2019

Red fireworks over Lincoln Memorial.

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 formbook 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.

Last Year

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.

This Year

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.

Previous years: 2018, 201720162015201420122011.

Image by Sharosh Rajasekher.

2018

A new year starts tomorrow, so I’m going to keep up my tradition and set a few goals for the days and weeks ahead.

This year, I want to be all about focus. I recently read a post from Nathan Kontny about focusing, and its message was clear to me: set one priority, not many. The simplicity of the “one thing” resonated more when I discovered the Ivy Lee method for productivity, which boils down to doing the most important thing first each day. So these two approaches will drive my goals this year, both personally and professionally.

Last Year

In 2017, I wanted to:

Write more: I set out to write more, both on my blog and in my newsletter, Accessibility Weekly. I accomplished that goal with the newsletter, sending out 45 issues during 2017. I also wrote 31 blog posts, with a handful of those being photo posts. Even though I didn’t blog often, keeping up with Accessibility Weekly on a regular basis was an important goal, and one I’m proud to make.

Run personal/productivity experiments: I ended up doing a few of these. The main one ended up being completing bodyweight exercises for about eight months. I fell off this goal the last quarter of the year, but I still managed to make a lot of progress. Recently, I also uninstalled Facebook from my phone, creating extra time for hobbies like reading and more fun stuff like playing with my daughter.

This Year

This year, I’m setting one professional and one personal priority. Everything else will stem from there.

Professional: The priority for this year: Be a better leader. I recently became the lead of the Theme Team at Automattic. So this year, I want to focus on  activities and goals to help me be a better leader for my team. That means some leadership coaching, leadership training and more.

Personal: The priority for this year: Read more. Ditching most of social media on my phone has helped me find more time to read in the last month or so. I want to continue that. I read nine books in 2017, so if I can get to 12 this year, I’ll be happy.

Happy New Year!

Previous years: 201720162015201420122011.

2017

A new year starts tomorrow so I’m thinking about where I’ve been and what’s ahead.

Like the last few years, I’m focusing on personal focuses rather than work ones. But this year has turned out amazing at work, getting commit access for themes for WordPress and helping release Twenty Seventeen. Plus, lots of work on Components, a new project from the Automattic Theme Team.

Last Year

I had three main goals last year:

Schedule two hours a week of thinking time for myself. I kept up with this for most of the year. According to Habit List, I completed both 95 percent of the time, on average. Usually, I thought through things after my morning coffee or before bed. The habit has made me more mindful of my reactions and my mistakes throughout the week, meaning I’m more apt to course correct when necessary.

Listen more. I don’t think I made the type of progress I wanted to on this one. Some things helped here, like the month or so I spent without Facebook and Twitter on my phone or the general simplifying I’ve done in my life. But I think I could still be more present in conversations and life. It’s subjective, but I’m trying to be honest with myself. Hopefully, the awareness leads to further incremental improvement.

Make progress on a book about accessibility. I didn’t make progress here either. However, I did keep an accessibility newsletter going on and off throughout the year. I started that as a way to get writing more about the topic and it worked. I also received good feedback on the newsletter when it was active so I have a base to keep building on for the future.

Next Year

I wouldn’t call these resolutions or goals, but focuses. Because I don’t want to make a giant goal that I struggle to break down into actionable steps as in the past. Instead, I want to focus on my personal passions and let them help lead me to a better place.

Writing: I’ve always loved writing, and I always feel more productive with my web development work when I write more. So I want to focus on it this year. That means returning more to my blog, where I wrote for 80-plus days in 2015. It also means relaunching Accessibility Weekly and keeping it going strong with original writing and curation.

Experiments: I moved twice this year, so I naturally simplified my life, jettisoning a lot of needless stuff. I’ve started to embrace minimalism and productivity, looking for ways I can do more with less. In reading a few new blogs and listening to some new podcasts, I like the idea of doing small experiments in life to make yourself uncomfortable. Just last week, I kicked regular coffee. It’s freeing to try something different to alter your perspective. In 2017, I want to try as many experiments as I can, especially a 30-day minimalist challenge and starting a bodyweight-only exercise program.

See you in the new year!

Previous years: 20162015201420122011.

2016

We’re at the dawn of a new year. I’ve always tried to take a critical look at the past year and look ahead to what’s next around this time, and this year is no different.

Last Year

I focused on habits in 2015, and had some decent success. I wanted to:

  • average at least eight posts a month on my blog. Accomplished: I averaged 15 posts a month, with most of my blogging happening before the fall when I trailed off. I had an 86-day streak, and my most popular post was Thinking About Web Accessibility Differently.
  • try one new recipe a month. I only did this for January and February, so I’ll have to do better this year. I did cook more, just not as many new dishes as I had hoped.
  • keep contributing to my two favorite open source projects: WordPress and Underscores. I did that, helping make Underscores more accessible, and contributing more to default themes for WordPress and reviewing themes for accessibility as part of the accessibility-ready tag.
  • pick back up regular exercise. I did this, joining a new CrossFit gym in April and going about twice a week most weeks.

This Year

With last year’s focus on habits, I obviously want to keep the habits going, and continue work on the one that I didn’t do as well forming. Aside from that, I want to take a different approach to 2016. I’d like to focus on three habits and/or goals:

1. Schedule two hours a week of thinking time for myself. I read a post about this recently, and liked the idea of having time to just think through whatever challenges, strategies or ideas that came to mind. No other agenda. One hour will be for work and one hour will be personal. I’ll set this in Habit List as a reminder for myself.

