here is how I’m progressing.

2018 Theme: First Principles Lifestyle

Similar to my update from last quarter – I feel like this theme remains very relevant to our effort for the year, even if I haven’t made much progress on the specific named items below. Having decided on where to live, and now evaluating how we want our family to earn an income, has brought us back again and again to first principles.

2018 Challenge: Profile 12 Families (w/ Kids) Living Intentionally Different

No progress.

I feel bad about this but it just hasn’t ever been the most important thing on my list during a working block, nor has it seemed fun during a free block. Something to think about in creating future challenges. I think my physical challenges worked so well because they inherently were fun and also got me away from my computer, which I already spend enough time in front of to earn an income.

2018 Habit: Daily Devotions

For Q2 my bar raised from 3 days a week to 4. Because of that I regressed to only hitting 7 of the 13 weeks, as opposed to 9 in Q1. But, because the bar was higher, I actually hit 37 days in the quarter which is more than the 33 from Q1. So while I didn’t keep pace with the increase in my goal, I did objectively increase.

Of note, on no week did I complete more than the goal of 4, meaning, once again, things will get more difficult this upcoming quarter when the goal increases to 5 per week.

One thing I noticed this quarter was that on 3 of my 6 missed weeks, it was apparent before Saturday that I would miss the week, there simply weren’t enough days left to get to 4. In those weeks I still could have gotten one or two more days in, but I did not. This is one of the negative aspects of the weekly goal format, but I still think I like it better than the yearly average approach I took to this type of habit previously.

I am concerned that as the number of the goal increases to five and eventually six, it is going to become apparent even earlier in the week, in some cases, that I will miss. In order to counteract this, I am also going to look at the raw quarterly total, so that I have some incentive to keep up the habit at the end of the week on weeks that won’t be able to hit the goal.

On the qualitative side, I started tracking whether I had my devotion time in the morning or evening each day. On 70%+ of the days I was able to do it in the morning – thanks largely to my youngest waking up early. I got in the habit of spending that time before the older children wake up this way which goes well with a note I shared in my last quarter update that I find the morning a much more effective time than the evening to have this devotion time.

2018 Exemplar: John Muir

Very little progress here. I started reading a biography on Muir, ran a race that crossed through a state park named after him and took advantage of camping, with my boys, in a National Park that his efforts helped create.

I had to return biography to the library on account of hitting the maximum renewal limit of ‘how is it taking you this long to read this book – weeks’. I’m next on the list to get it again though, hopefully I’m a bit faster this time.