2017 Goals First Quarter Report

It’s now a week into the second quarter of 2017, so since I set a goal to “After each quarter, assess progress and note any necessary amendments to goals in a blog post,” it’s time to consider how the year has gone in comparison to the goals I set. I looked at the Shine Cycle on Monday and Strategic Primer on Wednesday; today, all my other goals.

As I mentioned on Monday, this has not been a good quarter for me in general. When I got sick in mid-January, I didn’t have the energy to do much of anything for well over a week, and even once I was starting to feel better it still took me many days to get back to my normal energy level. Things were further disrupted when a power outage left my family without lights, electronics, or heat for several days in mid-March. And the stress of my class—despite the courseload being nominally the least I’ve taken in years—sapped my motivation significantly. I’ve probably made as much progress in the last couple of weeks as in the prior six.

Complicating matters, of course, was the usual flood of important-and-urgent seasonal tasks (especially correspondence) that I added at the top of my list after Christmas and my birthday. I didn’t want to move much of anything above them, because that way lies urgent letters still being unwritten a year late, but not moving anything above them meant the other, more usual, tasks they were “blocking” didn’t get done until those seasonal ones did.

But while I could go on at length in general terms, I did set out a list of goals back at the beginning of the year.


  • Objective: Ensure that my collection of magazine and journal issues doesn’t contain any I don’t affirmatively want to keep.
    • Goal: In the process of reading and triage of (deciding whether to keep) issues from my stack of magazines and journal issues, make a decision about every issue of The City to date.
    • Stretch Goal: Make a decision about every issue of The City, all the computer-science journals I saved from the departmental library’s purge in 2009, and all the Dialogue issues.

While I think I’ve been getting through them faster than they’ve been coming in, I’ve made minimal progress in clearing this stack.

  • Objective: Get my collection of “links I want to do something about someday” is at least minimally organized to help that.
    • Goal: Finish reconsidering and tagging links from my old flat file of bookmarks, which currently stands at about 1200 links.

I don’t think I did anything about this in the first quarter of the year, but meeting the goal should still be possible and reasonable.

  • Objective: Clear out, without a “mass discard-unread,” my “digital backlog.”
    • Goal: In listening to recorded sermons that I download and store each week, catch up to at least May 2016. (At this writing, I’m to April 2015.)
    • Stretch Goal: In listening to recorded sermons, catch up to the present.

I’ve been listening so slowly that the “goal” feels like a “stretch goal.” But at this point I think it’s still quite possible.

  • Objective: Have my computer systems be optimized to my actual “requirements,” clear of “digital clutter,” and safe from silent data corruption.
    • Stretch Goal: Ensure that every file “under my control” (thus excluding non-configuration application and OS files) is either under version control of some sort (to protect against silent corruption, among other reasons) or deliberately not under version control.
    • Stretch Goal: (As part of that) Carefully reconsider all files’ organization.

These are still very much “stretch goals.”

  • Goal: Ensure that I have no software installed on any of my computers anymore “just because it looked interesting” that I haven’t actually tried out.

I’ve removed a few pieces of software from my computers, but haven’t tried any of the “looked-interesting” software out to triage it.

  • Goal: Develop a specific plan for dealing with “stacks” of electronic books.
  • Goal: Create project plans for, or decide to give up on forever, at least four of the software ideas that I’ve had in my files for years.

And I haven’t done anything about either of these.

  • Objective: Get rid of as much paper clutter as possible without throwing away any information that I will later wish I had kept.
    • Goal: In “paper-clearing” process, consider and deal with all through packet #20. (As of this writing I’m in packet #10.)
    • Stretch Goal: In “paper-clearing” process, consider and deal with all that I’ve divided into packets as of today, packet #51.

I finished with packets 10 and 11, so while I will need to “pick up the pace” to meet this goal by the end of the year, it’s eminently feasible. The “stretch goal” is pretty obviously out of reach, as I expected it to be. But I’ll keep striving for it.

  • Stretch Goal: In “paper-clearing” process, divide all miscellaneous papers, that I haven’t deliberately decided to keep in this pass, into numbered packets for consideration.

I strongly doubt I’ll meet this, for logistical reasons as much as time.

  • Objective: Reduce my book collection to those I want to keep, and preferably a size I have shelf space for.
    • Goal: Read all books I have been given for Christmas or my birthday in the last few years, that I haven’t already.

I think I’ve read all but two of this (past) Christmas’s books. But that’s still further behind than I was on December 24.

  • Goal: Develop a specific plan for dealing with stacks of books (i.e. a specific order to read them, or enough of them to decide about them, in).

