2017 was the first year where I was able to post my New Year's resolutions to my blog. It seems only fitting that before I go and write my resolutions for 2018 I should do what I have been doing all year with my #MonthlyRetrospective articles and look backwards first.
So, how many of my resolutions did I manage to keep?
Launch my blog
I was super impressed with myself when I finally managed to launch my blog on January 16, 2017. I honestly thought I was going to get to the same point I did with all of my side projects. I could see the finish line but that last 10% required to ship the project was full of tedious problems to solve that were in no way interesting and killed all of my motivation to finish. But not this time!
Not only did I launch my blog but I made liberal use of it as well. I published 71 articles in 2017 ranging from my month retrospectives, trips to Japan, fixing a failed RAID and my favorite video games. I wrote much more than I ever thought I was going to and plan to continue writing like this in 2018. I truly do enjoy writing and hope that with more practice I will be able to not only expand the topics that I write about but do so in a cogent manner.
Exercise every day
I did not exercise every day. I did however exercise over 90% of the days of the year. Random roadblocks like sickness or excessive work got in my way sporadically and technically for every day I was on vacation I never "exercised". Sure I was out and about walking several kilometers but that is not what I intended when I wrote "exercise every day".
This resolution is a prime example of a resolution not to make because the odds of me keeping it were basically nil. However, it was still a great resolution in many ways. Even though I didn't exercise every day I still consider this resolution successful because it made me much more active than I had ever been in the previous four years. Even when my streak broke (whenever that was because I literally can't remember) it didn't matter because I just wanted to exercise every day if I was physically capable. The joy and pleasure I felt after completing a good workout was all the fuel I needed to push me to continue. This resolution got me off my ass for those first few weeks of 2017 and set me on a path that carried me through the entire year even though I technically failed.
One thing I have learned for my 2018 resolutions is that I should not create resolutions which you are able to straight-up fail. Those type of resolutions are ones you are almost but guaranteed to fail and with no way to recover they can be quite demoralizing. Resolutions should be things that motivate and push you all year long. They should not be something that can be "failed" in January and then used as an excuse to no longer try.
15% body fat
I do not think having a specific number for this resolution was a good idea. Or maybe it would have been better to phrase it as "reduce body fat" and then in the body of the resolution mention what I was aiming for. That was essentially how I handled this resolution all year anyway.
Regardless I would still say that I failed this resolution in the end. While my body fat did drop it was only by a single percentage point over the whole year and even at my lowest I only got to 18%.
For these reasons I do not think that this resolution would be a good one to revisit in 2018. I think that it is both too stringent and too vague to be of any real use. I undoubtably should strive to be healthy and lose body fat but that should be a side effect of any number of resolutions that focus on my health. I think there are many other resolutions that are less vague but at the same time less stringent in a way that will push me to be healthy and ensure that I lose body fat.
Become conversational in another language
I horribly failed at this resolution. The best I did was use the Kana flash cards that Elsie bought me for my birthday to learn all of hiragana and katakana before our trip to Tokyo in November. While it was extremely fun to attempt to convert the Japanese I saw into roman characters I was rarely able to translate those words into English.
I do not think this was a bad resolution per say but I simply did not prioritize it. This was something that I really wished would happen but never put the requisite time and effort into.
I do still love the idea of learning a second language but I am not going lie to myself and instead admit that the odds of finding the motivation inside me to do it are quite low. Thus, this will not be a resolution that I revisit in 2018.
Play a new video game every month
I didn't play a new video game every month but I did manage to play 13 games that were released in 2017. So while I technically did fail this resolution I still consider it I success because it fulfilled my goal of playing a lot of the games that were released in 2017. I also ended up playing a number of games that had been released previously so on the whole 2017 was a year where I played more video games than usual.
I do not think this is a resolution worth revisiting in 2018. There were a few instances where I felt pressured into playing a game I did not want to just so I would have something to write about in my monthly retrospectives. I think for 2018 this resolution could revolve around doing something with gaming in general (board games included) but it does not necessarily mean playing them. I have wanted to write a number of articles centered around gaming ranging from why I love a certain franchise to what aspects of game design actually make up a good game. Taking a break from playing games to put these sort of thoughts to paper is definitely a worthwhile endeavor.
Read at least one book every month
Another resolution where having an explicit number to hit screwed me yet again but I persevered and took the spirit of the resolution which was to constantly be reading.
This year I managed to read:
- Abaddon's Gate
- Cibola Burn
- The Sparrow
- Storm Front
- The Fall of Hyperion
- The Way of Kings
- Words of Radiance
I also read the entire Death Note manga, the latest issues of the Attack on Titan manga and started reading the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga.
