The Year of Less

This year, after listening to related advice on the Cortex podcast, I adopted a yearly theme for the first time. My life is amazingly good on many levels, and I’ve become even more keenly aware of my privilege and how it has helped me get to where I am. I’m also proud of the hard work I’ve put in over my career and the discipline I’ve maintained to allow for my current lifestyle. Even with this context, I’ve still found myself a bit edgy through these early years of sorta retirement. By edgy I mean I feel like I should be doing more, especially when it comes to business or project related work. “More coaching”, “more freelancing”, “more business building”, etc. This edginess usually leads to more stress. I shouldn’t be stressed.

So, I adopted a theme for the year: The Year of Less. Less what? I jotted down some ideas which I keep in front of me:

Pardon the grammar. “Year of Less/Fewer” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Less scattered thoughts and projects should lead to more focus and, ideally, more happiness and fulfillment.

My first step in January was letting my colleagues know that starting in the fall 2020 I would no longer commute to teach at the university in person. While I love the campus and the people there, I stopped enjoying the commute (70 minutes each way two days a week) a while back and had no plans to move closer. We coupled this change with a strategic plan to offer a fully online version of the Information Systems program so this should be a win-win. This all came down before the COVID-19 pandemic so in insight we look like geniuses for our pragmatic forward thinking.

Our next step was to sell our house in Beaverton, get rid of a bunch of stuff we no longer need, and put most of the rest in storage. We would head to Keuka Lake NY earlier than originally planned (March instead of May) because we necessarily called off our six week Europe vacation. We hauled a smaller trailer with possessions we want closer at hand while living here. Our life here is simpler and more routine. Lots of time spent outdoors, and I’ve taken on home improvement projects that I never dreamed I’d be able to accomplish. Normally not my thing, but it has started to become “my thing” and I’m better for it.

I have a broad spectrum of recreational activities that I enjoy. Hiking, fishing, sailing, golf, wargaming, video gaming, programming, and more. Some of these I care more about improving my skills than others. I like fishing but I’m not invested in becoming an expert fly fisher. Golf is different for me. For many years I’ve felt that I have the potential to be a good golfer, with good to me defined as having a single digit handicap (regularly shooting 4 to 9 over par for 18 holes). I’ve played enough golf in my life to know that improvement to this level doesn’t result from casual play, so I decided to lower my time commitment to other activities while focusing in on golf. I joined a local golf club and their men’s league. I’m playing in more tournaments and traveling with a group of old white dudes to local golf courses every Thursday. I’m reading and watching golf content to learn how to play better and structuring my practice accordingly. I’m seeing some glimmers of hope but the pieces are not yet falling into place. I’m fine with that because I’m having so much fun going through the process.

On the wargaming front I’ve been very focused on playing just two systems: Advanced Squad Leader and the Company Scale System. Doug and I are playing CSS twice per week and we have joined a small crack team responsible for maintaining errata for the system and, eventually, publishing living rules.

I won’t go into more details on the “less alcohol, less meat” side of things in this post. Maybe later in another post. I’m doing better at one than the other.

It is almost halfway through the year and I can say the theme is serving its purpose. It is a touchstone for me when I think about big things I might take on. It is a touchstone when I wake up and plan out my day. Less edgy, less stress!