2019: a year of Signal & Connection

If I had to use a single word to describe my 2018, it would be: overwhelmed.
I’m not sure why, exactly, but once December came around I felt like I was treading water.
Perhaps it was all the little things finally adding up? Perhaps a bunch of vicious cycles had snapped into sync at last? Who knows.

2019 marks the start of a big adventure for my family and I: leaving the big city of Melbourne, and heading to the small city (large town?) of Bendigo. This is definitely a big change — I’ve never lived outside a major metropolitan
city, or outside Melbourne for the last 10 years. But with all big changes comes a unique opportunity: an opportunity to use the flux that big changes bring to carry other positive change with it.


Framing

I’ve always been a person who finds habit-forming difficult. I’ve always envied the people who seem to wake up one day,
think “I’m going to (stop|start|change) this aspect of my life”, and then just go and do it. These folk often then go on to write listicles, think-pieces (and sometimes even books) about “N things to Change Your Life Forever”.

No, my subconscious seems to take quite a while to internalise new ideas & schemes for itself. I don’t know why,
and I’m not that interested just now in trying to find out. That said, I can identify 2 big-ticket issues that will affect me this year:

Isolation

I’m a high-functioning introvert — I can and do enjoy people’s company, but I do find it draining. And in the natural busyness of finding/forming a new community in a new place, I’m sure I’ll be tempted to just withdraw and let my world grow small. I certainly recognise that response in the way I conducted 2018. I’ve lost touch with dear friends, and avoided a lot of incidental social
contact in a way I see as quite unhealthy. That’s the paradox of social introversion: that difficult balance of solitude & connection.

Noise

I have always been a fairly curious person, always keen to try new ideas on, learn new skills, or laugh at memes with co-workers.
I like puns, and wordplay, and banter.

In short, I like noise. I even created a `#noise` slack channel at work solely dedicated to the propagation and sharing of nonsense &Humbug.
tomfoolery. Noise can be great fun.

Noise is fun. Noise is social! Noise is sugar for the mind. And when the mind gets overwhelmed, all signal looks like noise, and all noise
looks like signal. Like real sugar, high-GI mental diversions mess up natural healthy patterns. They leave you wondering, as I did a few weeks ago,
why exactly I was on the couch at 11:30 watching YouTube videos of someone playing a video game about a sport I don’t even enjoy!

I’m looking at you, Madden.

Something needs to give.


Excursus: Values

As I mentioned before, I’m not in the habit of good habit-forming. And so I side-eye New Years Resolutions: after all, who wants to set themselves up for failure?

But rather than try and pick a single new habit, I’m going to try a different approach: name some values for the year.

Everyone has values, but not everyone could tell you what theirs happen to be. If you can articulate your values, though, you’re in a much better position to make small decisions that are in sync with each other.

The company I work with, Cogent, is explicitly, deliberately values-driven from the top down and the bottom up. And not just vapid bullshit values like “Integrity” or “Respect” — because those are things everyone should have at their core. No, for values to be useful they need to be what you choose, not what everyone should have.

For an example of how living as a values-driven company looks, have a read about our recent Cogent Day!

Values for 2019

If Isolation & Noise are key risks for me this year, then it’s logical to strive for their opposite.

The opposite of Isolation? Connection.

The opposite of Noise? Signal, or Focus.

These are the values I’m going to live by this year. I have some ideas on what that might look like — but that’s another post.

May your 2019 be lived in line with values that you choose ❤

I see sine waves, by Benjamin Cecchetto