I set myself some broad areas of focus for 2017 as part of my usual end of year reflection rituals last year:
- Professional Career
- Creativity and Play (I later changed this one to Voice)
Reflecting back, 2016 was a good year and when I set my goals for this year I intended to ‘continue in roughly the same vein, with some small but significant shifts in emphasis’. Let’s see how things unfolded and how I did.
Even from the first minutes, 2017 started with a bang — literally — standing along the Vltava River watching fireworks over Prague Castle. Doug and I spent a month together in Europe – it was his first trip there and I had wanted to take him ever since we started going out nine years earlier. We had both come off a great year and saved up to go with the proceeds of our new and improved lives – it was probably the best holiday I’ve ever had.
Since coming back in late January, things took on a fast pace and haven’t really stopped since then. The year has stretched us both and moving to New Zealand has brought a lot of new beginnings. But there have been some endings too. 2017 has been a year of deep change for many people – with frequent cause to reflect on who we are and who we aren’t – and this has made some cracks that have existed for a while more visible and painful to live with. This has culminated — very recently — in Doug and I making a decision to separate. There's a long story to tell about that, but this isn't the time or the place.
Historically, writing my end of year reflection has been a fun thing to do. End of year is an important time for me and I always make the time to reflect on everything that has happened and what is next to come. It’s also something I write about solely from my perspective because it is about my personal goals. It is less fun this year because of our separation, but still important, so I will try to approach it in my usual spirit. It’s been a big year and a long year, so even though what has happened in the last few weeks is huge, I will try to write from the perspective of the other 51 weeks as well.
This is what I wrote about this at the start of the year: “One way or another my job will be changing in 2017, as the current project I'm working on reaches a natural conclusion and my contract comes up. Whatever happens after that, I'm looking for some kind of relationship-focussed role with a degree of positional authority, commensurate salary, regular work travel and the opportunity to consolidate existing skills while providing room to develop new ones. Something globally-connected with the opportunity to make industry contacts would be welcome too.”
Happily, in April I was approached by the recruitment team at Auckland University of Technology and invited to apply for a position there as Manager, Research Systems and Performance. This came out of nowhere and a move to New Zealand or even to another university was not on my radar at the start of the year, but it quickly became apparent that this opportunity was too good to pass up, so I gave it my best shot and eventually landed the position, starting in July. Here’s how things line up on the specifics:
As I am based in the university’s central research office, I sit at the intersection of lots of interesting things happening around the university, across all faculties and a number of administrative functions. My job has two distinct functions: one is to have responsibility for the university’s participation in the national research quality assessment which is a major stream of research funding, the other is to have business responsibility for the IT systems that support research work across the university.
Now, as a result, I am effectively in a project management role with a customer service orientation, so day-to-day I am working with internal and external stakeholders to address needs, move things along and solve problems. This is tremendous fun and a source of great satisfaction for me as it means I get to work across the university with research managers and advisors, faculty executives, IT, HR, library, strategy and planning, risk and audit, senior management and individual academics. Outside the university I often deal with the government education department, my counterparts at other universities and a variety of software vendors and external consultants.
Outcome: Nailed It
POSITIONAL AUTHORITY AND AUTONOMY
Knowing that in my previous job I had a great deal of responsibility but not a lot of authority or resources to make or execute decisions, I'm happy that in my new role I report directly to the Pro Vice-Chancellor Research - I am given broad objectives and a high level of autonomy to deliver on them, am able to request resources when necessary and enjoy a degree of discretion over my project budget. I have a small team reporting directly to me and I also direct the work of several others in functional roles around the organisation. Both structurally and culturally my role has an appropriate degree of authority and is understood to align closely with parts of the university’s strategic direction. I am encouraged to set my own work plan and to be involved in strategic planning discussions within my department, and given the opportunity to present my plans regularly to the university executive.
Outcome: Nailed It
REGULAR WORK TRAVEL
Year-end 2016, when I wrote my goals, I was envisaging transitioning to a travel-based role. This hasn’t happened, but there is still an element of travel involved in my new position, both weekly between campuses and nationally and internationally a few times a year to attend various events and conferences.
On the whole, my previous job was reasonably well-paid, but neither the position nor the salary reflected the work I was actually doing. My new role came with an attractive salary package, including covering all relocation expenses. Given the work I am doing and the organisation’s trajectory, I made the judgment that there is also room to grow and develop things here over the next few years.
