Tag Archives: goals

Finally Reflecting on 2016

If the number of 2016 posts in this journal were representative of productivity, it would appear to have been a mostly uneventful year. That certainly wasn’t the case. January felt like a continuation of December and only now is it beginning to feel like the new year has begun. And so, the time to grade myself on goal completion for the previous year and to set goals for the current year has finally arrived. I am a proponent of annual goal setting. When I make a solid list, refer to it regularly, and hold myself accountable I tend to meet many of them. Oddly, last year I didn’t make a solid list. Apparently I forgot to or lost it on my perpetually chaotic desk. Despite that oversight, several non-specified goals came to fruition and a number of pleasing events occurred.

  • I have been wanting to travel for work more frequently. I had three opportunities. 1) A producing/shooting gig in Costa Rica (mentioned in my last post to this blog nearly a year ago). 2) A Facebook live-stream overnight trip near Joshua Tree for AirBNB. 3) A 2 month roadtrip around the U.S.with Erika (55 days—42 states—13,510 miles) creating a web-series for TYLT that will be releasing very soon.
  • We at Butcher Bird funded and shot our first feature film. It is now running through the final stages of post.
  • I convinced my mother to try a tandem sky-dive
  • I lead some great climbing routes including the 1500ish foot Solar Slab, the unique Tunnel Vision, and the imposing Matthes Crest (which turned into a bit of an all-night epic because of a foolish attempt to retrieve a fallen camera).
  • I descended a few undocumented canyons (some with the ever beloved Scott Swaney).
  • I finally got to shoot video of a snow covered San Antonio Falls canyoneering descent (something I had been trying to do for quite some time and posted about here on this blog) and put together a 360 VR video of the Seven Teacups.
  • Erika and I finally made it to Alaska and toured a glacier. We also made it to several National Parks we hadn’t visited before and attended Halloween in Salem, MA. We have now been to 45 of the 50 states.
  • I got to do some great social things with friends like multiple game nights, an awesome bachelor party weekend in Zion for the Merrill wedding, visit my family multiple times, and introduce multiple people to their first ever multi-pitch climbs.
  • The podcast continued (currently 46 episodes) and featured guests from all over the country recorded in their respective locales.
  • Erika and I celebrated 10 years together touring the treetops of Wrightwood.

It was a rewarding year, but there are certainly places I fell short:

  • Happy Canyoneering (my puppet talkshow short) did not move forward.
  • Scuba Climbers (my Class C canyoneering documentary) did not move forward.
  • I slacked on a proper physical fitness routine in the last half of the year.
  • I didn’t make the strides towards big wall climbing I’d hoped to and climbing El Cap for my 40th birthday is seeming increasingly less likely.
  • I still haven’t started work on a Death Valley Mars short I want to do.
  • My office is still a disorganized mess.
  • I didn’t try cross country skiing, dogsledding, or solo backpacking.
  • I haven’t gotten back into a regular illustrating routine in years.
  • And various other projects, responsibilities, etc. languished while my pile of books to read increased faster than it depleted.

And so now I sit compiling my list of goals for 2017. I look at where I succeeded and failed in 2016 and attempt to course correct. Where do I want to be in a year and how do I get there? Life is too damn short to squander.

2010 Goals Report Card

I don’t foresee this post being especially interesting to anyone other than myself. It’s the last day of the year so I feel obligated to take a look at the goals I set for myself for 2010 and see if I passed or failed.

I created two lists: priorities and optional. I fully completed 12 of the 15 items under priorities. Of the remaining 3, I made valiant strides for 2 of them (Finish Current Video Projects + Become Adept with environment creation in Vue) and failed completely at 1 of them (Start drawing on a regular basis again). 2 items on the list were taken to an extreme: Take Rock Climbing Lessons + More long-distance backpacking. I ended up taking nearly every rock climbing class available to me and managed to go climbing at least twice each month. I also backpacked the West Coast Trail over six days (I was really only thinking of 2-3 day trips when I set my goal). I am also happy to see I ticked off 3 rather large goals on the optional list: Backpack the West Coast Trail + Backpack Zion Narrows again + Take a trip out of the country. Although I didn’t fully succeed in attaining my priority goals 100%, I feel pretty good about my overall success especially when factoring in the achievements in the optional category. 2 huge things left off my goal lists entirely that were achieved this year were becoming completely self-employed and starting a new business with friends (Butcher Bird Studios).

