I can't remember ever making New Year's resolutions. I see the rationale - the end of the year is a great mental time to start anew. This year with the major changes at Aquinas and More and an upcoming move to a new town for our family, I've been making changes throughout the year to get my life and business in better order. Here's what I've been working on:
- Getting more done. With ten kids, a full time job and Aquinas and More, my to-do list was a collection of sticky notes, a paper notebook (or two, since I frequently would set it down somewhere and forget), Outlook reminders and my leaky mind. This really wasn't sustainable and I constantly felt like I was buried in obligations that were so numerous I couldn't prioritize. Through Michael Hyatt's podcast I found Nozbe - a simple-to-use to-do list app, website and desktop application. The interface is simple and it syncs across all your devices. You can email and tweet tasks to it and it integrates with Evernote. I had tried several other to-do list apps but for some reason this one just seems to work more smoothly. Oh, you can also create projects and share lists with other users so you can both work on a list at the same time!
- Read the Bible. I've read parts of the Bible but never really committed to regular reading or to any kind of plan. My oldest daughter is going to be doing the Understanding the Scriptures course for school starting next month and my younger kids are reading the Children's Golden Bible. Last year I did a podcast with the folks at Logos Bible software about their new Catholic product, Verbum. They gave me a basic edition to review and it has an Android app which follows the daily Lectionary readings. I'm going to start with that and help my daughter with her scripture study class.
- Organize my paper. I have a file cabinet with labeled folders and I do a reasonable job making sure that everything gets filed regularly. My problem is all the other things I need to keep track of - that great idea I heard on a podcast, the melody I need to learn for the Thanksgiving talent show (We sang Gaudete this year), all of the notes I take about procedures and processes at the warehouse, ideas for blog posts. There is a lot of information that I need to keep track of and I have found that paper notebooks are great for holding data but lousy for finding it later. A couple of years ago I got an Evernote account to keep track of photos and comments I had about potential locations to move our store. It was simple to use but I didn't really "get it". After having read a few books with different ideas on how to organize it as well as some podcasts, I think I see how I can really take advantage of this digital notebook. I'm not planning on going paperless anytime soon, but this is a good start towards better organization.
- Go on a pilgrimage. Before Thanksgiving my wife made an incredibly bold proposal. She suggested going on the pilgrimage to Chartres for our twentieth wedding anniversary. I was blown away. This isn't something that we can just hop on a plane and do, it is going to require serious planning as well as a commitment to really getting into shape. The pilgrimage is a three day, seventy-five mile hike from Notre Dame in Paris to Notre Dame in Charte culminating in a high Mass at the cathedral. The pilgrimage covers roads, fields and trails and frequently involves rain. If you want to follow my wife's chronicle of our preparations, she is at Kittle Eleison. We each bought running shoes for each other for Christmas and my parents bought us hiking poles. If anyone wants to watch ten kids for a couple of weeks while we're gone, let us know!
- Start learning more about things I like. I've attended several of the CNMC events and even had a podcast for a while (which will be coming back next year) but I never really got into listening to podcasts as a regular thing. I've had a two-and-a-half hour drive to work several times a week since April and between talk radio itself and the commercials, listening to the radio was getting very tedious. I finally found a decent podcast app for Android - Doubletwist. It has some quirks in the interface but it syncs non-podcast media such as music and audio books with my laptop and wasn't very expensive. I first started listening to The Catholics Next Door with Greg and Jennifer Willits. They have an engaging show and even though they occasionally Georgia the pronunciation of words like "Guadete" and "Estes Park", I was able to get past that and I've actually listened to every episode. I also enjoyed listening to Catholic Stuff You Should Know. Unfortunately, they are taking a break for several months to finish up seminary. Apart from the Catholic podcasts I've found, there are several other life and business podcasts that I enjoy listening to. Michael Hyatt's This is Your Life and Cliff Ravenscraft's Podcast Answerman are both great. If you have a lot of driving time, I definitely encourage you to find something other than the radio to listen to. Whether it's podcasts or something from the Great Courses collection, it's a far better use of your time. I'm also planning on attending the Modex 2014 Supply Chain expo to increase my knowledge of warehouse management. A lot of you probably have your eyes glaze over at the thought of seeing exhibits showing the latest in storage and order processing but I love this stuff! I might also attend the Catholic New Media Conference and am really considering going to the SCORRE conference next year.
- Set goals - and plan to make them. Setting goals is very easy, it's the reaching them that is hard. Several months ago I downloaded the Life Plan workbook from Michael Hyatt's site and then forgot about it. A few weeks ago he offered a 5-day program to get goals together for the coming year. I signed up for it as I was having a hard time figuring out how best to attack several of the things I wanted to do next year. It was worth the cost. Apart from having a step-by-step approach to not only planning ahead but taking a hard look at what was behind, the community of participants has a lot of great ideas.
What did you do this year to improve your life? Not necessarily New Year's related.
2014 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net