Monday, December 31, 2012

Letting Go and Making Changes

I'll say it right now. I'm anti- New Year's Resolutions. I've said it before, I'll say it again. there is no need to wait until New Years day to make commitments and keep them, or to get rid of things from their lives that are not bringing them any joy or utility. Still, it's an uphill battle, since so many of us are wired to think this way through cultural expectations, there's just some things that we can't avoid. With that, I'm going to give some thoughts to "Letting Go and Making Changes" so that 2013 will be the best year ever (ugh, too cliche? Oh well ;) ).

I pledge to play more video games - wait, what?! Yep, I came to the stark realization that I had not played a single major console title this year, from any manufacturer. How many times did I power up my DS to play my Japanese tutor game? Twice. What other games did I play on my DS this year? Not a one. Why in the world would I want to play more of these things? Because they give me a mental sharpening every once in awhile. They allow me to look at a story in a deeper way. they let me practice something over and over to find different possibilities. In short, they help me think, and if there's anything I'd like some more practice and ability in doing, it's thinking differently. Thus, I want to spend a little time each day (and may I emphasize a little time, I'm talking maybe 30 minutes a day max) to try to do a little more playing.

I pledge to write less, and write more - Sometimes I get frustrated that I don't blog as much as I used to, and then I dawned on me... I'm actually writing as much if not more, but posts that used to make their way into my blog are now showing up in other places (Zephyr, Smartbear, the Testing Planet, SummerQAmp curricula, and other places that I'm writing for). The problem is that I feel like I have to write the equivalent of a magazine article for each blog post, and that's a lot to ask someone to do daily, or even three times a week (which has been my running average for the past few years). Rather than trying to compete with myself to write even more when I've used up ideas, my plan is to develop ideas over several days and take different looks at ideas over several posts rather than try to jam everything into a long post that almost feels like a full magazine article or a chapter of a book. Please, let me know if this idea is appreciated, or if you'd prefer the longer but less frequent posts.

I want to do more with less - this is a multi-pronged goal, and it's one that needs a little explaining. It seems like there's always a need for more. More clothes, more gadgets, more environments, more tests, more words, more stuff... all of which needs more time and more mental attention. It also comes down to more money being spent. I'm a book hound. I love to read, I love to talk about and review books. I love to hear other people's opinions of them. This is a double edged sword. In one sense, if I get a book, I feel guilty when I can't or don't finish it. Also, books are often bought to be utilitarian tools for the long haul, and I pull from them when I need them, which means some books sit for years before I find a reason to pull them open again. therefore, this year, my goal is to get through the books I have (and review them) and also to examine places where books or information can be had for free, and review them in the same way as I do with my more formal book reviews. Additionally, I want to try to see if I can place constraints on what I need to do effective work. I don't mean become a monk who walks around with nothing but a MacBookPro to do everything, but ultimately, I want to see just how little I need to be maximally effective. Think of it as a zen exercise, one I hope to share over the coming weeks and months.

I want to know how you are doing - how was your day? what did you learn today? How is the family doing? Do you need help with anything? I like to believe that I do this a lot, but the truth is, I don't do it nearly enough with the people that really matter (my wife, my kids, my immediate neighbors, my church community, my immediate co workers, etc.). I'm great at doing this with people I barely know, or who only know the TESTHEAD Michael. Somehow, it's easier. There's a record, it's something I can sum up fairly quickly. I can be pithy. I can write about it. It can be stored and discussed at a later time by others. In short, it's relatively easy and with limited downside to do it openly and on the Internet. Real life interactions with real and very intimate people are rarely as easy. Those relationships are often messy. They are delicate. they have a lot of moving parts, and often, it's difficult to dis-engage to go do something else. When someone who really matters has a problem or an issue, you (gasp!) actually have to do something about it, and often not on your preferred timeline. There's much more of a sense of urgency, and much more of an immediate need. I need to be aware that, if I ask my daughter how school is going, and she says "not well", I need to be willing to get into the reasons why "not well is the answer, and then, I need to be willing to set down other goals and priorities to help, then and there, with the "not well aspect" and try to improve it, or do the best I can to help the situation meaningfully. I'm told by my kids, immediate family and others that I do an OK job at this,. but really, I can do better, and really, I should and need to do better. these are the people that matter the most to me. Shouldn't I do a better job at having a finger on the pulse of their lives?

So there it is, my non resolution resolutions. here's the thing... they don't matter if they are not done, and they are just as useful on June 12th as they are on January 1st. I hope to make 2013 a productive and happy one, for me and mine, and for everyone else I can be of service to. Here's to future days.
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