GHDR Review 9: Staying the Course

It’s the second-to-last Groundhogs Day Resolution Review of 2013, which means that I’ve just got ONE MORE MONTH to complete the goals I set forth on February 2nd. The goals are all organized around the idea of “creative independence”, which I define as the means to support myself through the pursuit of my own creative interests. Freedom is more important to me than money, but money is necessary to pursue my creative interests full time. The specific manner with which I chose to pursue creative independence was through selling a variety of projects so I could make at least $100/day in profit. The plan seems very clear to me, and yet I am stalled. Or am I?

Current Status

I’m currently stalled, maybe at 50% of the monetary goal. Doubling the number of projects I sell, both printed and digital, would certainly close the gap. However, the latter half of 2013 has seen me bedeviled with motivational and scheduling issues, and I’ve found it easier to just work on other things like client and volunteer work. I also have been playing a lot more video games than usual.

I have a good sense of what needs to happen. Applying daily effort to commitments and my goals is all that is necessary. Maintaining the energy to follow-through with daily effort has been easier to write about than do, but I think I have made some progress with regarding how I apply what energy I have more efficiently:

  • Right now, a half-structured day seems to work for me; so long as something is delivered or decided each day, I feel that I am making good progress. Synthesis work is the most demanding, so I have to tackle that in the morning. I also have to tackle it in stages, often spreading over several days, but this is part of the process.
  • Some energy is lost when I get stuck in a thought loop where I am feeling dissatisfied or impatient. I’ve been experimenting with ways to break out of thought loops by removing the “I” from my internal monologue, and then turning off my verbal language processing. This seems to unlock the quiet side of my brain that is more attuned to the world.
  • I also realized that much of the uncertainty I had felt earlier in the year was similar to the challenges of started a new job. Enough time has passed now that I know what to do, and what my level of productivity is allowed to be.

So now, the goal is clear once more. Last month’s post tried to simplify it as several lists, but this month I think I can simplify it even more:

  • my desire: pursue excellence and make wonderful things
  • the means: focus mindfully on process and develop expertise, create and share
  • connections: be accessible like a beacon, and seek like-minded crazy people that inspire
  • challenge: balance existing external commitments with creative independence goals and personal needs every day

I want to make cool stuff. I need to learn how, and create and share. I need to be with the right people, and I need to tackle the difficult task of making something new every day with intensity and vigor. When I am not making cool stuff, learning real skills from people who know how to make cool stuff, or in the room where cool stuff is being made, I am not living the life I want.

The Activities of October

I got a mix of external projects and internal maintenance projects done. I’ve committed once more to interactive development as part of my external commitments, which I see as a stepping stone to future projects. However, I have all but ignored the creative independence goal to have a functioning store with 10 products. This is something I need to kickstart, and it’s just a matter of blocking some time out to it.

I’ve been making an effort to improve my working environment too. I realized one reason I try to get out of the house so early is because I don’t really like working at home. I miss the chatter, and also the environment is quite cluttered. Decluttering has been something of a rallying cry / distraction from other work. It is, however, starting to help me feel better about working at home, which saves gas money.

I’ve also been putting more time into social activities, volunteering with arts organizations and taking the time to Skype long-time friends to have deep discussions about what drives us. This is important to me, and it gives me energy.

On a related note, I’ve been thinking a lot about “passion” and what it specifically means to me. Cal Newport’s book was a subject of discussion with several people; I think his general premise about how to be happy as a result of following paths to success rationally, rather than leaping before one looks in a glorious display of wishful thinking / faith, is sound. However, I think his analysis of passion equates it with “being driven by intense emotion”, a “straw man” for his argument to knock down. I think there are some clues in the recent TED Radio Hour on Success I heard a few weeks ago. More on that in the days to come.

Anyway, I believe I have a tenuous hold on unlocking a trickle of daily productivity. It comes from reducing the number of subjects I care about each day, allowing myself enough time to make a chunk of progress on them and BEING OKAY with the slower pace. It also comes from being around people who share the same desire for intensity as I. I was reminded of this at Barcamp Manchester this past weekend, where I got to hang out with geeks with the same intense desire for immersion into topics that they are passionate about. It’s an attraction that, in people like the ones I spent a happy 8 hours with at Barcamp, manifests intense observational and experimental powers. I’d forgotten what it was like to be around people like that, and I was rather surprised and pleased to identify as someone who was just as intensely weird. That gives me strength.

The Next 4 Weeks

I have a lot of project work to do in the next three months, so the challenge will be to maintain progress on the creative independence goals. I trust everything else will take care of itself. All I need to do to maintain progress on the creative independence goals is to schedule an hour or so of time every couple of days, and brutally restrict my volunteer hours.

Projects, from last month, are still in the queue:

  • Consolidating all the digital projects on one store.
  • Updating calendars for 2014.
  • Creating “how to use” collateral for all the productivity tools I’ve designed.
  • Creating wholesale packages for the Shopify store.
  • Adding more products.
  • Blogging frequently, and more accessibly.
  • Clearing the backlog of reader emails and conversations that need to be shared!

I should choose some specific goals based on the above:

  1. Create new packaging SKUs for Shopify Store
  2. Create Wholesale Packages
  3. Create Collateral for a Productivity Tool or Three

Let’s see how that goes.


Groundhog Day Resolution Posts for 2013

Here are other posts about Groundhog Day Resolutions for the 2013 season.

  • 02/02 Kickoff - Setting 30 Products in 30 days.
  • 03/03 Review - The Aftermath of 30 Products in 30 Days; What's Next?
  • 04/04 Review - New Website, Increasing Opportunity
  • 05/05 Review - Winding down a long chain of external commitments, getting ready for a hopefully-productive month.
  • 06/06 Review - Reducing Friction from internal struggle, picking the winning attitudes and tasks that produce tangible assets.
  • 07/07 Review - Mid-year Review, Focusing Process
  • 08/08 Review - An unexpected vacation for me, Relaxed Progress Made
  • 09/09 Review - Slow progress made, but that's OK; I'm accepting the slow and mindful way!
  • 10/10 Review - After a month of experimenting with early rising, I realize that prioritizing my mission of creative independence might actually be what I need to do. Duh.
  • 11/11 Review - Not much progress made on Creative Independence, but I have attained a sense of surety and calm about what needs to be done--and how to approach it--while maintaining balance between external commitments and personal goals by accepting that they take time and that's OK.
  • 12/12 Review - The year ends without closure, but looking back I see that I've made progress. More importantly, I believe that I'm generally on the right path.