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Setting Priorities in Life: The Only Path Forward

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Here is my historic post about setting goals. This was less than a year before my then-wife would ask for a divorce. My goals in 2022 remain unchanged. I’ll check in shortly on my current progress. 

BIG GOALS (Pre-Divorce)

[A dear friend commented on my 2009 priority list today, and now it’s time to update the status and see where I am, where I am making progress, and where I need to focus more attention.]

Here are my objectives for 2009:

  1. Simplify my mental tag cloud
  2. Control, filter, and capture the important bits of my personal infostream
  3. Share my personal growth and journey with new ideas, processes, and technologies
  4. Gain Velocity and Agility
  5. Let go of the stress and overwhelm associated with information overload
  6. Examine spiritual simplification as part of this overall lifeway (cause the Social Mesh holds the future in many ways)
  7. Open my processes to the communities I haunt and ask for other virtual pilgrims to join the call for agility
  8. Do better

Mental Tag Cloud Simplification

I usually have too many projects in the air at any given time. I always want to help. I seek out ways to connect with everyone and that can lead to thinness (of the mental variety not physical, unfortunately, but we’ll get to that in a minute) both with my important projects and with my obligations. In the artist’s way I learned a long time ago, that too many obligations… wait a minute, that’s from GTD… too many obligations dilutes our effectiveness in what we ARE working on. All that mental space, where we remember over and over that we OWE someone or something, something as simple as a speeding ticket we haven’t paid (oops, I share too much) keeps cycling over and over in the RAM of our brain. And guess what our mental RAM is a finite resource. So here’s how my progress is going.

Score: 72 of 100

Core Work Focus:

1. (50%)
2. SXSW Interactive (20%)
3. and Online engagement (10%)
4. WordPress is the Future consulting (10%)
5. Random business consulting and silly diversions and web launches (5%)
6. Daydreaming and playing Rockband (5%)

Non-Core Work, now idle: all things Dell, new business ideas, collaborations and requests for help, non-revenue business development

Score: 85 of 100


Control, filter, and capture the important bits of my personal infostream
Yep, this is a good one. I’ve pretty much switched to a Moleskine and WordPress. I rarely open Microsoft Word anymore. I guess I will when I have to compile all these rantings into a book or something for the printer, but WordPress and the Tidy editor are so fast and efficient. And my drafts are available everywhere. But I don’t have an iPhone yet, and my BB doesn’t have a big enough screen, but I’m sure that’s coming too. Not a netbook though, blech! Unless there is an iPad version of the iPhone coming out soon. That I would look at. Rumors have it… But we’ll see.

Score: 98 out of 100


Share my personal growth and journey with new ideas, processes and technologies
Again this one is working quite well. It’s not paying the bills just yet, but I have that covered thanks to my former employer. I do have to watch those requests for help though, they sneak up on me. And I WANT to help everyone.

Score: 85 out of 100
(I still have room to streamline my commitments here, but saying NO has always been hard for me.)

Gain Velocity and Agility

Well, so on the agility thing I’m fairly happy. Using WordPress and TextWrangler for 90% of my writing has made things quite agile. Now Velocity is a slightly different beast. I task switch way too much. I have been working on my mono-tasking. Shutting down Twitter, email, and IM and staying focused on a single objective. But I still get drawn into the “flow” of other options too easily.

Score: Agility 90 / Velocity 60 combined score 75 out of 100

IO: Info Overload

Let go of the stress and overwhelm associated with information overload
The mono-tasking is working on this front. Opening the browser and thus WordPress edit screen to cover the rest of the programs and distractions is a good practice. (In force right now, btw.) And opening Tweetdeck for 15 minutes a couple of times a day rather than leaving it ON! I AM looking forward to getting my MacBook Pro 17″ with a native resolution equivalent to my 26″ flat panel.

Score: 90 out of 100

Spiritual Simplification

Okay, here is part of the rub. I think this simplification is also about a deeper commitment. So in this aspect, I could be batting below average. So it is possible that life/work balance plays in here somewhere. For example: if things are right with my world, would I have ongoing back pain? Yes, I’m playing a lot of tennis, but something is out of whack. Would I be heavier than I have been since my major bummer days in high school?

So what is it that I need to simplify? Where are things out of balance?

I will leave my dogma at the door and say, I have some work to do here.

Score: 45 out of 100

Open My Processes to the Community

In an attempt to keep in line with my number 1 priority, of saying in focus with what is important, I am pulling back from some opportunities. (A friend is trying to create a framework for TEDx. Another friend is striving to do a video Show on Social Media with me.)

Ho-hum. I go I go I go.  I’d rather it be WE go WE go WE go. But until then…

Score: 90 out of 100

Do Better

So this one is kind of a capper on all of them. Doing better is about a commitment to continuously improve, evaluate and reprioritize, and most of all, KEEP GOING.

So I am showing up on time for coffees and lunches. (I completely missed a tennis match on Monday night… however! Doh!) I am working even harder to show up for my kids. Engage them in as much as I can. Music, writing, projects, school, my dreams, my hopes, my worries… well, okay, I’m pretty much keeping my worries between my wife and me.

And both Susan and I are stretching these days to join more frequently. To delay knee-jerk reactions that are so common and so easy. To open our vulnerabilities to each other about the things that are scary. And sometimes scarier really, is opening and expressing the DREAMS we have.

As our little boat struggles forward my wife and I are co-captains. And we have an awesome little crew of kids, dogs, cats, and even fish. All are attached via rigging and lifelines. We are perched upon a high wave crest and looking down at the next round of tasks.

Either one of us can take the wheel, while the other bails water and cooks meals and sings happy thoughts into the kids’ dreams.

Overall Score: 81 out of 100 (that’s a bit of room to grow)

As Whitman said in Leaves of Grass, “Oh what a webby wonder we weave!”



John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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*this post was written in the summer of 2009. My marriage was over by August of 2010 as the papers were signed and I lost 70% of my time with my two amazing kids.

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