Addendum to 2020 goals expanded

Not long after I posted that entry this morning, I realized I missed something. I mentioned that to help accomplish my writing goals I needed to read. What I neglected to mention were the things I could do to accomplish that particular reading goal OUTSIDE of the scheduled self-education reading time slots. That’s probably because I finished writing the post late last night (actually sometime around 12:30 this morning) and I may have been rather drained by the end.

So here’s an addendum! To help me accomplish my reading goal (and thus support my writing related goals) I decided I needed to get back to reading books regularly. I’ll also be trying to read more non-fiction, such as news, reviews, and other blogs that I come across that catch my eye. I haven’t decided on the actual number of things I’ll read, but just knowing I need to read and have the opportunity to do so at any time (and not totally structured is in itself a relief.)

Good thing I have a backlog of books to read to get me started. Here’s to reading more in 2020!

2020 Goals Expanded

Back in December I wrote a little blurb about some goals I set for myself for 2020 and beyond. I even shared a picture of the whiteboard (complete with my awful handwriting) that I’m using as a daily reminder of what I need to be focused on.

For those that are familiar with the whiteboard picture, or who recently came back from following the link above and saw it, I’m going to be talking about the left side only. I wanted to take a deeper dive into what those goals look like to me and how I might go about accomplishing them as the year goes on. (Next time I’ll go over the right side of the board, the things I need to be avoiding.)

First, a list of what they are and in no particular order of importance, followed by some background and motivations.

  • Publish a novel
  • Build my blog
  • Read MORE!
  • Stream consistently
  • Get healthy

The first three goals are all kind of a bundled package in my mind. They work together and complement each other.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had two problems. Reading, and daydreaming. Some of you might be thinking “But those don’t sound like problems at all!” Well let me tell you, when you’re growing up and you can’t pay attention in class because your imagination runs away with you? That’s a problem. Not a exactly bad problem, just one that impeded my immediate educational success.

Reading, though, was a two-part problem in itself. I loved reading, often times reading several grade or age levels above my peers and therefore more difficult than the things we were tasked with reading in school. This influenced my attention problems by making me less concerned with the rest of my schoolwork. I was often bored with the content being supplied to me by the educational system, as it didn’t feel difficult or challenging enough, so I would struggle to focus and complete the assigned classwork. Compounding on that issue was the fact that because I loved reading so much, I had an expanded imaginative capacity and could easily get lost in my daydreams. Fantasy 1, School 0.

Why bring this all up? Because for all that those might have been problems in the past, I never fully realized my capacity to create things from my own imagination! For years I’ve had this itch to just jot down ideas and get lost in them. See where they go and what they can become. I needed a creative outlet. Naturally this led me to the idea of writing my own stories and trying to share them with the world.

By now you hopefully made the connection between two of the first three goals listed above. I need to read to keep my mind fed so that I can be creative and output content. But why the blog? Well, not everything I “create” has to be a fiction novel, and it needs it’s space, too. I needed a home for the shorter things. A refuge for my thoughts when I just need to vent. Almost like a sort of diary but with the intent that in sharing these thoughts and ideas I hope I can also inspire someone else. In the end, this is where the blog comes in handy. It’s my space to share whatever I have on my mind (and thereby get it OUT of my head so its not consuming me.) Plus it acts as a window for the world to see who I am, and reach a potential audience for all my writing (especially if I hope to publish a novel.)

So, an abundant desire to create, complemented by keeping ideas flowing through reading other peoples work (ideas can be contagious), and balanced by a secondary outlet for…well, everything else!

Now, onward to the next goal. Streaming consistently.

Why is this goal so important to me when I have the other ones for creative outlets? Well, this one has its own complementary factors for the others. Who says that reading a book is the only way to consume content that influences ideas? Plenty of video games have wonderful stories, the only difference between them and a book is that the visual is provided to you on a screen rather than in your mind. Streaming consistently would provide a whole host of benefits that complement not only my other goals, but my normally introverted lifestyle.