Outcome: Nailed It
Unsurprisingly, once again I had something different in mind when I wrote this. For lots of reasons, it’s important to me to organise my life around the idea of a ‘global passport’. New Zealand isn’t exactly a global centre of activity, but working at a university in research management in a systems capacity does mean I have a reason to meet people, get involved in things and keep my toe in the stream of many global trends relevant to my interests. What I’m doing right now doesn’t actively advance this goal, but it has indirect benefits and certainly doesn’t hurt.
CONSOLIDATE EXISTING SKILLS
For my previous job I was more or less thrown into managing a large end-to-end IT implementation project where I learned a lot on the fly (and by the seat of my pants). It went pretty well all things considered, but there are a lot of things I could’ve done better and wanted an opportunity to try again in a more structured way. In my new role I am doing similar things, but with more resources and in an organisation five times larger than where I worked previously. I am getting the opportunity to consolidate my skills in project management, business analysis and process improvement, managing change, business systems administration and research management more generally.
Outcome: Nailed It
DEVELOP NEW SKILLS
Other than just knowing I am someone who always needs to be learning something, and needs to be in a work environment where this happens automatically, I didn’t have any particular skills in mind when I wrote this. As a manager with direct and indirect reports, my new role provides a hands-on opportunity to learn general management skills such as managing staff, leading teams, organisational communication and aspects of corporate finance. This is something I plan to develop further next year.
Outcome: Nailed It
OVERALL OUTCOME: NAILED IT
Reflecting back, what I wrote at the start of the year was pretty open-ended: “One way or another we'll have a new place to live in 2017, and this time I'd like it to be more of a home than a place to stay for a while. That probably means picking somewhere we're happy to stay for a few years that enables our hobbies and allows personality to express itself through the decor, and allows us to entertain guests. Friends and lifestyle conveniences should be within reach. On top of this and despite the costs of setting up somewhere new, I'd also like to continue our financial focus and boost our mojo savings considerably.“
Brisbane, Melbourne, Singapore or the UK were the likely contenders for a new place to live at the time. New Zealand was certainly not on the radar. Nevertheless, things have turned out well on this front, even though this led to other problems as a result. Let’s look at the specifics:
Everyone has a different idea of what 'home' is – it's a complicated idea. For me it is strongly connected with place in the sense that the place I am needs to reflect who I am. That is true not just of the house I come home to, but also the place I work, the places I spend my time at and the city I live in. I’ve spent a long time in my life feeling restless and searching for some combination of these things that feels right. I did not expect that to happen in Auckland of all places - I had never been (or thought about) Auckland or even New Zealand before this year - but life can be surprising sometimes and it turns out the place suits me for lots of reasons, so I’m happy with my new home.
Outcome: Nailed It
PERSONALITY EXPRESSED THROUGH DECOR
I had been back living with my parents prior to the move to Auckland, and before that I had been in a succession of rental places for 18 months or so at a time chosen under conditions of various constraints, or living out of a suitcase. All of these iterations had their high points and advantages, but none really allowed me to express myself. By this I mean having furniture I like, having art, objects and appliances that I like and having things arranged and maintained in a way that gives me energy and peace. I went a long way towards this in 2017, especially when it comes to furniture, art and appliances. We bought a new bed (ah-MAZ-ing) and a new couch and Doug and I put a lot of effort into finding a nice place and making it a home. Nevertheless, when a couple share a house, everything reflects the personality of the couple moreso than the individuals who make up that couple. So it came as something of a surprise to me to discover that even with the freedom to select and arrange things just so in our new place, I found that things were still not arranged and maintained in a way that gives me energy and peace. But at that point it is no longer about the decor.
FRIENDS WITHIN REACH
Not really sure what I meant by this when I wrote it. I knew I’d be moving to a different city and wasn't which one, but knew it would be important to be able to connect with friends somehow, and not just in person. This one is a bit of a mixed bag in 2017. I have made some new friends, and lost touch with a few others. Because of my ‘global passport’ lifestyle (and that of some of my friends) I’ve been able to catch up in person with people I care about very much, in their town or mine, or somewhere else entirely. That’s always a great pleasure and privilege. I also spent several months towards the end of this year not really talking to my friends at all while I've taken time to figure out a lot of things by myself. I’ve dropped off social media pretty much entirely, including Instagram to a large extent (the last bastion) and even the private friends-only Slack channel I’d been making heavy use of the last couple of years. On the flip side, I’ve been more socially active than I’ve been for a long time, perhaps ever. Going to drinks and parties with workmates and joining in a variety of social activities. I have changed a lot this year in terms of how I spend my time, and where I am has changed how I interact with my friends. But I’ve never felt that they are not within reach.
