Groundhog Day Resolutions 2013: Kick Off!

"Happy Groundhog Day" Groundhog Day Resolutions are yearly resolutions, revisited monthly. They start on Groundhog Day, which is one of my favorite holidays. It’s also a day when we collectively look toward the Spring with optimism in our hearts, which is a fine time to do a bit of planning. It’s way better than January 1st, when we’re likely to be hungover an still cleaning up after 2012. That’s why I give myself a month to recover before I lay down my grand plans for the year.

To combat the tendency for resolutions to be forgotten, there are follow-up Groundhog Day Resolution review days that happen once a month on days that are easy to remember: when the month matches the day numerically (e.g. 3/3, or March 3), that’s an official Groundhog Day Resolutions Review Day; the pattern maintains the mystic quality of February 2nd as a “double day” throughout the year, and I’ll take whatever magic I can get when it comes to maintaining my resolutions.

Interested? Read on for the details, and to see what I’ll be doing this year!

The Details

This year’s schedule looks like this:

Date Groundhog Day Resolutions Review Day (GHDRR)
Sat Feb 02 Groundhog Day! Make Resolutions!
Sun Mar 03 GHDRR #1
Thu Apr 04 GHDRR #2
Sun May 05 GHDRR #3 / May Day
Thu Jun 06 GHDRR #4
Sun Jul 07 GHDRR #5 / Tanabata / Summer break
Thu Aug 08 GHDRR #6
Mon Sep 09 GHDRR #7
Thu Oct 10 GHDRR #8 / (Taiwan Father’s Day)
Mon Nov 11 GHDRR #9 / Veteran’s Day
Thu Dec 12 GHDRR #10 / End of Year

After today, there are 10 more review days. From past experience I’ve added an optional break for the summer, as the New England Summer is fleeting and I hate to miss it. Everything gets wrapped up on December 12, so the rest of the year can be devoted to holiday madness. Additionally, there are a few holidays that coincide with the GHDR review days, and I use them for themed reflection:

  • May Day is a celebration of spring, which is a nice day to also look forward and make some adjustments to your resolutions.
  • Tanabata is a Japanese holiday when one makes wishes for self improvement, written on streamers and placed on trees.
  • In Taiwan (my ethnic home country), August 8 is Taiwan Father’s Day because “8/8” (“ba ba”) sounds like a little kid calling for his Dad. It’s a good day to reflect on family overall.
  • Veteran’s Day is a day of remembrance, and I give thanks for the freedoms I enjoy due to the sacrifice of others; this grants me additional resolve to push to the end.

That’s the system in a nutshell. Let’s move on to my plans for the coming year, based on what I learned in 2012.

Past Groundhog Day Resolutions, Reviewed

My first Groundhog Day Resolutions happened in 2007, and I’ve written a blog post for every review day since.

For the first few years, the pattern was that I terrible at executing on my resolution, possibly because I wasn’t defining them well enough. In the latter years, I made an effort to define more concrete goals that could be measured with hard numbers: number products designed, number of dollars made, etc, and I found I was still pretty bad at meeting my targets. In the middle of 2012, I started to relax a bit and just pushed forward on them. In hindsight, I could see that my past resolutions were related to figuring out what was (1) rewarding and (2) sustainable. This was the theme common through all years.

Now, these are not traditional resolutions, which ideally have measurable targets (e.g. lose 20 pounds) so you can assess how successful you are. I think what I did was perhaps more fundamental: I inadvertently used the goal-setting activity as vehicle toward achieving resoluteness. Today, having failed at a lot of my previous Groundhog Day Resolution goals, I am more confident about the path I’m on because I know what did and didn’t work. Now, having taken a mental inventory of what remains important to me, I am more secure in my desires and motivated to build some real machinery to move them forward. Groundhog Day Resolutions have shown me, much as Bill Murray’s character experiences showed him in the Groundhog Day movie, that aggressive driving for a worthwhile goal tends to fail until the underlying foundation is aligned to support it. But when it comes together, it is natural.

I know, I know…Groundhog Day is a romantic comedy, and I should be more rational in my planning than to believe in the magic of someone’s brilliant screenplay. I’ll consider this: it’s possible find success with sheer drive and determination, but I will argue that the foundation that provides that drive and determination had to be there first, or developed on the job. Groundhog Day Resolutions, largely by just providing a framework for me to continue pushing on a direction when I otherwise would not have, has given me that unexpected insight. It’s “Just Do It” dressed up with a large rodent that can predict the future mashed-up with a gimmicky schedule, but I think I’ll keep it. It’s helped show me what I am made of, and what I am not. And I’ve had fun with it all the way, even when the reviews were bleak.

