Although I’m posting my 2019 goals announcement after my 2018 goals review, I actually ended up doing them out of order. By the beginning of December, I was already thinking ahead to my 2019 goals without having looked back on 2018. Of course, I ended up refining the goals and tweaking the presentation, but I’m sticking with the big ideas that I already had.
And so my goal setting process perfectly illustrates why I have a theme for 2019 to slow down. My parents could tell you that I have always been hasty about doing things. I’m the most impulsive amongst my siblings, and I rush from one thing to another as quickly as possible. It makes me sloppy and careless.
I manage this impulse better than I used to, but only to make it seem constructive. I plan and optimize extensively to sequence tasks to minimize wasted time. For example, when I get home from work, I first turn on the stove and put a pan on. Next, I’ll pull a few things out of the fridge. After that, I’ll take my shoes off and put my jacket away, and then rush back to chop onions to throw in the pan before it overheats. It’s efficient, but the urgency probably isn’t worth the three minutes I saved.
And that mindset extends to the rest of my life when I’m trying to find the best way to spend every moment. Maybe there are some small wins along the way, but it comes at the cost of being fully present since I’m thinking about the opportunity cost or the next thing to do.
So the big theme for 2019 is to slow down. Within that, here are the four goals I set.
I picked up Mindfulness in Plain English (available for free online) at the recommendation of my cousin Ryan and have really enjoyed it. I previously dabbled with meditation through guides and apps but never make much progress. I was trying meditation for the stated benefits, but this book helped me develop a productive mindset for meditation, which ironically was to not worry about the benefits.
This goal directly ties into the theme of slowing down since this form of meditation is intended to develop mindfulness and awareness of the present. I wouldn’t be surprised if others haven’t noticed, but it has had a significant impact on my life. I’m not doing much differently, but my orientation to what I do is different.
I’ll spare the lecturing: I don’t think mindfulness or meditation is the silver bullet for every problem. However, if it’s something that speaks to you, I recommend you read the book and see for yourself.
I’m on a good track so far and have consistently meditated for about 15 minutes everyday, and I hope to get to 30 minutes. My not secret trick is to do it first thing in the morning. Anything can happen during the day, but I can typically wake up earlier than needed to find time for meditation.
That, of course, comes at some cost. Between 2017 and 2018, I woke up early to run. However, I stopped because I didn’t enjoy it and didn’t notice any health benefit. It probably was good for me, but it has been much easier maintain the meditation routine.
Play tabletop games in the community once a month
This goal doesn’t fit with the theme, but it addresses several other aspects of my life and is something that I’m quite passionate about.
I love tabletop RPGs, but I haven’t played very many of them. I mostly play Dungeons & Dragons, and as much as I enjoy it, I want to explore other settings and rule systems as well.
Tabletop gaming became hugely popular over the past few years. Since I have been playing and running games for awhile, I want to help usher new players into this hobby that I love so much.
And I want to be more present in my local community. In my daily life, I largely interact with the same, small group of people who are quite similar to myself. I want to participate and interact with a wider cross section of my community.
So I combined all of these reasons in this goal to regularly play tabletop games in the community. I just started a new campaign earlier this week, and I will write more about if it goes well. And if it doesn’t, I’ll figure out another way to keep working at this goal.
Cook without a recipe once a week
In my 2018 recommendations, I said that Salt Fat Acid Heat changed how I approach cooking. I really enjoy cooking and understanding how it happens, but I just do what other people to tell me to do. I watch YouTube videos for the best technique to chop a vegetable. I search online for a Hainan Chicken recipe.
When I cook, I usually start with a dish in mind or browse recipes until a dish jumps out at me. With a recipe in mind, I make a shopping list, buy the ingredients, then the recipe to make it. This process is efficient and typically yields a tasty meal. However, I sometimes feel like I’m just following steps without really understanding why or contributing much beyond my active hands. I want to dive deeper and innovate on my own.
By some definition, I want to be a chef instead of a cook. I want to make meals starting with raw ingredients. Based on what I have, I want to come up with the dish, then cook it. My plan is to the farmer’s market without a shopping list, buy what looks best, and then make the best of it.
Retain more of what I learn
I’m a minimal completionist. If I read a book or play a video game, I will finish it to get the full experience. However, but I will do it as quickly as possible. Rather than enjoying the experience, I am primarily just getting through it so I check it off my list.
So when I read the news, interesting articles, or books, I often skim and hope that the important bits will stick out. I congratulate myself for having finished the material, then promptly forget everything in a few seconds.
Maybe it’s okay to forget the memes on reddit, but I want to improve my science literacy. I have wondered whether I should go back to read textbooks or do classes, but I think I get enough science exposure right now. I just don’t grasp it deeply enough and integrate it into my core knowledge to be useful.
So I need to figure out how to retain more of what I learn. Unlike my other goals, I don’t have a specific idea about how I’m going to do this. Some ideas I had so far are
- Deliberately read more slowly
- Tweet out things I have learned
- Keep running notes of things I have read
- Draw pictures to visualize what I read
- Go to more public talks and lectures (where I think more deeply in the slower format)
I know that I have to review and reproduce what I have learned to solidify my understanding. It isn’t enough just to read better or highlight. I actually need to go back and see if I remember the important parts.
In my previous post, I noted that I had heavily overreached in my goals for 2018 and didn’t accomplish what I had set out to do. I hope to do better this year.
I tried to set a specific plan for how and when I’m working on each goal. If I don’t have a plan, then I have an Asana task to figure it out. As long as I set aside the time for my goals, I won’t need more energy to work on it.
And the easiest way to find time is to fit into my existing schedule. Meditation is already happening. I already cook. I already read. I just want to do them differently.
I also have a driving theme for what I’m trying to accomplish. If some goals don’t pan out, I can revisit and change my goals to fit with the bigger theme knowing what did and didn’t work out.
So wish me luck, and please check in with me on my goals progress! Keep me accountable, and I’ll report back in another year!