I may have mentioned it before, but in case I haven’t I’ll say it again. Streaming is like an extension to one of my already existing hobbies. I love playing video games, and I grew up sharing them with my family and friends. We would take turns and watch each other play. We would experience the roller coaster of emotions in the stories together. As an adult this is a little more difficult. We’re all grown up and leading different lives. Some of us have started families. Streaming let’s me carry the spirit of those experiences into the future and share them with people across the WORLD. Which in itself is important because as a mostly introverted person I don’t like to go out and socialize. Streaming let’s me be social in a different way and meet new people with a shared interest. Another family of sorts, but also an audience that I can hopefully connect, and share with, the stories I intend to craft. It let’s me express myself a little differently than I would if I limited myself to just writing out entry after entry here. For example, I can (in real time) test out jokes, or pitch ideas to my regular viewers to see if they have any input.

I guess the direction that it all really ended up going in lends to all four goals being somehow complementary to each other. It will just be reliant on how I manage the balance between them all.

As for the final goal, being healthy, this should be an ongoing thing. It also sort of stands at odds with the other goals, as those ones focus on being less physically active. However, if I can be healthy (which will include eating right and getting in shape) my body will not only last longer but it will improve my overall brain function (or so they say) which means I can be that much more efficient in my creative goals.

See! They all sort of work together, even when they may not really want to.

Alright, with the background and motivations out of the way, let’s take a look at how I MIGHT be accomplishing these goals.

Publishing a novel is going to require being disciplined (I mentioned this in my other entry linked above.) I’ll need to actually WRITE something before it can even get to the point of being published at all, but it wasn’t enough to just say I wanted to “Write a novel” because in the end what would have been the point of writing it if I didn’t want it published? Thus, “Publish a novel” instead. To accomplish this I scheduled time into my week (through Google Calendar, complete with reminders) to sit down and write. These time slots are kind of catch all slots, though, because I needed to have time to write entries for my blog as well.

Due to time constraints during the week from having a full time job, some of the scheduled writing time slots actually overlap with reading/self-education time. The idea being that if I’m not doing one I SHOULD be doing the other. This gives me an opportunity to always be doing something considered productive towards the goals.

So, four days of my week have time allocated to reading/writing. Two of those days being my weekends, because as I alluded to above I don’t have an active social life. Thankfully, I separated the time slots on the weekends for reading and writing so that they don’t overlap. Less pressure. Again, this is all just for building up that “discipline”. Need to have good habits if I hope to accomplish anything productive. As the year goes on I’ll likely assign myself with more detailed goals. I have some in mind, I just haven’t imposed them on myself yet.

The streaming consistently goal is really rather simple. I told myself I needed to just stream three days a week, a few hours at a time. It doesn’t have to be any specific games (I like variety) and I’m really just trying to build up that discipline. Once I’m comfortable with it, I can explore ways to enhance the quality of my stream. Although, I did slot some time on my Google Calendar for Behind The Scenes work for my stream. Just some time to review what kinds of games are coming out that I want to keep on my radar, as well as be mindful of the games I already have in the backlog I put together (you can find it here on Backloggery if you’re curious.) That way I’m always thinking ahead for what I can be playing on stream and not fumbling around about it and making an excuse to not stream just because I don’t know what I want to play. This also ties into things I’m supposed to be avoiding if I want to accomplish my goals, but I’ll write that entry up later.

As for getting healthy? First thing I’ve been working on is just drinking more water and less liquid calories. I’m also trying to get into the habit of waking up early so I can hit the gym before work. I want to get to the point of going to the gym at least three times a week, even if it is just to walk on the treadmill for half an hour. Barring that, I’m trying to take more walks at work and hitting the recommended 6,000 steps a day that my fitness band keeps telling me I should be doing. (Yes, fitness app, I HAVE tried taking a walk today, you’re just glitched out! So chill.)

There you have it, a deeper dive into my current Top 5 Goals. Going to take them one step at a time and see where it all takes me.

Reflecting on: 2010 through 2019

These past ten years of my life saw me through my 20’s and into the start of my 30’s. It covers a wide variety of events relating both directly and indirectly to myself. It was hectic and messy. It was also, at times, fairly normal as can be for a modern 20-going-on-30-something persons life. Writing this up has been a real jog down memory lane for me. Things I’ve more or less forgotten are resurfacing to remind me of where I came from and why I’m heading in the current direction.

