• Resolutions Review #03: Community Making to the Fore!

    May 5, 2017

    Megapoptart It’s May 5th, so that means it’s time for another review of my Groundhog Day Resolutions! These are my yearly goal setting ritual, beginning on February 2nd and repeating monthly on 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, and so on.

    The past month was a pretty relaxed one, though I’ve also started ramping up on a new NSF DIP grant for which I’m doing continued coding as part of the development team. It’s a cool project because I get to work with smart people I like for STEM, while learning new (to me) technologies. It’s also springtime in New England, which is kind of a big deal because the winters here are long. As soon as it’s 50 degrees, it’s NEW ENGLAND SHORTS AND T-SHIRT season. The celebration of warmer days makes it tough to work, but I’m also feeling refreshed and am excited about tackling some projects.

    The highlight of the month, though, was making a giant pop tart for my sister’s birthday! I discovered that I like making pastry dough so I plan on doing it more in the future. There’s a HUGE difference between fresh-made and store-bought pastry dough, which I only noticed because I used the store-bought stuff to make another pop tart out of the leftover filling.

    But I digress…onto the review! (more…)

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  • Resolutions Review #02A: Introducing OKRs

    April 4, 2017

    Hey, welcome to the april review of my Groundhog Day Resolutions, my yearly goal-setting ritual that begins on February 2nd and repeats monthly on 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, and so forth. This month’s review is a bit light on progress because the previous month was consumed by crunch time on a work project that was immediately followed by a trip to Taiwan. It was a good trip, actually, with many personal hurdles overcome as far as language! As for the April review, I’m going to try breaking it down into weekly object/key result (or OKR) posts. (more…)

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  • Resolutions Review #01: A Simplified Restatement of Goals

    March 3, 2017

    After reviewing last month’s kickoff post, I was struck by how difficult it was to read. I’ve made a decision to try to simplify my blog posts moving forward as part of a general reboot of all my online outlets.

    I’ll get into that later; now it’s time to review last month’s progress on my Groundhog Day Resolutions. These are like New Year resolutions, except I do them on February 2nd instead of January 1st, and I followup on progress on March 3, April 4, May 5…you get the idea. Regular review is absolutely key to making regular progress; since the Month/Day pattern is easy to remember, I’m much more likely to do my review at least once a month.

    Last Month’s Insights and Achievements

    These are the goals as I currently understand them:

    • Develop a system for mindblowing productive synergy, which I’m in the process of defining.
    • Continue cultivating and curating the communities that nurture me.
    • Continue growing my side business.
    • and new for this month: reboot the blog.

    Let me address each goal in turn.

    1. Mindblowing Productive Synergy

    I described this in last month’s kickoff post, but let me try to distill it further:

    “Mindblowing Productive Synergy” is the feeling of excitement that come from being part of a group of people who help each other do wonderful things that they might not have done otherwise.

    By identifying this as a goal, I’m attempting to connect my ambition to my pursuit of joyful experience. I’m also subtly acknowledging that it is the connection with other people that makes the joy experience possible. I have more to write on this, such as the article on “what gives me joy” that I’ve been working on intermittently all month. I would say that this article is my main effort at the moment; hopefully I will deliver it later this month.

    2. Cultivating and Curating Community

    I’ve come to believe that my potential for joyful achievement is limited by a lack of community, and that it is my responsibility to ensure that I find (or help found) places where people like me can freely express and pursue their passions. I have very clear ideas about who these people could be and how my own life principles would mandate the culture.

    My main efforts along these lines has been the YouTube livestreaming and the virtual coworking chatroom. The videos help promote my positive attitude toward sharing process and experiments in an authentic (and occasionally grumpy) manner. I’m using myself as an example, and I try to maintain the perspective that I’m just talking to friends so they can keep up with what I’m doing. The chatroom is becoming a supportive place where the regulars are starting to help shape a culture of inclusive positivity and encouragement. It’s been a great place to hang out and talk about how we’re doing the work, as well as compare notes on the challenges of faceing whatever barriers are in the way.

    3. Growing My Side Business

    While it has been a very busy month for my contract work, my long-term strategy for income is to have a easy-to-manage business selling cool stationery products that I design. This has been ongoing since 2009, and it’s at the size now where if I can raise revenues from about $3000/month (with a profit margin of about 30%) to $10000/month, that will solve a lot of concerns I have about retirement. What it will take is continued effort to improve the offerings I have. The market for this type of planner has become a lot more competitive than when I first started too.

    I think the approach I’ll take is to promote the values I have expressed in points (1) and (2) above. This is not only my philosophy, but it is my brand. A related effort is my Patreon Page, which combines all points (1) through (3). There are now 33 patrons contributing about $100 a month, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my work with them. It should be pretty fun! Already I’ve provided several freebie downloads for patron.

