New Year, New Goals

January 2nd, 2019

Happy New Year, folks.

The new year is a time for reflecting on how the last year has gone and how the next year might be better, and so like many of you I’ve set myself some goals.

These are goals that are supposed to help me improve some aspect of myself or my life, and by writing them here I hope to provide some inspiration for you, or at least some accountability for me.

These aren’t entirely programming-related, so this post diverges from what many of my other posts are about, but if you take a more holistic approach to work and life, you will already know that these things aren’t really separate. Your personal life and health affect your quality of work and your relationships with your colleagues, and vice-versa.

So here are my goals for 2019.

  1. Start each day with 30 mins of self-improvement. The key rule is that this time isn’t spent on something for work. Instead, this can be one of: working out, reading, or writing. Today I chose writing.
  2. Buy a house I love. Toronto’s effing expensive, so this move will result in a pretty major change for us. We’re looking in Toronto’s nearest neighbouring city, Hamilton, Ontario – home of the Tiger Cats and Tim Horton’s.
  3. Buy a car I love. We’ll need this when we move. We might be leaving the city but our friends and family aren’t. The car will help us keep those relationships healthy and strong, which is super important. Don’t under-value your support network.
  4. Read 5 fiction and 5 non-fiction books. I used to read all the time as a kid, but as I grew up I spent more and more of my time using technology, and less and less time reading. Since I finished school in 2014, I’ve only read a handful of books, and I think its making me dumber. So I’m getting my reading back on track this year.
  5. Be a mentor at work. I don’t intend to really formally start mentorship. At least not to the extent that some others I’ve seen online doing. But I want to spend more time helping other people learn and grow, just as other people helped me learn. I wouldn’t be where I am without their help, and I want to pass it along. But also, teaching is the best way to learn – if you can’t teach something do you really know it? So this goal helps others, and also myself.
  6. Lead Lunch & Learns at work. This relates to both of the previous two goals. I think a good way to start here is to present what I learn from reading. Specifically, I’ll start with something from one of Robert Martin’s books. In 2018 I read both Clean Architecture and The Clean Coder, and I find them both super inspiring and full of important lessons. So this is probably a good place to start.
  7. Write a daily agenda every day. Many people already do this, and to some extent I’m already accomplishing the cataloging of my work via our team’s daily standup. But sometimes I’m just not very good at remembering what I did yesterday when it comes to my turn, or staying focused on the one important thing I need to get done each day. So I think that I can improve this by writing in an agenda each morning. At the end of 2018 I started using Agenda for this, and that’s where I’ll be continuing with this as 2019 starts.
  8. Have a Regular Date Night. This is something I picked up from my own parents, but then more recently I was reminded of it listening to Rachel (& Dave) Hollis. Sometimes we’re insanely busy, and you can go weeks without spending quality time with the most important person in your life – your spouse. So this year we’re pre-scheduling date night and prioritizing it. Every Tuesday is blocked off for something together – maybe we go out for dinner, or just play a board game at home, but we commit to spending time focused on each other.
  9. Quit Scrolling. One of my friends did a masters thesis describing how smartphones affect your brain – as it turns out, the act of scrolling triggers the release of endorphins, and so you can be literally addicted to “getting a hit of” scrolling. And while I might learn a few important things here and there by scrolling, I also waste an exorbitant amount of time doing it. So no more.
  10. Build something for our new home. I love working with my hands and building things. This past year I built a shoe rack, which will be coming with us when we move. I started this project with a vision of what I wanted, but I didn’t yet have the skills to pull it off. In the process I learned how to weld, used new tools for the first time, and collaborated with friends and family to get it done. And I’m super happy with it! So this year I want to do something similar. I’m not sure what yet I’ll build yet, but probably something of a similar scope.
  11. Finish writing a draft of a book. This one is the most nebulous of my goals, mostly because I’m not sure if what I’m writing is really a book, or if it would be better as a series of blog articles. Getting a book in people’s hands is really hard, but writing a blog is easy (look at me go!). But in any case, the goal is to commit to a large-scale writing project.

So off we go! Here’s to a year of fulfillment and accomplishment.