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2017 New Year's Resolutions

Every year since 2010 I've kept a text file on my computer of my list of resolutions for the year. Since I finally got my blog up and running this year I decided that I should start publicizing these resolutions.

Launch my blog

Exercise every day

I know this is cop out resolution but it is something I really need to do. As a programmer I am sitting on my ass in front of a computer for at least nine hours a day (usually much more). If I sleep for seven hours that leaves eight other hours of the day for myself. I should be able to find 30-60 minutes every day to move my lazy ass.

To end 2016 I was sticking mostly to cardio. If I was running outside I would use Strava to track my progress. Otherwise I would run on the treadmill in the gym in my building or use the elliptical if I wanted to give my knees a break. Another great cardio exercise was doing the stairs in my building. 30 minutes running up and down gets a nice sweat going and works your legs and core at the same time.

I'm sure I could continue this cardio for all of 2017 but I need to expand my horizons. Building some muscles and increasing my flexibility are my main goals. I plan to get back into bouldering at the various gyms around San Francisco as well as finally starting to life some weights. My friends Nick and Peter have pointed out some good resources for learning how to life weights and see progress so we'll see how well I do.

I have also been told by my doctor after my yearly physical that my flexibility is far below average. I can barely reach towards the center of my back for example. He recommended taking up yoga to increase my flexibility and so that is what I am going to do. I've seen the effects that weekly or even daily yoga has had on some of my other programming friends and am very much looking forward to seeing if I can replicate their success.

15% body fat

While exercising every day should undoubtedly make me healthier and just generally feel better I want some empirical measurement of my success. So I've picked body fat percentage for that metric because I honestly don't care what I weigh. As long as I can look in the mirror, be happy with what I see and have below a certain percentage of body fat, I consider that a win. According to the American Council on Exercise an average man has between 18-24% body fat. While I am currently in that range (20%) I want to move down into the fit category which is between 14-17%.

Getting down to 15% body fat is mostly going to consist of fixing my diet. Eating healthy and decreasing the amount calories I intake will be key. I am not planning on going so far as to track every meal but if I don't see any progress in the first couple of months I may bust out MyFitnessPal again. Self discipline will undoubtedly by the biggest factor. Not ordering out from UberEats or Try Caviar and cooking healthy home cooked meals that are low in sugar and carbs and high in protein will be the big wins.

Become conversational in another language

After my vacation in Japan last year the wanderlust is at an all-time high. Currently the two places outside of Canada and America that I would like to live are Japan and Germany. If I am going to move to a country I should make the effort to become conversational in the language beforehand. I am not deceiving myself and realize that it will take years for me to be able to read/write in another language but I should be able to become conversational in under a year if I really apply myself.

For Japanese I have been using the Pimsleur audiobooks on Audible. The Abroadin Japan YouTube channel also had a great video on learning Japanese. He recommended using a service called italki to allow you to practice maintaining a conversation with a native Japanese speaker. He also recommended the Genki book series for learning basic vocabulary.

For German I have been using Duolingo. It does a good job of combining speaking, reading and writing exercises so I am going to try to get to the highest level of it before looking into a similar service like italki but for German.

Play a new video game every month

It would be very easy for me to pick a single game and play it over a couple of months. While I am sure that some games I am going to play this year are going to take 50+ hours (I am looking at you Persona 5) I like to put this constraint on myself to ensure I expand my horizon. I want my game of the year list to have some variety and not just be the standard AAA games that the publishers shove down our throats. Every year hundreds of great indie games are released and I hope that this resolution helps me give a few of them some much deserved playtime.

Read at least one book every month

It is time to live up to my name and start reading books again. I read the first two books of The Expanse series last year so it is time to continue with Abaddon's Gate.

I also have a text file on my computer of an ever growing list of books to read. Books such as Hitler's War, Under the Dome, For The Win, The Golden Age, Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters, Guns, Germs, and Steel, Foundation, Riverworld, The Sparrow, The Cuckoo's Egg, Console Wars, Rise of the Dungeon Master. I don't think I will have any issue coming up with at least twelve to read.

Release an app

I have been working on side projects for the last five years and never launched a single one. I managed to get one project into the beta stage and even had TestFlight builds going out but when I realized how much work was needed to make it to a shippable v1.0 I lost all motivation.

This year it is going to change. The goal is to release my iOS app and all the open sourceable components that I will need for it. I also hope to write articles on my blog as I build out this app so I can share my thought process as I go along instead of trying to make it a retrospective.

Do not indulge in time killing activities

Reading Reddit, putting on TV or movies for background noise, randomly scrolling through Twitter of Facebook. These are activities that are basically the equivalent of empty calories and I need to do my best to remove them from my daily routine. It is just too easy after a long day at work to order some food and sit on my iPhone gobbling up tweets or Reddit posts and suddenly my evening is gone. From the time I finish cooking and eating dinner until bed I should have at best 4 hours of free time and it should be possible for me to fill each one of those hours attempting to fulfill one of the resolutions detailed above.

In this regard I have purchased a Hobonichi Techo journal to help better plan out my days. Every morning I will make a list of three to five things I want to complete by the end of the day so there is never a question about what I should spend my time with next.

It is time to hold myself accountable

Most people sit down at the end of December, come up with their list of resolutions, mention them once at the start of January and then don't look at them again until the following December when they realized they forgot half of them. To stop this from happening to me I am going to use this blog to post a summary of how every one of my months goes. Point out the things I have done well and made progress on and also highlight the things I failed to do. Hopefully this monthly introspection will allow me to make greater progress than I have ever made with any of my resolutions in the past.