2017 Review, 2018 Goals

In this last full week of the civil year, as in past years I’ve taken this opportunity to review the year that was and set new goals for the coming year. I began with the two “magna opera” that have taken up so much of my attention, the Shine Cycle on Tuesday and Strategic Primer on Wednesday. Today, I’ll cover “the rest,” starting with a review of the goals I set for myself a year ago.

2017 Goals

I divided my goals for this past year into several categories.

Uncluttering

  • 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.

I didn’t even meet the main goal; I have four issues left.

  • 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.

It currently stands at about 850 links; at one point this year I added a bunch of links (from a separate version of the file I had discovered), but even without that I wouldn’t have finished it.

  • 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’m currently up to September 2015—making steady progress for the last few weeks, after none for most of the year.

  • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

No progress on any 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’ve dealt with the papers up through packet #19. So, close, but not enough to even meet my goal.

  • 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’ve made lots of progress on this—I added more than twenty packets to the pile—but there are still lots of ungrouped papers.

  • 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 did read several, but by no means all.

  • 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).

Didn’t get to this at all.

  • 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 to 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 have actually finished (except actually typesetting the examples, to produce images to show what they look like to insert in the post), per my initial plan, the first post other than the introduction, but that turned out to be a lot longer than I expected, and the “series” might end up being a “series of series.” So I’m nowhere near three complete posts, let alone all. I also planned from the beginning (I guess I hadn’t made any real plans when I set these goals) to write the introduction last, so there was no chance of even one post getting posted until all are done.

  • 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 only wrote two more this year.

  • 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 have a “review of ‘recent’ books” post in progress, but only added my thoughts on four books to it. So I failed at this goal too.

  • Objective: Prepare a second collection of my poetry for publication.

(Finally, an objective where I have some success to report!)

  • Goal: Come up with a title for the collection.

Done!

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

Also done.

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

And also done.

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

In progress, but I only have 17 illustrations so far, and 55 to go.

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

Didn’t quite get to the first of these, let alone all of them.

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

And this is waiting on everything else.

  • 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.

I managed thirteen, by my count.

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

I count six.

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

No progress on this.

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.

Nowhere near! (Sorry, Aubrey!)

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

I procrastinated for weeks and weeks on my after-Christmas letters and one in late summer or early fall, so I utterly failed to meet this, but other than those I generally met the objective.

  • 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 again failed at this.

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

And I again didn’t even open that volume once.

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

Between my “collapse” in the first quarter and my restructuring of my task list, I didn’t even complete one.

  • Goal: Apply for at least six positions.

While I decided soon after posting these goals that I shouldn’t talk too much about the details of my job search in public, I will say that I met this goal.

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

That I did manage to meet.

2018 Goals

Now, for next year. As I mentioned on Tuesday, a tangential mention by my church’s youth pastor about “beginning with the end in mind” inspired me to not only set goals, but plan for how to accomplish them, so I made time estimates for all the tasks on my (very long) list and made a tentative week-by-week plan with a (quite) limited time-budget for each week, making sure to include certain categories and then filling in the remaining time from my general list. My “goals” below are what I think I can accomplish if I keep to the plan, God willing, or in some cases a little farther; “stretch goals” are what I think I can get to if I’m particularly productive in these areas, either “more of the same” or items that were near the top of the list after I reached my budget in the plan.

There are also a few goals that I didn’t include in my week-by-week plan, because they weren’t in my task list, but I still think I can remember to keep at enough to accomplish anyway.

Uncluttering

The first area is again “uncluttering,” trying to clear the physical and digital clutter that drains thought and emotions.

  • Objective: Get rid of as much paper clutter as possible without throwing away any information that I will later wish I had kept.
    • Goal: Type and discard all of the (deteriorating-into-smudges) college class notes I recently rediscovered (Oral Rhetoric, Calculus, Discrete Mathematics, and Computer Architecture)
    • Goal: Finish my first-in-decades weeding pass through my financial-papers files.
    • Goal: In “paper-clearing” process, consider and deal with all through packet #42. (As of this writing I’m in packet #20.)
  • 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 December 2017. (At this writing, I’m up to September 2015.)
    • Stretch Goal: In listening to recorded sermons, catch up to the present.
  • Objective: Get my collection of “links I want to do something about someday” is at least minimally organized to help that.
    • Goal: In my process of reconsidering and tagging links from my old flat file of bookmarks, which currently stands at about 850 links, get it down to 300 links.
  • 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 or my family has been given for Christmas or my birthday in the last few years, that I haven’t already.
  • Objective: Get all notes I made in the margins of my Bible, which I recently replaced, into a more accessible format.
    • Goal: In my process of typing my Bible-marginal notes, get at least through Ecclesiastes
  • 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. (All four of them.)

Development

  • Goal: Get my \LaTeX package for Scottish Country Dance ball programs, and the more-user-friendly editing program, to a state I consider sufficiently complete.
  • Goal: Create at least two programs or apps that can serve as portfolio pieces but serve some real-world need.

Poetry Book

As mentioned above, I’m currently working on a second collection of my poetry, titled Dreams and Prayers: Verses from a Wandering Mind.

  • Objective: Have Dreams and Prayers ready for publication.
    • Goal: Obtain a cover, either by commissioning an artist or designing it myself.
    • Goal: Revise and polish (or consider and decide to let stand as is) each and every poem in Dreams and Prayers.
    • Goal: Find at least one suitable illustration for each and every poem in Dreams and Prayers.
    • Goal: Write all necessary prose sections for Dreams and Prayers.
    • Goal: Finish and polish typesetting/layout of Dreams and Prayers on each “platform” on which it will be published.
  • Objective: Provide any additional information to readers that might be of interest.
    • Goal: For each poem in A Year in Verse and Dreams and Prayers, if the poem contains any term suitable for use as a keyword in Amazon’s “Kindle X-Ray” feature, use that feature to provide a mini-article on the term.

Writing and Blogging

I listed goals for the Shine Cycle and Strategic Primer earlier this week; here are my goals for writing and blogging outside those areas.

  • Objective: Either finish or discard all “essay ideas,” fragmentary poems, and the like that are cluttering up my files.
    • Goal: Finish the second entry in my planned series on \LaTeX, on using it for poetry.
    • Goal: Finish the third entry in my planned series on \LaTeX, on using it for recipes.
    • Goal: In my series of blank-verse Psalm settings, get through at least Psalm 21 (The last one I’ve finished as of the end of 2017 is Psalm 16.)
    • Goal: Post, or schedule, at least twelve posts in my “Hymns” series.
    • Goal: Post at least one post in my “Hymns” series every month.
    • Goal: Write reviews of at least 3 “recently” read books.

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.”)
    • Goal: In my critique pass through Peter’s Angel, get through Page 320 . (As of this writing, I’m on page 216.)
    • Stretch Goal: (Very much desired but of uncertain possibility.) Finish my critique pass through Peter’s Angel.
    • Goal: Respond to each letter or email that needs a response within three weeks.
    • Goal: Write keeping-in-touch emails to my short list of particular correspondents on their birthdays and anniversaries and the most important holidays.
  • 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.
  • Objective: Find paying and meaningful employment.
    • Goal: Unless success at the objective renders this unnecessary, complete at least 7 skill-training exercises.
  • Objective: Keep up with my goals.
    • Goal: After each trimester, assess progress and note any necessary amendments to goals in a blog post.

(And what am I forgetting? …)

Now, to try to live them.

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