I feel like I could break it all down in a couple of different ways, and I don’t want to bore anyone with dry reading, but I feel like I need to keep a chronological perspective on the order of events. We’ll see where this goes.

Let’s start with a simple timeline before we get into some details.

  • 2010:
    • Unemployed
    • In college
    • working/living on the family farm
  • 2011:
    • Employed; briefly
    • Still in college
    • Still at the family farm
    • Younger brother got married
  • 2012:
    • Employed; again briefly
    • Graduated college
    • First nephew born
    • Moved twice
      • Lots of drama
  • 2013:
    • Contract employment
    • Moved into first apartment
    • Niece born
  • 2014:
    • Laid off from job
    • Had surgery
    • Started an overnight job
  • 2015:
    • Still working overnights
    • Moved in with friends
    • Worked a side gig
    • Lost a lot of weight
    • Second nephew/godson born
  • 2016:
    • Left overnights to work in an office!
    • Groomsman in a wedding
    • Gained a lot of weight
    • Moved with friend
  • 2017:
    • 2nd year of employment at current job
    • Left a group of friends
    • Major family medical issue
    • Moved, yet again.
  • 2018:
    • 3rd year of employment at current job
    • Third nephew born
    • Friends from college get married
    • Made an “Adult Level” financial decision: Car Purchase
  • 2019:
    • 4th year of employment at current job
    • Took a real vacation!
      • TwitchCon 2019
    • Another adult decision: Major dental work

Before I jump into the juicy details of each year, I want to mention that at certain points I will give more details on some subjects than others. This is because those subjects I DON’T elaborate on would require a lot more space than I feel comfortable affording here when I have so much to cover for a 10 year period.

Now, let’s dive in!

2010 and 2011 weren’t exactly exciting years. I was working and living at home on the farm, taking care of the horses, while I was attending the last couple years of college. I had a very brief stint of employment in 2011 (I had gone back to a place I had previously worked) in which I only worked one shift before being reminded of why I left that job in the first place and decided to not go back again. I was 23 and still making odd, sometimes stupid, decisions so it wasn’t a surprise to me but it probably pissed off a few people. Grand scheme of things, though, not a big deal. It was food service in a small farm town where I never intended to live/work in again.

The highlight of 2011 was my younger brother getting married and me being a groomsman. In the stifling heat of a church with no air conditioning in May.

Moving forward, I want to preface that the town I referred to a bit ago was split by a major interstate highway, and the owners of the previously mentioned food service job actually lived in another state about an hour away. They weren’t locals, so I didn’t have to worry about them.

2012 saw me still working and living in that same small town. Big surprise there. Anyways, I had graduated college (Yay! Accomplishment!) but had yet to find a job in my field. So I ended up working at the local truck stop in that little country town. Not for very long, mind you, because there was a shift in management (forced by the owners) and the new manager was anything but professional when it came to “front of house” business. As I understood it he was the truck stops accountant/IT person. He ran the books and programmed the registers, but he had no business being in charge of people. The reason I say that is because after the previous manager was fired, and he was put in charge, he turned into an asshole and I became a target. So not long after that little regime change I left.

Between graduating college and working at that truck stop a couple of things happened. The most important of which being my first nephew was born. (Yay! I’m an uncle!) The next most important things were me moving. Twice. The first time was into a house that a friend (at the time) had bought with the purpose of renovating. At some point, for reasons I won’t get into in this post, this friend “snapped” and I made the decision to move out. The decision was short notice and I had nowhere to go right away, so my brother and his wife took me in. I lived with them and my baby nephew into 2013.

During this period of living with my brother and his family, there were a couple of big things that happened. The first thing is he got me a job. The second, he politely kicked me out of his house.

It was contract work through a third party organization who basically hired people to be warm bodies at a desk for another company. We were software testers. Not on the same team, mind you, which would have been cause for concern from an HR perspective. Which is incredibly amusing to me because my younger brother had ALSO gotten our OLDER brother hired in the same way! All three of us worked at the same company doing the same thing. Except for two things. One, they were on the same team. Two, my younger brother had been ‘promoted’ to Lead Tester. Talk about awkward. In the end it wasn’t actually a big deal, though, because by this point in our lives we had all matured enough to be cool siblings.

