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.

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: https://www.mibrewsupply.com/recipe/user/brentswisher

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 teageek.blog 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 amazon.de, 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 😉