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True North

Listen to, instead of read, this post:

By the time I write this and for sure by the time I post this, the majority of people will have given up on their 2020 New Years Resolutions. 60% actually. I found a USA Today article from 2019 saying that January 17th IS THE DAY. If you can’t carry your new habit(s) for more than 3 weeks, try again next year I guess.

I stopped resolving to do anything probably over a decade ago. For part of that, I still called them resolutions. At some point, shortly after college, I looked at the creation of resolutions as a flawed system.

Why wait for the beginning of a year to begin doing all the things that are good for you? I assume good. The world is a strange place right now.

I now create themes. I’ve decided who I want to become and what I want out of life and I consider that my True North. I work backward from there.

Everything that I do or think about, which others would resolve to do, I consider a theme. These themes are my compass. At the very least, I’m already equipped with my compass and these themes help orientate that compass. That compass helps guide me to my True North.

Side-note: Yes I'm aware of how True North and Magnetic North differ and how a compass would lead me to the latter.

What are my themes? Glad you asked.

Faith, Family, Fitness, Financial, Friends. In that order. I’ve written about these in the past. You’ll probably never find that post cause I turned a lot of my past posts into cyber dust out of personal embarrassment. More on that in a later post as well as details about each theme.

These 5 F’s I use as a guidepost for classifying what others would consider resolutions. They become buckets for actions and ideals. Once an action or idea is evaluated and determined to be something that can help me be better in any of these categories, it becomes a tool in the bucket.

Each theme or bucket has a specific set of criteria. None of which are as shallow or as simple as: get rich, lose weight, make more friends. It’s quite a bit more complicated than that.

Every year much before the year starts I evaluate the tools in these buckets (they evolve over time) and determine if they will help me get closer to my True North.

When looking ahead to 2020, my buckets looked like the following:

  • Faith
    • More church attendance (minimum of 1x per month) – we’ve slacked quite a bit as a result of young/noisy children and a rigid nap schedule.
    • Less judgment on self and others
    • Less desire for things
    • Daily Devotional and Verse – use the ‘You Version’ Bible App to read the daily verse and complete >5 Devotional Plans throughout the year.
  • Family
    • As a Husband
      • Be better about my wife’s love languages
      • Schedule dedicated time to ‘date
      • Seek to serve – do more selflessly, contribute to more than just the roles we’ve fallen into naturally
    • As a Father
      • Dedicated attention – no (virtually no) work or technology distractions for the hours my children are awake and home from daycare during the week. I realized just last year that with sleep, work, activities, and daycare/school, I only have two maybe three hours a day with them for a very short time over all of their life. I once heard/read that 80% of your time you will spend with your children only makes up 20% of their life. If you factor in everything else I mentioned, it’s more like 93/7.
      • More patience – my kids are just kids. I never realized how hard it would be to understand. Why must I insist on things going faster or differently all the time? There is so much I can learn from my children and their current view of the world. I’m going to try and slow down and embrace it.
  • Fitness
    • Physical
      • 3x Wk 30+ min in a gym (lift, HIIT, aerobics, yoga)
      • 2x Wk 15+ physical exertion (brisk walk, stretching)
      • Cold exposure 3x wk (after completing Wim Hof 20 day challenge)
      • Breathing 3x wk
    • Mental
      • 1 (audio)BOOK per quarter
      • 3x Meditation per week (10 minutes)
      • 3x Gratitude Practice per week
  • Financial
    • Career
      • Continue the advancement of projects and responsibility in my current role
      • Focus (6 Pomodoro daily)
        • 3 dedicated distraction-free hours
        • does not include email, phone, or other distractions
        • the remainder of time research, education, tech blog review
    • Personal
      • create a minimum of 1 course quarterly for my personal business
      • Monthly blog post (shoot for 2)
      • Focus (2-4 Pomodoro daily) prior to work
  • Friends
    • Communicate and check in with more friends more frequently
    • Quarterly in-person gatherings (meals/drinks/activities)

From these five themes and the items comprised in them, one can get a pretty good idea of my True North. Very few items listed have any concrete metrics tied to them.

No pounds of weight loss required, strength gained, or monetary value to be achieved. With money especially but even weight (fat), loss and strength gained (plates on a bar) are largely out of one’s control. There are too many external forces at play that can very easily make one discouraged and quit pursuing betterment within just the first few weeks of the year.

The idea behind these themes is really a low bar for well-rounded personal growth and doing the work that makes typical resolutions become a reality.

Having done something like this for many years previous and keeping my eye on what True North really is, has provided me the luxury of knowing that at the very least I can accomplish the components above that have some, albeit small, metric to them. But even if I weren’t able to accomplish certain items here in the coming year, so long as I attempted, I got much better in that theme than I was at the start of the year.

The competition I have at the beginning of a new year is never with others, the scale, the weight bench, or my bank account. It is with myself and becoming better every day. Just 1%.

True North becomes the embodiment of who I want to be as a person before I recalibrate my compass or add new arrows to my quiver.

If I don’t know where I’m going, how will I ever get there?

What’s your True North?