Goals and Intentions for 2014

intentionNew Year’s is a great time to consider . . . time, and how well we live our lives while we have it.

As a did in 2013, I developed some goals and intentions for the upcoming year. I moved this to the top of my site up here, both to keep me honest and to help me easily recall what I hope to focus upon.

I would not mention these and share them publicly if these were not valuable, doable, and within reach (with some stretching). While I will hope for help and support and positive intentions, these are the things I hope to accomplish in 2014:

1. Engage in Timely Communication

I want to engage in communication, such as via Inbox ZERO (delete, delegate, respond, defer, or do) and Social Media (Twitter replies, Facebook replies, etc.), in a more timely way to better engage in and maintain conversations with networks.

2. Use a Thoughtful, Evidence-Based Approach to How I Use My Time

I completed my PhD in Educational Research in 2013, and as a result I tend to observe things around me in researcher-mode, questioning and seeking to find evidence to guide my actions and beliefs. All this takes time, and I hope to make the best use of it.

3. Approach Nature through Principles of Somatic Experiencing

I feel in many ways I am too removed from nature — food, living, breathing, exercise, living in New York City, etc. I will plan to spend more time directly interacting with the Great Outdoors.

4. Maintain Financial Balance

I want to be more aware of what I spend, and where, in an effort to help me move forward toward meeting my goals.

Let the new year proceed, and may we live in interesting times.

2013 Has Come and Gone; How Did I Do?

The end of 2013 has come and gone, and no better time than the present to consider how I did with my 2013 Intentions for the year. I posted these on the top of my site so they would always be at the ready.

Let’s review what I intended and how well I did.

  1. I Will Finish My Doctoral Thesis (Dissertation) — I passed and was awarded my PhD forthwith on March 25, 2013. I then walked in the graduation ceremony on December 11, 2013.
  2. I will Publish an Article — I have it drafted and am planning to submit it within 2 weeks. Fingers crossed!
  3. I will Build a Consistent Online Presence [Twitter, LinkedIn, Academia.edu, ResearchGate and my own professional website — I have revised 75% of my site (most of it on the back-end with template and hosting), and am 80% completed with being consistent across my online life. Once the website is completed, I will take that consistency and apply it to the other social media and networking sites.
  4. I will drink 2 liters of Water Each Day — my dislike of measuring and numbers-without-context means that I have successfully increased my daily water consumption.

Given all this, my verdict is that I am happy with my progress, though not fully satisfied. Perhaps in this the notion of onward and upward, making progress along the way and keeping focused on moving forward is what is most important? To be fair, I am not sure I could ever be fully satisfied, even if I did complete each of the goals / intentions I set. I believe that is the point with these things, they give us something to strive toward.

Some progress is better than none at all!

Goals & Resolutions for 2012

I have been thinking about what New Year’s Resolutions I should grab onto for this year, with an eye toward how easy it is to have so many I readily forget, propose unreachable ones that defeat me before I begin, or even such ideal ones that . . . well let me leave the ideal ones for the Übermensch or somebody else with the time and wherewithal to focus on the unfocusable.

With this said, taking stock of what is realistic and needed, without seeming like work (hey, who gets excited with focusing on work?), I want to try to do something new for 2012. I do not want to focus on giving anything up–that only stays exciting for a day and motivating for about two. I also don’t want to focus on cutting out or stopping anything, as that also feels like I am doing without (and once again, I will not realistically be able to maintain it).

This year I am hoping to take an appreciative inquiry-inspired approach to my 2012 goals. I am planning goals that will advocate doing something positive, rather than not doing something negative. I will reenforce the behavior and direction I want to promote, and leave the bad habits and such alone, as the focus on the good will help to reduce those more unpleasant ones. While I will avoid SMART goals, as that will add a certain amount of pressure that I don’t need (once again, too much like choosing to do work), I am hoping these will still meet those same criteria.

Thus, my 2012 goals and my New Year’s Resolutions are:

1. I Will Finish My Doctoral Thesis (Dissertation)

I have spent nearly all my life in college and university, and have a handful of degrees and such to demonstrate the wide breadth of knowledge and skills and experiences I have had along the way, but now ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I need to finish all of this formal stuff so I can in turn engage in all the nifty research and living that I have been putting on hold. I will finish my PhD (meaning defend it in the viva and fix anything that needs fixing) by the end of 2012.

2. I Will Engage in Fiscal Responsibility

I have never been good with money, and as I am self-funding my PhD now may not be the best time to start this, but I have to learn (or remember) some self-restraint. This does not mean I will get out of debt or stop spending anything (recall the appreciative inquiry above), but I certainly can have some restraint, something I will positively mention as engaging in doing something good, rather than focusing on stopping something not so good. I will focus on being responsible (something good) that still allows me to move about my day given my commitments and situation (cf. thesis work above).

