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September 2019 Retrospective

Last month I wrote about how writing these monthly retrospectives was very time consuming, especially because I started to audit all of my free time. I pondered writing weekly retrospectives every Sunday in hopes of making things more manageable. After the first week passed I took the plunge and decided to give the weekly retrospectives a shot. I sat down every Sunday night to write a quick outline of the week and audit all of my free time. Now at the end of the month I am going to edit all of those outlines down to two or three paragraphs for each week. I have absolutely no idea how this is going to turn out or if it even going to be beneficial, but you can't learn if you don't try so excelsior!

Week 1: 1st to 8th

88.5 hours of free time

This week was an utter failure if making progress towards my goals was the metric for success. I did not work on my app, attempt to paint miniatures or pick up a book. Honestly this week was just mindless self indulgence as over 60% of my free time was spent in front of the boob-tube. Watching The West Wing has become a guilty pleasure while both Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Monster Hunter World: Iceborne took up the rest of my free time.

My only saving grace this week was how much I exercised. I am on pace to run at least 80 kilometers and I managed to go to four yoga classes. Foodwise stuff has been pretty solid as well. Overall I am eating less snacks but lunches and dinners could still be smaller. While my sugar intake is down, my carb intake is still pretty high so the number of calories I'm ingesting probably isn't down that much from the previous month. Oh also I attempted to cook a veggie-centric meatloaf that went horribly awry so there is room for improvement all around.

Week 2: 9th to 15th

62.5 hours of free time

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. If that is true I must be absolute insane because I just repeated the failure that was the previous week.

Let's start with the few positives. Running is going great. I ran more than the previous week and should easily be able to hit my goal of 80 kilometers at this pace. Same with yoga. I did three classes which puts me on course to smash my goal of ten. My diet is improving as well. I am eating slightly less but the issue now is that I am not really losing any weight. It looks like I have to exercise harder or eat even less if I want to hit my goal of losing five pounds.

Unfortunately the negatives from the second week are the same as the first. I didn't attempt to work on any of my goals and instead watched/played a stupid amount of TV/video games. What disappoints me the most is that I am not really enjoying playing Monster Hunter World: Iceborne because I am playing it by myself. I need to try to find other people to play games with and actually socialize. Otherwise I am just killing time mindlessly with a game like this. I realize that I have a bad habit of hoping other people will ask me to play a game but I'm never actually proactive and ask if they want to play instead.

One final thing worth mentioning, I am actually resenting having to write this weekly retrospective. I realized I had to do it late on Sunday night and just wished I could skip it and go to bed.

Week 3: 16th to 22nd

60.5 hours of free time

I didn't think it was possible but things got even worse this week. I exercised less than ever before and continued to ignore most of my goals. The saddest part was that even when didn't exercise I couldn't force myself to be productive. At 7 am I chose to watch YouTube in bed rather than hop in the shower and do something constructive before work.

I am starting to think that having a small list of goals is actually detrimental. Basically every day I have to decide between programming or painting. I shouldn't be surprised that if I am not in the mood for either I just default to watching TV or playing video games. If I am going to fail why not just fail hard?

I have a hypothesis that static monthly goals are the core of this problem. I treat these goals as gospel and that they must all be completed or I am a failure. What if they were more like a todo list? I could add goals as the month went on and these additions could be both big and small. Little things like "read the latest issue of a magazine" or "write a draft of an article for the blog". I am currently penalizing myself if what I get inspired by in the middle of the month does not fulfill any of my goals. That seems stupidly counterproductive.

Week 4: 23 to 29th

59 hours of free time

Is there even a point to writing anything? I continued to exercise and eat properly while slacking off and watching TV or playing video games.

One thing I will note is manually auditing my free time is proving to be a major pain in the ass. I probably spent at least two hours just doing that while writing this retrospective. I think I need to either record this digitally or stop caring about the exact numbers because otherwise this is going to continue to be a major drain on my time. Perhaps I need to better leverage my Hobonichi and try to get back to writing quick summaries of each day? Nah I tried that sometime last year and I just couldn't be consistent.

