GHDR 2019 May Review: Reacquiring Focus

GHDR 2019 May Review: Reacquiring Focus

"Owl Pot at Taichung Flower Market" It’s time for the third goal review for 2019, aka Groundhog Day Resolutions Review (AKA GHDR)! I’ve been feeling dissatisfied with my progress, and I think it’s because I find the process of tracking goals rather tedious.

I’m also in Taiwan again this month, and am in fact writing this blog post on my dad’s dining room table in Taichung City. Being away from home has helped me see my goals from a different perspective. I believe that I can regain focus by simplifying my methodology further by tracking what really matters.

The Current Tracking Methodology

Here’s what my current framework for 2019 Groundhog Day Resolutions looks like. It’s from the kickoff at the beginning of the year:

GHDR 2019 Model I think this is still a good model that captures the big picture of how I work and what I can do. There are a lot of details, so I highlighted the important parts as “The GHDR Hard Path” in yellow:

GHDR 2019 Hard Path The hard path is tedious and draining but necessary. It’s difficult for me to engage with willingly, so I have to work myself up to it by tricking myself into starting. Not only that, but I have an extremely limited reserve of energy for this kind of work. If left to my own devices, I would fritter away my time doing what comes easier such as curiosity-driven exploration and experimentation. However, I have told myself that I need to make progress on two specific two goals because they are strategic goals that will, once complete, will enable the following:

  • GOAL 1 – Javascript Software Mastery not only brings in revenue through freelancing! It also gives me the skills to create customized software solutions that will make my creative projects a reality.
  • GOAL 2 – Improving e-Commerce Operations helps me increase sales to bring in revenue, which will give me the financial power to hire people to work on my projects.

For the past two months I have slogged the best way I know how. The tracking has affirmed that I was able to persevere through the tedium by deploying a handful of productivity tricks.. Now that I know they work, I’m finding that the tracking itself no longer seems worth the effort. It is draining, and given that my mental reserves for the hard path are already scarce, I want to find a better way.

The Pursuit of “Genuine Expressive Freedom”

The first insight that’s applicable to The Better Way is the reality of my work. Like it or not, I still have to do contract programming work and ecommerce-related chores to pay the bills and maintain what I already have. On an intellectual level, they are actually pretty cool tasks but my brain just doesn’t react to them in a visceral way. In other words, these are energy draining activities.

Major insight: The reason for doing all this goal stuff in the first place is NOT because I want to feel more productive for its own sake. What I really want is to have what I’m calling a genuine feeling of expressive freedom. So what is that?

  • For me, it’s the feeling that comes from having a powerful ability to create without unwanted barriers or friction.
  • “Ability” and “friction” refer to the aforementioned book’s worth of subjects, but include things like mental attitude, tools, training, resources, speed, and power.
  • The personal projects that I want to pursue are toolkits, seeds, and primers (nee TSPs) that I’ve described before on my goals page summary. This is the practical artifact that I can make and share that helps other people achieve their own genuine feeling of expressive freedom. In other words, they are empowered.

Followup insight: I don’t need to track my contract programming work and ecommerce activities anymore, because I no longer have doubts about my ability to maintain progress in the face of this challenge. Instead, I should be tracking the derivative works that are can be turned into packaged TSPs that can be shared with the world.

In practical terms, these derivative works can be produced as add-ons to my regular activities. For example:

  • If I write documentation about a code module (work I’m already doing), I can include a section that is about how one MAKES a code module and package it into a stand-alone distributable (toolkit add-on).

  • If I write some notes about how to run a local meetup group (community building work that I am already doing for personal reason), I can generalize it and create a “how to run a user group” whitepaper (primer add-on).

A neat side effect is that when I track a TSP achievement I am also implicitly tracking its source. No need to record that twice! This simplifies my task reporting a lot, and all I need to remember is that TSPs are what matter.

Here is what I’m thinking as a minimum process:

  • The ultimate goal is to create toolkits, seeds, and primers (TSPs)
  • Start by doing the GOAL 1 and GOAL 2 tasks because I have to do them anyway
  • Finish each GOAL 1 or GOAL 2 task by creating a relevant TSP.
  • Add the new TSP to the Accrual Log and describe what it is.
  • Make the TSP available on
  • Assess progress by the number of TSPs produced.

This seems much simpler than what I was doing before.

The Month in Review

Since this is a new tracking model, I’ll use the old one today. This will be super short:

GOAL 1 – Javascript Software Mastery

  • Delivered minimal system for handling GUI and Graph Node drawing
  • Added JSDoc system and familiarized self with it

GOAL 2 – Improving ECommerce

  • New front sheet for reorder of half-sized ETP notebooks, based on revised StickyPad sheets
  • Added landing pages to website
  • Started looking at Google Analytics again, which has changes A LOT since I last looked at it
  • Still didn’t get revenue tracking in place

Month Assessment : C

I did work. I got paid. I didn’t advance my agenda or increase my resource pool. That seems very “average” to me. MEH. WE CAN DO BETTER.

The Month Ahead

As I wrote above, my focus is to produce toolkits, seeds, and primers as add-ons to my existing activities. My regular task tracking system in the Discord Virtual Coworking Chat will suffice to keep me on-task with regards to revenue maintenance while helping me remember what happened day-by-day.

I will also endeavor to write concise summaries instead of my usual run-on style. I suspect this will make my writing more accessible, particularly to myself.

Thanks for reading! Wish me luck! 

Groundhog by Pearson Scott Foreman Here’s this year’s calendar:

MON 1/1 New Year’s Day Start thinking about resolutions
FRI 2/2 Groundhog Day Make your resolutions. Assemble your peer group.
SAT 3/3 March 3 Review w/ group.
WED 4/4 April 4 Review w/ group.
SAT 5/5 Cinco de Mayo Review w/ group. Think celebratory, spring-like thoughts!
WED 6/6 June 6 Mid-Year Review w/ group. Optional break for summer.
SAT 7/7 Tanabata Star Festival Private Review. Make Wishes. Rededicate.
WED 8/8 Chinese Father’s Day Private Review. Plan for future completion.
SUN 9/9 September 9 Review w/ group. Three months left.
WED 10/10 October 10 Review w/ group. Two months left.
SUN 11/11 Veteran’s Day Review w/ group. A Day to be Grateful.
WED 12/12 December 12 End-of-year Review. Break for Holiday Madness.

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.