Engaging on engagement – half year review

I started 2017 with a post on my theme for the new year – engagement.

From that post – I believe engagement is the answer to the debates around managing energy versus managing time. As with most important things, it isn’t an either/or. And, I also believe engagement is a principle that a good life is anchored around. And, as with all life principles, it is very hard to consistently live it. Also, I think of engagement and consciousness (the ability to be aware and to choose) as sister concepts. They share the same core.

Engaging on engagement is easier said than done, of course. So, I broke it down to 3 sub themes – health, information and seeking to understand and then to be understood. And, I committed to a collection of processes at the beginning of the year.

But, change doesn’t happen with commitment alone. Change happens when you follow that commitment with consistent re-commitment. I have daily check points with myself. But, I found a half year review of this to be both fascinating and useful. Here’s what I found –

  1. Health: Some aspects had gone really well. I had made some very good diet changes, was doing a much better job working out my whole body, and was consciously standing more and walking more through the day. But, my exercise volume had dipped post parenthood and a few other projects. So, I needed to do a better job here. Overall, however, I’d say this was positive.
  2. Information: Aspects that had worked well included a much better use of email filters, almost no email reading in bed, cutting a bunch of news feeds that were more noise than signal and starting the “Notes by Ada” project to synthesize my thinking around technology. But, on the flip side, I hadn’t done a good job in “deep reading” (books), was still checking my phone far too often as a default action and was a bit last minute in the creation of “Notes by Ada.” I felt I needed to do a much better job here as it felt like 3 steps forward and 2.9 steps back.
  3. Seek to understand and then to be understood: This was the most nebulous sub theme of the three as it isn’t that easy to judge. However, I ask myself how I’m doing with this (along with the other 2) every day. And, I had begun to perceive progress. I was more aware of when I interrupted folks in conversation and was doing a better job modulating my energy in meetings. I didn’t expect change in six months as this is a longer term construction project. Positive progress with an awareness that there’s a long way to go.

This half year review was a breath of fresh air as it injected much needed energy and purpose. I think we all tend to overweight the negatives. And, before I started this review, I thought I’d gone backward on 2 of my 3 objectives. But, the review revealed a lot more nuance – bunch of things going well, a few improvements required – and also made me realize that I’d made a lot more progress than I thought.

I’ve made a fair few changes since that aim to chip away at the areas I need to do better. But, more than ever, I realize how we frequently overestimate what we can get done in a day and underestimate what we can get done over the long haul – especially when we chip away at things, one small action at a time.