Retrospective retrospective

Every month for the past 18 months I’ve written and published a retrospective — a reflection of my progress over the past month to track my goals and how things are going. The original purpose of them was to keep myself accountable and to share that progress with other people. And part of the reason I created this personal site in the first place was to do just that.

For a while the retrospectives were helpful. I started creating better and more measurable goals, I tracked whether I was hitting them, and they got me thinking more about the direction my projects were heading. They helped my writing too. Over time they got more interesting, the structure evolved into a consistent format, and I always attempted to write something narratively pleasing.

Now however, after months of retrospectives with little to no real substance, along with no desire to write one this month, I’ve decided to stop publishing new retrospectives — and to remove all of the past ones from this site entirely.

So why then am I removing the already published retrospectives if they were positive? It’s almost entirely because I don’t actually want people reading them. And that stopped me from writing about other things out of a fear that people would stumble upon the retrospectives.

For instance, my recent post about Apple’s stage manager was almost never published. And then almost never shared. All because of the possibility that someone would end up reading one of my retrospectives. It took way too much energy building up the courage to hit share. And when I finally did it, I anxiously and obsessively refreshed my analytics page, pleading that no-one would look around and find one. Of course, only a tiny number of people actually did — and they almost certainly didn’t care.

Ultimately, it was a huge source of anxiety for me. And it hasn’t been productive, nor healthy. Therefore, completely removing them — I’m hoping — will help relieve me of it.

I’m a very private person — perhaps to a fault. Even a personal site like this with my face, name, and thoughts attached to it was difficult to deploy to begin with, simply because I didn’t want people to see it. And so having strangers reading my personal retrospectives wasn’t something I was excited about. But I published them anyway as a way of building in public. At least that was the idea.

In total, I only ever shared one of the retrospectives in the year and a half that I wrote them. The rest were only read by me, and perhaps the odd person who happened to find one. In the end, it meant that one of the supposed main benefits of publishing them was pointless.

Being candid is an attractive thing in people’s writing and personal brand. It humanizes them and makes it easier to connect and relate to their stories. That’s especially true in an age where online personas are almost universally ‘curated’ if not entirely manufactured.

However, I’ve learned there’s a difference between what you’re willing to publish and what you’re willing for others to read. Initially I posted those retrospectives despite the anxiety, hoping it would get better. It never did.

Removing the retrospectives doesn’t mean I won’t be publishing stuff that’s personal — this is a personal site after all. I want to write stuff that people find interesting and can relate too. It just means that I’m going to be more mindful about what I publish.

Unfortunately, the retrospectives made up the majority of the posts on this site, and that means the number of posts on the site will drop to just a handful. Hopefully that gives me some motivation to write and publish some more interesting articles.

There are no plans for any specific articles yet. Although updates on my projects might happen if I feel like I have some interesting insight or progress.

In the end I’m glad that I wrote all of those retrospectives — who knows, maybe I’ll write some in the future (if only for myself). But I’d be lying if I wasn’t relieved now that they’re gone from the site.

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