GHDR Weekly Review 7.1 – Remixing Life Principles

Choosing Pumpkins Time for my somewhat-delayed weekly Groundhog Day Resolutions Review! In September’s Monthly Review, I had the thought that maybe I was doing OK as far as my goals were going, and I have just not allowed myself to see the positive side of the process. Instead of celebrating effort, I have been very results-focused in my thinking because I can’t abide ideation without corresponding tangible results. While this insight has served me well, the dark side has been continual feelings of inadequacy. Let’s get into it!

RECAP OF THE WEEK

Before I get into the insight itself, let me review how last week went (from the #accountability chat room on my Coworking Discord:

...
[x] + MON diagnose secondary server hack
[x] + MON restore critical website for friend
[x] . SESSION feature prelim
[x] . LOGGING feature prelim
...
[x] + Respond to query on video
[x] + Shop for and order Big External Drive for editing
[x] . TUE Consult with Joy
[x] . TUE Pick up pants
[x] . Pick up letter from doctor
[x] . THU First electrolysis appt (bring personal check)
[x] . FRI Birthday dinner for Sabina
[1] + 15m cardio at gym
[x] . SUN Review week
...
/// . Restart Diet and Exercise
/// . 20 hours available, not minimum 15 hours
/// . Trip coming soon!

LEGEND: [ ]=planned  [X]=planned+done  [+]=reactive+done  [~]=in-progress  !!!=late  ///=remember
LEGEND: { }=optional  [-]=cancelled  [?]=stalled  [.]=paused  [:]=blocked  [>]=deferred [/]=fail

The week had opened with an unanticipated problem, a hacking of one of my webservers that forced action on my part. This delayed my work plans and put me in a bad mood. I did the minimum needed, since it was a non-critical server, but at some point the entire server needs to be rebuilt and resecured.

On the plus side, the slow progress spent restructuring other people’s code last week paid off handsomely with smooth implementation of the two critical missing features I needed to ship. A bonus was that the architectural foundation I’d laid down a year ago seems to be holding-up well, and I’m feeling more like a developer. Overcoming frustration, I reminded myself, is part of the personal development process.

It was also a nice week of positive interactions with people. Although I was feeling crunched for time, I chose to hang-out with my friends. The anxiety from feeling time crunch was alleviated by the feeling of happiness that came from interacting with people that I believe are doing good things; it’s good to feel connected with that community and feel the friendship that arises from our common values. I’ve been thinking of this experience of putting our value sinto action as The Common Good, and it’s becoming a key part of my evolving life philosophy.

DEFINING THE COMMON GOOD

Here’s my work-in-progress checklist for determining whether you’re contributing to THE COMMON GOOD:

  • Are you making something that can be used by others to improve their life in some way? You’re contributing to the common good!
  • Are you making yourself available to help someone else achieve a goal or make it through a challenging time? You’re contributing to the common good!
  • Are you sharing your experiences and know-how with people that can do something good with it? You’re contributing to the common good!
  • Rather than focusing on on how things should be, are YOU actually MAKING something that ADDS to the resource pool? You’re contributing to the common good!

This is a restatement of my life principles, which previously I expressed as three separate philosophies:

  1. MAKE STUFF AND SHOW TO PEOPLE IN PERSON – In the original Concrete Goals Tracker, I emphasized the production of tangible assets that were shown to people. It’s one of the foundation of my productivity philosophy, and it’s interesting that my 2005 design notes are still relevant to me today.
  2. EXPLORE – LEARN – BUILD – SHARE – Putting (1) into action is a four-stage process for me, acknowledging the necessary EXPLORATION and LEARNING that I have to go through before I can even make stuff.
  3. CREATIVE INTERDEPENDENCE – When I first put (1) and (2) into practice, I thought of my work largely as a solo endeavor that would culminate in the state of “creative independence”: completely self-sufficient and financially secure. It turns out that this was not possible for me, because I NEED PEOPLE to feel creatively fulfilled. Being around creative people who are positive-minded, curious, self-empowered, conscientious, competent, generous, and kind is the social context in which I must operate.

The “Common Good”, as I’m defining it, is possibly the fourth life principle that I can add to the above list. All my activities seem to flow naturally from it. Or I wish they did.

WINNING / STUCKNESS

In other news, I’ve been continuing to have weekly sessions with my friend Jakob, who introduced me to the idea of talking about “wins” and “stucks” in the week as a minimal way to maintaining continuity between people and their skills.

  • My WIN OF THE WEEK was realizing that MAYBE I am ACTUALLY living my GHDR goals.
  • My STUCK POINTS OF THE WEEK were BELIEVING that I AM living my GHDR goals.

In between the WIN and STUCK was figuring out the balance between work and life, and I think I’ve come to reframe my understanding of it. Instead of having a “work first” attitude of prioritizing billable hours over everything else (personal projects, personal time, chores, and socializing), I have restated it to be a WORK THAT FITS model.

  • Although I have thought of myself as having fewer responsibilities than “real adults”, I do have a lot of demands on my time due to the number of personal, social, and entrepreneurial projects I have assigned myself. I have to also factor in personal wellness time, which is a complex subject in itself.
  • I have UP TO 20 HOURS PER WEEK to use for billable projects. I also know if I can maintain at least 10 hours per week, that is a sustaining minimum. Life isn’t great at that level, but I can survive. The work is important, yes, but it exists to support my life, not serve as its purpose.
  • I have had rather unrealistic expectations of how much work I can do. I suspect it’s less than most people, which is upsetting but I can’t magically fix it. However, this is acceptable if I can continue to improve financial security to the point that it is not a worry.

Admittedly it is a bit embarrassing to admit that I can’t do everything I set my mind to, and that I am possibly less-capable than the people I look up to, but there’s no sense in letting that keep me from doing what I’m doing. It will be done through slow work and through shallow work. It will build my foundation of understanding so the exciting deep work is possible. That is what I have to REMEMBER, BELIEVE, and PRACTICE.

THE WEEK AHEAD

So that’s what I’m thinking these days. I have a business trip next week and my schedule will be disrupted, but hopefully I’ll not forget to apply the WORK THAT FITS model I’ve hypothesized. It would be great if I could start my projects without that feeling like I’m too slow and frustrated by my limitations.

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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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