In 2013 I realized that I wasn't happy with how my life was going. Since graduating university and starting work full-time, I found I no longer had the time/motivation to read or run regularly, I was no longer seeing a number of friends regularly, and I wasn't exactly on course to become a world-famous programmer.
Most of those are valid goals, so since 2014, I've been making 25 new year's resolutions each year in the form of a bingo card. This forces me to think about what I want to accomplish for the year, gives me a wide variety of things to strive for at any given moment, and makes so any one failure won't discourage me from trying to accomplish my other goals.
Having gotten back into running in 2014, my main goals for 2015 were to get reading regularly again, learn French, and finish my Master's degree. As always, best laid plains...
2015 turned out to be an important year for me, and largely a successful one, but it was long, not always fun, and much different than what I had expected.
Some things went as planned. I saw my friends and family often, including my wonderful niece (who had a big year of her own: learning to crawl, walk, and the basics of talking).
I just missed my biggest running goal of the year (thanks to a mid-year slump and an injury caused by trying to make up for that mid-year slump), but I still had my best year for running since 2010. I ran to work (~9 miles) several times and was finally able to run to and from work in one day before my office moved. I ran to the Winnipeg Folk Festival (~15 miles) with a bag full of supplies (read: a 3L of wine). And thanks to the mild weather, I somehow ran more than 100 miles in December.
Reading went even better than running did. I had wanted to read a book a week and reform my old book club. Instead I read 87 books, reformed my old book club, and started a second non-fiction book club. Reading even resulted in one of the larger life changes I made last year.
For Burger Week, I decided to offset the disgusting number of burgers I was eating by reading vegetarian literature (specifically, Animals Like Us by Mark Rowlands, Making a Killing by Bob Torres, and The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams). I found the arguments against me eating meat compelling, so I ended Burger Week by converting to vegetarianism. I have been genuinely (and pleasantly) surprised that this change has been so easy.
Programming didn't go quite like I planned last year. Outside of work I found myself unable to get anything done for most of the year.I was also starting to stall on my Master's degree. I had finished my coursework and have worked out what I wanted to be doing for my thesis but I couldn't write my proposal. For some reason, every little bit of progress was a struggle.
I became concerned that working a job I liked wouldn't be enough to keep me in tech for the long hall, especially as my frustrations with a lot of tech's prominent figures and companies grew.
It took me far too long to admit, but eventually I realized that I was not in a place in my life where I could work full-time and be a Master's student. I had stayed in grad school because I liked my advisor, and I liked the idea of having a Master's degree, but my heart wasn't in it so I dropped out. It saddens me that I couldn't do both but leaving school wa the right decision for me and I don't regret it.
Even though it caused me a lot of anxiety this year and I largely avoided it outside of work, programming wasn't a complete wash. I started work on a command-line paint program. It started as a joke and it's still just a prototype, but it's already cooler than it has any right to be.
I also made a working parser generator in the dying hours of 2015. This was a project I had tried and failed to make in 2014. I'm a fairly mediocre programmer, so it was nice to see proof that I am improving.
It was a hard year for me, so I'm glad that this year I became a lot more active on Twitter. I got to know a bunch of cool people who were doing awesome programming projects.
I'm really excited about my plans for this year. I have a lot of cool things I want to be doing and I think I may even accomplish a few of them.
- Go on 182 runs
- Run 666 miles
- Go for a 10 mile run at least 10 months
- Run 3 times a week 48* times
Last year went well, so I just want to improve on those results. I've added a weekly goal to make sure I'm running regularly instead of in bursts. My ankle injury also gave me the bright idea that I should reward making decisions that reduce the chances and severity of injuries (somehow this has taken me a decade to work out). I'll reduce 48 by 1 for each week where I am injured and am choosing to rest instead of forcing runs.
- Read books from 30 countries
- Read book recommendations from 20 different people
- Read 27,450 pages (75/day)
- Read a book in a langauge other than english
- Read The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture and Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commision of Canada, Volume One
I read a lot of good stuff last year, but I didn't read as diversely as I would have liked. Most of the books I read last year were by white authors and most were from the US or Canada.
I'm switching from counting books to counting pages because book counting discourages reading long works. That said, my goodreads goal for the year is 90 books.
As an American and Canadian citizen, I feel I have a responsibility to read both reports. I probably would have read books related to both of them regardless, but I think I need to have a specific goal if I want to make it through the actual reports
- Keep an actively-updated development blog for a project
- Get a personal project to 1.0 status
- Make a program that I use daily
- A project in Rust
I'm hoping things will go a bit more smoothly this year. I think a dev blog could help motivate me to work on projects regularly (and help me get better at explaining the things I've made).
I'm hoping that my pixel art program will hit 1.0 this year because I have some ambitious goals for it. I also have plans for a dropbox-like tool I can use for syncing and backing up computers. It's ambitious because If it doesn't go well it's significantly worse than useless.
- Share a photo at least 350 days this year
- Form an art collective
- Make a video game
- Make a collaborative art project
- Make something for my niece
- Build 5 twitter bots
This is the category that I am the most excited about. I dipped my toe in the water with NaNoGenMo this year and now that I'm not in so much of a programming funk, I'm ready to dive in.
For the last several years my mom has been going on walks almost every day and taking pictures. She doesn't have any formal training but she has taught herself a lot about framing and composition through experimentation. I've been amazed by the results and in the last few years I've picked up the habit of taking photos with my phone when I go on runs. A few weeks ago I bought a camera and am ready to take the next steps into amateur photography.
We haven't worked out the specifics yet, but my Roommate Ibrahim and I are making an art collective. We both find computer-generated art projects and glitch art interesting and want an excuse to work on it.
I've been wanting to make a specific video game for a while. I don't really want to say too much about it, but it's a game about talking with other people. (N.B., I don't have time for you if you object to the idea that I have put this in the art section and not the programming section).
- Get a tattoo
- Make a podcast
- Find 5 new bands/musicians I like
- Travel to two new places
- Go a week without computers
- make it to 2017
I've been wanting to get a tattoo for a while and am actually hoping that my art projects this year will result in something I permanently want on me.
There are actually two podcasts I want to make this year. The first is a children's movie and TV show-themed podcast with my friend Gem. The other is a podcast with Ibrahim that I can't really explain right now.
I have a sneaking suspicion that not every good musician that ever existed is a band I got into in high school or college. It is about time I found out.
I'm going to Portland, Oregon at the end of May. I'd like to go to at least one other city I've never been to before this year. I have no idea where though.
Computers are really cool and it is at best ignorant when people make claims that relationships you form with people over the internet are inherently less valuable than those you form face to face. That said, sometimes you need a break because computers are bad and distractions on the internet are neverending.
Don't die this year has always been my free space on resolution bingo. I hope it can remain a free space for years to come.