in 2015, I made a New Years resolution. At the start of each day, I would review what I had done the previous day and log it in a text file. This wouldn’t be literally everything (Otherwise it would get rather tedious); just things that were worth remembering or indicated some kind of action had been taken that would move me forward, no matter how small. If I made a new recipe, it would go in. If I saw a new movie, it would go in. Four years later, and I can safely say that this is one of the best decisions I have ever made. These are some of the ways recapping my days has changed my life.
1. Gives my life an arc There’s a famous quote from C.S. Lewis: “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?” Life can feel like it’s rushing by you, and you can easily lose of track and how you got to where you are. By logging my days (usefully in single sentences; this isn’t a lengthy diary), I can more easily trace how I got to where I am now When did I move into my current residence? When did I leave a previous job? When I look back on my logs, I can see that my life is a journey, rather than just being a Groundhog Day where everything is always the same.
2. Keeps me accountable When I don’t feel like doing anything, I remember that I’m sabotaging the “tomorrow version” of myself, who’s going to wake up and not have anything to put in the log. Occasionally, I’ll have to cop to not doing anything and log a “?” for those days. If the day is almost over and I’m scrambling to do something, I’ll add a sentence or two to a short story I’m working on. Then, I can wake up the next day and put “I worked on my short story” for that day’s log. It might not be writing a novel, but it’s still something I can be proud of.
3. Lets me cherish the really important days At the end of each month, I mark especially notable days in bold. These “Bold Days” don’t have any specific criteria; they’re just ones that were especially important in terms of development or effort. For instance, if I complete an important project or go to a new place, that can be considered a Bold Day. The hope is to make every day a Bold Day. It doesn’t always happen, but I’ve been doing pretty well.
4. Allows me to reflect Another aspect of this project is reflections. At the end of each month (and year), I consider what has happened and how it has affected me. This has been things like the start of a romantic relationship, adapting to a new living situation, or simply dealing with mental frustrations. Being able to write how I’m feeling without judgment of said feelings allows me to bring more mindfulness into my life.
5. Helps me remember things I’m not going to say that I have a perfect memory, but I can confidently say that recapping my days has helped to make my memory stronger. When I look back on previous logs, I can better recall past experiences. As we get older, life can feel like it’s going by in a flash and that there’s a lack of meaningful experiences. Taking note of my experiences lets me play movies of my life in my head. Plus, if I ever want to write my memoirs, I’ll already have extensive notes available. Brody Kenny is a freelance writer. He focuses on self-improvement and mental development, as well as arts & culture. Learn more at brodykenny.com
As I was about to engage in my personal annual review activities I read this post from Brad Feld. Two things resonated with me.
The first, using one’s birthday instead of the calendar year to do your review, makes sense. Why use an arbitrarily set milestone? Doing it on the anniversary of your birth personalizes it and avoids the crush of people all trying to do the same thing as you at the same time.
Second, I like his versioning. We are not who we were but who we were makes up part of us. So, I am v45.11 of me at the moment. Some iterations are better than others. The idea of fixing something for v45.12 seems less daunting somehow.
What are you doing for your annual review, if anything? If you’re not, let us know on social media.
When money is tight, you’re often shoehorned into buying the cheap version of the item. While this solves the problem in the short term, what you’re usually doing is just kicking the can down the road six months or a year or two years or whatever until that version you just bought wears out and then you’re back to where you started.
On the other hand, if you spent a lot and bought a reliable version up front, that cycle gets much, much longer. It becomes a matter of five years or 10 years or a lifetime before you have to even consider replacing the item, and it does the job well, too.
Yet, when you’re on a tight budget, that high-quality, reliable version of an everyday item is just out of reach, or else it just seems like a frivolous purchase, even though the total cost of ownership is lower over the time you’re using the product and it’ll save you time and headache dealing with a failing item and replacing it down the road.
I’ve been there, and it’s rough. You’re trying to keep your spending low, but when you do that, you end up buying cheap items that end up costing you more down the road. Sometimes, you’re basically forced into that situation.
I like to put it like this: Sometimes, people can’t afford the low cost of ownership items. That seems strange, but the issue is that items that have a low cost of ownership are often items with a big upfront cost, and people often can’t afford that upfront cost. An $18 pair of socks might last for years and years and years and it’s very likely that such a pair will end up costing you less than buying bags of cheap socks, but it’s $18 for a pair of socks.
There is a road out, however. Here are several things you can do to help break out of the cycle of buying cheap versions of the items you rely on so that you can get reliable ones that won’t fail constantly.
Read the while article for the advice. And remember, no one cares what you spend on anything except for your financial partner. Don’t argue yourself out of a sound financial decision because of what you think “they” will think, whomever “they” are.
