I’m back!

Hi, hello there.

It’s been a long while and a few attempts, but I am back writing a blog. I resuscitated this old blog to help me achieve my 2021 goals. In my very first post of this year, I am going to share my plans for the year and the things I’ll be doing. By the end of this post you know why am I posting again and why I think it’s going to be successful this time. And why shouldn’t I care whether you read this post or not? Stick around to find out! I will close with a section on what this blog is going to be about.

The big picture

Let’s start at the beginning. During December of last year I decided to set myself some goals for 2021. Life as it was at that moment was nice, but could use some improvement. So I used the 8760 hours method of Alex Vermeer to set myself some goals. The method really helped to look at my life more long term on different areas I want to focus on, and it gave me some goals where I think I can work woth.

My overarching goal of 2021 is to “brand myself”, by the end of the year, I want to be my personal brand. I want to be able to explain what it stands for, and communicate on a regular basis about what I am doing. I hope to get a clearer picture on what I am about, and where I can be an added value to any life, specifically professionally. This also means I have to experiment and figure out what I am about, what is important to me, what am I and more importantly, what am I not?

To make it a bit more tangible, I have set myself three overarching goals to achieve by the end of 2021:

  • Know what my brand is, what it does
  • Know how to promote myself
  • Have a budget to promote myself

Of which the last one is already done. I have moved some money around in my budgeting application (I use YNAB) to get myself a budget to spend on the activities for a personal goal.

I have no trouble finding pretty much everything interesting for at least a bit of time. So I think it is going to be difficult for me to figure out what I really want to be about. Is it Scouting, DevOps, Lean, Scrum, Agile? Therefore I need to practice everything and experiment with lots of approaches, before I can see what sticks. This is also what makes the journey interesting, because I am putting myself out there, setting foot outside the door not knowing where I’ll end up but knowing I have to keep putting my feet in front of each other to figure it out. Fortunately, I have set myself several sub-goals to help me stay on track. And a planning, of course.

Planning

To achieve a goal for a year sounds like big hairy audacious. It is challenging and motivating, but it also is big, and if I don’t act on it every day, I risk getting side tracked or demotivated because it turns out to have grown into a hairy unbeatable monster some goals tend to be. Or, as some people say, a goal without a plan is just a wish, so planning to achieve your goal is just as important as setting the goal itself. A short insight into my plan, which is actually a relatively detailed eight point plan.

The plan is to take the first half of the year to figure out what my personal brand is all about and what my unique selling points are going to be. This is the big experimenting and testing phase, following (free) online courses in my interest to figure out what makes the best use of my skills and knowledge, but also keeps me motivated, hopefully for the coming 10 or so years. The second half of the year will be about setting up actions to actually start branding and promoting myself. Using the tools I created or bought to brand myself and get a feel of what it is like to be your own brand.

Parallel to finding out what I’m about, I should get more skilled in promoting myself. Following a course on branding, but also experimenting with the different channels: would it be OK for me if I made a podcast or a vlog? Or should I stick to written words? How is my information consumed best and how is it easier to promote? What are the things I would like to make and how can I present myself in a way I feel comfortable with, but also reach the audience I have a message for?

Sub-goals

Ok, having an overarching goal is nice and all, but how am I going to do this? That is where sub-goals come in. These sub goals are the areas on where I think I should improve to build my own brand and promote myself more, but also have a clearer and more reliable message on what I am about. Because all good things come in threes, there are three sub goals.

My first sub goal is to set up a business plan containing the important areas of my brand. Although having a company of my own would be a lot of fun, this is not the goal of the business plan. The goal is more to figure out what my brand is all about and where I want to take my brand. No trip to the Chamber of Commerce yet ;-). But do think about following courses on different subjects and trying to form an opinion on them. Also, to brainstorm and think how the skills I have can be used in other areas to create something unique!

The second sub goal is to get experience with communicating around my brand and myself. The most important part of that is writing 100.000 words. When I bravely accepted that as my goal, I did not think it means 1924 words per week or 273 words per day, so that’s going to be a challenge. However, it’s not the only part of the second goal, it also contains experimenting with channels, growing my (LinkedIn) audience and find and follow a course on branding. I think this sub goal also requires my own style, so a color palette, logo and “corporate identity”, if you will. Of course, the content of the message is as important as the way you bring it, so that’s where the first and third goal come in.

My third sub goal is to start measuring more and keep track of data, to figure out what works and what doesn’t, but also see if I can make something of this data that can improve my life. I hope all this information gathering is giving me more insights in what works and what doesn’t, but it also should give me some input into the 100.000 words blogs. I also think it would be fun and interesting to look at my life from this perspective. I have been measuring things for a long while now, but now the time starts to come where I should put all that data to some use. Examples of things I am keeping track of are:

  • taking a daily picture of my face,
  • the gas, water and electricity usage in my house (weekly),
  • page views and popularity of my blogs (comments and comment tone)
  • the number of kilometers I ride on my bike
  • my weight
  • the number of hours I sleep
  • the amount of coffee I drink
  • happiness and satisfaction of my productivity
  • how well I do towards achieving my daily goals and activities

What about the other goals?

If you read Alex Vermeer’s method carefully, he suggests 12 areas of your life to look at. However, I still only share a single goal with a few sub goals, so where did all the other stuff go? Some of the areas are not really applicable to set a goal for right now.

For instance, since I only have my current job for six months, planning a career move is fine, but actually planning to have a promotion this year would be too far-fetched. Also, I am leaving a few out because they are not important at the moment, but still relevant.

Others are interesting, but not as sharable as my branding goal. I am still redoing my house, but since I’m probably going to outsource the remodeling of my kitchen, this is not something worth having a post about. There are some areas where I had a major improvement last year, like getting a girlfriend in the relationships area, so things are going strong and just the way I like it there.

Finally, in this uncertain Covid time, it is difficult to set goals in some areas like “organize at least one party at my house” or “make more friends”, since meeting people has been difficult since March 2020 in my country. However, I am not one to have a goal just because it is a goal, and I am fine to change my actions towards these areas if opportunity arises.

What this blog is going to be about

This blog is mostly a personal exercise. Where I talk about what I am doing and how it is going, more aimed at myself than anyone else. It is an area where I put random blogs which I think are interesting, but don’t belong to an area anywhere else where I am posting. I don’t think I will post here on a regular basis, but I do think I will post here a lot, mostly to achieve my 100.000 words goal and exercise writing, to make it easier to align my thoughts in such a way that I can put them on paper easily.

I have written several blogs in Dutch before, and since my current job is entirely in Dutch, that will continue for a while, but writing in English proves a bit more challenging than I expected, so I would be happy to improve my skills on that as well. So that’s why stats for this blog are not as important, because it is more an exercise for myself than anything else.

I do have to say, this blog is starting to feel much like a diary more than a blog. Don’t worry – I am aware of how the things you say and do online can be used against you, so every written word here will be carefully considered and for the more private logs of my life, I have a personal diary which isn’t publicly accessible.

Closure

As every blog I write, this blog needs a closure., which is usually a bit more meta than the rest of the blog. The first blog of 2021 is a fact and it feels nice to write again. The approach for this blog was easy – just write down your plan in a story-like mode, and also a bit on how you got there. I am not one to care for new year’s resolutions since they get broken as soon as you make them. The best moment for change (and improvement) is now, not when the new year starts. So I have been putting this off for too long already. I feel motivated and that makes me a bit ahead on my goals :-). Since I don’t believe anyone is actually going to read this (apart from the fact that it’s actually online), I don’t think it would be worth the effort to place a call to action here.