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Who Does the Groundhog See?

Last Wednesday, on the first, I starting thinking about my Groundhog Day resolutionss. Actually, as I wrote a few years back, I’m thinking less about goals and more about process. I got this idea from Scott Adams of Dilbert fame in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Still, goals have a place in that system. Specifically, I want my Groundhog Day goals to be about measuring processes I want to have in place, or in the case of bad habits, processes I want to ease off my routine.

The two questions are how many processes to focus on and what processes to focus on. For now, I’m going to leave the count question open, although I want to do no more than five. Three or even one would probably be wiser. This is rough because I can think of a lot of processes, maybe even hundreds, I would like to add or remove from my life.

So, I’m taking a step back these first few days of January and asking myself, who am I? I want to base these processes on my identities, specifically ones I want to strengthen or, in two potential cases, lose. I want to focus on desired identities which I think I have weak embodiment and undesired ones I strongly embody.

Let’s start with identities I have and how well I embody them on a scale of 2–10.

  • Writer 4
  • Gamer 6
  • Game Master 6
  • Leader 1
  • Programmer 3
  • Woodworker 1
  • Orthodox Christian 2
  • Multi-sport Athlete 1

There might be some surprises on the list, Even though my day job is as a programmer, I have gotten lazy. I haven’t learned a lot of new ideas in programming in years. As there is a distinct possibility I may decide it is time to move on from my current position, I need to work on that. There are plenty of other things that could make this list. Woodworker stands in for several different kinds of making. Woodworking and electronics are the make areas I’m already setup to do and wood is more hands on. With a day job as a programmer and a rising job as a writer, something with my hands is a big deal.

With the positive list started, let’s look at the two negative identities, again embodied on a scale of 1–10.

  • Disorganized 8
  • Slob 9

The first is a big part of the second, but extends beyond living in cluttered spaces. If I am going to tackle one of those two, it should be disorganized.

However, I think assaulting negatives by saying “I will be less disorganized” doesn’t help create change. I don’t want to identify as “less disorganized”. I want to identify as organized. So, let’s switch polarity on the negative identities and change the scale to –9 to 10, with 0 a 1 on a negative identity and -9 a 10, now ordered from least to most.

  • Neat –8
  • Ordered –7
  • Leader 1
  • Multi-sport Athlete 1
  • Woodworker 1
  • Orthodox Christian 2
  • Programmer 3
  • Writer 4
  • Game Master 6
  • Gamer 6

Right off the bat, let’s remove Gamer and Game Master from consideration. One reason I put them at six on embodiment is I already have routines in my life that keep them active. I run a Type IV D&D game every other week (or so). I routinely play other games, read gaming materials, and have recently taken up Magic: the Gathering for the first time in two decades because of my nephew.

Similarly, we already said being ordered can influence being neat. Neither is a subset of the other, but they intersection is none zero. In choosing one to keep, I want to keep ordered as that can also help other process aspects. Part of being ordered, after all, is being disciplined. As Jocko Willink says, “Discipline is freedom” (h/t to Mary Spender for introducing me to this).

I have two work areas. One is more important near term, programming, as it pays my bills today. I also may decide to seek new employment in the field. Writing is more long term. I want to get books, note the plural, out on Amazon, Kobo, and so on this year. However, even if I do those will be closer to beer money, or get out of debt money, than the bills this year. I do want to retire from programming to a final career as a writer no later than May 10, 2026. I can retire from my current job as of November 1 this year. Retiring, as opposed to quiting, has certain advantages even this early. The big one is access to employer medical coverage. Let’s leave out programming for now. The big piece of information that could flip that will be in late January, but for now we’ll be optimistic and emphasizing writing allows for long term planning/focus.

The shortened list is now:

  • Ordered –7
  • Leader 1
  • Woodworker 1
  • Multi-sport Athlete 1
  • Orthodox Christian 2
  • Writer 4

So, we wanted 3–5 areas to focus on initially. Six will do just fine for now. I want to save tight narrowing to the end of the process. Next post we’ll look a completely separate list. In December, I started a page in my bullet journal of possible processes. We’ll look at the whole list and then figure out which items can be used for the five identities.


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2 Comments

  1. I think it’s great to stop and reflect on what we’ve done and who we are and take an inventory. You’re on a good, productive path. And yeah, sticking to the processes is what gets it done in my opinion. Some routines pay off tremendously when done for a significant amount of time. Great post!

    • Herbn Herbn

      Thanks. One process I need to follow through is this resolutions system.

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