About a year ago, I read a great book called Atomic Habits by an author I’d never heard of called James Clear. If you’ve not read the book yourself then I highly recommend it but something James documents in his book and on his website is his annual review. Approximately six months after conducting an annual review, James follows up with an ‘Integrity Report’ to check that he’s living by values he’s set for himself in his annual review.
Today I’d like to share my 2021 Integrity Report. You can see my 2020 Integrity Report here but I’ll admit that I kind of cheated on that one and just used James’ values rather than my own.
Anyway, as per James Clear’s published reports, there are 3 main questions that I’ll aim to answer in my Integrity Report:
- What are the core values that drive my life and work?
- How am I living and working with integrity right now?
- How can I set a higher standard in the future?
What are the core values that drive my life and work?
Back in December, I sat down and gave some thought to my own core values. What did I deem important? What did I want to use to frame my work, my leisure and my direction in life. Below are my core values, as of December last year. I gave some thought to these and was quite happy with the outcome. I don’t anticipate that they’ll change that drastically over time as they should be quite deep rooted in who I am, or at least the person that I want to be.
- Am I working on building a loving relationship with my wife?
- Am I working on building a loving environment in which to raise my two children?
- Do I show/tell my parents, siblings and friends that I love them enough?
- Am I attempting to create opportunities for fun?
- Am I appreciating and taking advantage of opportunities when they arise?
- Am I learning new things, exploring new places and working on new ideas?
- Am I questioning my limiting beliefs and working to overcome them?
- Am I developing good habits and killing bad ones?
- Am I expanding my knowledge by learning new topics, languages, skills etc?
- Am I sharing that knowledge with the world?
- Am I working to build quality friendships?
- Am I working to build more friendships?
How am I living and working with integrity right now?
So…what have I done over the past few months after prioritising these areas of my life?
Having a second child in March has been tough…really tough at times, in spite of the fact that both of our kids are good (possibly even great) sleepers. The biggest casualty here I’d say has been my relationship with Shell as there are days we fail to prioritise ourselves, never mind our relationship. That said, we still spend a lot of time together, share many of the same friends and seem to enjoy each other’s company. I’ve worked hard to avoid arguing and either diffuse the situation (I’m shit at this), step away (I’m better at this) or at least not pick at the situation (I used to be shit at this…I’m not so bad now).
On the subject of children, it’s tough balancing work, my own physical and mental health and not telling them off when they are crying at you while you try to change a nappy. I don’t do terribly at this but I can be a bit miserable and probably just need to relax a little bit. I think by squeezing in a bit more time for myself during the week, or at least being a bit more organised with things that help me destress, I could get better at being a father.
Telling my friends, siblings and parents that I love them has never been difficult but I’ve tried to get better at showing this. For me, it’s little things like remembering birthdays or turning up to meet them on time. I’m working hard to get better at both but the kids haven’t made this easy.
Tricky…I found that playing boardgames like Pandemic, Azul or Fuse were great alternatives to binge-watching Netflix during lockdown but I must admit I’m a social animal and I really enjoy having people round for food and drinks. The combination of COVID and young children hasn’t been a particular boon on either front and I find that I’m just a bit too knackered most days to want to learn a new skill or seek out fun new adventures.
That said, the kids have provided a plethora of amazing little moments where they say or do something hilarious and you feel as though your heart might burst or you’re on the verge of crying with laughter. I’ve made efforts to spend time with them during the day and make up my work later in the evening if I’m feeling a bit behind. Exposing myself to these blocks of time has been really nice and a serious perk of working from home.
I’ve not really explored anywhere new beyond the local area in the past 18 months. It’s been really tricky for the aforementioned reasons but I suppose I could work harder on this front. There’s no excuse for going to the same park over and over now things have started opening up again and even just finding a new bit of woodland to let the dog (and my toddler) loose is something I would definitely enjoy. I’ve found my Audible subscription to be pretty invaluable as it’s meant I can devour books when I’m prepping dinner, getting to/from the gym or out walking the dog. I’m not reading quite as much as I had been when commuting by bike 15 or so miles/day but I’m not complaining. It’s an easy way to squeeze in book-reading and I’ve consumed some great titles over the past 12 months.
In terms of new ideas and sharing that knowledge, I’ve been fairly consistent with getting my podcast out since I launched back in March. I’ll admit that I’m glad I banked so many episodes as I’ve definitely lost interest in it a bit, but the feedback has been really encouraging and it’s a nice way of sharing ideas about the technology scene and exposing myself to new connections and opportunities, which has made finding new contract work really, really easy.
I’ve not really given my limiting beliefs much thought…maybe I should spend a bit more time reflecting on why or how they might be holding me back.
Looking back, I’d say I’ve taken my friendships for granted in the past. I’ve always made friends fairly easily but as such I’ve not valued existing relationships and worked to maintain them. This has gotten even harder since my babies arrived on the scene and it often feels like there isn’t much room in my life for people who had been really good mates in the past, beyond the occasional WhatsApp.
Knowing what I know, I’m making more of an effort to double-down on existing relationships that are good and particularly those where my wife and I share mutual friends. For example, other couples were friendly with in the local area or through the NCT group. These individuals are easier to maintain a relationship with because we all typically get along, we all live near to one another and we all typically have kids of about the same age. There’s just a lot of common ground there and I’ve found it typically makes for a high-value, low-effort friendship…which is great for me given where I am in life.
The Bottom Line
I sat down to complete my Integrity Report on paper today but thought that it could be more valuable put out into the world in the form of a post…it might encourage you to try something similar. I often feel as though I’ve come a long way in my 33 years on the planet but I still find new and unusual ways to fuck up so hopefully this goes some way towards helping me to get better.