Photo Credit: Attila Siha

The week between Christmas and the new year has always been a time of reflection for me. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve spent that week taking a quiet inventory of the major events and changes of the previous year and charting a course for the next.

Resolutions have never really caught on with me. They’ve always felt harsh and punitive, and since you never know what the future will bring, overly specific goals always seemed like a recipe for failure.

Instead, I’ve developed a practice of setting an intention to focus on one area of my life where I want to grow. There are few practices that I keep going over the course of years, and this one has been going for ten years or more. It worked for me probably at least due to the fact that, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, it usually happens that life brings me challenges that are perfect for focusing on intention I chose. Like the year I set the intention to learn patience and had to go through rush hour traffic outside of Hartford every weekday for six months.

Usually, I set the year’s intention privately, and even the people close to me don’t know that I have a personal project to see beauty, for instance, but this year I’ve decided to talk about it more openly since it is an intention that has the potential to touch many areas of my life, including how I approach this blog.

This year, my intention is to learn craftsmanship.

Over the past few years, I’ve attempted to immerse myself (as an outsider observer) in Silicon Valley culture as a way of understanding where I live and supporting Leander through the transition from a small consulting firm in Boston to working on consumer facing websites in San Francisco and the Valley.

In many ways, this has been a positive experience for me. I’m not sure there’s anywhere in the world that is kinder to someone who is at the very early stages of the creative process, when the thing they’re making only exists in their head, and I learned quite a bit about respecting new ideas. But I also picked up some habits that, while great for (some) developers, have been absolutely terrible for me as a creative.

One of these bad habits, is the emphasis on disruption. Disruption is a business term that’s used to describe companies who jump into industries that are set in their ways and shake things up. (Like Uber, who is trying to change the way people call taxis.) But it is also a mindset, a way of approaching life that values projects in which results are immediately visible and building and doing big things very quickly through sprints of very hard work.

I’ve acknowledged in the past that this approach to creative work works well for some people. I am not one of them, so this year my intention is to…well…disrupt the emphasis on disruption in my own life by focusing on quality, precision, and elegance rather than speed.

For this blog, that means only posting when I have something to say and turning off the clock that insists that I post like clockwork every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. If it’s Saturday, and I haven’t read anything worth sharing that week, I won’t waste your time by posting something for Weekend Reads just to meet that self-imposed deadline.

And because these yearly intentions have a way of seeping into everything, I’m sure I’ll be exploring craftsmanship on the blog quite a bit as I look for models to follow myself.

So. Happy New Year! And if you’re setting intentions for yourself this year, I hope you’ll share them in the comments.