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

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:

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.