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2021 New Year's Resolutions

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The criteria I used for my 2020 New Year's Resolutions seemed to work gangbusters so I'm gonna let it ride into 2021.

  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.

Really the only thing that I did wrong last year was not be honest with myself when setting one of the resolutions. Otherwise they were all quite reasonable and pushed me to be better throughout the year.

That being said 2021 is a very special year seeing as we are in the deepest parts of a pandemic so "realistic" resolutions mean something quite different.

1. Take more vacations

The first of two resolutions I am going to carry over from 2020.

I had every intention of fulfilling this resolution last year. Elsie and I were making tentative plans to visit Sweden, Singapore, and Japan. The wheels were in motion but then March happened and not only did someone puncture the tires but they poured sugar in the gas tank for good measure.

But in 2021 I am going to make this happen even though it will be impossible for the first 7 months. Due to my age and my health I am betting on being in the cohort that gets vaccinated sometime in the summer. If I am lucky I'll be vaccinated by my birthday. Taking a month off in the last five months of the year is not a ludicrous ask when one truly hasn't vacationed since 2018.

Assuming these other countries are heavily vaccinating their populace and are open to tourism I was thinking:

But what if things aren't all peaches and cream? Hopefully by this time mass vaccinations are happening across the planet but perhaps none of those countries are keen on visitors yet. There is still much of Canada and I haven't explored or would love to see again such as:

Also the United States looks like they are going to be a leader in vaccinations so with us sharing a land border I have to imagine that tourism is going to open up there first. If so I would love to check out:

My point is that I am still super optimistic about 2021. Yes, we are in the middle of the pandemic and yes, we're still in the throes of it. But a lot can happen in the next seven months and while I believe things aren't going to be back to normal they still should be heading that way.

Four full weeks off is the goal for 2021 and I believe I can hit it. I don't care if it is one contiguous month off or four separate weeks. As long as I can say I did not work for a month of 2021 I will be happy.

2. Learn to play ice hockey

The second of two resolutions I am carrying over from 2020.

Just like vacationing I am assuming this resolution will be near impossible to complete for the first seven months of the year. But this is Canada. There is a very high probability that I'll be able to gain access to a friend or family member's backyard rink at some point. And assuming that vaccinations are in full swing by the summer, I imagine that indoor hockey rinks will be some of the first public amenities to open again.

So just like last year I will consider this resolution complete if I can puck handle from one end of the rink to the other and take a hard shot on net. I was going to raise the bar a bit but since I can't be 100% certain as to how much practice I am going to get let's keep things sane.

3. Lose belly fat

Last year I focused on lowering my body fat percentage which wasn't a horrible resolution. But I let my diet slide and no amount of exercise could offset that. I considered setting the same resolution again but I suspect that even if I eat right and exercise more I'll still be flirting with 15% body fat.

So what is something else I could target? I've never been happy with my love handles so how about trying to lose some fat around my gut? I am currently 36 inches across my abdomen so trying to get below 34 inches sounds like a sane goal to me. If I eat less garbage and continue to exercise there really should be nothing else to burn but that beer belly.

4. Read 20 books

I read 20 books in 2020 so let's equal or beat that in 2021.

I barely put a dent in my list from last year so I still have:

But even with all of those options I have decided to make this year even harder on myself. Of those 20 books I am going to make 14 of them The Wheel of Time series. To put that into perspective, last year I read 20 books that totaled 10,010 pages according to Good Reads. Those 14 books of The Wheel of Time supposedly add up to nearly 12,000. If I read the entire series I'll be only 70% of the way through this resolution and already have eclipsed my page count of 2020.

The reason I am doing this is because I know that I could have read so much more in 2020 and this is one of the resolutions where I really want to push myself. I remember sitting down and reading for hours upon end when I was a teenager and the only thing stopping me from doing that nowadays is my addiction to doom scrolling on Twitter.

5. Set daily/monthly goals. Record daily successes.

Essentially I am telling myself to use my Hobonichi Techo journal properly.

I want to start every month and every day writing down goals that I would like to complete. They could be simple things such as chores that need to be completed or pie in the sky ideas that I would love to do. The idea being just always have something that I can strive towards if I am at a loss for what to do.

The other side of that coin is that I should also record all of my successes no matter how small. I changed Lacey's litter? That's a win! I went for a walk? That's a win! I won a game of chess? Oh you better believe that's a win.

The idea being that at the end of 2021 I want to be able to go back to any day of the year and easily see what I hoped to do and what I actually achieved. Maybe that won't matter so much at the end of the year but I think on a daily and even monthly basis this affirmation of setting and achieving goals will really help increase my productivity.

I also would like to try to use the 5-year Hobonichi I got to write down one or two things that really stood out from that day which don't have to be tied to anything I achieved. Again, the idea being that I want to be able to look back at any day and get a clearer picture of where I was at and what was occurring.

