Occasionally, habits are formed that are actually beneficial. One such habit of mine is to reflect upon each year in writing with the goal of improving myself and creating a sense of accountability. For each of the previous 3 years, I clearly stated goals and set about achieving them over the course of year, and on this first day of 2012, I find myself in need of this habitual reflection and goal setting.
In my pursuit of this past year’s goals, I learned two important lessons regarding goals. First, I learned that goals are all about spending most of your time doing things you don’t want to do so that you can say you did something that you did want to do. Second, I learned that goals need to be continuously reevaluated and correspondingly adjusted to the twists and turns of life.
The first conclusion I reached might seem a bit pessimistic, but this recognition is something that I think will allow me to pursue my future goals with even more vigor. Last year, I expressed this thought in a slightly different way when I said, “That it really does take significant effort and struggle in order to achieve meaningful progress.” A simple example of this is formal education. We spend years or decades of our life studying dull subjects that have little relevance in our lives, but after all of that work, we finally receive the diploma and proudly strut around Home Depot on Saturdays in sweatshirts bearing our alma matter’s seal. This past summer, I found myself in this situation nearly every day of August as I sat in traffic on the way to Golden in order to tack on one more day to my kayaking total. That time spent in traffic felt unbearable at the time, but contributed critically towards my ultimate achievement and deep satisfaction I experienced by kayaking 106 days in 2011. I also found myself spending all of my free time during January, October, and November working on monotonous tasks that I most definitely did not want to do, but I can now say with satisfaction that my condo is dramatically improved with new floors, a new fence, and a new front porch. In each of these cases, it astounded me how much time these projects consumed, but was impressed with their outcomes and ultimately concluded that most of my time spent on goals is doing something undesirable in order to achieve the final result.
On March 4th, I experienced a major setback when the Glory satellite failed to reach orbit. The time preceding the launch was filled with professional goals that I aimed to fulfill during the first year of its mission, but it was simply not meant to be. Without a doubt, I was forced to reevaluate my goals and by good fortune, a few months later I was presented with the offer to travel to Antarctica in early 2012 to install a network of ozone instrumentation. This dramatic shift in my professional goals taught me just how important it is to remain limber and introspective regarding goals. Another example occurred in early April, when I was running 2 hours at a time training for the Horsetooth Half Marathon, but suddenly had recalibrate my expectations when an injury cropped up 2 weeks before the race. I humbly forfeited my race entry along with my more ambitious goal of October’s Rock and Roll Marathon, but then mid-summer made a concerted effort to run consistently without injury and have maintained that routine successfully to this point. While setting goals and working diligently to accomplish them is of incredible importance, it is also true that goals need to be continuously reevaluated and adjusted based on new information.
In addition to the kayaking personal records and home improvement projects I accomplished, I am also proud to say that I successfully finished building and installing the Arduino battery monitor in the van and then promptly installed solar panels on its roof that let me run the fridge the entire summer. And despite my claims of not wanting to take on too many projects, I also signed up as beta installer for Bostig’s upcoming turbo charger and was able to reap the rewards every weekend as I cruise effortlessly through the mountains to my kayaking adventures. I also stayed true to my promise to maintain my blog throughout the year and surpassed my own expectations with timely and prolific video and photo album creation.
The progression of my goals each year seems to be becoming more of an evolution of my existing goals as I hone my skills and efforts in the various facets of my life. Without a doubt, I aim to maintain my fitness and weight in 2012, with a specific running goal of at least 2 hours per week of high cadence (>90rpm) running that I expect to keep me injury free and slowly building towards and eventual marathon. My kayaking goals are much less quantitative this year, but I am planning to gently explore class 5 kayaking and continue to have tons of fun boating. The only project related goals for 2011 is to advance the work I have done already on my quadcopter by achieving robust autonomous flight with high quality video recording. While this quadcopter work is purely hobby based, it requires my full professional knowledge and will be a fulfillment of the micro air vehicle that I worked on for my Master’s thesis over a decade ago.
Every year truly does bring something different, and it is with great satisfaction that I find myself in Antarctica at the changing of the year. The sky is crystal blue, the air is a balmy 34 degrees, and I am surrounded by hundreds of like-minded adventurers at the bottom of the planet. Definitely something different; rock on, Ice Stock!