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August 2019 Retrospective

I started out my July retrospective with:

There is no pussyfooting around this. I absolutely half-assed the majority of my goals for this month. But you know what? I don't give a damn because July was probably the most enjoyable month of 2019. Apparently a moderate amount of TV combined with a good video game and ample time with family & friends is the recipe for a happy Reid.

So I find it quite funny that I could easily start out my August retrospective with:

There is no pussyfooting around this. I absolutely half-assed the majority of my goals for this month. But you know what? I kinda give a damn because although August was pretty enjoyable, it was extremely unproductive. Apparently a ludicrous amount of video games and TV is the recipe for a happy Reid but it really shouldn't be.

I would bet dollars to donuts that 80+ percent of my free time was spent either playing video games or watching TV. Between Judgment, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Phantom Rose, OG's TI8 documentary, The International 2019, The West Wing (yes I finally discovered this 20 year old show) and two films on Edward Snowden (Snowden and Citizenfour), there were no shortages of distractions this month. The worst part is that I don't feel that any one of these things was a waste of my time. They are all exceptional pieces of entertainment. It is only when you step back and realize that you spent 150+ hours consuming them that it starts to look like a problem.

And honestly I only really consider it a problem because of how underutilized the rest of my time was. I didn't exercise as much as I should have. I didn't eat as healthy as I should have. I didn't push myself as hard at work as I should have. Putting your feet up and relaxing in front of the TV isn't a bad thing at the end of a long day. But when you use it primarily as an escape rather than a reward it becomes concerning. I've said this many times but my monthly goals are just not set up to motivate me. They are usually shortsighted and instantly failable which makes them easy to ignore.

There was one more thing I wanted to mention before I reviewed my goals for the month and I didn't want to lead with it because it would look like I was trying to come up with an excuse for my behavior. It was just three months ago where I wrote that something personal happened which I could not talk about and unfortunately that happened again this month. The event in question greatly changed how I could spend my free time but did not affect what I chose to fill it with. The more important side effect of this event is that it changes where I am going to be living in 9 months time and therefore the type of job I will have. I have written about how San Francisco can put you in this suspended time bubble where you don't really grow. Well I am going to be forcibly ejected from that bubble sometime in 2020.

My hope is that for the rest of the year I can set goals that will make this transition as painless as possible. However like most big transitions in life it will take a non-trivial amount of work on my part. If I let my pragmatism take hold like I usually do then 2020 could be a very painful year.

Review August's Goals

🙅🏻‍♂️ Exercise every day.
The International would start airing at 7pm PST and go well past midnight so it shouldn't come as any surprise that I overslept on more than one occasion. Once I even slept through my alarm and woke up after the time I usual start walking into work.

I was quite consistent about exercising before and after The International so it is not like I was a lazy bum the entire month.

✅ Complete 9 yoga classes.
Even with my The International laziness I still managed to get out to the yoga studio nine times.

✅ Run a 15K.
Attempted it on the very last day of the month and somehow I survived. Took only 92 minutes!

✅ Run 50 kilometers in total.
Five 5Ks, one 10K and a 15K are what got me to 50.

In retrospect I am actually quite annoyed at how low the goal is. Since I wasn't bouldering this month I easily should have been able to run three times a week which would mean twelve separate runs is not be out of the question. If each of those was only 5K that would be 60 kilometers total. If half of them were 10Ks we're looking at 90 kilometers total. That makes my 50 kilometers goal pretty weak. Since I am not going to be bouldering much next month (my pinky is still hurting) I am going to bump this goal to 80 kilometers.

✅ No unnecessary purchases.
I am legitimately surprised I didn't buy anything. Not only that, I actually canceled some Amazon preorders that I had made months ago (sorry Astral Chain) and audited my monthly subscriptions where I saved almost $100. It is amazing how much I was "nickel-and-diming" myself and not even realizing it.

I'm probably spending too much money on other random things like eating out so I'm gonna try to do some more auditing in September. Every penny counts.

✅ Track what I eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
While I technically completed this goal, the data it generated turned out to be useless. It's original purpose was to allow me to easily look back and see when I failed some other food related goal. When I failed one of those goals in the first week this one became pointless. Sure I can easily check to see if I had breakfast some days or when I cracked and ordered McDonald's but I honestly don't care about that. Just writing it down doesn't make me any less likely to do it again.

