I can enthusiastically announce here after a prolonged break that I am not dead. I hope this comes as a bit of positive news to kick off your 2022 (I’m pretty happy about it) but there was a time in December that I felt like I mentally wasn’t going to make it despite the amount of fun I was having. If this sounds like complaining … maybe it is, but “complaining” seems to suggest that you do not like whatever it is that you are currently complaining about, which is not my situation. I am in more of a burnout situation and there are other things I want to add to my to-do list but I am unwilling or unable to remove anything from my current platter of responsibilities.
See my problem?
As a result of this, I am going to use this platform as part of a cathartic process of working through what I have going on and what needs to be changed or reprioritized. Yes, I know what you are thinking:
“Bob, this sounds like a New Year’s resolution post, but you have said repeatedly that you don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions.”
You would be correct in that I am not a fan of setting up the almost guaranteed failure associated with plans made during this time of the year, but simply because this is the New Year and I am making what could arguably be described as “resolutions”, does not mean that they are in fact New Year’s Resolutions … technically it’s still December 2021 as I am writing this so these could be considered extremely late last year’s objectives, and since I embrace technicalities, this is where I am camping out for a while. So let’s take a look at what you can expect from this site in 2022 and maybe I will explain why there will hopefully be a change. In no particular order – here you go:
Holiday in Finland
Just before Christmas, I took a holiday with my family to Finland and it was a great chance to unplug and recharge my batteries. All told we were there for 10 days and split our time mostly between Helsinki in the southern part of Finland, and Rovienemi, which is the capital city of Lapland Finland, and is only a 90-minute flight from Helsinki up into the Arctic Circle.
Coming from Texas (where people think it is hot all the time) this is a nice time to visit to get a taste of what we admittedly do not get much of where I live – really cold weather and snow. Ironically, as I write this, I am sitting in front of the fire in my Den and the temperature outside is currently a balmy 20° (but the weather app is telling me that it “feels like 4° degrees”). I’m not going to go into too much about this trip because the first podcast episode of 2022 is titled “Architects and Traveling” and I will spend a few minutes talking about this particular trip. Needless to say, traveling is a big part of how a recharge my creative batteries and the pandemic has made that decidedly more difficult. I am already starting to block out time-off for this year to build in time away from work.
2022 Objective = Travel and get out of my home base at least 4 times this year.
Kate Goes to College
One of the other big changes that will be taking place is that my daughter is heading off to college this Fall. As an only child, she has filled a big part of my life and her absence will be extremely noticed. The only reason that I mention it here is that Kate has always been tied to this blog for me – at least mentally. She was 5-years-old when I started Life of an Architect and I am absolutely convinced that had she been slightly older when I started, this blog would not exist. She was the perfect age of taking naps and going to bed early, all the while tethering us to the house and I chose to fill those quiet evenings with work and writing articles for this blog.
Kate also is just like me in personality, and as she has grown, I have been able to project myself back in time to when I was her age and reflect on how I viewed things and how I have evolved over time. There are a lot of articles on this site where her influence is felt and if I am being candid, many of those articles are my favorite because they allowed me to be open and vulnerable, which in turn allowed me to connect with people who regularly visited this site.
The post “An Interview with Kate Borson: Cultural Prodigy” was the first time Kate made an appearance on site – about 4 months after I started. This post wasn’t planned but this was during the days when I was writing a post every 2 days and was constantly on the hunt for topics and stories to tell. Interviewing my then 5-year-old daughter when she was taking a bath just seemed like a good idea.
The post “Kate gives me Perspective” came about two years later even though it was not the next time she made an appearance on site. When I decided to title this site “Life of an Architect”, its posts like this one that focuses on the “life” part that is important to ground my behavior and focus my intentions.
Objective = spend some quality time with my daughter before she leaves for college … and then become that parent who visits her more than she actually wants come this Fall.
the Life of an Architect Podcast
I am going to assume that everyone who is reading today’s post is aware that I have a podcast. I’m proud to say that it’s doing really well because co-host Andrew Hawkins and I put in an unreasonable amount of work into making it interesting, educational, and hopefully, entertaining. Because there are more moving parts than you might imagine, and unlike the blog portion of this site, we attempt to put together an editorial calendar of sorts. Figuring out what the topics might be appropriate and interesting for the upcoming year is something that generally falls into the tail end of the 4th quarter of the previous year … otherwise known as “right now”.
