Ping (zestyping) wrote,

How did I do?

Back at the beginning of the year, I made a list of resolutions. Now that 2009 is drawing to a close, I suppose I should evaluate how I did.

For 2009, I resolved:

  • Not to learn anything: fail. At work, I learned a lot of technical stuff, and also learned about the green energy field and about working with utility companies. Thanks to the BSFC, I learned a bit about the process of getting a new organization off the ground. I learned some relationship lessons. And I learned a lot about Africa.
  • Not to launch any products: fail. We launched Google PowerMeter this year with several utility partners (Yello, JEA, first:utility, and SDG&E) and device partners (TED and AlertMe).
  • To become uglier and less happy: unfortunately, I made substantial progress on this one. This has been a tough year for me personally. I have been on an overall downward trajectory, and am ending this year much less excited about life than the last. As we put 2009 behind us, I hope I can turn the page and change this.
  • To remain in the U. S. for the whole year: a big fat fail. I saw Africa for the first time, and it strengthened my resolve to do something good for those in the greatest suffering and need.
  • Not to produce anything of noticeable benefit to others: fail. I contributed to the SMS for Life project, which is starting to show good results. In one of our pilot districts, stockouts were reduced by about 75%, which likely meant that lives were saved. I think it's reasonable to attribute some of this to the new information on stock levels that became available through our project. And I hope that the mapping piece I contributed made the project more effective, even though I have no direct evidence of that yet.
  • To give up the guitar: wellll... I haven't given it up, but I've played it much less this year, and have barely played at all in the last few months.
  • And absolutely not, under any circumstances, to build absurd contraptions: alas, I succeeded at this one.

What for 2010? I'm considering a few things. I guess the main thing I learned this year is what happens when I try to focus singlemindedly on saving-the-world goals to the exclusion of all else, including myself. It seems rational, but it's turned out to be pretty bad for me. I reached my limit and went beyond. I'm not sure exactly what to do next, but I'm thinking that I need more music in my life, and a commitment to enjoying life. Believe it or not, the latter is a very strange concept to me right now, and it's hard to accept.

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Congratulations on the spectacular failures!

I can believe that a commitment to enjoying life is difficult. I've noticed that a lot of people I know have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that they can and should make time for themselves. There's always something else super important that can't wait, and beside which personal happiness seems frivolous at best. It takes a long time and some measure of personal failure before waking up to the fact that this is important.

If I may be permitted a cheesy sports analogy: in sliding-seat rowing, rest is crucial to going fast. The first thing most people want to do when stepping in a boat is raise their stroke rate as high as it possibly will go. Unfortunately, while this looks impressive, they quickly discover that their muscles are too tired to exert sufficient pressure on the oar to accelerate the boat. If you slow down and focus on resting as your seat comes up the slide to make more powerful strokes, you can make the boat go much, much faster.
Thanks for the encouragement. There's nothing wrong with the logical argument; it has always made sense. It's just that my ability to believe the argument fluctuates widely.

I think this may be related to a cultural diet of memes such as "seize the day", "live to the fullest", "live each day as if it were your last", etc. Such exhortations sound idealistic at first, yet they form an excellent recipe for self-destruction.
I adore you for this.
Hello! And thank you. :)
MUSIC! Come to my hootenannies as soon as I start hosting them! (I'll have a good place for it in a month or so ...)
Indeed. Didn't we promise to hang out more a long time ago?
I am glad to see that you have failed at not doing so many incredible things. And as to the enjoying life bit... I think that's a very difficult lesson for anyone who has the potential to be a really amazing person who does really amazing things to learn.

I look to the example of my mom who, with a terminal illness, managed to support and inspire and advocate for a lot of people (she managed to start a patient education fund at the University of Minnesota to help patients have access to resources that let them take charge of their own care and look at their disease as a chronic illness instead of a death sentence, among other things)... and I think that one of the things that helped her most was that she made sure to find a way to make the things that she loved most a part of her life. Joy is infectious; cultivating it makes you a blessing to all those around you because it is so easy to share, and from it comes hope.

Here's hoping to see more of you next year! *many hugs*
Thanks, Liz. I've been isolating myself on and off, and hope to reach out and be more social next year. Thanks for being so supportive even though I've been out of touch for a long time.
All in all, that sounds like a pretty productive year. I hope you can learn to be a little more selfish (as you threatened years ago, only to do the things you want to do) so you can be happier and more effective at the altruistic things you do.

I love you! I hope to get a chance to spend some time with you this year.
Wow, years. Yes, that was a long time ago... and I remember being pretty frustrated at the world in that one post.

Congratulations on your many wonderful failures. Sounds like you better get that guitar out and see if you feel any happier after noodling around with it for a while. That or get started on a really absurd contraption ASAP. Seriously, I do hope you get in a little more silliness and whimsy — but more importantly, joy — before the year is out. (Oh, and I know a wonderful super-slow-splash video that makes everyone I've showed it to smile... oh, wait: you know that one.)
Good advice!

I am headed to Berlin in about ten hours, where I am absolving myself of responsibilities. And I'm playing Journey to the End of the Year, which will guarantee some whimsy before 2009 is out!
regarding doing too much saving the world and not much else -- i did exactly the same thing. i totally burnt out. i *did* make a commitment to living life to its fullest, especially after one of my friends died, and realized that i was not composing enough music. it felt like an extremely hard and weird thing to commit to, not because it was so obvious, but because it was so foreign. the commitment makes things easier -- but what makes things better again is actually living up to that commitment, and actually composing more music. it is a very hard thing to pull off, especially after having spent so much time neglecting myself and my life.

anyway. i hope you do well. god knows, i hope i do well. cheers to living, and to music.
Thanks for the kind words! I wish you good luck in your quest, as you have wished me in mine.