Thursday, February 10, 2011

My favorite things and goal progress

Have a look at the beautiful structure and consistency that can be found each day in my life:
  • Sleep and personal hygiene (includes sauna use)
  • Recitation of Japanese vocabulary; study and reflection (promotes discovery and learning)
  • Exercise outdoors (walking, running, biking)
  • Meal preparation, dishes, and chores (organizational skills)
  • Home maintenance and data communications improvement.  
  • Take care of animals and plants (greenhouse too)
  • Record of daily events and anniversaries.  
Every day, I try to accomplish something in each of these areas.  Don't be fooled, these are very broad categories.  (I use the same logic by which some people categorize ketchup as a vegetable.)  The most inclusive category there is denoted by “study and reflection”.  I mean every mental event, especially reading!  And “home maintenance” and “chores” admittedly overlap – they could even include automotive repairs and mortgage payments.   Chores are more regular and periodic, whereas home maintenance tends to involve irregular or rare activities (but as a category it includes many things).  So why did I make this list?  These are the things that I enjoy and look forward to doing, they provide a sense of peace and accomplishment.  And these are also some of the values and structure I want to impart upon my children.  The truth is that I'm not there yet.  Several of these things cannot be done.  But it is a vision, and I have a plan.  As with any good vision, it has limitless potential for growth built in.

But routine can also be seen as running to stay in place, which raises the question: How do you measure progress cumulatively? I am fascinated by form, energy, movement, and time. The inexorable progress of things on a geologic timescale. But people need to see progress daily. One measurable, physical manifestation of progress that many people take pride in is the number of pages read in any subject (fiction, math, psychology, science, etc.) each day. This is a quantitative measure of information absorbed and assimilated.  The sense of efficacy created by that can provide motivation for less desirable and more difficult tasks by means of a positive feedback loop.

Here is a simple image of how I see my goal progress.  It is pretty self explanatory I think and reflects the categories above.  The y-axis is time, the x-axis basically shows that I can focus on at least three major projects at once (I hope!) that give way to other projects as they are completed.  As regards the "new job" I have a few thoughts:  E.O. Wilson has said that if he could start his life over he would work in microbial ecology.  At my age, I could still do that:

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