New Year's Goals

New Year’s Goals 2018 Edition

Welcome to 2018. Surprisingly, I had a backlog of blog posts ready, so my New Year’s Goals are the second (not the first) of the year. Like many others, I put together a list of goals for the new year. However, I differentiate my system from Resolutions (with their high failure rate) by calling them Goals. It might seem like that wouldn’t count for much, and frankly, you would be right.

Overall, I was pleased with how last year’s goals went, so I did Alex Vermeer’s 8760 Hours again to evaluate the current state of my life and what my ideal life looks like. I compared those two lives and created several goals for the new year to move towards that ideal life.

Before diving into new goals, let’s review how my 2017 New Year’s Goals went.

Old 2017 Goals

1. Establish a morning and evening routine.

My first post of the year was the long explanation of progress on this goal. In short, I’m very happy with my new routines. Although I think I handle individual tasks well, I have difficulty maintaining motivation on regular, long-term tasks. For those, I needed routines. Amongst other daily tasks, I read the news and books more consistently, and I even start running three times a week right after waking up.

2. Be more present.

I came up with this goal because I tend to focus on the future and don’t “stop to smell the roses.” I called out two specific behaviors to fix: looking at the ground while I’m walking and not making eye contact.

I didn’t make much progress on this goal. I think it was a poorly designed goal because I never figured out how to determine if I had succeeded or not. In my morning routines, I am now regularly meditating and am developing better mindfulness. It is related to this doesn’t but doesn’t exactly fit, so this was a failure.

3. Learn web design.

I did it. At the beginning of the year, I was embarrassed by the design of my personal projects. I finished the year by updating this blog and writing about it. I came up with a process to design a website: figure out the purpose and concept, research similar sites, sketch out several options, and then build it.

I’m proud of the current designs for my blog, Spawning Tool, and foodmarks. However, I also learned that design is not just about final result: it’s about the motivation. A website can look good and be easy to use, but that can happen by accident. The design process I went through is about discovering problems and validating a particular solution.

4. Publish a one-shot RPG adventure.

Done. I published “Spies Like You” and also wrote about that process. I set this goal to play more D&D and also learn a many related skills. At the beginning of the year, I was DMing once a month with a group online. Now, I still have that group, I DM an in-person game roughly every other week, and have been attending Adventurer’s League at a local game shop. Along the way, I drew maps using GIMP, read more fiction, and spent many bike commutes practicing voices and sounding crazy to passing pedestrians.

New 2018 Goals

1. Draw well.

With my 2017 goal of “Learn Web Design,” I hoped to develop my artistic ability. However, having finished that goal, design feels less creative than I thought it would be. Perhaps design was never what I thought it was. Maybe just learning how to do it took the magic out of it.

Since I was trying to develop my artistic style with my design process, I did a few other artsy projects. The main project was working through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain over the past few months. I’m roughly half way through the book and maybe 8 exercises through. I still draw like I did in elementary school, and I want to do better than that.

“Draw well” isn’t quantifiable, but I think I will know when I’m happy with it. Although I have been breaking up my goals year-by-year, drawing is a continuation of my design goal, and I hope to finish the book before the end of the year. If I’m happy with my drawing, I may move onto other goals. If I’m not, I will keep going until I’m happy with it.

2. Work through the cookbook Plenty.

Despite being my most consistent hobby out of survival, cooking has never been included in my New Year’s Goals before. I learn gradually through websites, cookbooks, and podcasts, but mostly through culinary failures. However, I want to be more deliberate in becoming a better chef.

We have a shelf of cookbooks that I love but don’t use enough. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty is all vegetarian, and for both diet and sustainability reasons, I want to reduce my meat consumption. I also don’t know much about this cuisine and style, so I hope I enjoy learning and eating it.

3. Submit an iOS app to the App Store.

Having worked as a web developer for my entire career, I am pretty comfortable building web apps. I also really enjoy using desktop browsers. However, the world is now mobile, and I haven’t kept up. I had a brief stint with Instagram but otherwise avoided mobile games and social media apps.

Even if I don’t understand how “young people” use their phones today, I should at least understand how to build them as a professional skill. It’s still building apps, but it’s new technology and new patterns, and I’m excited to learn that.

4. Study a book.

In other news, I read 32 books last year. I’m glad I set a bedtime routine to crank through more of my reading list. In reviewing the books I read in 2017, I noticed that I hadn’t read the types of books I had imagined. Specifically, I imagined myself reading more classics and science.

I can fix that by reading more, but an annual Reading Challenge of X books encourages breadth and not depth in reading. I do want exposure to a variety of knowledge in books, but I also want to dive deep into meaningful texts.

Many people find this depth in reading through religious texts such as the New Testament or the Bhagavad Gita. Since I’m not religious, I will try to find a meaningful, secular text to dive into.

(Note: I was inspired to set this goal by several posts from the Art of Manliness, which I highly recommend to the currently manly, aspiring manly, and manliness ambivalent).

Bonus: my 2018 non-goals

There’s a semi-famous story of Warren Buffett’s prioritization strategy. First, write down your top 25 goals. Next, circle the top 5. Those all go on your list. The other 20 should be avoided at all costs.

In doing 8760 Hours, I had many other ideas of things I want to do. They all sounded awesome to me, but knowing that I shouldn’t spread myself too thin, these are some of my 2018 non-goals until I manage to finish off some of the others.

  1. Work with blockchain technology. The media and therefore the public has been in a flurry about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies recently. The underlying technology has promise, and I only have a surface understanding of it. It would be exciting to dive deep, but until I knock down  my other technical goal, this has to wait.
  2. Write fiction. After having written a one-shot adventure, I became interested in doing more storytelling. Being a writer and being a DM are very different, and I would like to do more writing. However, I haven’t completed my drawing goal yet, so it has to wait.
  3. Learn Chinese. I still regret that I’m only fluent in one language. I have a bit of Cantonese vocabulary practice in my routine, but I would need to dedicate a lot more time and energy to becoming fluent. It just isn’t a top priority yet, so I won’t invest more effort there.

Happy New Year, and good luck on your goals as well!

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