Resolutions Review #09: Redefining Mission, All Systems Go

Happy November! I’m many days late with this Groundhog Day Resolutions report because of an extended visit by my dad and sister for November. He’s here until Thanksgiving, which is a wonderful treat, and I’ve been trying to be attentive. However, I have to admit that I’ve not been sure what to report on this month.

So, I reviewed the recap of the year so far and last October’s review to get a sense of where I was. I think I have made an important clarification about my relationship with people and how that helps me feel fulfilled regarding the important “sense of mission” that I crave.

INSIGHTS OF THE PAST MONTH

Here’s three main points!

(A) Seeing people as a confirming or affirming source is a big mistake when it comes to fulfilling one’s own personal mission. This is a big DUH on my part, and I didn’t realize I had fallen into this trap. While I am pretty good about looking toward myself for answers, I think I have felt very lonely in the pursuit of my own goals and wished that other people bought-into them. The truth is people have their own goals and they are not interested in mine unless they do happen to align in a mutually beneficial way. There is nothing wrong with this. However, I allowed that secret wish—a yearning for someone to truly care beyond the mechanics of self-interest—to become a toxic dream that poisoned my motivation and drive and turned it into a black fog of nihilism.

(B) Even if people do not care about what I do beyond their self interest, this does not mean I am unloveable. The pleasant fact is that there are people who just happen to LIKE me for their own mysterious reasons, and this is totally cool. There’s a difference between “the utility of what I do” and “why people like me”. There might be correlation between what I do and what people like, but as they say correlation is not causation. There are people who like what I make, but may not care about me as a person. Likewise there are people who care not a whit at all, or people who like ME but just don’t understand what it is I do. And so on. The kind of quality connection I want to make is with people who like what I do and also like me.

(C) Instead of looking toward people as a source of affirmation or confirmation to drive my motivation, I instead see them as ACTIVATED NODES in my live network. Creating this personal network and being a reliable source of my own peculiar energy is the mission.

I think that this is a big breakthrough in my understanding of how I relate to people and my own work. It gives me a role to play (that of an activated source of “daveness” or “the way of dave”), which is the leadership role that only I can fulfill. It affirms my own goals and desires, because I believe that there are interesting aspects to daveness that others have historically appreciated. And conveniently, the only reliable source of daveness is ME. I can’t squeeze daveness out of someone who is not a Dave, but I perhaps can distill it from a network of awesome like-minded people who share similar qualities. And wouldn’t that be something amazing to behold? From my point of view, it totally is! Your mileage may vary, but that’s OK and expected (see point A).

Just to be sure I’m on the right track, let me look at my original goals for 2017. I wrote them as:

  • Doing fulfilling creative work that pays for household expense and research interests.
  • Have regular energizing connections and collaborations, so I don’t get bored or lonely.
  • Share what I discover, learn and create with people who have compatible values, principles, and research interests.

In hindsight, this is a matter-of-fact way of saying that I want to be me, to have a functioning system that generates Daveness reliably. At the time I wrote these, I recognized the mechanisms that I knew made me feel good and that this lead to the creation of revenue-generating work, but I was missing a visceral way of measuring how well I was doing. So instead I created reasonable metrics like these:

  • Make things and show them to people who value them. Figure out how to sell services and products by making them accessible and easy to try.
  • Overcome my shyness and meet more people, engage in social interactions and join other people’s projects.
  • Document and share what I’m doing on my blog as openly and frequently as I can. Build a new website that makes this easier.

In recent months I’ve tried to focus on two projects that I believed Were critical:

  • Making a new website that is organized as a research resource, not a blog.
  • Daring to express my inner self with unapologetic and joyful conviction, beyond what I have done before.

These projects are still critical, but I’ll add a new critical project to them:

  • Take on the leadership role of being an active source for what I believe in and make it possible for other active nodes to become part of my network.

I have been doing this, somewhat blindly, for the past twenty years. My YouTube channel and Virtual Coworking Chat Room are the two latest expressions of the desire to create some kind of wonderful network, which I will describe as a collection of self-empowered, conscientious, competent, generous, positive-minded and kind folks who believe that inclusiveness and sharing trump shallow zero-sum thinking and entitled self-righteousness. Those are my values, and the work I do is designed elevate them in some way.