Now, about this time you might be saying “Wait hold up…a moment ago you said he politely kicked you out of his house but go on to say all three of you were cool siblings. What gives?”

Well, him taking me in to his home in the first place was never meant to be permanent. That would just be weird. So the entire 13 month period I lived with him, I was keeping my eyes out for apartments in the city we worked in. Also, the more important factor, his family was growing. A month before I moved out of his house, and into my first apartment, my niece was born! (Yay! Uncle times two!) That’s how I ended 2013.

2014 turned out to be a pivotal year for me. I was still working under contract (it was a year long.) I turned 26, which meant I lost my health insurance coverage through my parents plan under the Obama Era rules for coverage of dependents. What makes this so important that I call it out? Two major events happened following my birthday.

The Friday of the week I turned 26 was the day we were all pulled into a hastily thrown together group meeting of all the contract workers. Our managers and supervisors from the company we worked at (but not for, big distinction) were all just as surprised as we were at this, because all of us on both sides were told that the company was ending its contract with our employer and would be phasing us out over a four month period. We were being laid off. Following this announcement we were each pulled aside and told how long we were being given. I was given the full four months, which would complete out my contract. So, big event number one? Being laid off.

Big event number two followed about two weeks later. I started to feel some excruciating pain in my right side, and after not being able to sleep (I was hoping it would subside on its own) I drove myself to the Emergency Room. It was probably around 9PM so it was low staffing hours, which is why it felt like it took forever to get seen and have tests run. They examined me and did scans, and told me it looked like I had a case of acute appendicitis and that they would operate as soon as the surgeon on call arrived.

So, that was an awesome time. Laid off, lost insurance (and didn’t realize it), needed surgery and couldn’t cover it! Had to file for COBRA coverage and work with city assistance to get things straightened out. Eventually I got it all squared away and the money handled, though, so props to me.

After all of this was over, after I had finished out my time at that job, I took some time to myself (sort of) by sitting at home looking for jobs and attempting to file for unemployment. I quickly gave up on that, because it was pain in the ass and I had found a job. Working overnights at a major retail store. Despite the back pain that would follow, this turned out to be a good thing.

Rolling from 2014 into 2015, I was busting my ass at this overnight job. I was unloading trucks, pulling pallets, and stocking shelves. I was barely making more than I did under the contract job, and still paying off my medical debt. I had recently reached out to a guy I had met in college because of a post he made on Facebook and we ended up becoming good friends. After a few months we ended up reaching the conclusion that he and his girlfriend (different one from in college) wanted to move in together and that they were willing to get a bigger apartment to accommodate me so that I would be able to pay down my medical bills faster. So that’s what we did. Long story short, 6 months into living together they broke up and he and I kept the apartment.

Some comparatively small tidbits for 2015:

I was contacted by another third party head hunter type of company to work a short side gig for a week. I also lost a LOT of weight working at the overnight job. (When I left the software testing job I weighed about 230lbs and by mid-2015 I was down to about 166lbs)

Also, no less important than the previous two, my brother and his wife had their third child! Another boy, and this time I got to be one of his godparents. So that was an interesting experience. I don’t know what it actually entails, but to my knowledge they haven’t cashed in on it yet.

Let’s see…before I leave 2015 I also want to bring up that I met some awesome people working the overnight job. Some of them I’m still friends with, others not so much. I think I even tried dating someone from that job? Not to be rude but I’m not really sure I care to recall a lot of the details on that one because it didn’t really add a LOT of value or experience. Though I did meet and make friends with a group of people through this brief flame from work, which is an important detail to note for when we move into talking about the events of 2016.

2015 ended with some anxiousness, and 2016 started with uncertainty. I had been scouted by yet another head hunter type agency to connect me with a job opportunity. This time more solidly relating to my education and career goals! So I jumped on it. Interviewed. Waited. And waited. It was bad timing because they were changing some HR policies at the time and also because of the Christmas and New Years holidays. Still, I landed the job and got back behind a desk. So started my 2016, and my eventual weight gain back up to 230lbs.

