Hacking Myself: My 5 New Year's Non-Resolutions for 2016

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I don't do resolutions.

Although science can help you keep them (science WIN!), they're just not for me. Instead, if I want to give myself any chance of success, I need to be less committal to new ideas. Doesn't that sound odd? The truth is, resolutions carry too much potential for failure and that in itself means too much pressure.

So, instead, I'm hacking myself: I have a wish list of things I want to do or experience over the course of 2016. Not resolutions I have to stick to. Rather, just a list of stuff that I want to try, to see if they work and what sticks.

These are my 2016 non-resolutions:
  1. Colour: For Christmas, I got the most wonderful present:

    A Star Wars colouring book, for grown-ups.
    It's wonderful. I mean, besides the obvious Star Wars-ness, this book is a joy to colour. Time seems to pass so slowly colouring all those little areas of the page or shading something white for hours. Sigh.
  2. Stay un-busy: In November 2014, I experienced a burnout. I had been running at the same pace for, well, 4 decades, and it finally caught up with me. I was working, volunteering, co-running a conference, speaking, blogging... it was just. too. much. I spent weeks on the couch completely incapacitated - I couldn't think, let alone do anything. I realized that I was saying, "yes" to far too much.

    So last year became my year of "no". No meetups, no extra projects, no speaking engagements, no blogging unless I really felt like it and had the time. I picked a small number of things I would focus on, and if it wasn't already on the list, it didn't make the list. Instead, I did a lot of sitting. I sat and thought. I sat and knit. I sat and read. I ran or did yoga every day. And it was wonderful.

    People would call or email and say: "I know you're busy..." and I would reply: "Oh, no. I'm very un-busy and it's wonderful." A lot of people didn't believe me. But although I might still appear busy, it was the least busy I'd ever been. And it was sustainable. Is sustainable.
  3. Figure out my love-hate relationship with social media: The introvert side of me sometimes hates being social. On a regular basis over the past year, I've thought about killing this blog and/or closing my Twitter account. But then I think of something I want to write about and I love having my own space to rant. Or I find some really neat things and want to share them with my peeps. Or, as was the case this week, I need some info (cyber sec podcasts, to be specific) and so I took to the Twitters. For all its introvert-unfriendly social-ness, when I need something, the hive-mind always delivers.

    A year ago, I more-or-less left Facebook. I wasn't logging on enough to keep the algorithm happy, so my feed was a bunch of Upworthy linkbait and random over-happy posts from people I'd just spoken with who told me their day was going off the rails. So I pulled the plug. Sort of. I still have to maintain an account because I run Pages for this blog and a few local groups. But I'm definitely done with the newsfeed. Instead, I focus on Twitter.

    So it continues to be touch and go. Like Facebook said, it's complicated.
  4. Learn everything I can about cybersec & infosec: ICYMI, I changed jobs at the end of December. I am now the business analyst for an enterprise cyber security team. It's sooper nerdy and I'm swimming in policies, documents and new abbreviations. My head is filling and I'm enjoying every minute of it. That said, I'm spending my spare time reading cybersec blogs, finding good podcasts and looking up online courses. (If you've got any suggestions, send them my way!)
  5. Actually, study all my favourite things: I love learning. It's one of my favourite pastimes. The thing I find is that I like so. many. subjects. that I read everything, all the time. As in, simultaneously. Which means I spend most commutes and lunch hours with my RSS reader open. And which means I never finish a book. (I currently have at least 5 on the go right now.)

    I sometimes find myself reading everything right away and being afraid it will get lost in my Evernote if I don't. Remember that thing I said above about not burning out? Scheduling seems to help with that: it helps me compartmentalize and put away things that don't need attention right away. Less multi-tasking, less devouring knowledge. More savouring, if you will.

    To help get myself somewhat organized, I have assigned a theme to each workday. The idea is to read up, listen to podcasts, watch videos or otherwise study one subject area each day in order to make some real progress. I figure the priorities will shift over time, but I picked some topics to get going. I scheduled them based on the day of the week with heavier topics at the beginning, lighter towards the end. (It might sound a little obsessive, but all I really did was come up with subjects and schedule each one as a recurring weekly event in my calendar.)

    In case you're curious, here's my list:
    Monday - Cyber and info sec (start off the week learning work-related stuff)
    Tuesday - CanUX (research ideas and speakers for the conference)
    Wednesday - UX (design, information architecture, ux)
    Thursday - Geek stuff (tech, geek culture)
    Friday - Creativity & Mindfulness
You're thinking: Hey, spydey, those are some pretty resolution-like resolutions you're resolving to do. Yeah, maybe. But they're just ideas, without pressure. Which means I'm more likely to try them out, take more risks, fear failure less. Which, in the end, is a much more promising approach for me than committing to grand commitments I won't see through the end of the month :)

And you? Are you about the resolutions or non-resolutions? What are you going to try or do in 2016?

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