Given all the changes taking place this year, the real question here is: what are my hobbies? There are some dependables - music, reading, travel and exploring, chats with friends and other interesting people - that have been given a big boost by having the kind of lifestyle that my new job and home affords. I haven’t read as much this year as I usually do (22 books instead of the usual 30-35), but this is mostly because I have been much more selective about what I’m reading and I’ve read more for enjoyment than with purpose. I’ve made more room for music in my life and spent a while reflecting on how I like to listen to and enjoy music. I love Spotify and have embraced that way of listening, and this has been enabled further by the portable speakers and AirPods I bought. I listen to music a lot while I’m walking, while I’m working and sometimes when chilling at home. I enjoy playing the piano and would like to develop this further - I say this every year and I feel the time has now come to really do something about this. I have a whole new country to explore and this will keep me occupied for several years, with short outings, day trips and longer trips. I meet lots of interesting people through work who I end up catching up with privately, and there are others who I seek out in my personal life. But despite all this good news, I feel the bigger story this year is that I feel I am changing a lot and that this is creating the space for new hobbies, and some long-neglected or forgotten interests. I’ve taken up Zumba, which is incredibly fun, and I’ve joined a choir who sing Maori songs. I’m spending a lot more time outdoors and being social. I’ll figure out what this transformation looks like next year, but I think making the enablement of hobbies a goal this year has helped create the space for that transformation to happen.
Outcome: Partially Achieved
FINANCIAL FOCUS AND BOOSTING SAVINGS
Mixed bag, this one. I made great strides in 2016 by adopting a fresh mindset to financial matters and achieving some quick wins as a result. This year I wanted to follow this up by evaluating and reorganising significant aspects of my life around this new mindset - what policy makers sometimes call a ‘root-and-branch’ review - with the aim of being more mindful about how I spend, and having a savings and investment strategy. I wanted to do this in the knowledge that I would be starting a new job and moving to a new city, but without knowing what job or which city. I also had a savings target. In the end, I was too ambitious about what could be accomplished in a year, given all the other changes taking place. And the setup costs of moving to a new place (and doing so in a way that met my Zen goals) meant not only did I completely miss the savings target, but I actually went backwards. On top of this, having started the root and branch review, it has turned out to go a lot deeper than I had originally planned. While I started the year looking at things from the perspective of our joint finances, by the end of the year I made a pivot and decided I need to move to structuring things on an individual basis. Separating is going to be time-consuming, messy and expensive and working through the practicalities of this will be a major focus all through next year, but it will put me on a better financial footing overall and this would not have happened if I had not set this as a specific goal. So, overall there has been progress in 2017 but it will take longer to get this one done.
Outcome: Partially Achieved
OVERALL OUTCOME: partially achieved
Yikes. Here’s what I wrote at the start of the year: ”In 2017 I plan to start an MBA and complete at least four units of it. I'd also like to find good key contacts for my next business, establish a company structure, develop a first product or service and put together a high-level business plan for the next few years. No need to rush anything – just need to get some good foundations in place. What the business is is not super important yet at this stage – I have lots of ideas but for now they are just ideas. But in general, over the next few years I plan to do something that combines my appreciation for the power and complexity of systems with my appreciation for the power and complexity of people, around my favourite themes of technology, education and society.”
Strictly speaking, at face value this one has been a total bust. But the spirit of this goal is the important part — I’m building towards doing something entrepreneurial over the next few years without knowing exactly what yet and I’m trying to lay some foundations for this. I have actually made quite a bit of progress in this direction this year, just not in the ways I expected. Let’s look at the specifics:
MAKE A SOLID START ON MBA
Once I'd decided not to pursue a PhD I had thought an MBA would be a good way to proceed instead, given my longer-term aspirations. I enrolled in University of Newcastle’s program and had planned to complete the program online, with several units at the Singapore campus (this was when I was expecting to be living or at least semi-based in Singapore). Well, that didn’t happen. Next I started completing University of Illinois’ iMBA program through Coursera, which was designed to be completely online. I find university study in general to be slow, unwieldy and frustratingly disconnected from life, so I was in no rush to go for a traditional approach. I like the Coursera platform (while being acutely aware of its limitations in delivering anything other than a narrowly particular idea of education), so this felt like the right approach. However, upon making a start, I realised pretty much immediately that the whole thing was a terrible idea and there was no way I was going to be able to complete an MBA. It’s just not who I am.