2016 saw me as a groomsman in another wedding. This time for a couple from the group of friends I mentioned I made while working the overnight stocking job. It was a beautiful wedding. Nothing extravagant or complicated, more down to earth. It was really very nice. Which is kind of sad because of what happened the following year.

2017 helped reveal more of the true nature of this group of friends. Now, I say that in the nicest way possible because they were overall really wonderful people to include me in their world. That being said though, I ended up not really belonging. Sure, I fit in with them, but I realized after a certain point that I didn’t want to STAY there in that group. They were, more or less, content with their lot in life and style. After one particular night in the early months of the year, I decided to distance myself from them. Afterwards I wasn’t sure if any of them would reach out to me to see how things were going. And they didn’t. Can’t say I blame them, either, so I won’t. I ended up just moving forward.

At some point in the first of the year, I believe my friend and I moved again. This time because he bought a house. That detail escapes me, partly because we’ve lived together for several years now and I stopped keeping track a few years ago.

The latter half of the year had a scary turn of events for my family. I’ll spare some of the details, but suffice to say we learned of a major cancer scare. My job was willing to work with me and be flexible with my time so that I could spend time with my family and taking care of things. 2017 ended on a rather stressful note.

2018 started stressful because of the events from the end of 2017, but it quickly transitioned into positive news when my third nephew was born. I was, yet again, made an uncle. Is that how that works? I think that’s how that works.

Anyways. I’m going to end this portion of the post in a similar fashion to how I started it. 2018 and 2019 were banner years for me as far as the decade goes. I maintained my job. I traveled multiple times. First in 2018 for a weekend to see my college friends get married, then again in 2019 to actually spend time with them for most of a week before traveling to San Diego for TwitchCon 2019. I also made a couple of adult financial decisions. One being that I needed a new(er) car as my old one was just that. Old, with 240k miles on it. I also needed to suck it up and get some major dental work taken care, as I mentioned in my post about reflecting on 2019 as a whole.

Well, this entry got rather long. It could most definitely be longer if I were to incorporate all the drama that took place, but I might save those for future posts. Maybe. I might just keep them to myself out of respect for the other parties involved. Either way, looking back at these past 10 years has been an interesting journey for me. I can only hope that the next 10 years are as interesting, and hopefully enjoyable.

Reflecting on: 2019

One of those things that people like to do is write about a review of sorts of the previous year of their lives. So, I guess that’s what I’m going to do as well. I’ve also seen people write up their thoughts on the decade, but I’ll do that in a different post.

Alright, 2019, what was it all about for me? I’ll keep it brief and in no particular order. Just kind of vomiting out the memories to see what I can come up with.

I turned 31, no big deal. My coworkers still give me a little grief for “being so young” despite one of them not being much older. Speaking of work, it was my fourth consecutive year of employment at this job. Longest I’ve held a job, too, so that’s something!

I took a vacation for the first time in, well, ever really. The first leg of the vacation I traveled to my old stomping grounds in Colorado and spent most of a week catching up with friends just hanging out, trying local brews and eating good food. Then I made my way to San Diego for TwitchCon. First time being in California, and it was an interesting experience. After returning home I used the last few days of my vacation to just relax from home and recuperate before going back to work.

Maybe I’ll post more details about the vacation in a separate entry, maybe I won’t. Haven’t really decided yet.

My teeth tried to kill me, so I finally opted to start the journey of dental work that needs to be done. Honestly, I should have started it properly in 2018, but oh well I can’t change that fact. It’s going to be a long road, but it’s all to better my quality of life.

One thing I did a lot of was watch various shows on streaming services. Not very productive overall, but I just wasn’t in the right mindset to create content. Hopefully I can develop the habits to compensate for that in the future. Need to create even when I’m not in the mood.

What I should do from here on out is just plan out a bunch of different things I can write about, or maybe take requests for things people want me to write my thoughts about.

Anyways, 2019 wasn’t exactly a banner year for me, but it wasn’t bad. Maybe I can make 2020 a good year by completing some of my goals. Only one way to find out!