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My 2024 Goals

It’s been a bit since I tried setting personal goals or resolutions. Honestly, I got a bit burned out on them, and with life being so hectic now with kids it just kind of fell to the side. I recently finished reading Atomic Habits at the recommendation of a coworker, and the idea of focusing on having a system that keeps you on track to get where you want to be was really appealing to me. So with that in mind, here are three identity-based changes I am focusing on this year, as well as what habits I add or change to try to get there.

Goal One: I am a person who cares about their health

The hard reality here is that I am currently obese, which is pretty universally accepted to be bad for your health. I also have 3 young children, and more and more I find myself thinking about the inevitable outcome of the current situation, which is less time with my kids. Since the pandemic I have lost most of the ways I was keeping myself in shape and gained a bunch of small unhealthy habits that just added up. Last year I did manage to start this, got back to the gym, and in general started being a bit healthier, and I want to continue that progress.

Evidence of this being successful at the end of the year will be:

  • I regularly make and attend doctor’s appointments on time
  • I know my health vitals (Weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc) and they are in a healthy range.
  • I have daily habits that keep me on track and make it easier to stay healthy
  • I enjoy the things that keep me healthy (Gym, food, etc)

Small habits to focus on to get there:

  • Don’t eat late night snacks
  • Prepare healthy lunches ahead of time
  • Attend regular (at least annual) Doctor’s appointments and get a health baseline. (Track my weight, blood pressure, etc)
  • Don’t regularly watch TV at lunch or after work
  • Start playing a sport again regularly
  • Work up to exercising 5 times a week

Goal Two: I am a morning person

I’ve realized something about myself the last few years: my life is just better when I wake up before 6:00am. I’ve gone long stretches, several months even, of waking up early and love it when I get in that groove. Its easier to do all the things I want to do in a day, I have more energy, and enjoy my day more when I have some time in the morning to myself. Unfortunately, it’s always felt like a fight against my natural tendency to be a night owl too. This year I would like to shift that thought so that I can feel like I am a morning person, not that I’m fighting to be one.

Evidence of this being successful at the end of the year will be:

  • I get up early every day, not just when I have a reason
  • I enjoy my time in the morning and look forward to it
  • I go to bed looking forward to the morning instead of dreading it
  • I have a morning and evening routine I follow every day

Small habits to focus on for long term success:

  • Regularly go to bed no later than 11:00
  • Keep a daily streak count of mornings I am awake by a certain time
  • Establish a bedtime routing I follow every evening
  • Reading instead of watching TV at night when I need to wind down
  • Plan my day out the night before, have things ready, and something to do planned
  • Establish a morning routine I follow every morning

Goal Three: I am someone who pushes themselves beyond their comfort level.

In general, I enjoy like trying new things and generally do so at a regular base. However, I have noticed one side-effect of the homogeny of remote work is that it’s easy to fall into routines. That’s generally not a bad thing, but it can lead to getting too comfortable and falling into a rut without realizing it. This year I want to make sure that I have something to push me to not stay still for too long and get

Evidence of this being successful will be:

  • I push myself to experience new things I haven’t done on a regular basis.
  • I regularly schedule time for learning across a variety of subjects
  • I seek out different experiences, even when it is uncomfortable to do so

Small habits to focus on for long term success:

  • Read something new every month
  • Expand in interest in a hobby at least once a month
    • Contribute to a new open source project
    • Grow something new in my Garden
    • Brew a new style of beer
    • Try a new woodworking technique
    • Write more regularly on my blog
  • Working on learning a foreign language every day

Farewell, old friend!

I’ve been working on doing a “virtual” clean-up recently: taking down old projects, cleaning up some servers I manage, updating my about info, etc. One old project, in particular, is making me feel a bit nostalgic – I’m saying goodbye to It was a search engine for bootstrap and font awesome icons, which allowed users to tag icons so they were easier to find. Launched way back in June 2013 it was the first personal project I made that ever got any kind of traction. I still remember the first day it hit over 1000 monthly users – I had made it big time!

Okay, so maybe it didn’t exactly make me famous. Still, it got posted in a few bootstrap resource groups, had quite a few user-submitted tags for icons, and was really fun to work on. Alas, all good things must come to an end. Once Fontawesome introduced a similar search to their main icon list my traffic plummetted, and it had just kind of sat there since then. So sadly, for the common good of not having really old and likely at this point not incredibly secure projects sitting around the web, it is gone.

(PS: For anyone keeping score the cutting-edge technology powering this bad boy I believe was PHP 5.3, with a sweet jQuery powered autocomplete filter.)

Goals for 2021

Changing my Goals

I’m excited to start a new year, and am ready to set some new goals. Last year, I tried to simplify and only set one goal and that didn’t work so well. This year, I’ve spent some time thinking about why I set goals and how to make them better.

