My Goal for 2020 – Simplify

I have really struggled to set goals for this year – more than any year I can remember to be honest. The past year was really busy, and at times I almost felt weighed down by the goals I set.

So far, it’s looking like this year isn’t going to slow down either. We moved into our new house just a few weeks ago. Between the shed that needs to become an office, the basement that needs to be finished, and 10 acres of land to figure out how take care, it can be a little overwhelming. Couple that with the fact I would rather spend my free time with my 18-month old, and setting a bunch of ambitious goals just doesn’t seem like the right thing for this year.

But I wanted to do something, so I decided I am simplifying and picking just one goal:

I will weigh less than 200 pounds at the end of the year.

I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time. I hate talking about it, and I feel silly even writing it here now. But the older I get the more important my health is becoming to me, and the harder it is to maintain.

Now let’s be honest, it’s not that I don’t have other things I want to do this year. I’m really excited about planting a big garden at the new house and having more free weekends once things get settled to do woodworking and brew beer and all the other things I love to do.

But as far as “goals” go, that’s it. When I write my recap at the end of the year, it will say I succeeded or failed based purely on the scale. Hopefully, that will be the motivation I need to actually get it done.

Goal Recap 2019

Well, the end of the year and start of this one has been a blur. We recently moved back to our hometown Dowagiac, MI. I’m really excited to be here, but it has been hectic! We found the house in November and purchased it, listed, and sold our old house all before Christmas. We spent almost all of the Holiday break getting the new house ready and moved in early January. Needless to say, the annual goal recap/setting yearly goals took a bit of a backseat. So here goes, a recap of how I did with my goals for last year:

Learn German

I didn’t meet all my goals, but I did learn enough that when we decided to go to Germany in the fall – which wasn’t on the radar at the beginning of the year, it went pretty well. I managed to get through a conversation with a stranger while waiting for a train, which was a really cool experience.

Duolingo: I completed my lessons for 285 days out of the year. Not the goal. but not too shabby either.

iTalki Lessons: This one I missed entirely, but they say speaking/hearing a language is the best way to learn it, so I think the days I spent in Germany offset it a little right?

German Journal: This one I tried and did for about a month before giving it up. I think it’s a good idea, but I just didn’t know enough German to make it practical. The five-minute journal was really the 15-30 minute journal, and it is was just too much time to fit into my day. I liked it, it just wasn’t practical.

Get in Shape

This went well although differently than planned. I lost 15 pounds and kept it off all year. I have struggled with losing weight quickly only to gain it back again, so I was happy that I was able to make changes that resulted in a slow but consistent weight change. Having said that, I could still stand to work out more regularly at home and lose some more weight, so I guess it’s a bit of a wash as far as meeting my goals.

Morning Routine

Honestly, this was a total fail, I just couldn’t get into a routine. Can’t win them all right?

Meaningful Free Time

I was pretty happy with this category, although I didn’t complete everything I wanted to. I feel like I spent most of my free time doing something I enjoyed and not wasting it, which was really the goal.

This one also took a turn, my lathe broke early in the year, but I did still do some woodworking. A couple of cutting boards, some wood toys, and playing around with a scroll saw I picked up.

I only brewed twice last year, but I am mostly okay with that. The beer turned out well and honestly, I had a lot of beer stockpiled from past years and with us moving I wanted to get the ridiculous number of beers we have to move down. Even only brewing twice this year we still moved almost a hundred bottles of beer and cider, so I think it was for the best. I didn’t try an all-grain batch but I did find somewhere new to keep my recipes, although I haven’t finished adding them:

Open Source
Finally, somewhere I actually did well! I had a lot of fun contributing to the Gutenberg editor last year, and it really helped me learn a lot too. I also completed the Hacktoberfest challenge for the first time after starting and failing to the last two years, so I was pretty happy with that. I had 47 contributions last year according to Github, so I would call that a win.

This started off well, I updated almost weekly for a few months before I fell off it again. Definitely something I need to work on doing a better job of moderating, it is either all or nothing.

Goals for 2019

Goal 1: Learn German

I’ve tried learning languages before. I speak a little Spanish and last year I took German lessons in preparation for my trip to Europe. The problem is that when I get back from whatever trip, I lose motivation and don’t ever make it past the basics. I really enjoyed learning German last year and want to take this year to try and commit to learning it. Being bilingual would be awesome, and I want to make a real commitment to moving in that direction this year.

365 Day Duolingo Streak

Duolingo might not be the best or most efficient way to learn a language, but it is the easiest I have found to stick with. For that reason, I’m making that my base. I will complete my daily goal in Duolingo (30xp right now) every day for an entire year.

German Journal

I like the idea of the 5-minute journal, but it’s another thing that I have never actually done. So this year I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and try to do it in German. They sell a German version of it on, but I couldn’t get it here in the US. I reached out to the company and they were nice enough to send me a German version for free to try out! I think this will be a great way to force myself to use German every day.

More iTalki Lessons

iTalki is the best method that I have tried to learn a language. I took German lessons last year and learned exponentially more than I have from any other medium. Speaking to someone in real life makes you internalize a lot of what you have learned. Since I don’t know anyone who speaks German and wants to spend their free time helping me learn, this is the closest I will get.

