Portrait of the Artist as a Man
December 30, 2021

The Insinuation of Stasis

Screen shot of my yearly templatesScreen shot of my yearly templates

Well… 2021 is ending and it’s been a really tough year for me. The lack of momentum from 2020 and the glimmer of hope before resurgence all lead to a year of… stasis. I’d go so far to say that the Stasis full replaced my original yearly theme of reinvigoration” such that, were I the sort to grade my efforts toward a year theme (I’m not, they aren’t pass/fail things) I’m pretty sure I’d flunk it.

Like.. I didn’t even read a full book? The pandemic lockdown mindset insinuated itself into everything in 2021 and became an excuse to just… not. Very little writing, art, exercise, house & home build, and pretty much anything. I don’t think I even got much large work stuff done where I feel I had considerable more focus.

But these themes are about direction setting, not specific goal accomplishment. So I may have been more stasis-minded than reinvigoration-minded, but that’s ultimately ok and nothing I can change now. There’s only setting myself up for the next year.

Pictured above is the template I use for yearly planning. The idea is to set directions in increasing levels of specificity to help guide where I go in the year. I’ve included the template text below the line for folks that are interested.

This is how I use it.

The Sky

The sky is the largest, biggest thin that matters in your life. Vocation. The thing that generates your energy, that rallies you, and the thing that insinuates everything that you do. For me, this wasn’t something I really figured out until I’d been doing these yearly preps and review things for a number of years.

So, if you have no idea what you’d say is The One Big Thing that matters to you, don’t stress it. And really, it’ll refine or change over time. It should. You grow. What matters to you should grow and change with you.

Flight plan

Each level increases in specificity to help refine what you want your year to resemble. I start with a single word to define the year. Incidentally, these become the titles for my yearly printed journals. 2020: The year of Community (lol)

My theme journals going back to 2012My theme journals going back to 2012

  • 2019: The year of Cultivation
  • 2018: Refinement
  • 2017: Self-improvement
  • 2016: Loss
  • 2015: Virtue
  • 2014: Self-discovery
  • 2013: Order
  • 2012: Metamorphosis

Honestly, the more vague, the better. I think there’s actual value in having to think about what the word means when you review things. The word may take a whole new meaning. Cultivation was going to be about building relationships. It turned into a year of permaculture gardening and nature.

I answer some questions about the theme trying to help put some historical perspective and motivation but, again, don’t stress the content here. I don’t want the word to take too specific a meaning.

40,000 foot view

I trying to organize the things I want to focus on into broad areas. But I’ll tell you a secret… I occasionally do this last and group the projects or other ideas into areas at the end.


30,000 foot view

Cruising altitude

This is the scaffolding for progress. What projects, focus, skills, or thing to do you want to do in a year. They should be bigger than clean the garage.” But cleaning the garage could be part of a larger get my physical space better organized.”

These are probably the most concrete thing to come from this thinking process and can be the Stuff What I Work Towards in the year.

In my case this is the Virtue and Project tracking work I do day-to-day. I have found, through the 2015 virtue project, that they become a really helpful engine for all the other things I want to do in a given year, month, or week.

I also try to start linking these things to the areas defined above. This is more about seeing where I’m spending my time. Maybe I only have one regular thing going for increase overall health” and too many things in organize spaces” and want to adjust the quantity of things you’re doing for an area.

20,000 & 10,000 foot view

Concrete things you want to do, like cleaning the garage (20,00ft), the steps to accomplish (10,000) and the related stuff from above. You may or may not have a lot here yet. It’s fine if you don’t. Just start.

Bringing it together

I ultimately build check-ins and reviews of each level in a time frame that makes sense for each. I review my projects weekly, partly because this includes stuff at work and I need to stay atop those of I want to HAVE a job, but also because the projects and tasks are the most dynamic.

The areas and cruising tools are every month or so. Probably not less than quarterly. Right now, the structure for the review is pretty free-form except for the daily task stuff I do at work. I kinda want to build better strategies for this review to be better about progress so that’s probably something I”lL try to do in the next few days while I work on the rest of the template stuff.

Like sticking the discrete stuff into a set of text files and can I manipulate with iOS Shortcuts to step me through the more concrete review parts - like run a shortcut for the quarterly that grabs all the stuff defined at the higher levels and asks me questions about them?

The End

IDK, something like that… Maybe gather the individual projects and tasks that work towards that out of my task manager? That would probably require some extra stuff logged in my daily procedures so I can dig that out quickly.

Something something over-engineering….

But any way you slice it, the last two years have been less than ideal and I’d like to change that. But like to change” is very different than actual change.” The latter needs active effort.

We start here.

The Sky

A Vocation

Ideally, this stays similar or refines over the years.

Last Year’s sky

Flight plan

50,000 foot view

The single word or idea to guide the year

The Year Of….


Related quote

In summary….

A very short summary statement

Why this?
What brought this on?
What is it about this thing that you trying to accomplish?
Why now?
Did something trigger this?

40,000 foot view

The areas of focus for the year Like life, health, creativity, or whatever

Area 1 - brief definition

Area 2 - brief definition

30,000 foot view

Virtues where you should spend most of the time {Virtue list}

20,000 foot view

Specific projects to accomplish for the year

Project - virtue - area

Project - virtue - area

10,000 foot view

Actions, Items, low-level concepts to work

  • Item - project - due
  • Item - project - due

Where am I starting?

Where would I like to be at the end of the year?

Are there problems you’re trying to solve?

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