2019 Groundhog Day Resolutions Kickoff Part I: System Modeling

2019 Groundhog Day Resolutions Kickoff Part I: System Modeling

Ok, let’s officially kick of this year’s Groundhog Day Resolutions (GHDR), which is my yearly attempt to make broad improvements to my life. It’s taken quite a number of years for me to figure out what was important to me. When I first started doing these in 2007, I focused on supposed weaknesses like “lack of discipline” and “lack of internal motivation” and tried a lot of different ways to kick-start my productivity. In subsequent years, I embraced my so-called character flaws and looked for alternate metrics where they would be assets.

This year it occurred to me that I could draw a detailed theoretical model of how I work, and use that as a base for making my GHDRs. Here’s what it looks like:

2019 System Modeling of Dave.Sri The diagram incorporates a lot of insights about my desires, ambitions, interests, and productivity tricks (many of which are summarized in last year’s kickoff Let’s get into some of the details!

Segment 1: The Core Identity

Core IdentityStarting again from the left side is a working definition of my “essential nature”. I’ve refined this model over the past 12 years, and I have a high degree of certainty about them.

  • Baseline State of Happiness (EMOTIONAL/INNER CONTEXT): A set of conditions that contribute to my sense of well-being and fulfillment. This is my emotional center, and it’s very active. I ignore it at my peril!

  • How I Want to Relate to the World (RATIONAL/OUTER CONTEXT): These directives are at the heart of how I collaborate with the people around me. I strive to live by this set of principles, and they have served me well in establishing strong interpersonal and professional relationships.

These two sides of me are in constant communication with each other, and one of my self-discipline tricks is to figure out which one should be in-charge so I can tell the other one to be quiet.

Segment 2: Gathering Productivity Model

Core Gathering ProductivityNext is the first of two productivity systems: the Gathering Style Productivity model (see this section). The elements shown here are:

  • HBT is HAPPY BUBBLE TIME, the unstructured time I spend exploring and indulging my curiosity. It’s an essential need of my emotional core, otherwise I get bored and grouchy.

  • GATHERING-STYLE PRODUCTIVITY is the act of collecting the artifacts of HBT that might actually be useful in the future. For example, I might design a logo or read about some software that might lead to future work. It’s undirected and unplanned, but like walking around in a wild orchard you might see a juicy fruit ready to collect. Opportunistically grab it!

  • The ACCRUAL BUCKET is where the fruits of Gathering Style Productivity are stored. It is a public spreadsheet.

  • ELBS is EXPLORE-LEARN-BUILD-SHARE, an approach to personal productivity I wrote about in 2012 (link). This is formalization of how I approach experimentation: asking interesting questions, learning the answers and forming theories, building a test case, and then sharing what I discovered with others to create a virtuous cycle.

Segment 3: Factory Productivity Model

Core Factory ProductivityThe output of ACCRUAL BUCKET and ELBS flows into this section, producing more “finished” work.

  • FACTORY-STYLE PRODUCTIVITY is what I call any managed process that produces work. It’s the typical iterative design process. It’s setting goals, breaking them down into smaller steps, and making regular process. It is a more rigorous version of of ELBS in that deadlines and deliverables exist outside of my own needs.

  • The COMBOBULATOR is what collects goods for public consumption. There are two sources of such goods: the results of “gathering-style” productivity via the ACCRUAL BUCKET (rough work, low value), and the output of FACTORY-STYLE PRODUCTIVITY (polished work, high value).

The output of the COMBOBULATOR is available to show to the world. I firmly believe that if you want to change the world in any way, you’ve got to throw something of yourself into it. The original Concrete Goals Tracker (CGT) uses this as a basis for its point system; this old 2007 article on using the CGT for goals gets more into my theory about how this works.

Segment 4: Pillars that Matter

2019 System PillarsThe output of the COMBOBULATOR in Segment 3 goes to two different places:

  • THE COMMON GOOD – A desire to make things that help everyone grow opportunity instead of dividing it. I made the logo quickly just to have something more visual in the diagram.

  • THE UNIVERSE – The serendipitous return that may result from showing ANYTHING to ANYONE). These are two of four such entities on my diagram. This is another stand-in logo that could use some improvement.

THe other two are part of my inner core that are both the INITIATOR of action and RECIPIENT of feedback from the world. Without feedback, life is super boring!

  • SEAH MODEL FOUR/3 – The logo represents my deeply personal inner-self, with all its peculiarities. It’s what makes me UNIQUELY me. I’m using the SEAH MICRO logo from an earlier personal system deconstruction. I’ve adjusted the colors to reflect my ongoing gender transition adventure, as it’s much on my mind.

  • THE COLLECTIVE – This is a repurposed logo that represents the high-quality interactions with people that I have. I think most of the relationships in this category are strongly influenced by the attitudes I have about learning, sharing, and learning by example.

That’s all the main system elements. There are some additional notes on the diagram which you can read if you expand the diagram.

Mixing-In GHDR Goals

As I mentioned, this system diagram is a working model of how I work; my big insight for this year is that GHDRs can map to a subset of the system. I’ve highlighted the critical GHDR path in yellow in this version of the diagram:

2019 System Model + GHDR Critical Path GHDRs are for improving some aspect of my personal productivity, and the overarching wish I have is to transform myself into someone who generously provides useful ideas and goods. The highlighted areas emphasize the pathways that are related to producing such things so that my baseline happiness and relationships values are fulfilled.

It’s also worth paying attention to what is not highlighted by the GHDR path. While the GHDR path will require learning a lot of new things and struggling to produce polished work, everything ELSE on the list is stuff that has becoming deeply-ingrained. They are all things that give me strength, power, and ability. This is the first year I’m looking at my GHDR path and think, “hey, this might be doable”.

I didn’t hit me until I finished this diagram, but I have solved a HUGE number of challenges related to personal productivity, time management, self-motivation, self-acceptance, and community building since 2007. There is personal truth powering every box, arrow, and line of text. 10-plus years of experimentation and self-analysis have gone into the making of this diagram, and I can speak at length on every aspect of it. I have all kinds of tools and tricks that will help me produce the goods that my business mogul role will need. It might seem odd that “business mogul” is even something I want, but I see the ability to make money as being important for funding future experiments and fueling the growth of THE COLLECTIVE and THE COMMON GOOD. I want to learn how to CREATE AN ACTUAL JOB and help grow the pie for everyone. It’s an interesting problem that’s outside my experience. But first, I need to figure out how to support myself in such a way that I still have the freedom to practice my gathering-styled, happy bubble-filled trans-femme experience and produce bad-ass tools that people love using.

So that’s the general state of my Groundhog Day Resolutions now! Tomorrow, I’ll come up with the actual list of GHDR projects and detail the processes that will be used this year.

About this Article Series

For my 2019 Groundhog Day Resolutions, I'm challenging myself to develop "gathering-style productivity" as I pursue the year's goals. You'll find the related posts on the 2019 Groundhog Day Resolutions page.