Burying the Lede

In lieu of concrete goals this year, I instead set three general guidelines by which to live my life in 2023:

  • Be Smarter
  • Be Healthier
  • Be Hotter

Previously, when I’ve set measurable goals, I would wind up feeling bad about ones I didn’t achieve, even if I achieved some or most of what I’d set out to do. With these general guidelines, I’m shifting my intentions to instead ask myself whether and how a given choice or activity fits into the bigger picture. By being intentionally vague, the result becomes a positive feedback loop when a choice I make aligns with a guideline (alright, I finished another book!), and an opportunity to reflect on a choice when it doesn’t (do I really need to eat another grocery store apple fritter?). This is a much better psychological vibe for me than taking stock during the year to find out all of the ways I’m behind, or at the end when I didn’t measure up.

Of course, this isn’t to say that there aren’t measurable goals behind the intentions. After all, I still want to accomplish things! For example, last autumn I purchased the first multispeed bicycle in my life because my partner got really into cycling earlier in the year and, using my single-speed, I couldn’t join her on the long rides she wanted to embark upon. The new bike let me ride further, and riding further meant feeling better because it’s good exercise. I rode 350 miles in September and October last year, so I turned that into a mileage goal of 1,000 for 2023, or approximately 142 miles per month for the seven or so nice weather months we get in Minnesota. I’m currently just above 400, so I’m behind, but every time I go on a ride I know I’m working toward at least two of those goals (healthier, because cycling is good for you, and hotter, because feeling stronger and more capable will no doubt grant me more self-confidence).

In the smarter category, I set a measurable reading goal as I do every year. Last year, I aimed to read 15 books but only managed 8, so I thought it made good logical sense in the spirit of my three guideliness to increase that amount and make up for those missing books. In 2023, I aimed to read 30, and I accomplished this goal in May! I don’t know whether I’m smarter for having read 30 books in 4 1/2 months, but I can tell you that I feel like I know more things and knowing things is hotter, right?

One of the books I finished recently is Imanigable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything – Even Things That Seem Impossible Today by Jane McGonigal. The author is a designer of alternative reality games and researcher of future scenarios, especially those which may seem far-fetched from today’s perspective. Imaginable comes packed with scenarios to imagine yourself in and exercises to practice to help you prepare for them so that if these scenarios become reality, you are ready for them and are better equipped to take action.

Imaginable resonated with me, I think, because I felt that it validated the sort of thing I already intrinsically know: anything can happen, and it can happen to us. By imagining yourself in these particular scenarios and thinking about what steps you will take when actually experiencing them, you take some of the panic out of the situation. You’re ready for it, almost because you knew it was coming.

It’s been almost a year now since the tech industry has been signaling signs of a recession. It seems that I can barely go a couple of days before I read news about another big company cutting staff, or someone I know or someone they know finds themself stuck looking for their next gig. Because it’s all around, and because it’s so possible, it’s extremely easy to imagine that the bad news will come around.

Last week, unfortunately, it was my turn to receive the news. Thankfully, because I could imagine it, I’m prepared to tackle whatever might be next.

In the short term, this means focusing on my mental and physical health. Smarter and healthier. There’s a lot of summer left, so I should have an easier time catching up on my cycling goal, and maybe I’ll just take a good book along with me and read it in a park or by the lake. I can be more intentful about keeping my Duolingo streak alive (98 days!). I can take more walks and spend more time connecting with my friends, loved ones, and community.

Longer-term, I have a lot of studying to do. Toward the end of my tenure in my last role, I was finally getting to do development work outside of WordPress. I want more of that. It’s time to dig into personal projects and side gigs and other networks to prepare for my next role, in whatever form that takes.

I don’t know what’s going to be next for me. I do know that despite the circumstances, I’m grateful for the opportunity to become a smarter, healthier, and hotter version of my current self.