The only New Year’s resolution that I successfully made and kept for 2021 was to publish at least one blog post per month. I fell off the meditation train pretty early on and I can’t do as many pull-ups now as I could in January and I haven’t completed even one painting this year and I still have three Harry Potter audiobooks to listen to in Spanish but at the very least, this ol’ blog is still chugging along. The original goal was one blog post per month for the entire year, and I even made it to two some months, because I will never not be an overachiever.
Last year I read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit and one of the things that stuck with me was the idea of a goal hierarchy. Essentially, you have lower-level concrete goals in service of some mid-level goals that hopefully all point to one or two higher-level goals. And if they don’t, maybe it’s time to reflect and re-prioritize.
I went through the process of creating my own goal hierarchy in January of this year and I must admit, it was hard. I care about and like to do a lot of different things, and after I wrote it all down, my goals felt less like a pyramid and more like a disconnected web of thoughts. As I (mostly unsuccessfully) tried to organize the scattered corners of my life into a coherent story, the two things that bubbled to the top were learning and curiosity.
We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.-Lloyd Alexander
Those aren’t too far from reality: from teaching robotics in and after college to doing a deep dive into how suitcases get sorted at the airport to working on an instrument that will revolutionize astronomy, I feel like I’m getting there, albeit slowly. I don’t yet have a pithy phrase to describe my top-level goal but I’ll keep working on it.
So how does this blog fit in? One of the mid-level goals I identified was communicating science, and in order to do that well, I need to get better at the communication part. When I originally made my personal goal hierarchy in January, I decided that getting more practice writing (about anything) and especially getting into the habit of writing regularly would help me continue to develop my voice and my storytelling skills. Hence the idea to write at least one blog post per month for the whole year. And to not always write in complete sentences. Gotta experiment if you want to improve.
On this blog, I obviously write less about science and more about myself, for better or for worse. To be honest, I don’t think my life is particularly interesting, but I do think everyone has a story to tell and if I can tell mine with a flair then maybe I can make someone laugh. My main goal with this blog (besides keeping my parents updated on my life without having to call them all the time) is to entertain, and if I’m lucky I’ll also occasionally provoke thought or inspire curiosity or teach someone something they didn’t know. Maybe next year I’ll lean a bit more into the teaching part and write about the observatory whenever we do something that’s actually interesting. But don’t worry, we’re not going into a deep dive on baggage handling, that’s already been done.
That brings us to next year. I am going to publicly declare my intention to write two blog posts per month instead of just one, because then it’ll be more embarrassing if I get lazy and stop writing. So there you have it, a promise to bother you more often next year. You’re welcome.