Goal 2: Get in Shape

Ah, the universal new year’s resolution. The one everyone has and nobody keeps. Honestly, I hate putting this here just because it’s so cliche. On the flip side, it also needs to happen. A few years ago I really got things together health-wise and it’s slipped the last couple. Now I want to make it a priority again.

Maintain a healthy weight

I’ve lost, and gained, and lost weight again for years. This year I want to get to a better weight, and then focus more on maintaining it.

Find a reliable way to exercise at home

I work from home twice a week, which I really love, but I’ve struggled to find a way to make working out happen.

Goal 3: Morning Routine

This is the one goal from last year that completely eluded me. Mornings are not my strong suit. I’d like to try and get a more structured routine that involves all of these things. Even if I don’t stick with all of them, I think trying them all for at least a month at a time will give be something to go from:

  • Wake up at the same time every day
  • Morning Exercises/Stretching
  • Keeping a Journal
  • Eating a Healthy Breakfast
  • Walking Maya (my dog)

Goal 4: Meaningful Free Time

I wasn’t really sure how to word this. It seems odd to make goals about your free time. But the fact is, I really like some of my hobbies, and they are things that relax me. It also turns out that thing everyone says about having kids taking up a lot of your free time is mostly true. So I guess the goal here is to optimize my free time by making more conscious decisions about how I spend it. I like to flip on Netflix as much as the next person, but these things are better ways for me to unwind.

Beer Making

  • Make 5 batches of beer
  • Make one all grain batch


  • Turn 24 Bowls (2/month)
  • Make four other projects

Programming (outside of work)

  • Make at least 2 contributions a month to open source software
  • Make at least three new websites


Well, that’s it, a little ambitious maybe considering it’s already February 😉

2018 Goals Review

I’ve put off writing this for a while, I would say this is about the fifth attempt. I had a lot happen in my life last year, and writing a post like this makes it seem like it was just another year, when it really wasn’t. When you put goals like this up against losing someone you love or adding of your family, they seem really insignificant.

Acknowledging that, yearly goals and their corresponding update are a tradition I wish to keep up with, so I think this year I will just keep it short and sweet.

Finish one woodworking project a week

I didn’t finish 52 projects but I did make a dresser and maybe 25 other things, mostly on my new lathe. I would say about 10 to 12 of which were worth keeping, I was even able to use a few as Christmas presents.

Brew 6 times

I made two batches this year, but both turned out well. I made an English Mild and a Dunkelweissen. I used a kit for the English Mild and made the recipe for the Dunkel. I’d link to the recipies, but this site I used to store all my brewing info shut down, I’m still looking for a replacement.

5 Web Projects

In the past year, I made:

Eat out less

This went well. It took a little to get consistent. For the second half of the year though, I would say I ate out once a month at the most.

Write/Post three things a month

I started up at again this year like I wanted and between there and here have 24 posts total.

Solidify a morning routine

Well, they can’t all be winners right? Didn’t really make any progress on this at all.

A Quick Trip to Toronto

I just got back from a few days in Toronto that I spent attending some web conferences. I had a great time, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

Full Stack Toronto

Full Stack Toronto was the conference I had traveled in for and it was a reallty good conference. Especially if you work for a non-profit since they have a discount which made the conference ticket around $75.  I would say if you are close and can make it it is worth your time, even at full price. Specifically, Jenn Creighton’s talk on flexible React components, Joe Carlsson on React performance and Rachael McQuater’s talk on TypeScript (Yay Grand Rapids!) were really good.  There also was clearly a big push for diversity in speakers by the organizers which I really appreciated.

WordCamp Toronto

I’de never been to a WordCamp before, but have recently been spending some more time with WordPress and the new Gutenberg editor. I knew that the 5.0 release would be a few days before this WordCamp when I registered for it, so I thought it would be interesting to time to check it out. (It ended up being a few days later – today!)  This was interesting in that it was not at all who I thought would be attending. I guess I expected a group similar to who I had been at Full Stack Toronto – full-time developers, already up to speed on everything WordPress. If I had to guess that would only be about 50-70% of everyone there, with a lot more casual WordPress end users – people who use it to make websites but develop heavily. It was an interesting perspective and I am glad that I went. I knew there was some concern about page builders and Gutenberg, but even then I was surprised by the number of times it came up. 

The City

Even though I live only a few hours away, I’ve never been to Toronto before. To be honest, I knew it was a big city, but I didn’t know it was as big as it is (4th largest in North America!)  For its size it was super clean, something I really appreciate. I stayed right downtown in a super nice condo through Airbnb. It was super nice but the owner must not have been permitted to rent it out because the check-in instructions were “Walk right past security, if they stop you, tell them you are here visiting Susan” Besides that, super nice, even had a gym I could use. The Chinatown area was my favorite part, great food, tea, and fun to walk around. the Chinatown seemed more authentic, with less of the super-touristy stuff like in New York or San Francisco. The art museum was cool and free every Wednesday night. The other thing I did was head to St. Lawrence Market for a Toronto specialty – the “Pea-meal bacon sandwich.” I thought it was odd they called it bacon since it was more like ham to me, then had the embarrassing realization of why we sometimes call ham “Canadian Bacon.”