Trees and Robots

by Jacopo Scazzosi

My yearly theme for 2020: system consolidation

In the website of The Theme System Journal, the amazing hosts of the Cortex podcast Myke Hurley and CGP Grey present the concept of yearly theme:

Instead of resolutions, we set an overall idea of how we would like to approach each year or season. This becomes almost like a guiding principle for our work and/or personal lives for that period. […] When creating a Yearly Theme it’s a good idea to think about what your ideal outcome is for that period, and think of some key actions you would like to complete. Then as you go through the year, it’s important to remember this theme when considering new projects — this ensures that you are sticking to what you want to achieve.

In this blog post I will go through what my theme for this year is and why I have settled on such theme. I’ve decided to write about this because I deeply feel that it is important, that important things are worth thinking about in a serious manner and that writing is the best way to do so [1].

Writing it out makes my yearly theme real. It puts it out there, clearly stated, where everyone can see it and everyone can ask about it. Furthermore, I hope it will inspire others to think about their own themes, just as I was inspired by those of Myke and Grey.

My yearly theme for 2020 is System Consolidation. It is comprised of two carefully selected words, the first of which represents how I intend to look at myself and the second of which indicates what I intend to do with myself.

In thinking of myself as a system, I aim to remind myself that I am a complex machine and that, just as any other machine, I have limits beyond which I am unable to operate without compromising my integrity and requiring unscheduled maintenance. I am not only a system but an open system, operating within an environment with which I exchange energy. This exchange of energy must be in balance, in that energy cannot be made out of nothing and I cannot use more of it than I consume. If I do, then I consume myself in order to do so.

In aiming to consolidate myself, I recognize the fact that I have spread myself across too many fronts and that I need to let go of some of me so that what remains will be able to grow and flourish. Which is not to say I wouldn’t do it all over again! On the contrary, I am happy with how my life has unfolded over the last few years and I count myself lucky that I can say so. However, the last few years have often been about operating in overdrive, indebting my past self to my current self in order to sustain a time of growth and exploration. I now owe it to myself to consolidate my working life, my health, my relationships, my responsibilities into something that can be serenely sustained over time.

I am a software developer and a founder and director of a small, growing company. I am someone who works out. In no particular order I am also a partner, a friend, the owner of a dog, someone dear to his family and a 31 year-old man.

This is who I am, and who I’ll be throughout 2020. This is what I will get better at, what I will focus on. With whatever time will be left, if any, I might do some occasional reading and DYI work.

Footnotes

[1]: In his Essay Writing Guide, controversial psychologist Jordan B. Peterson argues:

The primary reason to write an essay is so that the writer can formulate and organize an informed, coherent and sophisticated set of ideas about something important. […] You need to think carefully about important issues. There is no better way to do so than to write. This is because writing extends your memory, facilitates editing and clarifies your thinking. […] Furthermore, once those ideas are written down, you can move them around and change them. You can also reject ideas that appear substandard, after you consider them more carefully. If you reject substandard ideas, then all that you will have left will be good ideas.

Although there is a lot that I disagree about with Dr. Peterson, I find much of his material to be at least thought-provoking when not positively helpful and instructive. I highly suggest the aforementioned guide.