New Year’s Post

2010

What’s Happened

In 2010, I went on my first cruise. (I thought I would hate it but it ended up being one of the funnest I have ever done.) I also went to NSConference and WWDC. It’s always inspiring to be around engineers that are way smarter and way more accomplished than I am.

One of the things I am most proud of from 2010 is the completion of my first Mac application. Eureka will be in the Mac App Store on January 6, but I both started and finished it in 2010.

Oh, and I got a new dog.

What I’ve learned

2010 was one of the toughest years of my life, but at the end of it, I’m a much better person than I was at the beginning. Here are some things I’ve learned:

  1. Forget about superlatives
    Perfectionism is something that I’ve struggled with since I was a kid. When I say perfectionism, I don’t mean the kind of commitment to excellence that you appreciate from folks who make kickass stuff. I mean the kind of debilitating, self-sabotaging self-requirement that says mistakes are not allowed, that you have to be all things to all people all the time. I owe a big thanks in this area to my reading The Now Habit by Neil Fiore.

    Here’s what I’ve learned, too. Chances are (and this is OK, by the way) that there’s no aspect of me that is superlative. I used to be the smartest person I knew. Then I went to graduate school and met some ridiculously smart people that cared a helluva lot more than I did. And in my computer science program, there were people like that too.

    There have been a lot of things I thought I was superlative. But slowly, one by one, I have been disabused of all of those. What’s dangerous is that if you base your identity on superlatives, you’ll eventually be left with just the shell of an identity when those are stripped away. So, what have I learned to base my identity on? The answer to that is simple: things that don’t change. Being a husband, friend, uncle, son, a software engineer, guitarist, Pez collector, and other things. And what’s left? Getting better at them and helping others get better at their thing too. That’s it.

  2. Keep Your Balance
    When I have a decision to make, it’s easy to let a particular emotional component of the situation make me lose perspective. When a new client contacts me with a project, I have a decision to make. If all I think about is the money, I might overlook how additional time commitments might affect my marriage, work, and other deadlines. Even if I manage to keep those things in balance, maybe I’ll have to burn the midnight oil or forego my exercise routine to make it all happen and that could affect my health. This isn’t to say that I won’t still take the project, but when I do I will know it’s a better considered decision that I would likely have made a year ago.

  3. First Person Transitive
    Merlin Mann’s been using this phrase for a while and it’s been such a huge help to me. My friend Patrick says it this way, “Don’t worry; do. If there’s nothing to be done, don’t worry.” When I face a problem, I face a simple question: Is there anything I can do about this? If the answer is yes, then get your ass to work. If the answer is no, then accept the state of things and make the best of it. There’s no other option.

2011

In 2011, I have some modest goals:

  1. Be a supportive and encouraging husband to my awesome wife as she finishes up her medical school prerequisites.
  2. Write and release at least one more indie code thing. I have several ideas in the pipeline for Mac, iOS, and the web, so we’ll see which one makes it out first.
  3. Continue getting into better physical condition.
  4. Slow down and enjoy things better than I did this year.

That’s it. Really those are my goals for 2011. Of course the usual ephemera such as being a good friend and remembering to take out the trash when it’s full, but those are ongoing, unmeasurable things. So, for 2011, my list is four deep. That seems manageable.