2. Listen more. I realized as I do almost every year when I tried to come up with Christmas gift ideas for family and close friends that I struggled mightily. I let life get in the way of this, checking my phone constantly, and wasting time on other distractions. I want to know people better, and build a foundation for a more thoughtful life. One where I pick up on more of the simple, but essential joys of life. I believe that won’t happen unless I’m a better listener. I’m not sure how I’ll track this, but I plan to set a reminder in Habit List for every quarter and ask my wife, Joeleen, how I’m doing with this. She’s always honest with me, and will be the one person who will know if I’m doing better.

3. Make progress on a book about accessibility. That’s hard to write because it’s scary to put out there. I’ve always had a goal of writing a book, and I think I now have a subject and idea where I can contribute something new and worthwhile to my field. I’ll count “progress” as almost anything, including something as simple as finishing an outline for the book. I’d also say I’m open to it being different than a traditional book because it’s more important to me that I author something than what the format might be.

Previous years: 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011.

See you in the new year!

My Habits for 2015

Fireworks

I confess, I’m not good at keeping resolutions. I’m good at making them though as I did in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

This year, I’m going to follow Leo Babauta’s advice and work on forming habits instead of creating goals. I want to keep it simple – only two new habit-forming actions this year. One will be professional and one will be personal. First, let me talk a bit about how 2014 went.

Last Year

I wanted to:

Keep contributing to the WordPress Accessibility team. I’m excited about all the progress we’re making.

I did this, contributing my first real patch toward the WordPress project, plus a handful more. I also tested the Admin area for accessibility and started reviewing themes that have the accessibility-ready tag.

Release Accessible Alexandria and Accessible D.C. The world needs more accessible websites.

I failed here, but I ended up releasing two minor updates for Accessible Zen and contributing to Twenty Fifteen, the new default theme for WordPress.

Start writing a book on accessibility. I’ve always wanted to write a book.

I failed here too, but I did start writing an outline. Also, I blogged for 34 straight days in November, and I believe I have some seeds for a book to grow from.

In other news, I had a year I won’t soon forget. My wife and I had our first child – a daughter named Skye. I also landed a dream job at Automattic, working on WordPress themes for WordPress.com.

This Year

I have two goals that I want to form habits around. First, I want to make more progress on that book about accessibility. To do that, I have to keep writing. So I want to average at least eight posts a month on my blog, with two of them being centered on accessibility in some way. I believe I’ll create some positive side effects with this too. So much of the Web and the conversation in accessibility centers on JavaScript, so I bet I can up my skills there.

Second, I want to lay the foundation for a new hobby. One that doesn’t involve a computer screen. Thanks to a comment from a friend, I’m going to try cooking. Over the past six months, I’ve started making breakfast more for my family on weekends. I’ve made omelets mostly, so I want to try new recipes. I’ll aim to try one new recipe a month. It can be any meal, but it will probably be breakfast, since that’s my favorite meal of the day. 🙂

Other habits I’d like to keep going:

  • Keep contributing to my two favorite open source projects: WordPress and Underscores.
  • Pick back up regular exercise since faltering some after Skye was born.

Happy New Year and happy habit-making to you!

Image courtesy of Pexels.com.

Hello 2014

I realized a few days ago after listening to the Non-Breaking Space Show’s Year End Spectacular that I hadn’t posted about my new year’s goals in 2013. Lame. I did in 2011 and 2012.

A Review

So let’s fix that this year. First, a quick review of 2013.

On to the goals! I do best with goals when they’re few and focused. After all you can’t become proficient at something when you don’t work at it, and you can’t work at something if you lack the time.

Professional

  1. Keep contributing to the WordPress Accessibility team. I’m excited about all the progress we’re making.
  2. Release Accessible Alexandria and Accessible D.C. The world needs more accessible websites.
  3. Start writing a book on accessibility. I’ve always wanted to write a book.

Personal

I’m still working on these. More on those later. 😀

Now, let’s get to goal smashing!

Next Year, More Goals

I set a few goals at the beginning of 2011. I wanted to:

  1. Recode this site using WordPress’ 3.0’s custom post types and HTML5, plus develop a mobile theme.
  2. Complete a project in Drupal, Joomla or another CMS.
  3. Blog more.
  4. Learn more PHP.

So how did I do? I launched a new site in May, right on par with what I wanted to create. I didn’t quite build a site in Drupal or Joomla, but re-skinned a site using Blackbaud NetCommunity. Not bad. I wrote 42 posts this year, about 10 less than last year, even though it feels like I wrote more. I’m definitely more comfortable with PHP, thanks to a few WordPress projects.

The new year has me thinking about what goals to set for this year.

  1. Blog more, and better (yep, going to have to improve over last year).
  2. Learn more about HTML5 Boilerplate (and possibly add or create a new theme for my site that integrates it).
  3. Launch an Elon iMedia Community website, based on BuddyPress – something I’ve stated in 2011.
  4. Read more books on tech (first up is Designing with Progressive Enhancement then some of the books by Chip and Dan Heath).
  5. Become more proficient in project management (I know the basic principles, but want to grow my skills).

New Year, New Goals

Champagne image

Another year has rolled on by, and like many others, I keep thinking where I’ve been.

With technology moving so quickly, bringing with it many new applications to try and fresh techniques to learn, I wanted to make some goals for the new year. Resolutions? You could call them that.

  1. Recode this site using WordPress’ 3.0’s custom post types and HTML 5, plus develop a mobile theme.
  2. Complete a project in Drupal, Joomla or another CMS.
  3. Blog more.
  4. Learn more PHP.

Four simple goals, so we’ll see how they go throughout the year… What’s on your list?

Image by Vierdre.