<span class='p-name'>Viewing your life as a project</span>

Viewing your life as a project

One helpful focus that I’ve found in Stoic philosophies is the opportunity to consider our lives as an ongoing project. This includes a regular journey of ethical self-development.

I first started this journey as I had just graduated from college. My Aunt and Uncle indicated that I had a job and was single with no children. They suggested that this was an important time in my life to identify elements of my life I would like to tweak and improve. This was also an opportunity to focus on myself before the other responsibilities come rushing in.

Even as the other responsibilities continue to rush in, I try to maintain the same mindset of identifying time and opportunities for practical, healthy self-improvement.

The process

I start my day with a period of meditation, exercise, and then some reading and journaling.

This is an important element of my life as I try to understand, or at least make room for the thoughts and habits that make me who I am. Meditation has helped me to quiet (at times) much of the noise of self-doubt and anxiety. By resetting each morning through meditation and reflection, I try to learn more about myself and who I would like to be.

I view this as a daily reboot of my brain to help me understand what I should be focused on.

A prompt to consider

A good prompt to help you consider resetting your outlook and focus in life is found from Marcus Aurelius in Meditations, 1.14.

From Maximus [I have learnt the importance of these things]: to be master of oneself and not carried this way and that; to be cheerful under all circumstances, including illness; a character with a harmonious blend of gentleness and dignity; readiness to tackle the task in hand without complaint; the confidence everyone had that whatever he said he meant and whatever he did was not done with bad intent; never to be astonished or panic-stricken, and never to be hurried or to hang back or be at a loss or downcast or cringing or on the other hand angry or suspicious; to be ready to help or forgive, and to be truthful; to give the impression of someone whose character is naturally upright rather than having undergone correction; the fact that no-one could have thought that Maximus looked down on him, or could have presumed to suppose that he was better than Maximus; and to have great personal charm. 

The pathways

In my work with digital badges, one of the key elements is an understanding of learning pathways. This is the thinking that we all have come to this place in our lives through different trials and tribulations. Even though we may have the same occupation, there are a million right (and wrong) ways to get here.

Looking back, it is easy to see how I got here, and what decisions brought me to this point. But, there is no way that someone could have charted out the path that would take me to my current position and place. I could identify general directions, and consider how decisions in my life impact my ultimate course and trajectory.

The best way I’ve thought about pathways is captured by the following graphic by Bryan M Mathers. Your pathway could be a series of stepping stones, a non-linear collection of goals and achievements, or a networked constellation of nodes. Of course this graphic is more suited to understanding badge pathways, but it also helps me consider the ways in which I address tackling goals in my life.

CC Bryan M Mathers

Identifying role models

While we’re considering a regular journey of ethical self-development in your life, and the pathways that will take you there, I think there is a need to identify role models and exemplars to calibrate this focus.

What this means is that you should develop professional learning networks online and identify individuals or groups that are already doing the work that you hope to emulate. You could/should reach out to them online and introduce yourself. However, you may also just watch their behaviors and actions, and emulate their work and pathways. 

As an example, in my own work, I identify people within my PLN (e.g., Doug Belshaw, Amy BurvallLaura Hilliger) as I think, work, and build my digital identity. Most recently, I’ve been trying to finally follow IndieWeb philosophies in my online spaces. This has me studying the spaces of many others (e.g., Chris AldrichAaron DavisJim Groom) as I work on this latest project in my life.

What is your next project?

Learning is a fundamental part of my philosophy and action. Through the acquisition of new knowledge I believe that we can understand and hopefully “change” most anything in our lives. This requires a continual examination of who you are, who you would like to be, and how you plan on getting there.

Hopefully this post helps as you consider the goals and objectives in your life. If you’re not currently achieving those goals, write yourself into existence and get yourself to that point. The first step is taking the first step.

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3 Comments Viewing your life as a project

  1. Aaron Davis

    Ian, your discussion of projects has me rethinking the idea of ‘life-long learner’. I always find this a challenge in working out how to tell the story. Thinking of it as ‘life-long projects’ may offer some nuance. I can see how this sort of approach would also be helpful in regards to open badges.
    In regards to your current project of engaging with the #IndieWeb, I came across this post recently from Cathie LeBlanc discussing her experiences with the IndieWeb:

    I have spent the last five days working on my own web site (which I’ve owned for a long time) to IndieWebify it. Check it out at cathieleblanc.com. Be warned that I’m in the early stages of setting my IndieWeb site up so things will evolve. This work has inspired me and I’m sure I’ll be writing about these efforts and my thoughts about them as I move forward.

    What it made me realise is that some bigger projects are ongoing. They are almost a mindset, a way of seeing, doing and thinking. There is always something else to be done. The challenge is to break it all down into its parts. I guess that is the point of calling out your goals on the #IndieWeb wiki. This might also be a part of what Greg McVerry is investigating in regards to ‘onboarding’.
    I wonder if something like a ‘Now’ page might be useful for this? I like how Chris Aldrich also breaks it down. There is always something more.

    Also on:

    1. wiobyrne

      Hey Aaron, thank you for the comprehensive reply. I’m also on my own journey in terms of playing with indieweb philosophies. I appreciate the link to Cathie’s site…I’ll be following with interest. I also agree with Greg’s thinking about “onboarding” individuals. I think that is a common thread across tech…but it’s important to remember that we’re all playing on the bleeding edge of this.

      Finally…I like the idea of a “now” page. I’ve been thinking about that for some time, but now that I’m switching up my signals…I think it might come soon. 🙂


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