Tyler Robertson

Checking in on The Year of Foundation

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

At the end of last year, I posted a retrospective of the projects I made in 2021, and for the first time put a singular name to my goals for the following year: "Foundation". From the post:

Next year's theme is Foundation: I'm focusing on creating a stable and comfortable space at home and work, so I can do good work and relax despite the… gestures vaguely at everything. This means projects will be consciously fewer and further between (but maybe of a higher quality?) while I concentrate on things that can't necessarily be shown in the same way, like my morning routine or exercise habits.

Now that we're reaching the half-way point, I wanted to take some time to revisit how the theme is working so far, what's gone well, and what I need to focus on for the rest of the year.

What's been working

The first thing I wanted to focus on this year was making space for alone time, either for meditation, planning, or just having breathing room. This hasn't been as structured as I originally pictured, but being mindful of it as a goal—and taking advantage of that time when the opportunity presents itself, rather than filling it with activities—has helped my mental health a lot.

I've also been working with a coach at work, both to help hone my engineering skills and to narrow down my career goals. If you have the opportunity to get coaching from a more senior person in your role, I highly recommend it! Getting an outside perspective on what I'm working on, fears of mine, and future goals, takes a big weight off my mind.

Lastly, I've been focusing on changing my surroundings, both physical and digital. Physically, that's looked like buying nicer furniture (which is slow, due to costs), switching to a split mechanical keyboard, and taking a more considered look at my wardrobe (getting rid of stuff that doesn't fit, looking for higher-quality pieces, etc). I've found that (surprise, surprise) minimizing the amount of stuff around me, and increasing the quality of the stuff I do keep, reduces a significant amount of ambient stress. Especially working from home, not having to think about whether I have certain cables or adapters, or whether being at my desk all day is slowly killing me, takes a lot of worry out of the equation. (Another fun callout is that I finally have prescription sunglasses, which is a game changer.)

Digitally, I've started using lists on Twitter to organize my feeds, as well as trying out Mastodon to try and de-clutter what I read online. I didn't stick with it, but I also spent a few months learning about stenography with Art of Chording, which has helped me re-think how I use keyboards and develop some more ergonomic macros. I'm also changing up what tech I use for fun, like making YouTube videos in my free time, or getting an RG351v as my new go-to gaming fix. I don't know that I can really quantify how any of this is helping the "foundation" theme yet, but it does feel like I'm moving towards some kind of baseline in my digital life, where it can just be without causing stress.

What I need to work on

I definitely need to get exercise fully incorporated into my weekly routine. I've been doing some at-home workouts in bursts, but haven't found something that fits my tiny space yet. Maybe I should look into gyms or outside exercises?

I'd also like to find a local group or club to join — I haven't made many friends in London yet, and it would be good to rebuild a support system here.

Lastly, I'm still focused on revisiting how I present myself, both in person and online. A lot of my clothes are either things I bought on sale because I needed them (like the shorts I panic-buy every summer), or free swag from conferences. I've also had the same haircut since… forever? I'm also rarely satisfied with the design of products I make online. Now that I'm able to articulate more about what I'd like my personal style to be, I should start taking steps towards making it happen.

2022 Projects so far