I think I was hoping this goal would shame me into eating healthy but that never happened. I would routinely forget about this and backfill a couple of days when I looked in my Hobonichi and saw the data was missing.

This was a really stupid goal and I should be ashamed for setting it. I really need to think about my goals throughout the entire month instead of when I write this retrospective.

🙅🏻‍♂️ No sugary snacks at work. I don't fucking care how many ice cream sandwich popups there are!
I was doing so good for the first three weeks. But then my colleague Ben just had to point out some sour gummies in the snack bar. I probably had two packages a day for that last week. Thanks a lot Ben!

🙅🏻‍♂️ Have Soylent for 80% of weekday dinners.
This was another incredibly stupid food goal that I knew I would fail in my heart of hearts. I set it because I wanted it to be true. I don't hate Soylent but sometimes when I get home from work there is something about the taste and texture of food that you have to chew. There were several dinners and lunches where I just wanted to pound a Soylent and get on with my day. But it was more than once a week where I wanted to just sit down for 20 minutes and have some salad or pasta.

✅ Cook dinner once every weekend.

  1. Steak and asparagus
  2. Pasta
  3. Steak and a baked potato
  4. Pasta
  5. Pork chops in mushroom sauce over white rice

🙅🏻‍♂️ Build a simple web app using Go and Docker OR mock out the main flow of the iOS app that would use it.
Didn't boot up a single IDE.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Read at least 50% of Churchill: Walking with Destiny.
Churchill: Walking with Destiny is so fucking dry! I kept trying to read it but after 15 minutes I just wanted to gouge my eyes out. I know that I said I wouldn't hesitate to put down a book if I wasn't enjoying it but this feels like such an important part of history that I have to force myself to do it.

I am going to give myself the first week of September before I switch over to another book. I was thinking about The Lies of Locke Lamora. It is a fantasy book but it is also an Ocean's Eleven like heist tale that could be considered a crime or thriller type of novel. I was also debating about The Godfather which is unmistakably a crime novel.

✅ Beat Judgment.
It took me 38 hours but I finally beat Judgment. I am still floored by how complex and engrossing the story was especially near the end. I was going in expecting a slapstick tale set against a Tokyo backdrop but it was much more than that. The writing was top notch and beating Judgment has really made me want to play the other games in the Yakuza series. I already own Yakuza 0 and hope I can carve out some time this year to play it.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Play 10+ hours of Monster Hunter World in preparation for the release of Iceborne in September.
I turned on my PS4 to get some free items from pre-Icebourne launch events but that was it.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Paint a miniature.
Didn't pick up a single brush.

✅ Meticulously track every hour after work until bed in my Hobonichi Techo journal.

OK I am still going to through with this but I can say right now that the percentage of free time metrics are absolutely fucking pointless. Basically for 11 days I watched 7+ hours of Dota so there is no way anything else can compare to that.

I had 22 workdays in August and a total of 117 hours of free time after work which averages out to 5.3 hours a night. I spent those hours on the following:

Sweet Jebus almost half of my free time was spent on The International 2019.

Thoughts on Last Month's Goals

While I completed more goals than I realized, I failed the ones that were some of the most important. Eating healthy and finding a side hobby are two of my resolutions and I continue to brush them to the side. The build an app and paint a miniature goals were so one dimensional that they were easy to ignore in lieu of The International, Judgment or Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Instantly failable goals were also my nemeses again this month so I am finally putting my foot down and saying no more. Every single one of my goals for September will not be failable until the final day passes.

Also meticulously tracking every hour after work should no longer be a goal. I do this simply out of habit now and I am going to evolve it into a completely stand alone section. I am actually debating if I should do this breakdown for each week to make it more manageable. Sitting down and auditing all of my time for the month is very exhaustive. Writing something every Sunday would be much more manageable and could make writing these retrospectives much easier.

September Goals

I have noticed that I usually set a number of goals that I am obviously going to pass. I used to set a goal to play a video game because I wanted to ensure that I tried out that specific one but now I am just using it as an excuse to play any game. Going forward I am going to try setting goals that are actually something to strive for. I think a smaller number of goals that I actually need to work at could end up being more helpful than a dozen designed to make me feel like I am making progress when I am not.