Resolutions Review #05: Filling in the Boxes

"Groundhog Day Resolutions for July 2017" For this month’s Groundhog Day Resolutions, I’ve taken the time to reflect on my increasing disconnection with my goals. I really have lost sight of why I had goals in the first place. I am making decent money, and I have a manageable number of friends. I AM, however, rather BORED with life at the moment, and because of this I’ve been rather unmotivated to work on the self-improvement projects that seemed so important to me when I started Groundhog Day Resolutions 11 years ago.

Time for a reset! With hand drawn maps!


As I mentioned in the prologue, I’m feeling bored and unmotivated. For a while I thought that the OBJECT & KEY RESULTS (OKRs) were going to help me get back on track for those long term goals, but what I didn’t count on is being bored with the goals themselves. Here’s the way I framed my Groundhog Day Resolutions Goals at the beginning of the year:


Last month is when I added some OKR guidelines for picking activities. OKRs are about doing SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE TASKS that produce a QUANTIFIABLE RESULT, and I wanted to make these tasks would achieve something related to the following five categories:

  • Gain Mastery through Work
  • Reduce Frustration & Increase Wellbeing
  • Not Be Bored / Isolated
  • Develop Cool Side Business
  • Aspirational 2024 Goals

These are all part of the equation for my happiness, but there’s still something missing. So I drew two maps to think about where I was goal-wise, and what I needed to do action-wise.


Back in 2009, I drew a Master Vantage Point Diagram to accompany a blog post about Dave-style world domination. I’d drawn a representation of what resources and assets I had with a representation of distance horizon goals. Between me and my goals was “the real world” that I somehow had to survive to get there.

While I haven’t seriously looked at that map for a few years, it seemed like I was still following certain aspects of the plan. I wanted to see if any of my ideas had changed for 2017. I started taking notes on the 2009 map by resketching certain aspects of it, and then fell into redrawing the rest of it.

Master Vantage Point 2017 As you can see by the white space on the right, the map is not done yet but there have been a few shifts:

  • Some of my interests and assets have changed or are less valuable (see the notes in red).
  • Two of the goals have crashed in 2017. These are “blogging” and “local guild/community”. The blogging I stopped this year because I have felt kind of stuck overall on the website, and the local activities have not provided lasting creative sustenance. It’s pretty dead.
  • I tried business consulting and design for hire, but didn’t like it because the way I approach my work is extremely time intensive. Most people want something done quickly or want something that looks exactly like something I’ve made for myself. It took me a long time to realize that this was the case, but instead of adapting I decided not to do design work anymore.
  • The “muggle world” is more distracting than ever, and I am actively choosing to bypass it save for the “small design+development business” and “physical goods”. These are the software projects I’m doing for learning science researchers and the Amazon store respectively.

I didn’t know where things were going at the time I was working on this map, so I put it aside and moved on.


Though I didn’t know what I was doing with the other map yet, I recognized the power of drawing my thoughts and decided to do the same thing for my current understanding of Groundhog Day Resolutions.

Master GHDR Model I started this by drawing the 4 tenets of this year’s GHDRs. Three tenets (creative interdependence, mindblowing productive synergy, and the neat side business) seemed inter-related, but the 4th tenet (the 10-year goals for 2024) seemed like an outlier. I recognized that the 4th tenet was something that wasn’t bringing me any joy; in fact I’d decided to drop the 2024 goals this year because I didn’t find myself wanting to do them at all anymore. However, I recognized that these aspirational goals were symbolic of a general interest in learning how to do things because I like process. That reminded me of my EXPLORE – LEARN – BUILD – SHARE mantra from a few years ago, and that got me thinking that there was another aspect to this: that of the pursuit and cataloging of excellence.

I filled in the rest of the model with the OKR principles, which I realized were related to life balance. Futhermore, this life balance was an actual distraction from my immediate focus on task selection and execution. Distraction abounds in my head, so I filled in all the fuzziness with swirls but noted the existence of a mental state when I am lost in a problem; this I related to GAINING MASTERY. After adding in some gloomy chores, billable work, ideal goal composition and two approaches to productivity I’ve been thinking about, I had a very thin line leftover to actually FOCUS ON GOALS. To this point, I realized, I didn’t actually have anything concrete.

So…I took a nap. I went on a walk. When I came back, I labeled layers as “DEEP MOTIVATION” and “OPERATIONS”, and filled them in. I realized that the OPERATIONS level was an abstract expression of some future desire, and that what I needed was to further design what these desires really looked like. Furthermore, I needed to remember to include people, because none of this stuff matters without people! At this point I was almost done, but realized I’d lose something very important, which was LOVE and PASSION. The sort of work that will really sustain me is ENTIRELY DRIVEN BY PASSION, not by commerce or the desire to “improve myself” for some arbitrary reason. So I drew hearts everywhere with boxes (representing “tangible assets”) and people. I think this will remind me to keep all three in mind as I pursue more tangible goals.


So the takeaway from this month’s review is that it’s time to get detailed on operational details of my GHDR goals, and also to incorporate assets, people, and passion into every goal. If all three are not there, then I’m not going to be motivated to work on them. Without people and passion, the immediacy (as I list in the ‘ideal goals’ at the upper left) that is CRITICAL to my motivation will not be around to help me start.

There are two new hypotheses regarding productivity too. I haven’t quite worked-into the overall model, but here they are:

  • The gathering model of productivity, as an alternative to the endless grind of production, is listed as one of “two paths”, but I have to actually define how this works.
  • The shift from task to problem-based work management is implied by my “gaining mastery” section, but the full measure of how I think it will work is also not defined. What I know is that time management sucks unless you are on someone else’s clock; if there is a way of dropping straight into the zone (here labeled “timeless space”) and then being productive, that might work out better.

The gathering model is actually something I’m working on for my Patreon supporters as a new form design. The problem-based work management is perhaps part of it, but I’m not sure yet. I think that both ideas have some promise as viable alternative means to increase personal productivity for creative scatterbrains like me.

I’m not planning on pushing very hard for July, as I’ll be experimenting with the new hypotheses and see what I come up with, and then test their effectiveness by doing a few projects. These projects may be related to my GHDR goals, or they might be something else entirely. We shall see! I also have a LOT of billable work to take care of before August, so this is a priority for now as well.

So that’s this month’s report! See you in August!

About this Article Series

For my 2017 Groundhog Day Resolutions, I'm challenging myself to pursue mindblowing productive synergy as a way to energize myself to do those boring (but necessary!) foundational projects like "making a living". All the related posts are gathered on the 2017 Groundhog Day Resolutions page.


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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