I have no issue with sharing myself and my life in person or online. I have a job in sales, I podcast all the time, yet there is something you may not know about me – I am actually really introverted.
Much much less than I used to be, but it seems to be hard for people to wrap their head around it. I am sure many people would label me as much more outgoing than I actually am, and I used to worry about it quite a lot.
I have what I describe as an extrovert battery, and it only lasts so long. I spend lots of my time alone preparing for the times I need to be more social. I haven’t quite got the time frame down yet, but when working for long periods or spending lots of time with others, around late afternoon I start to flag.
Introverts get their energy by being alone or in small groups, while extroverts get their energy from larger groups of people. – Ellen Hendriksen
I didn’t even realise this was normal until very recently. I thought introverts were those that shy away from everything and were a little socially awkward. Personality traits are often miss understood like this, but all I know is that I feel drained and often need some quiet time to simply recharge.
I thrive in peace and quiet where I can focus, but love interacting with others and conversing. I’m perfectly happy being the centre of attention, but not for too long and providing I get some down time. I guess I need to look after my little extrovert battery, make sure it goes through it’s charge cycles correctly and preserve its longevity.
In the second season of the NBC sitcom The Good Place, a character named Jason Mendoza offers a deep, unexpected insight into the human psyche.
Jason and his friends are discussing how to deal with an outside threat when Jason suggests throwing a Molotov cocktail. His pals stare at him, baffled: This won’t make the danger go away! But Jason explains that this has long been his go-to solution in times of duress.
“Any time I had a problem, I threw a Molotov cocktail,” he explains. “And, boom, I had a different problem.”
There’s a thread here. You don’t need to buy something to change yourself. If there’s something you want to change about yourself, the purchase of a product won’t initiate that change. What will initiate that change is your action. All that a product can possibly do is make an action that you’re already doing more effective. If you’re not already doing that action, then that purchase is a waste of money.
If you want to lose weight, simply watch your calories. Count them with a free calorie counting app on your phone. There’s no need to buy diet programs or diet pills or anything like that. Just watch what you eat with care.
If you want to be more fit, simply start moving around more and leveraging your body weight. Go on walks. Do some pushups. Do some planks. You don’t need gym memberships or exercise gear or videos. You don’t need anything else until long walks and planks and pushups and situps become trivially easy.
If you want to learn about something, you don’t need to go buy class materials or books or anything like that. Just go to the library, check out a few books, sit them on your bedside table, and read. If you want an overview of a topic to start with, look it up on Wikipedia and read the entry.
If you want to do something, do it. If you need equipment to do it on any level, go get the absolute minimum equipment you need (preferably by borrowing it, like a library book, or by buying used or very low end, if you absolutely have to) and then just do it.
I’ve written previously about some things journalists and news organizations can do to try strengthen audience trust at a time like this. But that’s only half the equation. It’s also a good time for a refresher for citizens on what constitutes a healthy, constructive conversation about the work we produce.
For some, what follows may be obvious; to others, it may seem laughably naive. But journalists don’t like to let important things go unsaid. And, if these points feels achingly obvious, surely you know someone who could use a reminder, or a young person who never learned them in the first place.
Here are a few dos and don’ts for how to respond to the press.
DON’T commit or condone violence against journalists.
Violence against journalists is unacceptable under any circumstances, no matter what the President tweets and says at his rallies. Sadly, we live in an era where this long-unsaid truth needs to be stated clearly, frequently, and unequivocally.
Freedom of the press not only appears at the top our nation’s Bill of Rights, it’s enshrined in Article 19 of the UN’s 1948’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as the “freedom to… seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” And so if you commit an act of violence against a journalist you’re not only breaking the law, you’re committing a breach of values shared (in theory, at least) by Americans and people around the world.
Nonviolence may be the lowest bar to clear when responding to a work of journalism. But it’s also not productive to personally criticize the journalist who produced it. This means refusing to comment on a journalist’s age, appearance, gender, race, class, religion, sexual orientation, education, outfit, or anything else about them, when responding to their work. In all cases, stick to the work, not the person.
This, of course, is Human Decency 101, but it applies especially to journalists, who conduct their work in public about sensitive subjects. And, if you’re responding with any trace of good faith (a big “if,” I know), staying focused on the work will actually help get your message across. Washington Post media columnist and former New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan tells me she makes a point to respond to reader emails. “But I do not answer the ones that attack me,” she says. As soon as they get personally insulting, “I tune out.”
To that I’ll add: many journalists are perfectionists who take great pride in their work, so if your goal is to cause emotional pain, pointing to flaws in what we wrote is often more upsetting than any ad hominem jab, anyway.
DO know that feedback is essential to journalism.