Ultimately I abandoned this goal and pivoted to building my knowledge of management a different way — hands-on through my job and piecemeal in the form of reading, short courses and carefully chosen professional development activities at work. In particular I’ve begun to explore the lean framework, which I’m finding has many useful categories and vocabulary I can easily adopt. Most notably here, I’ve done a short course in Lean Six Sigma (‘Yellow Belt’ - *eyeroll*) and read The Lean Startup. I’ve subscribed to a bunch of relevant newsletters (Unicorn Fields, written by Hugh Stevens is probably the best). I’ve also developed a clearer idea of what I want and how to proceed from here (see the New Skills section under Professional Career), which I’ll incorporate into my goals for 2018.
ESTABLISH COMPANY STRUCTURE
Like the MBA, this didn’t happen. Early in the year I made some moves in this direction as I thought I might be doing some consulting work, but it didn’t work out that way. I think there’s a good chance I may have some side-income in 2018 from freelancing or similar, but the whole company setup is not likely to happen for a few years yet. Jumped the gun on this one.
DEVELOP FIRST PRODUCT OR SERVICE
Mapping out the various ideas I had and structuring them around possible products and services is something I spent quite a bit of time doing early in the year. I was quite proud of this work at the time. But having since adopted lean startup thinking and looking more seriously about entrepreneurship in practice, I now realise most of this work is completely wrong-headed and probably a waste of time. I still have lots of ideas, but that’s not the point. I will probably park this for 2018 and pick it up again later. One of the side benefits of working where I do is that I have a lot of exposure to our research commercialisation company. I will likely look to leverage this next year and learn about commercialisation 101 instead.
Outcome: Not Achieved
HIGH-LEVEL BUSINESS PLAN
Outcome: Not Achieved
OVERALL OUTCOME: PIVOTED
This is what I wrote at the start of the year: “This one didn't go so well this year, so in 2017 I'm giving it more focus and leaving myself less wriggle-room. I'd like to better manage my diet and maintain a weight goal, make significant progress in a regular strength training routine, cycle regularly for pleasure and/or commute and try playing tennis to see if I like it. I'd also like to continue to develop various aspects of my style, body confidence and personal grooming. Note to future Danu: this is a physical goal in 2017, not a mental one. No changing the goal posts.”
Evidently, this was a make or break year, having set matters of the body as a priority the last few years but making mostly limited and disappointing progress. Nevertheless, I really didn’t get out of the starting blocks on this one until the move to New Zealand in the middle of the year — I just found it too hard before then as I felt I didn’t have control over the factors that would lead to success. This was my own fault for allowing things to be set up that way, so reorganising my life and taking more responsibility and independence in my own day-to-day life is something I’ve been taking seriously in the back half of the year and which will continue into 2018. It’s partly this fundamental rethink of how I’m living that has led to the separation with Doug also, although this is in no way his fault. Let’s look at the specifics:
MANAGE MY DIET
I love food and eating — it is not just fuel — and I enjoy variety and spontaneity. I am not someone who believes in the Quantified Self — the idea that there is any great meaning or insight to be gained by poking and prodding and tracking my every action — and the iron-cage rationality of data-driven decision making is something I have no desire to apply to my personal life, so I don’t want to count calories or think about food through metrics. But, I started the year fat and unfit, so while it’s all very well to say that, now what?
Nowadays I actually eat reasonably well, I just need to eat less and more mindfully. I used the YouAte app for a while to take a photo of each meal and declare it either ‘on-path’ or ‘off-path’. These are categories I can cope with. I found most of my eating was on-path and I was not eating an undue amount of snacks. So, while this was useful, I stopped using the app after around six weeks as I didn’t really need it. At the new place, I signed up for MyFoodBag, which is one of those services that delivers a bunch of fresh ingredients to you each week and gives you the recipies for planned meals that have been given the blessing of clever dietetics folk. This worked quite well, and Doug made the meals.
Everything considered, really the major limiting factor to managing my diet effectively is that I don’t make my own meals, so what I eat is determined by my environment. I have put myself in the kind of environment where I can acquire good food, but have reached the limits of this, and probably did a loooong time ago. I stubbornly never wanted to learn to make my own meals (I thought I could use my time better in other ways) but in 2017 my major achievement has been to finally recognise this for the bloody stupid and frankly arrogant thought that it is. This will feed into what I do in 2018.