No more hobby related goals.

I think part of the reason I got burnt out on goals the past few years is that I started to include hobbies. I was setting goals for things that I do just for fun, like woodworking. I intended for this to make sure I made time for them. The result though, is that they became something stressful, exactly the opposite of the reason I do them. This year, the goals all have to relate to me bettering myself in some way. They are mostly things I enjoy still, but things that have a purpose too.

Goals for different periods of time

Instead of setting some number of goals for the year, I am setting one goal each for every day, week, month, and one for the year. My hope is that this will help me to set priorities better and not feel like I can do something later in the year to make up for not doing it now.

Well, enough about why I set them, here are my goals for this year:

Daily – Go for a walk outside

Like a lot of people lately, I work all day in an office in my basement. I actually love working remote full time, but one thing that is sure to make a day better is to get up and get outside. It doesn’t have to be long, and I won’t be tracking how long I go over the course of the year or anything. I just have to get up and get outdoors for a walk each day.

Weekly – Complete 10 lessons in Duolingo

I enjoy language learning, but I’m not great at it. I never seem to stick with it long enough to get past the passingly familiar stage. This year I want to commit to continuing learning German. To help with that I’m committing to at a minimum doing 10 lessons a week on Duolingo. It’s not the best way I’ve found to learn to speak a language, but it does help with vocabulary and is easy to access.

Monthly – Contribute to an open-source project

I’ve contributed to open-source projects (usually WordPress) on and off for the past few years. It’s fun, provides a break from the usual things I am working on, and helps me learn new things. With COVID, all the normal ways I connect with other developers outside work have been curtailed. I’ve found open-source to be a great way to connect and also to stave off burn-out. To make this more measurable as a goal I’ll define “contribute” as either submitting or reviewing a pull request to an open-source project on GitHub.

Yearly – Three fitness benchmarks

Last year, part of the problem I had with losing weight is I have never been overly motivated by what the scale says. I’ve been heavier and in better shape and lighter but in worse shape several times in my life. More importantly, it also is just…boring. I like big goals, so this year I am picking 3 fitness goals that I have always wanted to check off my bucket list. To meet them, I absolutely will need to lose some weight, but I like that it’s not the end goal. They are…ambitious, but I once decided to do an Olympic-length triathlon when I had never done any kind of race before and that was fun, so maybe it’s not so crazy?

  • 10 consecutive pull-ups
  • 100 consecutive pushups
  • 2 mile run under 12 minutes

2020 Goal Review

In what seems to be a different world last February, I made this post. I said that I wanted to simplify and was only going to focus on one thing – losing weight. When I wrote that I already knew that 2020 was going to be a busy year. We were in the midst of moving into a new house, and I knew we would be welcoming an addition to the family in the summer. I thought that setting a “simple” goal would help relieve that. I tend to shoot for the moon with big projects or goals and knew I wouldn’t be able to do that with everything going on – before I even knew anything about the pandemic.

Well, spoiler alert: I didn’t make it. There were some positives. I did work out more regularly for a long time last year and lost some weight. However, by the end of the year, I had gained most of it back and have been struggling to find time to work out as the year ends. Given everything that’s happened this past year, it’s not something that makes me overly ashamed. Still, I wish I had done better.

I like to look back at failures and see what went wrong. It’s easy to blame the pandemic for taking away my favorite forms of exercise (Weekly soccer and racquetball games) and making it harder to get out. It’s easy to blame the stress of a new house and lack of sleep from a newborn. Those were part of it, sure, but I can’t say they are the reason. The truth is that I just didn’t try all that hard. While losing weight is something that I truly want to do, it wasn’t something I was excited about. On top of that, it was too generic – it was a bad goal. I’ve been making goals for long enough I should have known better. It was my own fault both for setting a goal I wasn’t excited about and is not executing it anyway. It’s something to take to heart and move on: sometimes things don’t work out and that’s just part of life.

Having said all that, despite the pandemic, there were some really great things that happened this year. I love our new house and really enjoyed starting our garden here. We now have a happy healthy little boy that his older brother loves to hang out with. I’ve actually quite enjoyed working remotely full time. Most importantly, our family has been blessed to be healthy and safe despite everything going on, and after everything 2020 threw at us, I’m calling that a win.

Some Quarantine Projects

Like just about everyone, we’ve been cooped up around the house for quite a bit because of the pandemic. The one upside is that it’s given me some time I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise to get back up and running with woodworking. I thought I would share a few of my recent projects since nobody can come around to see them in person.

Walnut scroll saw bowl

Cutting board and matching plate

Some more lathe fun