My year in review: On Writing and on Being

As we approach the end of the year and the beginning of the next, I’ve started thinking about resolutions and how I might make 2014 different (and better!) from all the other years I’ve had (almost 30 now).

2013 hasn’t been the best. And though I wish I could say to you, “I won’t bore you with the details,” and that’s why I’m not telling you the details, it’s more of a I don’t know the details either but it just doesn’t feel like the best year I’ve had. And if it doesn’t feel like the best year, then it certainly wasn’t.

You ever heard of the NLP (neurolinguistic programming) saying that the meaning of your communication is the response you get (i.e. the success of whatever you communicate is dependent on the feedback of the receiver of that communication)?

Well, it’s like that. I could have the best bloody year of my life, but if in the end I didn’t feel like I’ve had the best bloody year of my life, then I didn’t have the best bloody year of my life.

What I can say though, is that the general idea behind those feelings is the thought that in 2013 I’d taken myself too seriously.

Maybe you could call it a quarter life crisis (thereabouts; not that I expect — or necessarily want — to live to a hundred and twenty), but there were many points in 2013 that I kept questioning my own motives; was filled with self-doubt; and maintained an extreme self-consciousness.

My usual joviality and punny nature couldn’t shine through, whether in person or on this site, where half-assed poetry and humour used to reign.

I’ve gotten serious and professional. Maybe that’s understandable if you knew I was looking to switch jobs in the earlier parts of this year and the later parts of the last. Maybe that’s understandable, if you knew I was trying to position myself as an expert in my analytics field.

But it’s not representative of who I am. I’m not a one-sided, analytics-crazy professional.

I’m an interested student of life who stands in awe of dramatic scenery; who reads and writes poetry; who loves reading puns as much as writing them; who reveres good art and philosophy; who digs science and appreciates the scientific method; who wishes he could play a musical instrument as well as he typed; who’s into fitness and running; and who just happens to be really into technology, business, and analytics, and is rather good at it.

If you were to take my last 30 posts on you wouldn’t really know who I am. You’d get an overrepresentation of “professional” articles that talk about IT and science and business.

I’d read that niche blogs get more readers, and that more focused content gets more repeat visitors. I’d read that if you want to get hired you write articles that might interest your potential employers, and that writing “professionally” would help your personal brand.

I wanted more readers. I wanted to get hired. I wanted to help my brand. So that’s what I did.

Visitorship did go up a tad. And maybe what I’ve written does appeal to a certain audience. And maybe Study Group hired me based on (honestly, I don’t think so — pretty sure it was because of this advert).

But what I’ve found is that there was just so many things that I find interesting and/or that I really wanted to share but couldn’t because they just didn’t fit into the “theme” of analytics or big data, a theme that I thought would be better for the “image” of yours truly.

If I read that the glycemic index of sugar is lower than whole-wheat bread, I couldn’t share that if I could only post “analytics-focused” articles. Or if I read a killer poem like Shel Silverstein’s Masks that made me cry, I’d have to keep it for “personal use only”, telling only the people I know on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter, not the arbitrary bunch of people who stream in into

Not being able to share all I thought worth sharing has made me unhappy.

2013 has been an experiment in professional writing. In professional being. It’s been nice to have tried, but it isn’t necessarily good for me, I think. Haven’t been this unhappy for a long time.

2014 is going to have to be a year I take myself less seriously. A year of more fun. More puns. A year of less Serious Lee (seriously, get it?!), and more Donn Lee.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone.

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