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Wrapping up 2008 – Successes, Failures, and Goals for the Next Year

by Tom Johnson on Jan 6, 2009
categories: blogging technical-writingwordpress

As 2008 ended, I neglected to write a year-end wrap-up post because it seemed so trendy and cliché at the time, but now that 2009 has started, my muse has been prodding me to write it.

A lot of good things happened in 2008. We bought a house in Eagle Mountain, moving from an apartment to a two-story home that fits our little family of five perfectly. Shannon started blogging more frequently, writing witty, engaging posts about so many things. Her readership shot up at least 300%. I started advertising in my sidebar, after much encouragement from Shannon. I also began providing more WordPress consulting (in my spare time) rather than training, because it's easier and more profitable.

I launched and redesigned, a community site that now has about 175 members. I also started a site, which allows me to stay motivated spiritually. My proposals to the STC Summit about quick reference guides and product blogging were accepted, and I'm pushing further into these areas at work. On the basketball court, I once again found my shot.

As for our children, Sally (7) read nearly all of the Harry Potter books and has transformed into a bookworm, a perfect model of her mother. She's quickly maturing into a young woman. Susan (4) continues to be the assertive middle child. We found out Spot (2) has Duane's syndrome, which means one of her eyes doesn't turn all the way to the left (but you hardly notice it). Spot exploded with speech this year, being more precocious with language than the previous two children.

Lucy and me (her eye only looks a little cross-eyed when she looks left without turning her head
Spot and me (her eye only looks a little cross-eyed when she looks left without turning her head, such as in this picture)

As for the year's downsides, we ordered a subscription to DirectTV, and have all been spending far too much time watching the television. Shannon and I had a few senseless arguments that I still regret. The snow in Utah turned out to be a lot less fun than the sandy beaches in Florida. We had to pay two months' rent to break our apartment lease and move into our house. In our new location, I now carpool to work an unthinkably early hour in the morning, which often leaves me tired when I come home. We still struggle to find best friends in our new neighborhood. And we both fell prey to Twitter and the "release-high" that 140 characters shot across the Internet provides.

What's next for 2009? Like most people, I have a few goals. Although my goals are essentially the same sort of goals that others make, I try to spin them with a unique angle to encourage surprising results.

Goal #1: Clean when Shannon cleans. Being a good husband means sharing in household duties. By also cleaning when Shannon is cleaning, I'll ease the tension that arises when I remain stationary. Of course this is something I should have been doing all along, but alas, I am male. In co-cleaning, I'll also gain more empathy for her hard work, and maybe stop leaving my socks lying around.

Goal #2: Post daily. Writing daily on my blog keeps my mind invigorated. It helps me stay engaged and improves my writing. It also makes me feel like I'm moving forward. I've found that posting daily (or, more realistically, posting multiple times a week) is easier than posting just once a week. The muse speaks loudest when I exercise it regularly. And so much good has come from my blog.

Goal #3: Run on my treadmill 3 times a week. We borrowed my sister-in-law's treadmill and put it right near our TV in the living room. When I'm lying down on the couch, watching football, or Life, or some other show, it's hard not to look over and feel a natural desire to run on the treadmill a bit. I doubt I'll give up TV, and rather than feel as if I'm wasting my life watching some overly dramatic cop, doctor, or terrorist show, I can offset the guilt with the good feelings of exercise.

Goal #4: Comment daily on my site. This is my spiritual goal. I've found that commenting on chapters posted on site keeps me spiritually awake and enthusiastic in this arena. Who would have guessed that writing itself is the key to overcoming the spiritual yawn?

Goal #5: Dual-task and take hourly breaks to read a little from Safari. This goal is in the high experimentation phase. My goal is to increase my efficiency while also increasing my knowledge and awareness. I basically pick two main tasks I want to accomplish, and switch working on them every hour. As I switch, I take a quick break to read a few pages from a book in the Online Safari Library, which I have free access to. The library has a tremendously good selection of tech-related content. Because I keep switching between the two tasks, I maintain my attention level high. And when reading tech books becomes a treat, it makes the experience sweet.

That's it. A modest set of goals, and not outside the traditional social-intellectual-spiritual-physical categories that underlie so many others' goals. But hopefully I've given them a unique enough slant that some unexpected and beneficial consequences may result.

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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