(Passion): Planning the big picture
I just did my six month check-in for my Passion Plan, a process I currently use to focus on the bigger picture. I use a paper planner, called https://passionplanner.com/, to help integrate higher level aspirations into my mundane day-to-day tasks. This branded planner helpfully outlines the method and there are free resources to print on their website if you want to follow it.
Every six months or so, I set a timer for five minutes and make a mind map about anything and everything—without any constraints—that I dream for out of the next three months, the next year year, the next three years, and my lifetime. Then I pick one thing out of all that list and do another little mind map in five minutes. This has been really helpful for me to reference when I’m in the weeds of my weeks and months which might flow by before I even notice it otherwise.
Month-by-month the planner reminds me to reflect on where I am, so each month I also do a reflection on how I think the last month went and what are some ways I’ve grown and changed and what I want to do the next month. One key activity is outlining what would be a "game changer" for me picking from my six-month mindmap.
In preparation to do my bi-yearly brainstorm this June, I went back month by month to see how I did on my monthly game changers and my map from January.
Game Changers by Month
January 2021: I wanted to focus on and side projects, just any old kind. It went so-so. I reached out to a friend and did a little prototype for them. I published some short stories and launched them them on Amazon. I recorded a couple podcasts. I would give myself a 30% grade for this month.
February 2021: my goals were to read less social media and a get new source of news and create some more with the time that carved out. The creativity could be some blog posts, for example. My big action from this thought was that I subscribed to a print newspaper. I felt like I was reading a lot of online news, curated by my friends list or an algorithm, and I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture; in addition the click-bait the algorithms were showing me was downright depressing. I’ve subscribed to a print newspaper since February and that’s been going really well. Blogging and creating not so much however! So this February goal, I think gets maybe a 60% grade
March 2021: My big game changer was getting the COVID vaccine. As a consequence of that, I was able to get more (any!) help around the house with childcare. We have a couple fully vaccinated childcare providers that we rely on now, as well as some relatives visiting. My mom’s visiting right now for example. I don’t deserve credit for this beyond showing up for my vaccine appointment, but that was huge outsized impact. 100% success on March’s game changer. Get your shot! Change our game!
April 2021: my goal was to do more science communications and I also put together a list of people that I wanted to meet with (virtually). I met with a lot of those people, made an in-part science communications TikTok, and I spoke at Yuri’s Night Switzerland. I did do a blog post or two as well, and I printed a lot of space telescopes on my 3D printer. I give April a 90% grade.
May 2021: Let’s look at May. I’m flipping through my planner as I write this. Going to May, I see my big game changer was fitness. And here, on my mind map, I have an idea to have sugar only on the weekends, but fruit is okay in terms of added sugar. I also have an idea to to have some health appointments, which I had put off due to COVID. And since I was fully vaccinated, I did have those health appointments. I also had on my map to try to exercise 20 minutes a day and to maybe try to exercise sometimes during the day. Reviewing what actually happened, the sugar thing I don’t think happened. My grocery delivery would always send something sugary, and tired, working from home, I’d snack on it. I did have all these health appointments, which was really important. I put off a lot of things due to COVID for a year. The fitness throughout the day thing didn’t really work out. So may I give myself a 30%? But: stay tuned!!
June 2021: my game changer was again fitness-related, with much of the same ideas as before but adding in the thought to ban all that sugar snack stuff from my grocery delivery, and to have a protein shake every morning as a snack at 10am, and to have protein powder and non-dairy milk automatically delivered so I’d never run out. I also had the idea to weigh myself every day, not to focus on the number per se but just to remind me not to forget that fitness was a focus this month. This went really well. I also had the idea to work out every day, but that even 5 minutes or a walk would "count". I did not weigh myself not every day, but I did manage every few days. And I did not exercise every day, but if you look at my logs, exercising was way up. So June I’d give myself like an 95% percent. I lost about 5 pounds, feel much better, and fit better in my pre-baby outfits just in time for some in person gatherings enabled by my March game changer the vaccine.
Ok, that’s six months month by month, the things I picked off my overall six month plan: communication, fitness, science, health.
Reviewing my longer term thoughts from January 2021
Three month and year goals review (written January 2021): Looking at the higher level plan I came up in January, that is reviewing my brainstorm 3 month, one year, three years, lifetime goals I see some big ones that haven’t already appeared. My 3 month plan had all sorts of things I checked off that wasn’t highlighted above already, and I’m already checking off some of the year brainstorm items. I had some extra things that I wanted to accomplish kind of by April including a more science related role at a work more, vs. an engineering role, getting some extra income, getting a cleaner house, having my baby sleep through the night, podcasting on a regular cadence, fitness, and to compose a new song.
Well, I did get assigned to two new science related roles at JPL where I work. One of them came with a little bit of a promotion. So I did get that extra income. In terms of the clean house, my March game-changer was the vaccine and that’s been helping us have a little more help around the house in terms of childcare, which is freed up time for us to clean our house a little more. Sometimes the childcare provider, the babysitter or relative, also helpss a little bit as well. The baby is sleeping through the night. Podcasting on a regular cadence: that is not happening right now but fitness that is going well. Composing a new song, gets a bare minimum pass. I did a super short song, 30 seconds or whatever, and posted it in a tutorial on TikTok. So that barely, barely barely counts, but I’m going to count that. I give this three month goal set about an 80%, a lot of them were just a tad late, more on the six month time frame, but I got there in the end.
Yearly Goals and Recalibration
I’m making some progress on my yearly thoughts, and I also just recalibrated them this June. Some things dropped off. Some things accelerated. The big thing I recalibrated was my lifetime goal to go to space. I moved the goalpost and accelerated that goal. I’m not optimistic for the NASA route at this time. I made the finalist round for the astronaut candidate corps some years ago, but they are in the process of interviewing for a new selection and I don’t seem to have made the cut. So I took astronaut off my lifetime goal and replaced it with "long term stay on the moon or mars", and bumped up my space goals to three years "go to space (commercial)?".
So what’s my takeaway from all this. When I go month by month, like I get a poor grade on all my month to months game changers typically. But when I look at like the high level things, I got almost all of those on the six month time frame. For me just revisiting what isn’t working and encouraging myself to do new things and change up routines is a lot about remembering to keep trying. This planning process is key for that.
I’m flipping to July in my planner right now, which is what I filled out right after re-filling out my bi-yearly map. A big failure that keeps repeating itself is do some more of my communications stuff, get back into my hobbies, and find a way to fit this in along side work and Family. I picked hobbies as my game changer for July and when I did my mindmap for July I was thinking: well, what’s holding me back? So I made a big bubble I called "logistics". And around that I wrote: rely on audio more, keep trying new things, try new tools, install a transcription app, a lot of stuff in that vein. I wrote the draft of this blog in audio, and used the app Temi to transcribe it for $3.50. I then rewrote the content to make a little more sense, be a little less conversational, but I didn’t overthink things. Something might be better than nothing, what do you think? Next post I’ll try a more professional, costly service (Temi’s sister company Rev), and compare. But already for July I get more than 0%, maybe 5%, and I have more days to go right?