Friday, 2 January 2009

New Years - My Marmite (It's a Love/Hate Thing)

image OK, first off, just in case my overseas friends are not aware of what Marmite is - check out this link.

So, why is New Years my Marmite? Well, let's get the negative out of the way. I hate the way everyone goes mental and gets absolutely hammered to celebrate the new year, then wake up the next day complaining about how they did nothing in the last year, how it is all going to change this year, and nothing does. Rinse and repeat. You get the idea right? I see it all the time, every time. It annoys me :)

But I am not just being a grouch, I genuinely wish it was different. I don't like seeing people being miserable about their lives. We all only get one (even though I am hellbent on living forever) - we should try and make it count.

"Why do I love it, especially if your head is swimming with so much negativity then, nerd?" I hear you ask! I love it because it is the one time of year I really put myself through the wash. I look back over the year and see where I have failed (note the emphasis on the "I") and then come up with a battle plan for the next year.

I know what you are thinking, well we all do that! "I am going to squeeze back in to those jeans by going to the gym more", "I am going to cut back on alcohol, chocolate etc." yada yada yada. But I think there may be a difference in the way we look at things. I really, really blame myself. I am a firm believer in that we are in control of our lives, so it is down to us to change them. And I have to be honest, failure crushes me. The truth is, I actually often have a short "sad" period for a few days around new years where I do look back at where I let myself down. It is never nice admitting you suck.

Yeah, I know, we are back to negativity, but stick with me. As I go through this process of self-destruction, I find that just holding myself accountable makes me want to truly fix it 100% more. I then start to formulate ideas on how to get it done. Sometimes it will just help me with the evaluation process of getting things off my list because they may just not be worth the hassle (do not read as "quit" - there is a huge difference between walking away from a challenge and just realising something is not as important).

Now, all is not perfect. Things rarely are. If I end up with 100 things to do over the next year, I may only succeed at 60 of them. But going through the above process, I will make sure I have a damn good reason as to why not. If that reason is anything along the lines of "I was too lazy", then I will make damn sure I feel bad about it. I let myself down, my family and my friends. However, the more I do this, the more I find that the reasons end up becoming good ones.. Maybe I was just genuinely over-optimistic, unforeseen circumstances always arise to mix things up and so on. These are (or can be) good/acceptable reasons for not hitting targets.

I then come up with a big list (or normally several lists to make the organisation of it make more sense) of things I need to do next year, taking into account the beating I have given myself for items still on the list that remain from the previous list. Creating this list actually takes a fair bit of time. I find myself brainstorming ideas a lot, prioritising, seeing if I can come up with more effective timelines (for example by grouping related tasks and working out any possible relationships/dependencies) - sound familiar?

You guessed it. It's all GTD/project management-based skills! We all have these skills, regardless of competency. But ask yourself this, how often do people actually come up with action points at the new years, as opposed to a loose commit over a drink while scoffing left over turkey from Christmas? I think the results are shocking but not surprising..

So, how do you find new years? Love it? Hate it? Just want more alcohol? :)

Side note: I may end up posting some of my tasks/lists on here for discussion. I think it would also be quite therapeutic to slate myself in public ;)

And lastly, I wish you and all your family the very best for 2009. May you share success and happiness whether you love it or hate it!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Rob,

    Happy New Year! :)

    Hmm, let me put it this way... maybe the problem is that, because you do all this introspection at this time of the year, you tend to lump them together in one big go and feel the brunt of it when it's already too late.

    It's almost like doing waterfall -- doing big up front designs (e.g., your new year's resolutions) and then falling off the deadline at the end of the year.

    Perhaps it would be good practice to make your approach more iterative and incremental? Do a sprint for trying out difficult things? Set a schedule for an iteration? Do the self-analysis at the end of each one, validate goals across the year?

    Might be tastier than a jar of that Marmite thing. :P

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