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Olive branches on the tree, in focus with heavy background blur.

2023 in Focus

It’s been a couple years since I’ve written about a yearly theme, but I wanted to post something about this year’s. I think it is helpful to put a public stake in the ground, and since I don’t have a podcast to talk about these on anymore, here we are.

The word that kept coming to mind towards the end of last year was focus. It initially felt a bit on the nose, but what made me come around on it was thinking of focus as a photography term. I picture spinning a focus ring to isolate one thing at a time, or adjusting the aperture to bring more things into focus at once if I want the bigger picture. It’s a useful lens[1] to approach the year with.

The impetus for this theme came from two observations. The glaring one is that I’ve been trying to do way too many things in life lately. Secondarily, I’ve had a hard time doing any one thing for long without getting sidetracked. Sure, these are nothing new—but I hit a breaking point with them in the last third or so of 2022.

A large part of what I need to do this year is is to make the hard calls about what is important for me to give my time and focus to, and to pare back everything else. The important things include being a husband to my wife and a dad to our one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. They include my work—not just because it pays the bills, but because going into this year I have an exciting new role that I want to have the headspace to do well. That means making the space to focus on things that will contribute to my mental and emotional wellbeing—particularly creative outlets like photography, writing, and perhaps filmmaking. It also means taking intentional steps to ensure that when I’m doing any one of these things, it is the one thing in focus and everything else fades into a nice background blur.[2]

One creative outlet I want to pay attention to is photography. The launch of Glass in late 2021 and my purchase of a new camera this past spring together spurred a renewed interest in this creative hobby for me. I’ve been inspired to branch out from the travel and landscape photos I take on trips and hikes and to start carrying my camera around town to take photos of the everyday. This year I want to foster that artistic expression by embarking on a 365: inspired by another photographer on Glass, I plan to post a photo each day that was taken that day. The first one is up; the rest will be published to my profile each day. This is the most resolution-y (no pun intended) part of this theme, but it is a daily habit I’d like to cultivate, and it dovetails well with the idea of Focus.

As usual, a yearly theme is meant to be a North Star in making decisions throughout the year, not a specific set of pass/fail objectives.[3] All of this is just a snapshot of some of my thoughts going into this year.[4]

So begins the Year of Focus.

  1. See what I did there? ↩︎

  2. A couple paragraphs into this, I pulled out a notebook and pen to write the rest of it; doing so made a night-and-day difference to being able to tune everything else out and let the words flow onto the page. ↩︎

  3. Basically the opposite of those SMART goals they used to make us write in school. ↩︎

  4. I also need to go in for another vision checkup and probably get a new pair of glasses. ↩︎