|Architects and Traveling||Architecture School 101
|Getting Work is Hard … Or is it?||Ask the Show|
|Project Designer vs. Project Architect||Residential Architecture 101
|Top 10 Reason NOT to be an Architect||Top 10 Reasons to be an Architect|
|Residential Architecture 101
Front Door Experience
|The Design Process||Architecture School 101
|Residential Architecture 101
|Recharge Your Batteries||Residential Architecture 101
Working with an Interior Designer
|Ask the Show||Architecture School 101
We publish 25 episodes per year and other than the end of December, we put out an episode every two weeks. Since the podcast went live back on June 14, 2018, we have released 90 episodes, which as of the time of writing this article have been downloaded 547,614 – which seems like a lot to me. Because of the built-in audience that I had due to writing and maintaining the Life of an Architect website for the previous 8 years, we came out of the gate pretty strong. However, I am happy to say that we have been able to build upon that early success and will just about cross 250,000 downloads for this year alone.
I will concede that recording the podcast continues to be a point of frustration for me. I think I have high standards and there are times when challenges outside of my control have an impact on the end product … which drives me mad! Before the pandemic, Andrew Hawkins, my co-host, would come to town and spend a weekend at my house and we would record a few episodes. Being able to see each other helps with the timing, not to mention that we don’t have to deal with the lag times that exist when trying to record over a Zoom call.
The other challenging item we face is coming up for topics for the show. Because of the audio quality and lag time issues, we don’t typically have a ton of guests on the show (historically about 3-4x per year) and I don’t really want to discuss topics where I don’t have a position of experience from which to draw against. If the show was half as long, more topics would present themselves to us, but speaking for 40+ minutes about something that you don’t have passion or knowledge about is impossibly difficult.
The list above is our current working optics list – something we expect to change as we move through the year. I put these topics together one of the nights I was in Helsinki when I should have been sleeping but wasn’t able to accomplish that goal. We are also planning on finally getting back out to the NAHB/KBIS show in Orlando the week of February 7th, as well as the National AIA Convention in Chicago the week of June 20th, this year after missing the last few due to the pandemic. It will be nice to reconnect with people and record a few shows will on site.
Objective = continue to explore growth and engagement opportunities, continue to improve delivery and content.
I don’t normally make my appearance and health a topic on this site but I think we can all relate to the fact that the pandemic was hard on a lot of people, and while I have been blessed and remained COVID free to date, the increasingly sedentary nature of my life, combined with my interest in cooking fancy meals and preparing elaborate cocktails, I’m not feeling all that well. The time I spent at home was well spent in that I worked more than ever, but boredom still crept into the picture and I still had time to eat and drink my way into a situation that needs my immediate attention … and I doubt that I am alone in this position.
Since I am an individual that is driven by data and routine, the trick is to incorporate these things into my health program as a way to maintain my interest as well as motivate my behavior. I have already started this process and have seen appropriate progress but the trick is to maintain it. I have established goals for myself but in order to achieve them, I think the 60-hour weeks in the office need to be done for a while. I typically leave for the office before 7:00 am and frequently get home after 7:00 PM and that leaves little time to take care of the other things in my life that need attention … it should come as no surprise that I don’t sleep much and maybe this is part of that reason.
For those of you that are interested, I bought a Peloton bike for Christmas so that I could do classes at a time that suited my schedule. I have set up the hashtag #LifeofanArchitect and I would love to have those of you who also have Pelotons add that hashtag to your profiles so we can help motivate one another. If you are the sort of person where this matters, my user name is “Mies_vanderBike”
Objective = improve the quality of my physical well-being and hope for the best on the mental part.
Objectives for 2022
I know this post seems like a page from my diary, full of unfulfilled aspirations, almost all of which have the potential for disappointment, but it’s really meant as a way to hold myself accountable for the changes I want to see while keeping everyone else informed as to why thre might be fewer blog posts this year than there have typically been in years past. After the break I took this last December, a few of you reached out to check on me – which I appreciated – but everything is fine and since December has always been a slow month, I decided to give myself a break. It is interesting for me to reflect back on what I have done with this site since post 01 was published on January 14th, 2010. This website has brought me to 4 different countries and 15 states, I have changed jobs twice, and now my 5-year-old daughter is grown up and is leaving for college before the end of summer. It’s hard to imagine where my life would be had I never started this site – so I’m not even going to try. Onward and upward in all things!
Cheers to a successful and prosperous year – let’s get to work on those objectives!