REACH AND MAINTAIN A WEIGHT GOAL
Eating better is one thing, but the real change this year has been in adopting a more active lifestyle. Auckland has many hills and I walk up and down them a lot. I don’t own a car and I walk to and from work most days. This has made a huge difference from the Gold Coast where I drove everywhere and didn’t do much (let’s face it - any) physical activity. In the five months I’ve been in Auckland I’ve lost 8kg and I am still gradually losing more. I haven’t in fact reached my target weight yet but I’m not far off and I expect this will happen in the next few months.
Outcome: Partially Achieved
STRENGTH TRAINING ROUTINE
Don't think I can tick this one off. Besides starting to do pushups in the morning, I haven’t really done much with this yet. Walking has been a big passive help and has greatly improved my muscle tone of my legs, but I intended this goal as something active and regular and I haven’t done that.
Outcome: Not Achieved
CYCLING AND TENNIS
Yeah... look... despite a promising start, cycling never really got going on the Gold Coast and when I realised I was moving to Auckland I abandoned the idea entirely. Similarly, it’s been a busy year and I haven’t made tennis a priority. I’ve put it on the list two years straight and done nothing, so I will need to shit or get off the pot on this one next year.
Outcome: Not Achieved
BODY CONFIDENCE AND STYLE
One of the best things I’ve done this year is take up Zumba classes. This wasn’t in my plan — but it was my plan to find more physical activities that I enjoy (hence cycling and tennis). Zumba is great fun — it’s dancing and fitness and not too serious. I go to the work gym, I’m usually the only man there and I’m a big hit with the ladies. I find it allows me to express myself in a way that I haven’t before. Similarly, I like walking and how it makes me feel. Walking/tramping is a hugely popular pastime in New Zealand and I think this is something I will do more of. A combination of many factors since moving here has helped me feel better about my body and more like I live in it and through it rather than it being something I drag around as a vehicle for my mind, which lives at some distance from the world. As a result, I feel lighter, brighter and more alive than I have in a long time. I’ve also been steadily updating my wardrobe accordingly. Another bright spot from earlier in the year was that I made a concerted effort to stop biting my nails, which has been a habit all my life when I’m anxious or bored. This came about through a combination of willpower and the application of an unpleasant-tasting clear paste I would apply to my nails each day. Regrettably, in the last couple of months I’ve started biting them again, which I’m putting down to anxiety about everything happening in my personal life. I’m confident this will clear up next year.
Outcome: Partially Achieved
OVERALL OUTCOME: Partially achieved
Until February, this one was called Creativty and Play: “Creativity has been a bit neglected the last year or two and needs an outlet. In particular, I'd like to do more creative stuff with other people, so well-chosen collaborations will be a theme in 2017 I hope. I'd like to do something with the 'public things' project and see where that goes. I'd like to finish my Platypuzzler game as a proof-of-concept for games as technologies of empathy, and figuring out how to do this will itself involve some well-chosen collaborations. I'd like to make time to get better at piano and play with others if possible. I'd like to get back into the habit of keeping a journal to leave messages for myself, and I have a strong urge to design a silly and slightly mad system of some sort, to what end who knows. Writing, yes, but as an adjunct to or enabler of something else and not for itself – sublimating my urge to write into other pursuits will probably work out better for now. “
After coming back from the Europe holdiay, I thought again about what I actually meant by this, and that’s when I changed it to ‘Voice’. This is because it’s not really about anything specific — there are lots of scattershot specifics mentioned, but this is usually a good sign that I’m unclear about what the underlying motivation is. It’s really more about finding a mode of expressing myself. At the start of the year I felt like this was about whatever projects I would start or become involved in, but pretty much all of those have languished for one reason or another. Reflecting on things at this point, I realise this is the goal that has been quietly driving the biggest changes in my life this year — the ones that have led me to consider carefully who I am, who I’m not, what I need and how I want to put myself forward in the world. On the individual components, this one is a total mess. But overall, it has been a success — I have found my voice again. Now I just need to use it.
PUBLIC THINGS PROJECT
Last year, I had an idea I had for a podcast. Most of politics is at heart a contest over public things that people care about. Identifying what public ‘thing’ is being contested and listening carefully to why people care about it and how this creates conflict seemed (and still seems) to me to be a good way into thinking and talking about difficult and heated things in a safe, respectful and interesting way. My friend Steve and I decided to give this a go as a regular conversation and we recorded a few test episodes, mostly to experiment with the concept and audio quality. But then we both got new jobs and moved cities this year and had a bunch of family stuff going on, so it never really had a chance to get out of the blocks. It’s still a good idea, I think, and what makes it a good idea most of all is making it conversational, starting with a deep generosity of spirit and structuring it around a robust theoretical framework (agonistic politics), even if this is never directly discussed as such. But, given the lives we both lead, it’s unlikely Steve and I will be able to proceed with it in the way we originally imagined.
