Ever since I wrote Finitude and Productivity, I’ve been struggling with my next step: determining priorities. The first struggle was coming up with 25 “things I want out of life” to fit in with the Warren Buffet process described by Burkeman in Four Thousand Weeks. Thanks to some conversations with Barry Hess on Micro.blog, I slowly came to realize that the total number didn't really matter.
I was able to come up with a list of twenty, so the next step was to put those in order of importance. This wasn’t as challenging as I expected, though I developed a basic framework to help guide me: two or three of the top 5 should be things I have the potential to “finish”, so I can continue to grow and expand my interests over time. The other two to three should be the foundation of my life going forward: things I want to dedicate the time and effort to for the rest of my life.
"Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity."
- James Clear, Atomic Habits
With that said, here are my top five priorities as of January 2023:
- Have a great relationship with my wife. We’ve been through our fair share of difficult times that have challenged us as a couple, as well as individuals. Hard work, including marriage counseling, has helped us come out stronger and I intend to keep it that way. Or better yet, strong AND getting better every year for the rest of our lives.
- Have a good healthy relationship with my three kids. It’s easy to get your kids to like you, but that’s not what they need. The goal here is to get them through the teenage years with the tools they need to continue their life into adulthood. My hope is to be someone they respect, trust, and also value my knowledge/insight/guidance. This has increasingly gotten more difficult as they've gotten older though, which only reinforces the old adage that parenting is the hardest job you'll ever do... and, my goodness, I don't think that even does it justice.
- Get healthy through exercise and diet. I’m fairly healthy, but I’m also to the age where I can no longer afford to neglect this any longer. Little health issues have started to pop up and I don’t like it at all. It’s time to right the ship before things get out of control. The goal here is to build a habit for the rest of my life.
- Be my own boss - build an income replacing business. This was the goal ever since I graduated from college with a Business Administration degree. I’ve made efforts over the last few years, but no where near enough. Now is the time.
- Read more books. I’ve neglected this over the years and I want to get back into reading. Beyond being a quiet activity and, of course, entertainment (or education!), I really think books help build your focus and attention span. Modern society does nothing but chip away at your attention and focus, so I hope this helps counteract that force.
The remaining fifteen? Some of them build off these five, some don't. I'll revisit them once, maybe twice a year and adjust as necessary. For now, I won't be thinking about them at all. (Or at least that's the idea.)
"You just need to have the courage to eliminate everything that doesn't directly feed what you really want."
- James Clear, Atomic Habits
Next up is a focus on simplifying my devices and turning them into tools. As part of this I am also going to tackle the "consolidate my caring" task – at least the digital portion. (Think culling RSS feeds, social media, and news consumption.)
More updates to come!