Auditing all of my free time for the month

276 hours of free time

So it looks like I wasted nearly two-thirds of my month because I didn't do anything productive outside of exercising and...napping? I'm fucking 10 ply bud.

Thoughts on the weekly retrospectives?

Having taken over two and a half hours to edit the outlines down to what you just read I think they were a complete waste of time. They mostly created more work that I forced myself to do late on Sunday nights and ended up pigeonholing what I could write about. There were a number of things I simply skipped because there was not enough to write about in a single retrospective but over the course of a month there was. My thoughts on Fire Emblem: Three Houses or Monster Hunter World: Iceborne for example. I also ended up writing about the same topic every single freakin' week when I could have simply done a one paragraph section and be done with it (e.g. exercising).

That being said I do believe the outlines were very helpful at reminding me what I did each week and providing context. I think if I used them to write a "regular" retrospective this month things would have turned out much better. I hate the idea of forcing myself to sit down on Sunday nights to write these again but maybe if I timebox it to 30 minutes it won't be so bad. I could also try to use my Hobonichi more liberally each day to remind myself what I did and why.

Review September's Goals

I just spent god knows how many words shitting on most of my goals but whatever let's see this through to the end.

✅ Complete 10 yoga classes.
Crushed it. Actually managed 12 and should have done 13 if I wasn't so fucking lazy.

✅ Run 80 kilometers.
I ran on 13 separate occasions for just over 105 kilometers. I haven't run triple digits in a single month since the summer of 2012.

✅ Cut down on sugary treats at work.
I can count on one hand the number of times I had something sugary at work.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Snack on fruits and vegetables at home.
While I definitely did buy a lot of fruits and vegetables I can't count on my hands the number of random snacks I ate. I wouldn't say it was a large amount (cupcake here, small piece of chocolate there) but enough that I shouldn't count this goal as complete. I could have easily just stuffed my face with my melon or oranges but I chose the dark side.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Eat smaller portions for dinner. Treat lunch as the largest meal of the day.
I'd say for the majority of the month my dinner portions were smaller (and healthier) but there were enough incidents of premade meals from the grocery store that I gotta say I failed this one. I could have baked some more chicken breasts but I took the easy way out and that cannot be rewarded.

✅ Cook meals on the weekend unless going out with friends.
Even after my monstrous veggie meatloaf I still managed to have baked chicken breasts and salad or steak and asapargus for the rest of the month.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Lose 5 pounds or get below 20% body fat.
There were multiple instances where my body fat was below 20% and where my weight was below the 5 lbs limit but I could not maintain it. On average I lost almost three pounds and 0.8% body fat which is nothing to sneeze at.

✅ No unnecessary purchases.
I am flabbergasted I can mark this as complete. Both the iPhone 11 and Apple Watch Series 5 came out this month and I did not break. I will admit that I am planning on buying them in October but to be able to hold out that long is unprecedented.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Begin working on sumo app.
Didn't boot up Xcode or Visual Studio Code once.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Paint miniatures.
Didn't pick up a brush again.

🙅🏻‍♂️ Read a book.
Didn't read a single page of Churchill: Walking with Destiny.

Thoughts on Last Month's Goals

After everything I have wrote so far I don't even know why I reviewed my goals for this month. Seems pointless in retrospect. It is obvious now that my genius plan of a small number of goals was idiotic and I should look to make some drastic changes for October.

October Goals

OK here it is. My lone goal for October:

That's all I am going to start with. But unlike every month previous my goals are fluid. If I am free to add whatever I want, whenever I want. In October's retrospective I am going to celebrate my achievements rather than focus on my failures. Who knows, maybe I'm going to set a lot of insignificant goals or feel paralyzed by choice again and set none. But like I said in the beginning of this retrospective, you can't learn if you don't try so excelsior!