Listening to our audience isn’t some optional, take-it-or-leave-it aspect of journalism; it’s a vital part of what we do. This is both ideological—you’ll find calls for audience feedback throughout the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics and the American Press Institute’s “What Is Journalism” digital library—but it’s also practical. While we strive for accuracy and excellence, journalists are often assigned topics cold, and trying to establish expertise quickly. Or we’re simply working on extremely tight deadlines. Slip-ups are inevitable, and we need your help spotting and correcting them.
So, if we got something factually wrong, tell us so we can fix it quickly. And if there was something wrong in the bigger sense—in the way a piece was framed or presented, or if there are subjects or stories we continue to miss—tell us so we don’t make the same mistake twice. Journalists are overworked, and it may take us a moment to respond. But an upside to our workload is that we rarely run out of opportunities to try to do better next time. As Sullivan explains, “For the most part, we’re idealistic still, and we want to be improving, growth-oriented, [and] constructive.”
DO read/watch/listen to the full article before responding.
This one is pretty self explanatory: if you didn’t complete (or even begin!) the piece, you’re really in no position to give a constructive response. At least give it a skim?
DO be as specific as possible.
The least helpful criticism simply makes sweeping claims about “the media,” a term that, as the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi has skillfully explained, is “so imprecise and generic that it has lost any meaning.” One notch better (but still essentially useless) are blanket statements about an entire news outlet or a particular reporter. In contrast, the best feedback zeroes in not just on a specific article, but the specific place that was incorrect or ill advised, and, when possible, backs up its claims with evidence or a detailed explanation.
Once you toss some of these specifics on the table, we can begin to have a productive conversation, which is what NPR’s Steve Inskeep was getting at when he recently tweeted to the president: “Thanks for writing. If a specific NPR story concerns you, feel free to name it and we can go to the transcript. All work is public at http://npr.org . If there is no specific story of concern, that is its own answer. I’ll continue doing my job as a citizen.”
DO remember that journalists are human beings acting in good faith.
In a world in which reporters are called “scum,” “disgusting,” “enemies” and much worse, it’s worth stating—and restating—that journalists are human beings. We are flesh-and-blood people with spouses, friends, parents, children, pets, memories, hobbies, and mortgages. We like pizza. We pay taxes. We go to the gym and take out the trash. And if you’re inclined to leave an angry voicemail or slide your thumb across your throat at us, it’s important to remember: that’s someone’s brother or sister. That’s a human being, with a heartbeat, a birthday, a favorite song. Don’t believe those who tell you otherwise.
And, beyond our basic humanity, the vast majority of us are trying to do as fair and accurate of a job as possible. Northeastern University journalism professor and longtime media reporter and critic Dan Kennedy tells me that, of the hundreds of journalists he knows or has written about, he can probably count the number of bad apples he’s encountered—people who plagiarize or fabricate—on one hand. The rest “are absolutely trying to do the best job that they can, oftentimes under very difficult circumstances,” he says.
You can take Kennedy’s word. Or you can look at what happens when people run afoul of the expectations of the industry and its employers. Listen to the This American Life episode “Retraction” exposing Mike Daisey’s narrative corner-cutting in an earlier episode of the show. Check out the 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair stories on serial fabulist Stephen Glass, or the New York Timesdeep-dive on Jayson Blair’s “low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.” Read the lengthy report from this publication about Rolling Stone’s disastrous UVA campus rape story.
Each of these stories reflects an industry that holds accountability, accuracy, and reputation as its highest principles.
DO support us, if you appreciate our work.
I’m sure I’m far from the only journalist who, years later, can quote verbatim lines from positive reader feedback. (One email included the unforgettable phrase, “Please keep writing.”) These words fill our emotional gas tanks and remind us why we do this work. It certainly isn’t the pay.
So, if you learned something from a piece of journalism, or you were moved or challenged or entertained by it, take a moment to mention that to the person who created it. Don’t assume that someone else has said something. Somehow, thanks to the wonders of the human mind, notes like this can cancel out the memory of a thousand nasty comments.
And if you’re feeling grateful, words aren’t the only useful form of praise. Subscribe. Donate. Defend us in conversations. Support organizations like CPJ or Freedom of the Press Foundation. (Or CJR.) Journalism is hard work that, though often accessed for free, costs enormous time, labor, energy, and money to produce. If you appreciate what we do, we’ll gladly take whatever support you can offer in return. Even pizza.
Regardless of your political preferences and beliefs, a robust journalism corps in multiple respected sources is quintessential to promoting, protecting, and defending the Constitution as one party or partisan group ascends.
Remember, journalists are human and make mistakes as do publications. The measure of them is how well they do on the whole and how well the respond to such mistakes.