These Aren’t Resolutions

Originally published on January 3rd, 2017, at SharondaWoodfin.net.
Edited and republished at Sharonda.net on March 15th, 2017.

They really, really aren’t. ‘Though I’ll have to admit, I’m not immune to seeing the start of a new calendar year as the perfect time to re-evaluate my goals as well as my plans for reaching them. My primary solo goals last year revolved around making my student loan payments and having enough money on hand to make sure my wife didn’t feel the need to re-evaluate our marriage when our anniversary, Christmas and her birthday rolled around. That’s it. In short: I aimed for quick money. Which isn’t difficult, if you don’t need much. But, unless you’ve found a way to make that quick money goal pay really well, reaching that sort of goal is very much a temporary accomplishment. Quick bucks don’t usually supply the sort of long income tail that all of us who’ve passed reached a certain age should be thinking about.

With that in mind, I want to learn some new stuff this year, and most of what I want to learn revolves around software I already own and use. Some things that I want to learn are, for me, more marketable skills than others, but all of them are quality skills which will at least serve to make me a better-rounded, more-fulfilled human being; and, kids, that matters, too. Maybe not as much as food on the table, rent paid, and not living under the fear of the return of debtors’ prisons, but it matters.

  1. The software I think I’m most excited to learn is Affinity Designer. I just worked through my first ever Affinity Designer tutorial this morning, and—’though the tutorial I worked through admittedly emphasized simple shapes and concepts—I was blown away by how easy this app is to do really neat stuff with! The ability to easily switch back and forth between vector and raster modes is awesome, and not having to figure out either Inkscape or The GIMP is pretty damned nifty, too! I may even dip into some of this year’s quick money (because who can walk away completely?) to get myself a copy of the Affinity Designer Workbook. But that’s a bit further down the line, when I’m sure that working through tutorials doesn’t try my patience to the point of killing my enthusiasm.
  2. I already know how to use Ulysses for writing, but I’d like to learn to use it better. For example, I forgot to fire it up when I sat down to write this blog post. I hope to make opening Ulysses my first impulse, when it comes to blogging, and to take the time to learn the app’s shortcuts so that I’m not constantly having to find references for the things that I want to do.
  3. While I’m changing the way that I write via Ulysses, it’s also important to me to change the way that I write. Yeah, that’s a totally different thing (hence the emphasis), and it doesn’t involve learning software so much as it does learning through software. The software, in this case, is ProWritingAid, and I just started using it in October of last year, and only had access to a two-week trial. I’ve used it as an impartial editor on a side project I’m just not ready to link from here, yet, and using it that first time or two was really an eye-opener in terms of things I need to do to improve my writing. My goal for this app is to, again, use some of 2017’s quick money (this time, for a one-year license), then to use the app so much that those revisionary techniques start working their way into my first-draft instincts.
  4. I want to improve my GarageBand skills. I’m not a musician. I play badly, at best, with lots of stops, starts, and mishits, and I don’t have the voice to make up for it, either. But I enjoy playing. And I enjoy composing even more. I enjoy it enough that, at some point, I may toss an mp3 up on this blog, for those brave enough to sacrifice, if not their ears, then their musical sensibilities. I’m going to refrain from saying I’m doing this one for fun. It’s not on my list in connection with any sort of ambition beyond the personal, but that personal ambition is strong enough to be important to me.
  5. Last, I’d like to get a little better and a little quicker with Atom. The funny thing is that I don’t want to have to learn any more than I have about coding PHP, or CSS, or any other sort of thing that might be useful in making or editing a WordPress theme, but I’d like to be able to use what I know a little more quickly than my current skill set allows.
Affinity Designer Captain America Shield Tutorial result
I made this in Affinity Designer while working through a tutorial at Vector Art Club. Mine doesn’t match the model. I learned a lot, though, so I’m OK with that.

My secondary set of goals is the opposite of the list above. These are things I want to get other people to learn for me, then explain really simply because—come on!—I ain’t got time for that.

  1. Fix my development environment. Everything was peachy keen, than BAM! MacOS Sierra! Then everything stopped working. Then, I managed to get it partially working again, but I think that the PHP bit of my Apache/MySQL/PHP environment is still all petered out. And I don’t remember if I tinkered with the php.ini under El Capitan, and frankly, comparing versions of that file via Terminal in a pain in the ass. So, yeah, thank the gods for the new CSS editor in WordPress! (But I’d still rather be theming locally.)
  2. Update my Let’s Encrypt thingamabobby on this site from the old version recommended by NearlyFreeSpeech to the new, “dehydrated” version. For some reason, swapping the thingamajig strikes me as a lot more complicated than setting the thing up in the first place, and damnit, look at that top list! I’m too busy for this!

And my last, really important personal goal is to not let the frustration of those two secondary goals (or that of the day-to-day things I won’t talk about here) interfere with my enthusiasm for my primary five. If I manage only this part, 2017 will be a banner year for me, in terms of positive personal growth. And really, I’d settle for that.