While games as technologies of empathy and interactive models of experience — ‘serious games’ — remain exciting for me, I have not made much direct progress on this front this year. Platypuzzler was my experiment in what’s involved in making such a game, and I worked on it as a project for my Game Design and Development course on Coursera. What I’ve realised is I do not possess the technical skill to make games, and the world is full of people with great ideas who just need someone technical to make them happen. The problem with this is that the technical person doesn’t need you. Technical ability is already one of those lines in the sand that separates people in life. The effects of this will become profound over the next decade or two — I believe technical ability will surpass educational qualification and other traditional socioeconomic markers as one of, if not the, major determinant of life chances. This has given me pause — previously I’ve been comfortably among the group of people who ‘understands’ technology. But the bar has been rising quietly but relentlessly and I’m now in what I’d consider a middle group of proficient technology users, but not makers. It’s actually akin to liking food and knowing how to eat well, but not knowing how to make your own meals, and the distinction will become just as powerful and limiting in time. So I’m thinking carefully about what to do on this front. It’s not as simple as ‘learn to code’, though that certainly wouldn’t hurt. Back to Platypuzzler — I now have a functioning prototype, thanks to the help of a talented freelance developer in Russia, but I’m not sure what to do with it from here, as it feels like whatever I do next depends on what I decide about my relationship to technology.
Outcome: Partially Achieved
As usual, this continues to be a major and important form of expression for me. I’ve advanced in small ways again this year, and every year I say I want to take it to the next level but I never do. Like tennis, this one is now in shit or get off the pot territory. I haven’t found anyone to play music with, but I have been teaching a friend how to play piano a little bit, which has been a nice way to connect over music.
You know, this one really gets to the nub of the voice thing for me. Aside from the occasional journal entry on here, I haven’t done any writing this year. This is partly because I’ve been thinking both about what to say and how to say it, but mostly because I’ve been thinking carefully about whether I have anything to say at all. 2017 has been a year in which the easy comfort with which white male privilege feels entitled to speak has been challenged more openly than ever before. In addition to this, I have deliberately made an effort to seek out voices different to my own and listen to them carefully. I am still deep in thought about this. My intuition is that using my voice is something very different from having something to say. To 'say' something implies a thought already finished and fully-formed, delivered at someone in a hermetically-sealed little package. I don't feel like anything I want to talk about is like that. I don't feel confident enough to 'say' anything, and I am deeply suspicious of anyone who does. I have spent several years critiquing the limits of what counts as ‘knowledge’ in our contemporary societies, but this has all been done within a framework of argumentative analysis that is itself part of those limits (I believe this is at the root of why I ultimately find academia so unsatisfying). There are powerful forces at work in the world at present and there is a deep contest over basic political questions such as ‘who are we?’, ‘which authorities are legitimate?’ and ‘whose voice gets to be heard?’ In such times, it seems naive at best to be writing an opinion column or be two white dudes doing a podcast. So, no writing this year then. Orwell said writing is thinking, so maybe I need to write to think more clearly about this. But Orwell also 'said' a lot of complete twaddle, so maybe I'll just make up my own mind what to do next.
OVERALL OUTCOME: POSTPONED
So, it turns out 2017 has been a whopper of a year. My intuition about it from this time last year seems prescient (and understated) now: "As usual, I'm sure I won't quite know what any of these things look like until they happen and no doubt there will be a few surprises and curveballs along the way. But having set the course, it will be interesting to come back this time next year and see how it all panned out. Now that I've put aside the PhD and identified a new direction, I'm keen to charge along it. But having learned the value and importance of making big changes in small steps, I also want to go about this carefully and not too fast. It's easy to overestimate what can be realistically accomplished in a year, and also to vastly underestimate what can be done over a few years. There are some big changes ahead in 2017 to work, home and self – they're likely to not be all that noticeable and future Danu is very likely to worry that they're not enough. But they are, and in 2017 what I need to do most is make some big foundational shifts and manoeuvre into a new stance while keeping our forward momentum. If all goes smoothly, I will have succeeded precisely because it wasn't that noticeable." I was right about the surprises and curveballs. And about the foundational shifts. I was wrong about them not being noticeable. And that little phrase, 'our forward momentum', hurts a lot. Other than that, I don't have much else to say right now, except it feels like I got everything I asked for this year. I just didn't understand what it was I was asking.