I think one major takeaway is that there are multiple paths to success. You can be the middleman, buying low and selling high between other businessmen such as yourself. You can make what the people want to ensure demand, or be the best supplier of what satisfies their tastes. You can insert yourself into the supply chain and provide the people what they need to live, taking your cut as goods exchange hands. You can be a team player, a leader at the top of the hierarchy, and be part of the cost structure of a larger money-making machine. These are are time-tested ways to make a living, but none of them are my way. I want to succeed by becoming as excellent as I can be, producing original works and seeding the world with them to see what comes back. To create, and connect, at the highest level I can. That is my foundation, the one that I finally chose in 2012, after 45 years of existence on this planet, after ruling out everything else. I am wired to see how this will play out, above all else.

Looking Forward for 2013

In slightly more concrete terms, that means that in 2013 I should:

  • Strive toward excellence and mastery in what I am doing.
  • Learn how to make wonderful things, by first learning how to make sucky things.
  • Share what I make and what I know with like-minded, self-empowered, conscientious, kind, competent people. That is my primary audience.
  • Build the means for converting ideas into tangible, shareable goods and bringing them to market for the people who can use them. That’s my secondary audience.
  • Be fully present in every personal transaction, as conduit for the values expressed above.
  • Most of all: be visible, accessible, and willing to fail on the world stage.

As the tangible goal for the month of February, I’ve decided that I would make a new product or form every day, around 30 pieces, for March 3rd. I think it meets all the above criteria:

  • I am making myself visible. Vulnerability is necessary, for success and for happiness. Thank you, Brene Brown, for that lesson.
  • It builds product inventory. I started selling a few digital, like the 365-Day Emergent Task Planner, last year. Combined with the Amazon sales, this starts to build sustaining income. I figure if I can make $100/day through product sales, that will give me the resources to start building some cool stuff. I’m almost halfway there, with 4 or so products. Adding 30 more potential products, of which a few might strike a chord with people, would get me all the way there.
  • It creates a reason for people to stop by. It’s like having my own carnival! If visitors know that there’s something new to see every day that they might find fun, then that will create more opportunities to make a connection.
  • It builds a new habit. Not just the habit of making things, but also the habit of writing.
  • It builds excellence. Practice makes perfect! Or in this case: good enough/better :)

On a side note, I’m also a sucker for epic efforts. I admire people who take them on, and so I want to do something that helps me be more like them. Although I know that “slow and steady” is the way to win the race, I have rabbit DNA, and it has to get out every once in a while.

I posted the first product, a 7 day planner yesterday to kick February off. After posting this, I’ll be working on today’s product. I’m not sure exactly what it will be yet, but it will be quick since I’ve burned a good part of today on this posting, and there are many other commitments to take care of.

So here we go! If you’re doing Groundhog Day Resolutions this year, let me know and we can form a little web-ring to keep ourselves motivated. Also, thanks to Brad Fitzpatrick for providing the Groundhog illustration for me. I told him he should make a groundhog day clipart package to sell, if you want to make your own Groundhog Day-themed helpers. It comes in vector (EPS) and bitmap formats, and putting on my technical graphic design hat I am impressed by how clean the linework is.

Hey, that gives me an idea for a product…

[snip-ghdrr2013]

4 Comments

  1. Phil Bowman 4 years ago

    Good Luck!

  2. Shannon Garcia 4 years ago

    Dave, I look forward to reading this every year. And every year I’m either “too late” to start at the same time, or I feel like I’m biting off your format if I think about emulating it.

    No more! I will join you on this yearly adventure, for you like Moleskines and sepia ink and tarot cards and number games and therefore I know you’re a stand-up guy :D

  3. Lynn O'Connor 4 years ago

    I think I should try to do this with you this year, given that I’ve been feeling so unmotivated. At least perhaps I can try. I missed 2/2, but perhaps I should try to do it anyway. I am so swamped with my $$ money making demands, things I am bored with, don’t really want to do, it’s taking most of my time. But then I am also wasting a huge amount of time as well. If I could get more focused and motivated, I might do a whole lot better. I’m going to try (note I say “try”) to join you on this.

  4. Author
    Dave Seah 4 years ago

    Phil: Thanks!

    Shannon: Awesome! Let the resolutions roll!!! :)

    Lynn: You have 10 more chances to jump on the GHDR train, so hop on when you’re ready!

A message from Dave:

I believe we all benefit when we respectfully share our perspectives on common experiences. My house rules are "please be respectful of divergent views" and "enjoy the flow of ideas!"

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