6. Play 365 rapid games on Chess.com

I have been watching agadmator's Chess Channel for over a year now and it's really made me want to get back into chess. I probably haven't played for well over a decade but watching the beauty of some of those moves has lit a fire inside me.

I have purchased a diamond yearly membership to Chess.com with the plan of going through all of their lessons and trying to spend 30-60 minutes a day either doing puzzles or playing rapid games. I am aiming to play a game against my first real human in February because I want to learn some of the strategies before making an ass of myself. But even then my goal of essentially playing one game of chess a day for a year doesn't seem far fetched.

Hopefully I can keep this going and next year I can set a goal of gaining a specific ELO rating.

7. Have some sort of creative outlet

I know this is a horribly vague resolution but I cannot find any way to make it any clearer. I need a resolution that will force me to create something, anything that did not exist before. Exercising, learning hockey, reading books, playing chess, these are all great activities but they are not the same as building something from scratch.

Last year I had a similar resolution which was to create something physical with my own two hands and I used that to get into 3D resin printing. This year I want to relax that resolution a bit so I could maybe do some things that don't have a physical outcome.

Some examples of this would be:

Again, I know this resolution is really vague but it still does manage to meet all of my criteria. I truly believe I will put in the time required to create something that is worth talking about in next year's resolutions retrospective.

8. Play 24 games on subscription services

Last year I resolved to play 24 games and while I did complete that resolution I did not play as many unknown or indie games as I had hoped. My games of the year lists were still mostly the heavily marketed titles you would expect.

That being said game subscription services like Apple Arcade, Xbox Games Pass, PS Plus, etc did result in me playing some rather excellent games such as Bugsnax, Two Point Hospital, What the Golf?, Carrion, Roundguard, and Frostpunk to name a few.

So for 2021 I am going to reuse last year's resolution but direct it towards game subscription services instead. Usually I have to research if a game is worth my time and my money but these services remove the latter. I like the idea of just picking some time to sit down and randomly download the first game that tickles my fancy. If I play it for a few hours and don't enjoy it who cares? I can easily stop without feeling that I wasted my money and I've possibly expanded my palette at the same time. Sounds like a win-win.

9. Start working out the logistics of purchasing a home

When I moved out to San Francisco I knew that I would probably never purchase a home. Even if the prices weren't absolutely insane ($1000 USD per square foot) I would never feel comfortable as a resident alien. Now that I have been back in Toronto for almost a year and will be working remote indefinitely, I have started to entertain the idea of buying a home. The financials won't be sorted out until the later half of 2021 but seeing as it took me over two months to figure out what car I wanted to buy I suspect a home will take even longer.

There are two distinct tasks that must be completed for this resolution to be considered a success.

  1. Decide on which region(s) I would be comfortable buying property in.
  2. Create blueprints or floor plans for each of the rooms I would like.

The first task is the more straight forward one. I must quantify what is important to me (i.e. fibre Internet, property tax costs, access to hiking trails, nearby schools, etc) and start looking for areas in the country that have these things.

The second task is much more complicated but luckily my brother went through this entire process in 2020 and has been an excellent source of information. He has recommended a bunch of software I can use to sketch and visualize what it is I think I want.

I don't want to try to design a complete home because there is so much about home construction that I don't understand. It is one thing to say I want a 15" by 15" room for my office. It is another to determine how electrical wiring, plumbing, heating, etc works around that room. I think the first step is to understand what types of rooms are important to me and their general sizing so I can use this information when either looking at existing homes or maybe talking to builder about constructing my own.

10. Run a 30K

I've had "run a half-marathon" as a resolution for the last two years now and while I don't think it has been a particularly bad resolution it hasn't really been something that pushes me.

I've been running consistently enough that I can bust out 21.1 kilometers pretty much any day of the year. Sure the pace may be off but I should be able to cover that in under 2 hours or less. The problem I see is that I haven't tried to push myself beyond that. Why isn't "Run a full marathon" down as a resolution? The honest answer? Because I am terrified about it. I've heard so much about how much more arduous it is that I don't want to make it a goal.

So why not split the difference? If 21.1 kilometers is easy how about 30K? That's gotta be more difficult but do I think I can do that? Should probably be attainable under 3 hours if I do it properly. And the great thing is that it is still a resolution that cannot be failed and I could do it on the final day of the year if I'm desperate. But I'm hoping that it is just scary enough to be in the back of mind whenever I go out to run in 2021 and hopefully it will push me to complete it sometime before the next winter sets in.

11. Smoke 12 cigars with family and/or friends

In the midst of this pandemic I want to make sure that I don't forget to make time to socialize with my friends and family. Since a large amount of my social circle is comprised of cigar aficionados I aim to take advantage of that.

One cigar a month seems like a reasonable amount and I'm hoping that I'll not have to wait for vaccinations to start. No I am not planning on having any massive cigar smoking parties that would inevitability become super spreader events. Hopefully in a few months the lockdown will be lifted and we can go back to having small, safe gatherings between two households.