No progress.

  • Objective: Have all my (physical) photographs filed in albums in some sensible arrangement.
    • Goal: Have all my (physical) photographs placed in albums, rather than left in their original envelopes.

Nor on this.

Writing and Blogging

  • Objective: Either finish or discard all “essay ideas,” fragmentary poems, and the like that are cluttering up my files.
    • Goal: Finish and post at least three posts in my planned series on \LaTeX.
    • Stretch Goal: Finish and post (or schedule to appear on the blog) the entire \LaTeX series.

I made some, but only minimal, progress on writing this series that back in January, and have scarcely even looked at it since. As with many of these goals, however, I still think the basic goal is possible.

  • Goal: In my series of blank-verse Psalm settings, get through at least Psalm 42. (The last one I’ve finished as of the end of 2016 is Psalm 14.)
  • Stretch Goal: Finish Psalm settings through at least Psalm 70.

I don’t think I’m likely to reach Psalm 42, let alone Psalm 70; Psalm 24 seems more likely.

  • Goal: Write reviews of at least six “recently” read books.
  • Stretch Goal: Write reviews of all books I’ve read recently that I haven’t already reviewed.

I haven’t written any reviews lately.

  • Objective: Prepare a second collection of my poetry for publication.
    • Goal: Come up with a title for the collection.

I have had no ideas about this.

  • Goal: Decide on an organizing principle or principles for the collection.

I’ve thought of a few ideas for this, however, that I think can work.

  • Goal: Have a list of poems, at least sixty of them, in an order that makes sense for the collection.

I have a goodly number of poems, but not a definite order yet. (And some of the poems need a fair amount of polishing, too.)

  • Goal: Find at least one suitable illustration for each page of the collection.

I haven’t given any thought to illustrations, either.

  • Stretch Goal: Write all necessary prose (introduction, acknowledgements, blurb, etc.) for the collection.

Nor have I written a single word that will be new for the collection.

  • Stretch Goal: Have the collection formatted and proofread for each of the platforms on which it will be published.

Thus, I strongly doubt I’ll have finished the whole process by the end of the year.

  • Objective: Maintain this blog, as more than merely a platform for saying how little I’ve accomplished.
    • Goal: Write and post at least twelve minimally substantive posts, not including retrospectives of the immediate past or posts related to Strategic Primer or the Shine Cycle.

With the poems I’ve written and posted so far this year, there have been four “minimally substantive” posts. So “at least twelve” is possible, but given how little I’ve gotten written not likely.

  • Goal: Write and post at least twelve new poems.
  • Stretch Goal: Write and post at least twenty-four new poems.

Similarly, “twelve new poems” is possible but not likely; twenty-four seems very unlikely.

  • Goal: Have at least the skeleton of a “static” personal website set up somewhere.

I have scarcely even thought about this since December. On the other hand, this is a comparatively small thing that doesn’t depend on anything else, so it’s certainly possible I’ll get to it later this year.

Life and Miscellaneous

  • Objective: Keep up with what I have promised, or am otherwise morally bound, to write. (“Be prompt in keeping up with correspondence.”)
    • Stretch Goal: Finish my critique pass through Peter’s Angel.

This is increasingly urgent but still seems unlikely (which is why it’s a “stretch goal,” of course).

  • Goal: Respond to each letter or email that needs a response within two weeks.

I still haven’t finished my after-Christmas correspondence, so this is a resounding failure. But I’ve made more progress in the last week than in the past six, so if I keep at it I should be caught up soon, and after that I can “begin again as I mean to go on.”

  • Objective: Revive my somewhat-flagging spiritual life. (Which, like everything else, does not depend on me … but if I don’t state goals I’ll fall yet further behind.)
    • Goal: Read the Bible in its entirety at least once.

I’m again behind, but not stalled entirely.

  • Stretch Goal: Get at least a quarter of the way through the first volume of the Institutes.

Haven’t opened it in years.

  • Objective: Find paying and meaningful employment.
    • Goal: Unless success at the objective renders this unnecessary, complete at least eighteen free skills-training courses.

While I’m “behind on everything, more than usual,” I hadn’t really expected to start on this goal until the end of this semester anyway. We’ll see.

  • Goal: Apply for at least six positions.

None yet … but this class has given me some good leads and some good starting places for looking for leads, so we’ll see what comes of this.

  • Objective: Keep up with my goals.
    • Goal: After each quarter, assess progress and note any necessary amendments to goals in a blog post.

With this post, I’m caught up on this goal until July.

God willing, I will have more positive results to report after the second quarter.


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