WOOHOO!

That said, I still have to make my new website system and I haven’t done it yet. In that sense, the past month has been something of a failure. However, in the grand scheme of BUILDING THE NETWORK OF DAVE-DRIVEN VALUES I have made consistent and meaningful advances every day! I just need to make sure some portion of my daily work to bring about this network fulfills one of the following criteria:

  1. make stuff that has the possibility to bring me life-sustaining income, and show it to people.
  2. package my thoughts and provide reliable access to them, so like-minded people can find me.
  3. build product and infrastructure that helps me tackle the complicated projects that give me even more express power, value, and reach.

And that is really it. This feels more complete than any previous system definition I’ve made, and the uber goal can be expressed as follows:

Become the best possible version of myself!

With this new framework defined, let me review last month and the month to come!

ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE PAST MONTH

  • I’ve been continuing to do my YouTube stream, notably the What’s Up Dave livestream “for my friends on the Internet”. I’ve not known exactly WHY I’ve been making them for the past 200 episodes, but I found them easy and fun to do. I’ve been thinking though that it would be nice to make some polished, edited content in 2018 once I figured out what it is that I’m doing with my website. I think in this post I have started to answer that question.

  • We’ve had a few more people pop by the Virtual Coworking Chatroom (link) to check it out. I’m really happy how our members are super gracious in welcoming newcomers, and it’s starting to become a cozy community.

  • I released color versions of my Nanowrimo Word Counting Calendar, and I think people have liked using it. I haven’t seen as many mentions of it in years past, but I think it’s helped a few more people find and connect to my work, so that’s a big win!

  • With Dad’s visit, I’ve made several improvements to the internal arrangement of my house. The master bedroom was cleaned-up and turned into a mini-apartment for Dad to chill-out in, and I’m going to look forward to using it as MY chill-out room in the future. Likewise, the guest bedroom has been consolidated somewhat and I can see what improvements I can make there. This has DOUBLED the amount of “comfortable space” available in my condo. I’ve also made enough room in the basement so I can start sorting all the junk down there into discernible patterns of use and usefulness, and the living room cafe/studio has also seen some small improvements in storage utilization.

  • I have made a tiny bit of progress on the new website system, but haven’t spent as much time on it because of a big server transition for a legacy client (completed October 21) and then having to prepare for Dad’s visit (arrived November 4). Still, some progress!

  • I had the idea of turning my Patreon into a kind of club that supports and collect my work in a fun way. A kind of FUN CLUB! I like this idea a lot. The money that comes in from my generous sponsors would go directly into funding interesting limited-run projects and making them available for free or a steep discount. This will be a great way to have fun testing new products and exercising the production capabilities of my commercial printing partners.

  • My intense exploration of gender and what it means to be “non-binary” has given me a lot of insight into what’s important to me. I started this back in March, and this work has led me to the conclusion that I have to take responsibility for being myself with unapologetic conviction. For me to be myself, I need to make that determination independent of what other people think. I want to do things not for the sake of appearances, but because I want how I appear to reflect who I really am. This is the kind of personal truth that I seek to express, and it transcends gender. To do because I love. To be because I love. To be unfraid that I love. I believe that this is what leads to becoming my best self.

LOOKING FORWARD TO DECEMBER

I’m looking forward to further defining my mission. A lot of the pieces of it are in this post, but I’d like to distill it down into some kind of reference work so I can hold-on to it and maintain operational clarity on a daily basis. In other words, to stay focused.

The new website still isn’t done. This is a huge priority that has also proven to be intensely frustrating because I wasn’t feeling motivated to do it. I think I may have solved the motivation problem by redefining my mission, but I won’t be sure until December 12 (the next and last Groundhog Day Resolution Review for 2017). Knowing that all the OTHER stuff I’ve been doing (virtual coworking, YouTube, researching fun things) is part of the mission reduces my frustration considerably; as I said above, I just need to make sure I’m making SOME progress on the hard technical stuff.

I think that I’ll just leave that as the main goal, and not worry about anything else. It seems to automatically happen anyway as part of my natural day, but to be sure of this I will track all mission-related stuff somewhere. Perhaps I will make a new version of the Concrete Goals Tracker

That’s it for this month’s Groundhog Day Resolutions Report! Thanks for reading!



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.

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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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