Yearly Focus

2018 Focus: First Principles Lifestyle

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.

More details about the process are in this blog post and you can review the results from past years (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017).

2018 Theme: First Principles Lifestyle

The idea of first principles thinking is to remove preexisting assumptions and to build towards a conclusion from the ground up, challenging and testing every brick as you build.

A first principles lifestyle would be one in which all aspects of that life are chosen intentionally because they are the most effective ways to achieve a person’s goals. A life in which everything has been stripped back to the foundation and rebuilt intentionally. That life might look very unique, or it might not, its roots would be in the goals it is true to rather than how anyone else does or has done things.

This will be my theme for 2018 and I intent to spend time challenging assumptions I have about life, learning about the lives of others who are living first principles lifestyles and work towards defining a life that I can see our family adopting for years to come.

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

Relating to that theme, my challenge for this year is to profile 12 families, that have 1+ kid(s), that I consider to be living first principles lifestyles. People that have decided what is important to them and crafted lives that strip away all else to emphasize those things. People that have figured out how to do so while also having children, which makes everything a bit more challenging.

This will be challenging for me because it is the biggest writing project I’ve taken on where I am not writing about first hand experiences. I’ll have to get much better at getting the information I need ahead of time, rather than being able to pull it out of my mind as I’m writing.

Success for this challenge requires doing all of:

  • coming up with a format and series of common questions to learn about my subjects
  • completing 12 profiles
  • publishing them for others to read

Limiters I am putting in place include:

  • maximum of seven hours per week

Tiered results – extra stretch goals to reach for after achieving the binary result:

  • publish the profiles on a website other than
  • publish the profiles as an ebook with wide distribution
  • no more than 2 of the families were people I knew prior to Jan 1, 2018
  • publish the profiles as a paper book with a major publisher

2018 Habit: Daily Devotions

As I think about first principle living, one aspect that is foundational to the way I live and needs to be at the heart of future changes is my faith in God, His commands for how His people should live and the path He has uniquely set before our family.

I wrote in my 2017 end of year review about how last year’s exemplar, Eric Liddell, was emphatic on the importance of a daily devotional time. I believe that he was able to draw an unearthly amount of strength from that connection and I know that I may be asked to do the same.

My daily devotional time stands out as one way I can continually invest in; understanding God, seeing His will for our family and drawing strength from that. Despite the importance of this practice, this time is something that has come under fire for me as work, children and commitments have chipped away at the times I used to find ideal to set aside.

My habit for 2018 will be spending time in daily devotion: reading the Bible, praying, reading devotionals and reflecting. The goal will be to complete the habit a certain number of times per week and at the end of the year I will look back on how many weeks were successful. The number of days per week will start at three during the first quarter of the year and grow by one with each quarter, ending at 6 in the last quarter. The hope is that the progressive difficulty will make the goal achievable while slowly chipping away at obstacles that stand in the way of the end goal.

2018 Exemplar: John Muir

As I think about building a lifestyle from first principles, I wanted an exemplar that lived a life driven by their core values, even if it that resulted in it looking very different from their contemporaries. One such man is the naturalist, author and philosopher, John Muir.

Over one hundred years after his death, it seems appreciation for his lifestyle and the things he loved is still growing. He was on to something big long before anyone knew it was something at all. Most famous for being “The Father of Our National Park System” and the founder of the Sierra Club, Muir also balanced aspects of a more traditional life, running a family business, being a husband and father of two girls.

I’m interested in learning more about how he discovered his passions, how effectively he balanced them across his life, and how he was able to create a legacy that has lasted for over a century. It helps my interest that we share a common passion – I’ve spent a good bit of time over the past decade on land that his efforts helped preserve. Perhaps during this year I’ll make a point of visiting a bit more.