Thursday, January 6, 2011

Looking Back at 2010

Around the office the buzzword "lessons learned" indicates a look back at what worked and what didn't.  Looking back on 2010, I can see myself struggling with many of the same issues I've had in the past, but I did manage to learn a lesson or two along the way.

First lesson of 2010: It turns out that seeking new perspectives usually doesn't require as much effort as you think it does.  Twitter turns out to be a pretty neat service for following bite-sized nuggets of opinion, especially if you don't stick to circles you are used to.  As a strong introvert, I would never enjoy doing improv, or so I thought until I gave it a try.  And some of the lessons it can teach are things I seriously need to learn.  And of course the Internet lurks out there with more than you wanted to know about most everything you can think of.

Second lesson of 2010: If it doesn't really need to get done, it's OK to not get it done.  To a first approximation, all adults have more things to do than we have time and energy to do them with.  I have a bad habit of setting goals for myself, not meeting them, and then feeling bad about it.  The real truth is that once I've met my obligations, work and commitments to other people, nobody cares what I do with my time but me.  And if I don't care enough to do a particular task right now, it will still be there waiting for me tomorrow.  Life's too short to worry about all the recreational things you don't get done.  It's just indulging in what the Internet calls a "first-world problem."

Third lesson of 2010: Exercise actually does help with stress levels.  As with all repetitive tasks, finding the proper combination of motivation and enjoyment is key.  I finally ditched my uncomfortable, back-aggrivating exercise bike for a mini-elliptical, which allowed me to exercise while watching TED presentations, Tekzilla, or nerd-sports.  Adding in the extra incentive of getting to watch interesting or fun Internet programming was enough to allow me to nearly double the number of days I exercise.  It has made a noticeable difference, which helps create a positive feedback loop.

Finally, a bit of a look forward.  I'm not much for new-year's resolutions, but I have spotted a trend in my life, and I think I need to embrace it: the time has come to embrace the non-physical.  I'm not talking about hugging ghosts, I'm talking about digital distribution.  My computer gaming habits went down that rabbit hole several years ago.  My recent e-book reader purchase has caused my book reading to follow that path as well.  I think it's time to let go of my insistence on buying CDs as well.  And if a season set of BluRay disks costs the same as, for example, four months or more of Netflix subscription, why not consider if that's a better alternative to buying and storing them myself?

Pause and consider 2010, what lessons stick out for you?

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