While I again technically failed a resolution I still hold my head high. I managed to read eight books which is nothing to scoff at and this resolution is definitely something that I want to continue into 2018.
Release an app
I don't want to spend a lot of time writing about this because I basically never thought about it throughout all of 2017. You can look back at all of my monthly retrospectives and see that for each one of them I wrote almost nothing about this resolution.
I think this falls into a similar vein as to why I failed the "become conversational in another language" resolution. I simply had no motivation towards it and never prioritized it. It was always easier to pick up a game or a book or watch TV then try to spend time practicing a language or programming an app.
However, looking back at 2017 I realize that this is probably the most important resolution I made with the possible exception of improving my health. I didn't write about this on my blog but I had a lot of trouble with work and and a lot of doubt about where my career was going. I think this was the primary reason why after a long day at the office I did not want to come home and program for fun. I am sure there are a number of people reading this yelling at their screens right that this is exactly why you should program for fun. If you don't then that feeling your have at work will eventually poison an activity that you once enjoyed.
This is why I think hobby programming is going to be one of my most important resolutions for next year. I need to take back control of not only where my career could go but a hobby that I once found extremely engaging to do in my spare time.
Do not indulge in time killing activities
Another horrible resolution I was absolutely doomed to fail. I probably failed this one in my first week. I think the main reason was because leisure time was not something I accounted for. In my mind every second of every day should relate to one of my resolutions in some manner. That is absolutely bonkers because I am not a machine. There are undoubtably going to be times where I just need to relax.
I think my December 2017 retrospective talked about this best. I finally realized at the end of the year that so many things I was counting as "time killing activities" just weren't that. Watching TV or reading manga should be totally fine. It was doing it in excess that was my problem. I mentioned in my 2017 resolutions I was going to get a Hobonichi Techo journal to help better plan out my days. Every morning I was to make a list of three to five things I wanted to complete by the end of the day so there was never a question about what I should spend my time with next. Perhaps unsurprisingly I stopped doing this near the end of the year and the amount of time I "wasted" just happened to go up. I don't think this is a coincidence.
Again I am not saying I need to be some sort of robot that never wastes time. It is going to happen no matter what, particularly when my mind is fried. I need to take precautions so I can try to minimize this amount of "wasted time". I hope that going back to writing daily goals in my Hobonichi Techo journal will help immensely if I ensure those goals are a balanced mix between work and play.
It is time to hold myself accountable
I wrote a retrospective every month and I think they served their purpose quite well. They allowed me to recognize what I was doing right, what I was doing wrong and adjust my goals accordingly. I very much enjoyed writing them and plan to continue on writing them in 2018.
How many of the nine resolutions I made did I end up keeping? If we are going by the letter of the law then only launching my blog and holding myself accountable were up-kept. However if we loosen the requirements and look at the spirit of the resolution then I would say I managed to keep five of the nine. I think 15% body fat, become conversational in another language, release an app and don't indulge in time killing activities were the four resolutions that I horribly failed at.
What have I learned from trying to keep my 2017 resolutions?
- Don't set resolutions that can be failed. Set resolutions that are able to be constantly strived for and even evolve over the course of the year. They are there to push you towards improvement. Not to be a noose around your neck.
- Try not to make specific metrics a part of the resolution. Maybe they can be subgoals or something but when they are the crux of a resolution it becomes a very easy failure point and can be demoralizing. The 15% body fat and read 12 books in a year are good examples of this. Ask what is the true goal you were trying to reach instead.
- Before making a resolution look deep within yourself and be confident that you will have the drive and motivation to see it through in the slightest. I don't want to see any more resolutions like release an app or become conversational in another language. I do not want to write such negative retrospectives next year.
- Be realistic. Even if I was driven I don't think becoming conversational in a language was reasonable if I was not immersing myself in it on a daily basis. This resolution could have been phrased better such that it would have still been pushing me towards being conversational but with a more realstic end goal for the end of the year.
- Don't be as prescriptive with timelines. "Do X every month" sometimes ended up with me rushing to do that thing in the last week of the month which was rarely productive. Typically these resolutions are suppose to be worked on constantly throughout the entire year. My monthly retrospectives should keep me in check if I am letting something slide. Missing reading a book that month or playing a game should not have been an issue.
So that is it. 2017 is over and 2018 feels like it is already well on its way. I hope to write my 2018 resolutions in the coming week and have them posted so my January 2018 retrospective can start setting goals that will push me towards them.