Making It Work in 2023


We’re back to the first of the year once again. January 1, 2023 is a Sunday which feels somewhat subdued. That stands in contrast to the rest of the year that felt like a rollercoaster always one heartbeat away from careening out of control. As is the tradition, I’ll look at the things I wanted to spend more time working on in 2022:

  • More Analytical Content: I have to honestly give myself a no on this one, at least from a technical perspective. I did spend some time making analytical content for my Tomversations series. However, the real difference in analytical content came from my posts about leadership and more “soft skill” focused ideas. I’ve gotten more comments about those posts than anything in 2022 and I couldn’t be more proud.
  • Saying No to More Things: This is the part where I would insert an animated GIF of someone laughing manically. While I did make strides in telling people that I have way too much going on to take care of one extra thing the reality is that I took on more things that I probably should have. That’s something that I definitely do need to change but the real hard part isn’t saying No. It’s making it stick.
  • Getting In Front of Things: This one actually was one that I had the hardest time with. I was able to work on some of this in my Tech Field Day job but it was my blog that suffered the most. I wanted to start spending more time thinking about post topics earlier in the week so I wasn’t always posting on Fridays. The irony is that toward the end of the year I did manage to get some posts out on other days. I just did it because I was having severe writer’s block and I was late on several posts. In fact, I technically missed a post in 2022 for the first time in twelve years. I think it’s more a reflection on how important it is to keep your eye on the prize as you create content. I don’t have metrics like those on YouTube channels driving me to put out 2-3 videos a week. Instead I really have to make sure I’m aware of what needs to happen to keep the content coming out.

2022 was a year of getting things back to a version of normal but it also was a year of me trying to implement things that didn’t go the way I wanted. That seems to be the challenge for all good intentions. So let’s look at what I want to do in 2023 to keep myself from struggling the way that I did before.

  • Keeping Track of Things: I knew I was in for trouble when I stopped writing things down two weeks into the year. My plans for bullet journaling seemed to evaporate because I tried to make changes that didn’t stick. So I’m resetting it back to Square Zero. I’m writing everything down somewhere and I’m not going to forget it this time. I know where my notes are and I know what I need to do to keep myself on track. The difference between writing it down when I do it and just trying to remember to do it is very, very stark. So rather than thinking I have a good memory and forgetting that I don’t I’m not leaving anything up to chance.
  • Creating Evergreen Content: During my workouts this year I’ve spent more time listening to podcasts like Hidden Brain and Huberman Lab which focus on behavior and the brain. Why? Because I’m fascinated to learn why we think and do the things we do. When you couple that with my outside work in the Wood Badge leadership program I think I’m starting to see the value of creating content more around skills and leadership instead of just talking about the next iteration of wireless or SD-WAN. That doesn’t mean my technical writing is going to go away. It does mean that I’m going to try to sprinkle in more posts about mentoring, leadership, and creating a culture that will help you pay dividends unlike ATM, HD-DVD, and several other forgotten technologies.
  • Ensuring Intentionality: This one feels a bit nebulous but that’s because it’s hard to pin down what being intentional really means to everyone. I’ve used the world a bit more in the latter half of 2022 when discussing certain aspects of my job and it seems to have stuck with others. Intentionality to me means making sure that I’m focused on ensuring outcomes happen. A lack of intentionality is like gathering the ingredients for a cake, assembling them on a table, and then hoping that a cake somehow magically appears. You have to combine the ingredients in the proper amounts and make things happen to create a cake. Even with all the right conditions you still need to do the work to make things happen. And if you think that’s an easy thing to do take a look around in your office and tell me just how many people that you work with that aren’t intentional in what they do.

Tom’s Take

One of the things that I can look back on over the past few years is that my first of the year posts have reflected the challenges that I’ve faced. The shifting landscape of content has forced me to look at what I create. The challenges of a world that went into hibernation for a while have changed the way I look at how I get my work done. Even the growth that I’ve experienced over the years has shifted my thinking. I won’t be the next big YouTube star. My gift is in writing. And focusing on that as my starting point for the year to come is going to help me make things work.

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