This is my first monthly review. I'll spend some time fleshing out the why and the how, and then get right to it. If you don't want to read a lot of introspective Josh, stop reading. I use the word "I" dozens of times. Consider yourself warned. For a long time I have feared life passing me by, and after years have passed, I will be largely the same person that I was years ago. I know my temptation is to be passive, so these reviews are an experiment to encourage me to be proactive.
Categories for Monthly Review (and why they made the list)
- My marriage (Kristi is more important to me than everything else on this list, and as my marriage is strong, these other projects go well. If my marriage saps my energy, nothing else moves forward. My marriage brings joy. Everything else can make me happy, but not joyful.)
- Significant relationships "Josh, there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who pick up the phone and call people, and those who don't have long-term relationships with their family." - Paraphrase of my uncle, who called me every Thursday while I was in college. I want to build that sort of intentionality into important relationships in my life.
- Side projects Side projects are the most significant method of personal development a person can do, without making it their full-time gig. It is a "safe" way to test ideas, and if any pan out, they can turn into extra forms of income. Money is not, however, the primary goal. This blog is a side project.
- My job My job provides my primary income, and I need to do well at it. I also should figure out how to develop myself as much as possible within the role, but my job is hardly the most important thing in my life. That would be bad for me and my employer.
- Physical goals I enjoy being physically active, and I like improving/learning, so I'm going to always try to have a tangible goal on the horizon. (Right now I'm working on learning handstands, for example.)
- Finances Money is sort of like oxygen. You notice when it's gone, but more than a certain amount and it doesn't do much for you. Kristi and I want to be wise stewards of our resources, and be generous. It is obvious that finances (no matter how much or how little we earn) are important.
- Debt reduction (student loans, car loan) A sub-component of finances. I want to be debt-free, and I want it badly. Since I don't want to reveal tons of details of our finances (I'm not sure why) I will talk about debt reduction as a decimal based off of payments made:minimum payments. If we have to make a $100 payment, and do so, we are 1:1 on debt for the month. If we make a $200 payment on a $100 minimum payment, we're 2:1 on debt, or 2.0. The higher the number the better. As we reduce our debt, we should be able to sustain higher and higher numbers.
- My monthly reviews I've never done a monthly review before. I need to make them effective, so I'll always reflect on the quality and utility of the review.
- Habits Habits are the way we live at least 95% of our life. It's foolishness to try to make big changes to your life without looking at your habits. I want to make big changes, so I'm monitoring my habits.
- Significant events Sometimes big things happen. I don't want to live my life from big event to big event, but I'm not going to skip over it either.
How do I remember my month?
Since I don't remember my day-to-day very well, I will rely upon pretty regular entries in 750words.com. It's a tool that simply encourages you to write 750 words a day. I don't always write every day, but for the last two weeks, I've missed only a few days. It's an accurate snapshot of my day.
I plan projects (sometimes) in a physical journal, and will refer to that as well.
My marriage Kristi and I did well. Few memorable disagreements, and we handled those while still being loving to each other. (Conflict management is a key quality indicator, remember?)
Our relationship is so much more than just not arguing, though. She felt like I delighted in her, and we did a lot of things together. Kristi's picked up running, as she's training for a five mile race in a few weeks. We went to Krav Maga together at least once a week. We went on dates. All-in-all, we have enjoyed each other and are growing together. I am blessed to be married to her.
Side Projects Lots of progress here, but I have too many, which allows me to follow one side project until it gets hard, then I'll jump to another project until THAT gets hard, then move to another one. I "consulted" a few times with the Krav Maga DC Training Center (it's ongoing) and I'm working on tools to help people learn to belay, and deal with fear in lead belaying. I want to keep my projects to just those.
Significant relationships I made almost zero attempts to reach out to those important to me. There is infinite room for improvement here. Stay tuned for November's review, where I will have progress to report.
My job I have learned my roll just fine, and I've been able to teach a lot of what we do to two newly-hired staff. I had lunch with one of them, and really enjoyed building that relationship. There's room for improvement, though. I struggle with feeling content when it feels like key elements of my job are completely out of my control. Stay tuned.
Physical goals I went to the New River Gorge for a weekend, and while I have lost a lot of strength, I managed to send Toxic Hueco (11d), and was pretty happy about that, since I've not trained or done a pull-up almost since June.
I have started learning handstands. I can hold a handstand against a wall for a minute and a half, and I can do little mini-pushups. I want to do a free-standing handstand pushup. So far, I have to build a lot of strength, but I'm ready to take the next steps. I need to learn how to fall out of a handstand, so I can get away from the wall.
Finances More money went out this month than came in, because I put a fair chunk of change into paying off our car loan.
Debt reduction (student loans, car loan) 3.5 (ratio of debt paid off:minimum payment) This is a great number. Definitely not going to happen this month.
My monthly reviews This is my first review. It's been helpful so far. Probably tons of room for improvement, but I'm not concerned.
Habits I've been using 750words regularly. It's helpful in me planning my day. I've done ~5 minutes of hand-stand training every day. I have been in Krav Maga twice a week, but I'd like to get that up to three times most weeks.
I am trying to get back into using my "hangboard" door frame, but have not systematized that yet. This coming month we'll see improvement, I hope.
I've not been able to reliably wake up early (before 6:00), especially after Krav Maga in the evenings. I'm still experimenting with how to firm up my morning routine.
Significant events Nothing major here. A few minor things that caused me great elation followed by disappointment, so the lesson learned is either 1) be wary of false expectations or 2) don't get so excited and disappointed. I don't like squashing my emotions, though, so this is not a good option.
Summary, and going forward
October was a good month, but not very intentional. Everything I did just sort of happened. I really want to make progress with building intentional relationships with my family (by calling them. Hi Mom!) and I want to drill down my focus on building the climbing-related tools. More on that later.
And here ends my first monthly review, only a week after the end of the month. This has been a useful tool, just writing and categorizing and thinking hard about my month. This makes it easier to make good choices going forward, knowing that I'll be analyzing my decisions in three weeks. If any of you are thinking about doing a similar review, I strongly recommend it!