A confession to go along with my yearly goals

Everything calms down in the face of raging flames.

Everything calms down in the face of raging flames.

Friday was my father’s birthday, and Saturday was mine. It was my first year without my father, and I admit it was a rough one. It still is simply because I keep trying to pick up the phone and call him, that I picked up the card I found last year and thought was perfect for him, that I can’t get rid of the feeling that I missed something important these last few years while I struggled in my own life. As I sat around the bonfire Saturday with my fiancé and his family, I listened to them bicker and talk with each other while I stared thoughtfully into the fire. I wanted to throw the card in the fire to be rid of it. In my mind it would help bring closure by severing another tie. On the other hand, I can’t stand to be wasteful of money or things.

As I sat there feeling sorry for myself, I remembered an annual tradition of mine that I always shared with my father and those few other precious people that were very close to me. And that is to reflect on the year for the awesome accomplishments, analyse where I fell short for the ones that I wanted but didn’t achieve, and make plans for the following year of my life. I hadn’t done that yet this year, and normally we’d start on the 1st by reflecting on all the good accomplishments.

I was a few days behind, to say the least.

So, I sat there thinking about the fun things I accomplished this past year. Personally, we moved to a new flat that didn’t flood every other week. This means my health is getting a little better because I can breath without mould invading my lungs. I also got large parts of our things cleared out and organised, which makes living in our new, lightly more spacious apartment seem like a grander thing than it probably is. I also instilled better healthy habits, like eating better and working out regularly — which makes me feel better, even if the weight hasn’t budged.

Professionally, Insanitek grew a little bit. We were able to bring on more writers, though the freelance writers didn’t stay long — they had other things to do with life. We were also able to come up with a few plans and ideas that we are slowly working through and implementing. The most exciting, however, is gaining a few new students to go through our independent researcher pilot programme to help us build it up and get it ready for the world to take advantage of.

All of these were great accomplishments that were nothing to sneer at. 

My dad and his father-in-law (also his best friend). Photo courtesy of my step-mum, Radine.

My dad and his father-in-law (also his best friend). Photo courtesy of my step-mum, Radine.

But… I still feel a little down since I don’t have dad to tell me how proud he is of me before chiding me about working too hard. That was always his way of saying take it easy, don’t get too wound up in things that don’t matter, and don’t get so caught up in the work that I forget about life. Granted, he existed in a life that was not nearly as fulfilling as mine in the work area, and never quite understood that work is life to me. It was one of our favourite arguments to have only second to how may cigars/Bond films/Sinatra songs were “too many”.

Alas, as I stared at the camp fire, I congratulated myself on a job well done, sniggered at the absurd idea of giving any part of it up, and proceeded to make plans for this year. The plans this year are going to be more mundane for my fiancé is following my lead. When he officially laid off in December/January some time from his work, he is going to try to save the family orchard from it’s extremely fast decline. This means we’ll have unemployment money, our part-time jobs, and Insanitek to support us. Our safety net? Completely gone.

This is terrifying me, but it won’t paralyse me.

I can say that as of Saturday I didn’t have a plan. As of this morning, I didn’t have a plan. But, as of writing this and reflecting upon the last year, I do. Though, frankly, it’s not a very good plan because it lacks definitive details. I do, however, have solid goals to reach.

Personal goals:

  • Put my health first. For so long it has been financial concerns that come first, but as I’m getting older my health is a little more fragile. It is coming before any client emergencies (sorry, but I can’t perform at my best for you if I don’t put myself first), before worrying about how to pay for the next big machine, the next step in progress, or even my co-founder’s ego.
  • Read a book a week. Whether for pleasure or growth, reading has always been something that keeps me sane. A book a week minimum should save my sanity from the worst of times. I’m not even going to say it has to be a good, solid book. A little, easy read will do just as well. 😉
  • Take a daily tea break. It never fails that at about 1500, I hit an afternoon slump. Instead of trying to push through it with nothing but stubbornness, I should indulge in a tea break. This tea break clearly has tea, a quick snack, and a brisk walk around the area. If I’m at home, a walk around the pond. If I’m out working either at the lab or a field site, then I simply pick up a cuppa rosie on my way out the door to explore what’s around. (This may sound suspiciously like the first goal, but tea is high important; it deserves it’s own goal.)
  • A box of cards next to the mail sorting area along with pens and coloured pencils. May every Insanitekian appreciate the simplicity of a card.

    A box of cards next to the mail sorting area along with pens and coloured pencils. May every Insanitekian appreciate the warmth and simplicity of a card.

    Create and spread more wealth beyond money. As I held the card in my hand over the weekend, I thought about those that wanted to patch up relationships with their fathers, and I was grateful for the fact that I had a decent to awesome (depending on my age and maturity) relationship with mine. Yet, it wasn’t until I was an adult, well out of the house, that I could afford a little luxury for him in the symbol of a card. Instead of putting it in the flames, I started a donation box for the low socioeconomic people to take out these little luxuries that they probably couldn’t afford for a while, thus giving them the ability to start building relationships and wealth beyond finance. This is a small token, though, and needs to move beyond this.

Business goals:

  • Adopt a no-alternative mentality. I have seen a lot of businesses fail because they adopt a mentality that states if the business doesn’t pan out, then they can do something else. It is like they are setting themselves up for failure by not thinking about it in terms of a long term project that has to succeed. Up until now, I had a half-assed attitude about it. I know there is no alternative, but I am also working other part time jobs to help pay the bills. I wasn’t putting all on Insanitek. And although I’m not still (bills still have to be paid), I’m making a mental adjustment that these jobs should be treated as a temporary thing. Under no circumstances are they to be considered as means of living the life I choose.
  • Pour my heart and story into marketing. I don’t view my story as important in the world. Yes, I was homeless. Yes, I have seen the worst of humanity in my military duties. Yes, I suffered and still suffer as part of the low socioeconomic class. But I have also seen hope in all these places as well. I have also seen that I did not have it as bad as others. Even when I was homeless, there were others that were homeless and without hope. In the military I saw horrible things that give me nightmares, but I met others that live with these nightmares every day of their lives and still hold their heads high. And as much as I struggle financially, it has not turned me bitter. People want to hear my stories for it gives them hope in the world. That hope is something that can’t be bought, but should be told. And marketing is a story. My story is going to start coming out with Insanitek’s story since I built it to serve and build hope.
  • Restructure for more “passive” income. Anyone who knows me knows I hate the term “passive” when applied to income. There is no such thing since you still bust your ass to market and sell ebooks, ecourse, and e-everything. It doesn’t just sell itself (unless you are so famous everyone wants to know what you say), and thus it’s just not passive. Writing social media posts to spam your followers with a “buy from me” message is still work. Despite of this, we need to be able to let people buy ebooks, ecourses, and e-everything from us. Not just because it is lazier for us, but because it allows those in different time zones to work with us and grow themselves.
  • Create traditions. Life is better when you have traditions. My father taught me that, then life showed me that. We do certain things at certain times of year because it’s tradition — even if it makes no sense. I’d like to start work traditions with the crowd at Insanitek. For example, Sunday tea and gaming, quarterly time outs to challenge our assumptions, and every 6 months an epic game of capture the flag that requires on-your-feet thinking and invention. Why? Because life should be lived.

And my three words this year: Fire. Traditions. Stories.

My theme song through all this? Halestorm’s I am the Fire.