The final week of 2009 starts tomorrow, and amidst all the travel and gift-giving and family drama, be sure to make time for the ultimate life hack: an honest, year-end self-assessment....Things at the office are slow, phones are quiet, calendars are clear, everyone's on vacation, you're getting zero email, and you can get away with ducking out at 4pm without anybody noticing.Since the crickets are certainly chirping in the library today, I thought I'd take their advice and post my own stock taking today.
Looking back on 2009
This has been a pretty rough year for me, all things considered. On the bright side, I've had some nice professional accomplishments: I survived my probationary review for continuing appointment, I became a YouTube sensation on the Library Minute, I was invited to present at the State Library Institute, I successfully recorded a podcast and organized an exhibit for Open Access Week, presented a well-received preconference at this year's AzLA Annual Conference, and just today submitted a comment on behalf of my library on the OSTP's Public Forum on Public Access to Federally Funded Research. I also feel like I've managed to maintain a pretty-good attitude at work despite a full year of constant uncertainty, and in a lot of ways, I've grown and settled in my position.
Despite those positives, I've felt more adrift this past year than I have in recent memory. I didn't accomplish any of my New Year's Resolutions - I seem to have lost interest or drive midway through the year. In fact, many of the activities that I usually enjoy have fallen by the wayside this year, like regular exercise, playing music, or taking pictures. I may have found some degree of comfort in my position, but it's hard to stay motivated when I don't know whether I will have the same responsibilities next month. In many ways, I feel like I've just been hunkered down, hiding out for most of the year. I didn't even really realize it.
I also fell down on a few major professional goals - I didn't write any articles, and many of the things I've put forward have been denied, for example, applying for the Scholarly Communications 101 Roadshow, and a presentation proposal for the next Computers in Libraries Conference. These have been disappointments, to be sure.
Looking forward to 2010
The thing is, the uncertainty about my job isn't going away any time soon - more "task forces" and "thoughtful consideration of recommendations" are taking place, no real actions yet. If I'm to find any peace or inspiration at all, it will have to come from within.
I'm only going to make one resolution for 2010, and that is to find my passion, or in the words of Zen Habits, to find my Amazing Work. This doesn't just apply to my career, but to all aspects of my life - I want to identify what really gets me excited and then focus more of my energies on those things. I feel that I've always just drifted along and, often, have taken the path of least resistance. I think it's about time I made a bit of an effort to bring more focus and energy to my life.
I read a lot of great stuff about productivity when I was working on my preconference, and one of the ideas that really resonated with me is the idea of using monthly themes to help make improvements or accomplish tasks/projects - again from Zen Habits:
Pick a theme for each month. A lot of people like to set goals. Well, I don’t. I find that goals give me too much anxiety because I’m always measuring myself up against what I could have done better. So instead, I like to set a theme for each month and focus my energy on that. This month, my theme is improving my ability to focus. Less email checking, distractions, and more highly focused, deep concentration work.So this year, I'm going to pick a theme for each month that will bring me closer to my overall resolution. Hopefully, this will help me accomplish my goal. I'll post each theme at the beginning of each month and talk a little about my progress as the year advances. I'll post the first theme at the beginning of January.
From the Lifehacker post (linked above) that started all this pontificating:
Imagine December 31st, 2010. What will your list of accomplishments look like? Write those down. Then, make a list of steps you need to take to make 'em happen.This is what I'll be doing over this last week of 2009.
Okay, and one more resolution: I want to learn how to make really awesome breakfast eggs. :-)