2020 In Retrospect

On being focused

I’ve been too scattered on tasks and projects and ongoing commitments. In 2020 I overcommitted (actually, in 2019, I overcommitted, which affected me in 2020) and found myself doing too many things and none of them well and not doing important things I needed to do but had no time for. By necessity, I started building a focus and vision and long-term plans for myself, my family, and the various work areas. With a new realization that I can’t do everything, I started saying “No.”

You Need Involvement

I’ve come up with 3 reasons to say no:

  1. It doesn’t align with my vision or goals. Some are actually fantastic ideas. But as a finite being, I can’t be involved in everything that comes my way.
  2. It is a lateral change. Often people have ideas that have a perceived benefit but no actual benefit. A lateral change is when you’re changing something to do the same thing as the thing you’re changing from. E.g. Changing a fleet of Linux servers from Ubuntu to CentOS is a lateral change.
  3. I’m just not passionate about it. This is very different from not being interested-I’m interested in many things that I’m not passionate enough to be involved in personally.

Notice this is not about prioritization; it’s doing vs. not doing at all.

Of course, it takes a year or two to unwind existing commitments, so I don’t expect to start seeing the benefits of saying no until later this year.

Fun Things

Repainted Deck
  • I bought a Farm Jack. Very useful to pull up roots and mailboxes and other manly things.
  • Ting Fiber finally came to our house offering symmetrical gigabit!
  • I managed to get 12-blog posts out—an average of 1 per month.
  • We sanded and repainted the deck. I’m getting a little better at home improvement projects.
  • Kris has been getting quite good at crocheting and really enjoys the craft.
Crochet  Desert Scene
  • I’ve seen some good character development in Eli; he’s been much more grateful to other people, as well as developing an awareness of other’s needs and desires and sometimes putting them before his own.
  • We had a bit of trouble with the brakes on the Honda Ridgeline. After the shop did a brake fluid flush, the brakes felt soft and sometimes required two pumps to stop. I took it back to the shop twice, and both times they replaced the master brake cylinder and flushed the brake fluid to no avail. I really wanted to be able to stop safely, so I finally bought some brake fluid, plastic tubing, watched some YouTube videos on how to bleed the brakes, and Eli and I flushed the brakes ourselves–I was under the car doing the bleeding and Eli’s job was to press the pedal 3 times and hold it as hard as he could. We got a lot of air out of the system, so I’m not sure what the shop was doing to get it in there. That was well over 6 months ago, and the brakes have been working perfectly since then. Sometimes if you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself.
  • I made a time wheel. I’ve had a fuzzy image in my head of how time looks–how the months and seasons fit together in the year around a wheel–I’ve visualized time this way since I was a kid and still think about time in this manner today. I finally decided to draw it since I wasn’t quite sure what it looked like. Here it is:
Ben's Time Wheel

Ben’s Time Wheel

Learning

For 2020 I had decided to study Marketing; the best book on marketing I read was the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, which my dad had recommended. The next best resource was Seth Godin, mostly because his unique take on marketing is that it is an act of generosity. He makes a distinction between marketing to make a quick buck and marketing to benefit others.

For 2021, I’ve decided to work on my rhetoric. My main reason is that I’ve observed a few times where a group of people will do something wrong, and there’s little I can do to convince them otherwise–even if the facts are on my side, I don’t always communicate it as well as I should. At some point, I retreat to a “whatever sinks your boat” position and leave others to make their mistakes. Well. You have to pick your battles, but I’m not sure that’s always the right course. Sometimes this is okay, especially for trivial matters. But sometimes, it involves a moral issue or has a large financial impact. A failure to learn how to effectively defend what’s right would be remiss on my part.

Podcasts I’m listening to in 2021

  • Art of Manliness Podcast – Brett McKay’s podcast is one of my favorites just for the sheer variety of topics and guests. If you want a broad mix of subjects, I can’t think of a better podcast.
  • The Briefing – A 25-minute daily briefing of the news from the sanest Christian in the world, grab a cup of coffee, and listen to Albert Mohler in the mornings.
  • The Dividing Line with James White – A good resource on what’s going on in the world, church, and apologetics.
  • The Paul Taylor Podcast – This is a new weekly podcast from Paul Taylor from Proverbs 18:10 Ministries. In light of our culture’s direction, this is the most important show I plan to listen to this year. Paul gets right what so many Christian apologists get wrong by laying out the proper foundation to build upon. He is currently tentmaking while getting a new ministry started, so consider supporting him if you find it useful.
  • How to Be Awesome at Your Job – I’m a bit hesitant to list this since many of them are fluffy, but every once in a while, I’ll find an interesting topic where Pete nails it with a great show.
  • Akimbo – Seth Godin – I can’t agree with his beliefs or philosophy; however, he offers a distinct perspective to the world of marketing.

Well, that’s it. This post is a bit late; however, it is further forward from last year, so I’m making progress in the right direction. I hope you had a great 2020, a Merry Christmas, and I wish you a happy 2021!

Ben

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