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2020 New Year's Resolutions

This will be the third year that I have been using my "patented" criteria to help me set my New Year's Resolutions and, so far, it has been more beneficial than I thought it would. There was actually only one major change from 2019 which was to remove the sliding scale metrics because they were proving to be more detrimental than constructive. So for 2020 I will be using:

  1. The resolution cannot be failed before the end of the year.
  2. The resolution can be realistically achieved in a single year.
  3. The resolution will receive the necessary time and effort to see it through to fruition.
  4. The resolution should have concrete completion requirements. Use metrics sparingly as they typically lead to failable resolutions.
  5. The resolution should facilitate a proactive behaviour, not attempt to correct a negative one.

Basically, come up with realistic resolutions that are measurable and reinforce good behaviours. Simple right? In 2019 the three resolutions I failed were because they were either too vague or unrealistic. For 2020 I am trying to be super cognizant of the questions "is this resolution actually feasible?" and "will I truly put in the time to see it through?". I would like to think that I am being more pragmatic this year compared to 2019 but we're just going to have to wait 12 months to see.


1. Leave San Francisco / Silicon Valley

I have lived in San Francisco for almost five and a half years now. That is the second longest amount of time I have spent in a single place behind only the city I went to elementary and high school in.

I have written at length about how this city can stunt your personal growth by placing you inside this bubble that divorces you from the realities of the world. It becomes difficult or impossible to move forward because you simply have no room (neither physically, mentally or spiritually). Well in 2020 I plan to force myself to move forward and break out of this bubble. By the end of the year I will not be living in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. Full stop.

Currently my plans are to return to Toronto because of its proximity to job opportunities and my family. But also, after five and a half years in SF, I realized what a world class city Toronto actually is. I didn't take full advantage of it when I was there but I am not going to make that mistake twice.

2. Take more vacations

You want a prime example of that bubble San Francisco puts you in? The fucking "unlimited vacation" that companies offer which really means "do not take any because you will leave your colleagues to do your work". Over the past two years I have taken only three vacations that required me to get on a plane and two of those were to go back to Toronto to see my family, so not exactly a vacation in the purest sense eh?

In 2020 I want to take a lot more actual vacation. The number I had in my head was four weeks (or 28 days) across four unique vacations. Obviously the easiest way to break that down would be four vacations of one week each, but I did not want to be that specific as to limit the possibilities. Also this doesn't mean that I need to get on a plane and fly across an ocean. For example, vacationing in Banff, Whistler or even a road-trip to Montreal or the Maritimes all sound amazing to me.

Some of the other vacation spots that popped into my mind were:

3. Learn to play ice hockey

This may be hard to believe but I am a Canadian that does not know how to hockey stop. It is one of my greatest failures. Apparently I was a very whiny child who did not want to put on ice skates so instead my parents introduced me to soccer and baseball.

Having been away from Canada and its culture for so long I started to build up a desire to reconnect. I have been making a conscious effort to watch more Toronto Maple Leafs games out here on the west coast and one night I simply decided that the best way to reconnect with my roots would be to finally learn how to skate properly.

I will consider this resolution a success if I can stick handle a puck from one end of the rink to another (in full gear) and take a decently hard shot ON NET!

4. Read 13 books

I read six books in 2018 and 15 in 2019. Reading 13 books in 2020 sounds like a perfectly attainable resolution.

I had originally intended to make this resolution about reading different types of books again but I don't think that is needed anymore. I already have a number of books I want to read that are outside of my comfort zone.

Some examples would include:

That is already 35 potential books I could read this year. Not to mention all of the manga and RPG rulebooks I'll undoubtedly read as well.

In retrospect 13 now seems like a pretty pitiful goal but I guess it is better to blow one of these resolutions out of the water than grossly overestimate myself.

5. Set-up a home office

When I bought my own condominium and finally lived alone, one of the first things I did was set-up a home office. Having a place you could retreat to with minimal distractions really did help focus the mind. For the last five years my home office has been a small desk just off to the side of the living room, in between a couch and a 55" TV. It should come as no surprise when I say I don't really use that desk very often.

Wherever I move to, I must prioritize getting enough space so that I can have a home office again. If I really want to work on side projects or even just watch less TV, I need a place where I can concentrate. If that is only a tiny room with a door I still consider that a win.

6. End the year below 15% body fat

I need to have at least one resolution that focuses on my health and I decided to choose body fat percentage because it must mean that I have been healthy in some regard. Whether that is because I continued to maintain a solid diet or if I got into weight lifting and put on tons of muscle, it does not matter in the end as long as I lose body fat.

I am already quite close to 15% body fat so this resolution will hopefully be more about me maintaining it. I don't want to see myself spike back up to 20% in the summer and then crash diet to get back down to 15% in December again. Healthy living all year long is the goal.

7. Play 24 video games

I am disappointed with how small and homogeneous my Game of the Year articles have become. Usually they only add up to about a dozen titles and they are all games you would expect I'd play. Mostly AAA published ones that get lots of media coverage. Not many indie titles where maybe you are hearing about them for the first time through my blog.

In 2020 I want to drastically increase the number of games I play and I want to do this by focusing on indie and mobile titles. Games that I can probably play for five hours or less and still get a really good feel for what they are like. I am also going to write an article that ranks all of the games I played in 2020 regardless of if they were released that year or not. That should allow me to get to my goal of 24 games played fairly easily, knock on wood.

8. Launch a side project into a friends/family beta

I know this isn't a well worded resolution but I can't think of a better way to phrase it. The main idea behind this resolution is that I want to force myself to build a piece of software that not only I would use. It doesn't have to be something consumer facing that I release on the App Store. It could be a macOS app that I ship personally to a couple of people who may find it beneficial.

I want to make sure I don't hamstring myself like I have in the past and prevent myself from working on tools or other side projects that aren't designed to make money. If I end up building something profitable so much the better. But if I end up building some git tool or a macOS app that lets me publish this blog easier that is also great. The goal is just to get some software into the "beta" state which I haven't done since 2015. Hopefully this will open the floodgates and make me want to write more code but let's try baby steps first.

9. Create something physical with my own two hands

I will admit this is not a great resolution because it is obscenely vague but I have already wasted too much time trying to make it more specific.

The point of this resolution is that I want to force myself to create something outside of software. I am not going to make the same mistake as last year where I listed 16 different ways to satisfy a resolution and then did none of them. Instead let's try a few examples to set the tone. Something like woodworking or building something with an Arduino or 3D printing or making miniatures using Hirst Arts molds would satisfy this resolution.

Basically I just want to force myself to step away from the computer and create something that did not exist before.

10. Run a half-marathon

I feel a little bad about this resolution since it is an exact duplicate from last year but I still think it is a great one. I was considering changing it to "run an official half-marathon race" but that is something that I could fail before the year is out. This way I could knock out a half-marathon even on the final day of the year or use it as motivation to actually enter an official race.