I've never been a new year resolutions kinda guy. I've always believed that you don't have to wait for a certain day of the year to make a change in your life. But, 2019 was different. 2019 was the first time I made resolutions for myself and I don't see myself stopping with the practice anytime soon.
Why the change?
The change had multiple reasons, I think. Primarily, I would say it was a combination of where I was in life (a stable job and routine) and the kind of ideas and content I was engaging with (lots of Matt D'Avella) online. The trigger though was something else.
I stumbled upon a tweet by Harshil around new year's last year where he had listed down 2019 goals for himself. The idea (I think) was to list down goals and tweet them out for some social accountability.
Now, me being someone who's into self-improvement saw a fellow developer break down his goals and got the urge to take a shot at it too. And that is exactly what I did.
When I put the tweet out there, I didn't know if I would actually end up following through or not. But, I tried not to think too much about it and just did the thing anyway.
Once this was out there, I mostly forgot about it. I went on with the year, occasionally referring back. And that's the key — I referred back. Somehow this process of writing down things that were in my head gave structure to my year. I knew what I was doing. It was these ~20 bullet points. This gave me immense focus.
So, how did I do this year?
The final set of 2019 goals I came up with were slightly different than the original tweet. I tried to make goal statements less vague and more measurable. Being able to measure things is crucial. This blog post won't exist if I didn't measure things through the year.
There are four categories to the goals. I'm going to look at them category wise and mark goals with either ✅ (done), ⚠️ (attempted but ran into some kind of roadblock) or ❌ (failed). Let's do this.
Ship at least 3 products ⚠️
I did technically complete this goal but not to the level I would have liked. The things I shipped (or tried to ship) this year are:
- Unbox: a podcast I created and produced
- Goodlink: a browser extension I worked on a few months back.
It's not shipped currently but I have mostly everything in place to ship it.
- Mystery Project + Project at Work: both of these are in the pipeline, coming out next year 😉
Write 1 technical blog post every month ❌
I struggled with writing yet again this year. I only managed to publish 2 technical blog posts. I did write more than that though but those posts are still saved as drafts.
Understand Big O & Algorithms once and for all ❌
Read The Dragon Book ❌
These two goals fall under the "I made these goals because people told me these are super important things" bucket. I realized I did not have a pressing need to study these two things and that's why I didn't get to them. And that's okay.
Go to at least 1 meet-up every month ❌
Meetups sigh. This has just been a hard pill to swallow. I really did want to get involved with developer community in and around me but I struggled yet again with the anxiety I have associated with attending meetups.
One of the major factors for me to attend meetups is wheelchair access at venues, something which is tough to find sadly. And even if a venue is accessible, being socially awkward is an inhibitor to me attending too.
Let's see how I crack this problem in the year(s) to come.
Learn Haskell ⚠️
"Learn Haskell" was a vague goal in hindsight. I put this in because I wanted to dip my toes into the pool of functional programming this year. I did learn a good amount of FP and Haskell during the year but not enough to use Haskell for a project. A better goal would have been to make a product with Haskell, I think. With programming languages, you just forget things you learn if you just read a book and not actually use what you're learning.
Redo personal space — more minimalism! ⚠️
Failed to redo my space but I did get rid of a lot of stuff I own. I'm now in a much better place to attempt this next year.
Redo personal brand ✅
Done-zo! Redid my brand and website this year. It's a much better reflection "me" than before.
Go on at least 1 date with a human each month ✅
Wasn't quite every month but I was definitely out a lot more. Had some great conversations with fantastic people!
Read at least 12 books ✅
Woot woot! Really fell in love with reading this year after trying for many years. Pumped to read more next year!
Book of the year for me was: Pragmatic Thinking & Learning by Andy Hunt.
Write a journal entry everyday ❌
Struggled with this a lot. I wrote daily for like a month but then failed to write for more because it felt like I had nothing to write.
I did look into how other people journal though and how it was completely normal what I was feeling. I should have stuck with it even if I was writing only a few words each day.
This goal is definitely something I want to revisit next year.
Produce 1 podcast episode every other month ✅
This went so much better than I had anticipated. Instead of every other month, I produced a podcast episode every month from March to September and completed the first season of Unbox. People who heard the show really liked it and recommended it to their friends too!
- Cut down desserts to once per week ⚠️
- Reduce portions of carbs ✅
- Figure out what salads you like and eat them ❌
- Go down from wearing XL to L ❌
Health has been an interesting journey. I wrote these goals down last year after having been on a Keto diet for 7 months and losing a good amount of weight along the way.
After eating right for most of the year, I got back on Keto in September. That was my plan to lose weight off fast. But, I hated it. I just wasn't in the right headspace to eat Keto, measure calories et al. As a result, I ended up stopping and made a deal with myself to eat better without being on Keto. I picked up 16–8 Intermittent Fasting (IF) to help with that.
I find IF a much more sustainable way to live. Doing IF for the latter half of the year has gotten me quite interested in attempting longer fasts. This is something I definitely want to explore more next year.
Watch 1 film every week ❌
This was a struggle. I really wanted this one to be a success. I really do like movies but I find it hard to watch enough of them. YouTube is just so much easier to consume. I wish it wasn't like that.
That said, I did do better than 2018 at least. I saw 20 films this year as compared to 11 in 2018.
Develop left and right hand coordination while playing the piano ⚠️
This one's a process. I am still no where near doing this. But, the process made me better at other things like playing difficult chords and chord transitions.
Definitely need to create a proper practice regime for this going forward. Music is something you just can't get better at without regular practice.
Produce 1 music track every other month ✅
Did so! much! music! this year! Making and playing music have become such essential parts of my life. Best way to unwind by far.
Continue Instagram shit-posting ✅
My biggest takeaway from this whole exercise is pretty meta actually. I am not really bothered about analyzing individual goals. The fact that I can even do an analysis is a win in my eyes. You set yourself up for success by having a frame and numbers within the frame to track your progress against. Being able to look back and see any progress is more fulfilling than seeing how much progress was made. And that is exactly why I don't see myself stopping with this exercise.
As for finding out why doing this at the beginning of the year works better than at any other time, keep reading!
I wanted to leave you with a bunch of resources that have inspired (and continue to inspire) my approach to resolutions. Hope these help!
Why Most Resolutions Fail & How To Succeed (Video) — talks about how you're statistically more likely to achieve your goals if you set them at the beginning of a year
Atomic Habits by James Clear (Book)
Alrighty, now off to working on my goals for 2020. Stay Warm and a Happy New Year! See you in the next post!