I started January 1st like I have the past few New Year’s days. I listened to David Foster Wallace’s commencement address, This is Water. You can get it in article form, book form or on YouTube (blogged about it last year and in 2015).
I love its message. Pay attention, Be aware. Support others. Every day. Beyond that annual reminder, I’m thinking about what to focus on this year. I say that instead of goals because “focuses” last year helped me make substantial progress. I set one professional and one personal priority.
Professionally, I wanted to be a better leader. I’m happy with the efforts here. I started working with a leadership coach, and it’s made a huge difference for me. I’m more aware of how I want to operate as a leader, how I actually operate and how to cross the delta between the two. I have to keep growing of course, but I’m more mindful of the journey, not just the destination now.
Personally, I wanted to read more. I did that in a big way, reading 22 books. I spent a lot more time reading more consciously rather than thumbing through feeds. I’ve gone back to using a feed reader for articles on the web. My favorite read from 2018 was Silence in the Age of Noise.
The priorities I decided to aim at this year skew more toward objectives. They’re broad, and I need to decide exactly how I’m going to work toward them, but having a direction versus no direction means I can start somewhere.
Professional: Thanks to a new professional growth focus at Automattic, all our designers wrote mission statements. Mine is:
David Kennedy works to make the Web fast, accessible and beautiful. He brings empathy and persistence to tackle problems customers and colleagues face that block their path to the future.
I’m looking forward to focusing on the craft of those areas, and helping others grow there too.
Personal: I want to find better balance in how I approach the things that require my attention and energy. I did a poor job of finding space from pressing matters in 2018. I let challenges consume me rather than me consuming the challenge. I read a few books to help with that, and have one exercise (spending 30 minutes doing nothing) to help here. I want to make “doing nothing” a stronger habit so I can gain clarity faster.
Happy New Year! Let’s do this.