3. I Will be Timely with Communication

Seems simple enough, though I tend to read emails or see Tweets or blog posts or the like, note to myself that I need to reply or post, and then move on. These electronic reminders then sit in my Inbox or in open tabs, while I busy myself with other tasks as I consider my replies and process or debrief what I want to reply to, or not. This means I at times take longer than I prefer to answer or file or delete (cf. Inbox Zero). So, rather than list exactly how long things will remain unanswered or unresponded to (too unbending for my personal life that will make this all feel like work), I will again focus on the positive by following the path of timeliness. Even as I am writing this I am down to only 6 items in my Inbox, so great strides are afoot!.

I have been working on this post for the past few days, and think it is now time to air in public. I know I wish to be around people who focus on these three seemingly unrelated items, and hope this will in turn help me to improve toward that unnamed person!

Travel Bag Face-Off for Conference Travel

I love to attend academic conferences, though there are few things I hate more than having to check my bag along the way. I tend to carry very little with me, doing laundry along the way so I can avoid the lines, costs, concern over lost luggage, and hassles associated with checking luggage while flying. The conferences and peers I work with along the trip often take all my energy to manage, and the last thing I want is to encounter airline or train or bus hassles with my stuff. After my last trip to the UK and Ireland in April, when I was asked to check my carry-on luggage (that seemed to bulge at the seams), I vowed to never do so again.

Why didn’t I notice that my proposed carry-on luggage was overpacked? Wheels. Yes, I used wheeled luggage that should have fit into the overhead bins, and never considered that the airlines might ask to weigh it; I thought if it fit in and could zip, that was that. How wrong I was.

Thus began my quest for the perfect bag, one that was designed and tailored for people like me, those who seek to travel light and only with a single bag that will be unchallenged at the airport as being within the Maximum Legal Carry-on (MLC). Aided in my search by some other travellers fanatically interested in the same goal, I turned to sites such as One Bag and One Bag One World for reviews, advice, and suggestions for packing smarter, lighter, and better. Yes, the wheeled ones that lose 1/3 of their capacity carrying the handles and wheels while also doubling their weight will have to go.

With all this said, and considering my own specific needs and concerns, I have narrowed the world of realistic bags down to two, both of which come from small American firms that specialize in travel products for consumers looking for just the right bag that is light, lasts forever, and expresses a certain individuality–no mass-produced pieces here!

 The first bag I am considering is the Sky Train from Red Oxx, a small firm that hand produces all their bags in Montana. They are known for their quality and attention to detail in an array of bags that come with a lifetime guarantee and are known for their rugged characteristics:

The other bag I am considering is the Aeronaut from Tom Bihn, a firm that also hand-makes their bags, though this time in Seattle. Their bags are also known for their quality, along with a design sense unmatched in the industry:

I read nearly every review online about these two bags, and after making a list of the strengths and weaknesses (for my needs, as neither have any inherent weaknesses), I was at a complete draw. They both have backpack and shoulder straps, as well as a variety of handles. However, as these bags are only sold online and in their own stores (they both have exactly one store, just near their factories), I could not see, touch, or compare them in person. Not knowing what else to do, I purchased them both, and will try them out with my travel clothes and items in my apartment to see which will work best for my needs and stuff.

Let the best bag win! More to come once I try them out . . .

Planning for Not Planning to See in Ireland

I am in Ireland now for a few days of vacation with my friend from college, James. I have been here once before, though it was a number of years ago and was for a somewhat short period of time (as if the four full-days I am here now after my trip to Lancaster is a long period!).

Whatever the case, I have planned for this trip by doing something I have never done when traveling before—planned to not plan for everything.

Let me attempt to clarify.

I believe I am a first-class travel packer, and have packed only and everything that I need for my trip (there is nothing in my bag I have not used, and nothing I really needed that I should have brought). While this accounts for the physical items, I am focusing now upon the non-physical—the thoughts and experiences that come along with and attend to seeing something new with someone who I have seen a lot with over the past 20 years.

“What do I want to see while here,” I was asked. What is usually a question that demands an extra 10 hours to be added to the day was instead replaced by something much simpler and perhaps even more complicated, “I want to see the things about Ireland that make people say it is such a beautiful place.” If only this can be easily planned for!

I want to see nature, landscapes, colors, and sites that I have only been able to see without feeling online. Those sites that I can re-experience with my own photos, but which may be meaningless by seeing them in those of other people.

I don’t quite know what these things may be before I see them . . .

What do I want to see? Seeing is not quite the right word—I want to experience things that I cannot see online, on video, through pictures, the phone. I want to experience things that technology can not reproduce; only reminding me of later.

Ever see a picture or hear some music or have a conversation and get transported through time and space to that or some other experience or history or memory? Take a look at the photos I uploaded to Flickr and you will see the physical memory of yesterday. Looking at them again now, I remember the feel of the wind, my fear of the heights, the rich colors, the peaceful brooks, the memory of great movies and even greater expansion and promise that have washed across these hills over the millennia.

That is the best I can do to share what I did yesterday. Know the pictures (while clear and colorful, if I do say so) hold only a glimpse of how rich the experience really was, and they all took place because I did not create a checklist of things I wanted to see and do while here. Let’s see what happens.

That is what I wanted to see in Ireland.