In the end, I feel comfortable giving myself a passing grade.
Sitting down earlier this year and creating that list of goals made it much easier for me to attain them and allowed me to gauge my progress throughout the year. I doubt I would have done all of those things if I hadn’t set up a list of this sort. I highly recommend forgetting about the New Year Resolution bullshit and instead setting Annual Goals. It worked for me and I need to sit down over the next few days and start compiling a list for 2011.

Falling Out of a Plane

 Post Tandem Skydive

My answer to the question "what would you wish for if you could have any wish?" has been the same for as long as I can remember. It is the same answer I give when asked "what superpower would you want if you could pick one?" I’m not interested in money, immortality, invisibility, or radioactive talents. I want to be able to do the thing I’ve always been able to do in my dreams—leap into the air and soar into the sky.

Oddly enough, I had never gone sky-diving, or more accurately, fallen out of a plane.  Number three on my list of goals for this year is "Go Skydiving." December appeared seemingly from nowhere and I hadn’t ticked that one off of the list yet. Thanks to Extreme Things and Skydive Elsinore, I was able to schedule a jump with short notice. I opted for the tandem jump. Essentially, you are strapped to an experienced jumper who agrees to take you along as a tourist. No one looks cool jumping tandem, but I wasn’t there to look cool. I wanted to experience the sensation of jumping without the worries of learning to jump safely. There would be time for that later after I made sure I liked the experience and that my body didn’t respond badly to it. Besides, AFF-certification is costly and time-consuming, tandem is fairly cheap and can be done in a couple of hours.

I was curious how I would respond to it all. Would I get terrified at the last minute? Would I black out during the fall? Would it be uncomfortable? I filled out the paperwork, received the necessary preliminary instruction, and was introduced to my tandem buddy. I said goodbye to an anxious Erika and boarded the small plane with several other jumpers and their tandem partners. As we neared our ultimate altitude—12,800 feet, I heard "climb onto my lap." If you think going tandem skydiving is going to make you feel like a badass, be forewarned, it is hard to feel like a badass when you are a grown man sitting on the lap of another man. We were in the front of the plane meaning we’d be out last. My goggles came down. The door slid open. We all began the slide towards the door as those before us were jerked abruptly into the sky. I was not anxious. I was not embarrassed that I was attached to another man’s crotch. I was not worried. Soon, we were at the door. I knelt, grabbed my harness straps, tilted forward, and we were airborne.

It is hard to truly appreciate the experience of skydiving during the first fall. There is so much to observe and the sensation is so foreign, I couldn’t take it all in. Freefall lasted roughly 50 seconds. Air was plowing into me so quickly, I could hear nothing else and my mouth was getting extremely dry. I didn’t have difficulty breathing, but it was somewhat uncomfortable. My main thought was not of the Earth speeding towards me at a ridiculous velocity, but of how much I wanted to drink water and be rid of the cotton-mouth. My arm was moved in front of me as a reminder to check the altimeter and my right hand was placed on the pull for the chute. I yanked. I expected a sudden jerk. I expected the harness to eat into my skin like climbing harnesses will do in certain situations. There was none of that—only the sudden cessation of the whipping wind, the sound of a chute, and a reorientation of the body into a standing position.

Skydiving rarely feels like falling. The nearest objects are so terribly far away, you have no point of reference for your extreme velocity. Instead, you float in the sky. You levitate above a miniature toy world slowly increasing in size as you approach it. It is more relaxing than frightening. My instructor handed me the controls for the chute and showed me how we could turn or spin with a tug. I laughed as we spun at high speeds far above the Earth. I could see great potential in the fun to be had piloting a parachute through the skies.

Our landing was soft, liking stepping off a high chair. Falling from a plane was very different than I expected it to be. It was somewhat overwhelming, but never frightening. I never felt like I was in danger. I imagine this will change when I make the decision to go after my AFF certification. Leaping from a plane solo and being responsible for all of the things my tandem partner handled while I was blissfully ignorant will likely be intimidating. That first jump will probably be somewhat terrifying. And, without a doubt, even more rewarding.

