New year – renewed focus

Every 3 months I take some time to zoom out and check-in with myself. This helps me make adjustments to the things I’m focusing on to make sure I’m on track with where I want to be. Hopefully, you find some of these useful in staying on track with your goals and keeping what’s most important in focus. I’ve ordered each item with similar items, articles/videos, questions I ask myself, etc.

The Tail End – Wait But Why

The Tail End is a great article from a very thought provoking site. The perspective that it gives really makes you question how you choose to spend your time, in particularly with those most important to you. You’d likely be surprised at how little time you have left to spend with your parents. This makes me think of the Stoic idea of “Memento Mori”, the idea that you and anyone you love could die at any moment. A sad and catastrophic thought but once you get past the initial reaction, it makes you want to be more present and make the next interaction you have with them really count. It could be that tonight is the last time you’ll put your child to bed, do you want to do it halfway? It might take more time and some more patience but it’s worth it.

Keep Your Identity Small

This essay from Paul Graham talks about the advantages of keeping your identity small. He particularly focuses on religion and politics but the idea can be applied to any facet of life. His main argument is that you should make sure that how you view yourself doesn’t include things that you can’t control. If you view yourself as a staunch republican/democrat, you end up being irrational when someone does or says something contrary to your identity. If instead, you view yourself as a learner and seeker of truth, you end up engaging with the world in a much more objective and productive way.

This isn’t to say you should try to have as small an identity as possible, just that you have a choice over what you allow to be your identity and because of that you should be judicial about how you allow you to view yourself.

Obvious to You, Amazing to Others by Derek Sivers

What seems banal and everyday to you might not be to others. When in doubt, share your thoughts, give your 2 cents, you never know who you might help. I often struggle with this one because I’m so inside my head but there’s a couple possible outcomes from sharing what seems ordinary to you:

1. It is ordinary to everyone and worst case scenario is someone points that out, best case scenario is it is ignored.

2. It’s not ordinary to others and you end up helping someone by pointing it out.

Especially where it’s as easy as a simple comment, share.

Subtract by Derek Sivers

Another great post from Derek Sivers. The idea is simple. You can improve your life by adding things and by subtracting things. When you have the choice, start with subtracting things before you try adding things. Kind of a minimalist approach, more of a “value-ist” approach as it keeps the average value of the things you have high.

How Much Does it Cost You to Work (TED Talk)

This is a video that puts work into perspective, and how I value my life and time. Similar to the effect that Your Money or Your Life has but in a much shorter video. While his math might not fit your life perfectly, the idea is very potent. It helps me make sure I’m doing things that I think will make a difference and are worth my time.

Review goals from last 3 months

Did I achieve them? if so, what’s next? If not, why not and do I need to change something to help me achieve them. Write down updated goals.

Review long-term goals

Am I making progress? Are they still an accurate reflection of the path I want to be on, do they need to be adjusted? If so, how has my plan changed? Make adjustments if needed.

This is an important step but usually very minor. Hopefully these aren’t changing every 3 months.

10 Rules for Happiness by David O. Mckay

I review this list and use it as council that I receive from a loving parent. I ask myself, am I doing the things that will lead to long term joy and happiness?

1. Develop yourself by self-discipline.
2. Joy comes through creation – sorrow through destruction. Every living thing can grow; use the world wisely to realize soul growth.
3. Do things that are hard to do.
4. Entertain up-building thoughts. What you think about when you do not have to think shows what you really are.
5. Do your best this hour and you will do better the next.
6. Be true to those who trust you.
7. Pray for those things such as wisdom, courage, and a kind heart.
8. Give heed to God’s message through inspiration. If self-indulgence, jealousy, avarice, or worry have deadened your response, pray to the Lord to wipe out these impediments.
9. True friends enrich life. If you would have friends, be one.
10. Faith is the foundation of all things, including happiness.


  • What you give your heart to becomes your identity. What has first place in your heart?
  • What do I do that poses the greatest risk of destroying the important things in my life?
  • Am I being honest with myself regarding what I need to be doing to reach my goals? Do I make up things to do to help me feel productive while avoiding what actually needs to be done? Do I let myself get distracted?
  • What advice do I have for myself? What do I need to hear?

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