    4. Reboot the Blog

    I think it’s time to redo it. There is a lot of old content still out there, but I think it’s time to revisit the concepts there for a vastly different online landscape. I’m much clearer now on what I know and what I’m willing to stand for. Rather than try to preserve the old content, I’ll just archive it and start a leaner blogging system. This is a good time to do it because my server is up for renewal now that it’s at the end of its service life. TIME FOR A CHANGE! RAWR!

    The Month Ahead

    I will be doing quite a lot of traveling soon, visiting my Dad again in Taiwan. I’m not quite ready for the trip, as I’m winding down the flurry of project work. While I’m in Taiwan I’ll have a chance to reflect and regroup. I’m feeling rather positive about it now as an opportunity for a vacation from my usual inputs.

    That’s about all I have for this review this month. Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in our virtual coworking chat, check out the link at

    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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  • 2017 Groundhog Day Resolutions: Kickoff!

    February 2, 2017

    "Groundhog by Pearson Scott Foreman" This is my 11th year (!!!) of doing Groundhog Day Resolutions (GHDR). I took a quick look back at my earliest goals, and found they haven’t actually changed that much. In 2007 I had chosen to focus on three main activities:

    • Deriving Income from Writing and Making Stuff
    • Building Sustainable Social Networks
    • Selling a Real Product

    By 2016, these activities had morphed into the following:

    • Have a “Neat Side Business”
    • Make Progress on my long-term 2024 Goals
    • Share What I Love

    In both sets of goals, making tangible goods to make money while pursuing my own interests is a fundamental goal; I later named this “the pursuit of creative independence”. This year, I’m adding something new I’m calling mindblowing productive synergy in an attempt to de-boringify the hard work. (more…)

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  • Updated Word Counting Calendar and ETP Journal for 2017!

    December 31, 2016

    Word Counting Calendar and ETP Journal New updated digital products and some news!

    Digital Download Updates!

    I squeaked out the 2017 updates to the Word Tracking Calendar and the ETP 365-Day Almanac. These are $12 PDF downloads for the handful of people who like tracking words and printing out their own giant ETP journals on paper!

    • The Word Tracking Calendar uses the same idea from my November Nanowrimo calendar, except it’s expanded for the entire year. It allows you to visually-track how many words you’re writing every day, with pre-calculated word counts for each week so you can see if you’re on track. You get a 12-page PDF for $12, so it’s a buck a month!

    • The ETP 365-Day Almanac is a whopping 365-page PDF in four different formats, for both black & white and color printers. Each page is pre-dated, and every page has an editable task list (requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader). You can buy either the A4/A5 package or the US/USMini package for $12.

    • Both products are downloadable perks for Patreon supporters!. Patreon is a kind of artist support platform that allows people to pledge a small donation periodically to the creators who are making things they like. I quietly set-up an account last year as an experiment, and right now for $1/month you get access to many of the paid downloads I make, along with some mysterious experimental stuff available to the higher tiers. The plan is when the Patreon level gets to $50/month, I’ll be motivated to start processing the backlog of requests I’ve received over the years. It’s a nice way to connect with people who really like the work I do.

    These two PDF packages were difficult to create, and even now they are complicated to update; I tend to put it off every year to the last moment. It does get a little faster every year, though! I captured both the making of word tracking calendar and the making of ETP Journal as part of my virtual coworking push on YouTube if you are interested in seeing the process that goes into it.

    New Double-Sided ETP Sheets

    Packaging With the help of my awesome printer Papergraphics, I FINALLY have something new for the Amazon store! Last year I retired the 75- and 50-sheet ETP pads because they were piling up in the warehouse. As part of revamping the lineup, we decided to try a different format: double-sided prints, which represent perhaps a better value. And instead of making pads with thin cardboard backers (thick cardboard is ridiculous expensive in small batches), we’re just providing them as loose leaf paper in a binding-friendly format. So if you’re using the Arc or Circa systems, these will be the package you want to make your own journals. I just checked the shipping status (below); hopefully they will be in-stock and listed on Amazon in the first two weeks of January.

    New SKUS on the way! I have 100 units each of the punched and unpunched sheets coming in, in packs of 50 and 150. They’re printed on the same paper as the old single-sided pads, so the quality is very high. I’m not sure how well they will sell, but I think eventually they will all sell-out and I can then calculate the economics of selling these. Eventually I hope to bring back the pads, but right now they are not cost-effective to produce.

    Also coming in early 2017: FULL SIZE ETP NOTEBOOKS, another test run of 100 that uses the same paper as the loose-leaf pads. We finalized the cover stock (a thin vinyl) and I just need to see the samples and work out the pricing. It should be very similar to the half-size notebook. Stay tuned!

    Happy New Year!

    And with that, this is the final post of 2016. Thank you for reading and following along, and see you in 2017!!!

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