Ed Bockelman

My public retrospective for September 2021

Welcome to my very first ever public monthly retrospective.

The podcast -  an update

For those who have been following my #buildinpublic efforts this summer, you deserve a brief update.  I announced this summer that I would be starting a podcast.  At first I thought I would launch it in July, but I quickly realized that wasn't realistic.  Now, I'm beginning to think that launching this year isn't realistic.  I'll briefly explain why.

It has been a year since I began blogging about personal development.  My goal was to improve my writing skills while learning about topics that interest me personally.  I wanted to share what I was learning with the world so I began searching for knowledge about audience building.

I found what I was looking for when I discovered Kevon and his Public Lab.  In order to join the course, I had to build something in public.  I'd been thinking about starting a podcast for many years, and I thought the podcast would be a faster way to build an audience than blogging.  So as a project for his course, I started "building" my podcast.  Though I'm still excited about the podcast, I've been weighing my values recently, and I've decided to slow down, but not stop, my podcast development.  The discovery that there isn't a large audience of engaged Chinese learners on Twitter helped in making this choice.  Consequently, my decision is unlikely to disappoint many people. 

I've decided to devote more time to part of my life that I don't write about online.  I need to add some context first.

My first public retrospective

As I've been doing monthly retrospectives privately for years, this month requires some mental adjustments for me.

I have always understood my values, so I didn't have to explain them when writing my monthly retrospectives. As I'm putting this out there, however, I'm discovering that it makes me look at things from a different perspective, making me understand things better.

First I feel like I need to establish one way I'm different from most people. In our society people strive for "financial independence," whatever that means.

If I look for 'financially independent' people, I usually see people who could retire if they wanted, but they keep working hard.

If you love money, you will never be satisfied; if you long to be rich, you will never get all you want. (Ecclesiastes 5:10, Good News Translation)

I recently received an email from Jay Crouse. He quoted the short story about the Fisherman and the Businessman. You can read the story here or watch the video below.

I love what Jay had to say afterward:

We want to have the freedom to be ourselves and spend our time doing the things WE want to do. To create what we want to create and share that with people who will appreciate it – even if it's just the people close to us.

I call that creative independence. The ability to express ourselves in the ways that we want without the need for external validation or approval. To make the things that WE want to make on our own terms without compromise.

To me, our culture is fixated on financial independence but what we really want is that creative independence. We want to have control over our lives and our relationship to the world around us.

I am fortunate, because I already possess creative independence.  I treasure the freedom I have, and I do not want to sacrifice it for more money.  Why do many people who might be satisfied with a life like the fisherman's end up spending their life like the businessman?  The desire for financial security is often motivated by fear.

Re-examining my values

During the last year, I went through a list of values and selected 20 as my core values.  I've been re-examining those values and I've decided the podcast does not hit enough of them to make it a prominent part of my life at this moment.

My ministryvalues: spirituality, personal development, service, humility, usefulness, contribution
My jobservice, humility, usefulness, resilience
Writing etcpersonal development, service, contribution, wisdom, learning, understanding, curiosity, growth
Podcastservice, usefulness, contribution, innovation

I am increasing my time in ministry, starting this month.  My time spent writing and doing related activities will remain about the same.  For a while, however, I will be spending less time on the podcast.

The values of an individual determine their actions. You can measure their actions by watching how they spend their time.

I use Toggl to track my time 24/7 so I never have to guess how I've been spending my time.  Here's how I spent my waking hours during the last four weeks:

Routine activities (driving, eating, showering etc)24%
My ministry and related activities22%
My part time job14%
Writing and related activities12%
Maintenance (including kitchen remodel)8%
Professional development3%
Phone and email (non-work related)3%
Personal time2%

(doesn't add to 100% due to rounding)

I consider all these activities essential. If I am going to find more time for other projects (podcast), I will need to chip away at the largest category, routine activities. I think I could reduce this category a bit if I structured my time more carefully.

In order to accomplish this, I am integrating my current productivity system with DayCaptain. I believe I can squeeze in a bit more time for what I value by using timeboxing.

Good things from September

As far as my fitness is concerned, I would say I'm in the best shape of my life right now. Despite my age I feel very young. My Coros watch has helped me step up my running this month. Running 5k (3 miles) is not too hard for me, and I have run 5 miles three times in a row. I'm grateful to my past self for making physical activity a priority.

My ministry work has reconnected me with some old friends.  I now see them on Zoom every week.  I'm more aware than ever of the value of social relationships

What's ahead for me

I may be scaling back my #buildinpublic efforts, but I'll still be active on Twitter.  I don't expect much to change in October, but who knows?