2010 Enters the Room

As a child, the collective concept of the future was defined by a romanticized conception of the years 2000 and 2010. I looked ahead to these years imagining the sudden wonders they would bring. Now, the future has become both past and present. Its marvels, while many, did not sprout up instantaneously as I may have expected at the age of nine. The changes appeared progressively, seeping into daily life, so transparent that we only seem to recognize how different the present is when we stop to remember decades past. Many of the expected changes have yet to occur and many will not for they were facetious, yet much has transpired that few if any anticipated or predicted. We are in the future now. Its gifts have been many. And it has brought treats and consequences.

Life follows a similar route. It has followed a course I did not anticipate, but it has also walked a path I did foresee. It has taught me that things I once valued are valueless and that other things I did value are more valuable than I could have expected. It has been a life of dualities.

Those that think learning ceases after schooling are sadly mistaken. Some of life’s greatest lessons seem to come later in life. I am still young. I can’t fathom what greater lessons await me in the future. The last few years have been a time of reevaluation and course reckoning. Thus, what better time than the new Year to once again stop and reexamine one’s charter. We are a few days into the New Year. I have begun the typical metaphorical steps of instituting change and preparing for a new journey (reorganizing the home and workspace, sorting and trashing old belongings, shaving the beard and chopping the hair). Now, it is time to decide what to do with the coming year. It is time to set goals.

What types of goals? What is important to me at this point in my life? What is enriching my experience?

1. Outdoors, nature, outdoor sports, whatever you want to call it. I need to keep pursuing this aspect of my life and the self-discovery and redefining that come along with it.
2. Creativity: I create. video, animation, illustration, story, etc. I have to continue to evolve my skills and stop the ones that are atrophying from continuing to do so.
3. Convergence: I need to find a way to combine the above two so that they needn’t fight for my time.

2009 was a relatively productive year for 1 and 2. I did a quick analysis of the events I was part of in 2009 that fell into those 2 categories. This gave me a feel for what I did with my time last year.

2009 Overview
Multi-night Trips: 8 (7 involved camping)
Hikes: 16-20 (2 Backpacking trips)
Video Shoots: 4 Projects
States Visited: 4 – California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Louisiana
Activities: SCUBA Diving, Caving, Snowshoeing, Trapeze, Whitewater Rafting (2), Whitewater Kayaking, Rock Climbing (indoors + a little outdoors), Bouldering (indoors + a little outdoors), Canyoneering (non-technical), Camping, Firecraft, Orienteering, Canoeing, Bungee Jumping, Kart Racing

Thus, I’d like 2010 to be at least as productive as 2009, but hopefully more so.
Here are some of the things that come to mind that I want to do. I’ve listed them in two groups: priorities and optional. Priorities are those things I am requiring myself to accomplish before 2011. Optional are those things I’d like to fit in if possible, although some are conflicting with present priorities or other optionals.

I anticipate this list to change throughout the year, but not shrink. I also expect to be able to strike off everything under priorities or else I will have to reprimand myself in some fashion.

2010 GOALS:

Finish Current Video Projects (SM, Marty, Spec)
Take Rock Climbing Lessons
Go Skydiving
Go SCUBA Diving again
Start drawing on a regular basis again
Take Surfing Lessons
More long-distance backpacking
Take Erika Horseback Riding
Visit State and National Parks I have yet to visit
Renew my passport
Write new stories
Collaborate on new video projects
Keep trying to defeat my various personality faults
Become Adept with environment creation in Vue
Learn Lightwave basics

Backpack the West Coast Trail
Compete in an AXS race
Start shooting stock photography and video to sell
Hike Mount Whitney
Backpack Zion Narrows again
Attend Whitewater Rafting Guide School
Begin work on illustrated book of retold fables
Take a solo backpacking trip
Visit more states
Take a trip out of the country
Return to Yosemite (visit the back country)
Try Packrafting
Continue to push my claustrophobia

Overview Breakdown of 2009 Events