Since 2014, I've been making New Year's resolutions in the form of a bingo card. It's nice for several reasons: it forces me to think about what I want to accomplish that year; it gives me multiple (12) ways to accomplish my new years resolutions, so a single failure isn't discouraging; and it means that I always have something to work toward.
As I learned in 2014, and 2015, this method is beneficial even if you don't get a bingo. Both years I accomplished only 9 of the 25 goals, but I consider them successes.
In 2014, I got back into running. I had been a fairly prolific runner, but that had tailed off after I graduated university. After years of only going for a dozen-or-so runs a year, I ran 90 times in 2014, and even got a 20 mile run in.
In 2015, I got back into reading. Since graduating, I found myself reading only a few books a year. I reformed my book club and read 87 books. I also ran more in 2015 than I had the year before.
In 2016, I wanted to set ambitious but achievable goals for myself. My main goals were to run and read more, and to get into photography and start doing goofy programming art projects.
In spite (because?) of how hilariously bad of a year 2016 was, this ended up being my most successful year resolution-wise. I accomplished 12 of my goals and, with mere hours to spare, got my first bingo.
In spite of being injured for almost two months this year, I accomplished three of my four running goals for the year. The only one I missed was probably too ambitious (I only ran 40 more times this year instead of the planned 80).
I think I owe most of my success in running this year to my decision to have a goal based on running regularly every week. I ahd also decided that any week I took off to recover from injuries wouldn't count as a miss. I'm sure I would have been out longer and have run less this year if I hadn't prioritized healthy recoveries.
Reading went either insignificantly better or slightly worse than last year, depending on whether you're looking at books read or pages read. I had originally set my goals on reading significantly more, so that was technically a failure, but I should be happy with how I did. I had hoped to read more widely, and I think I achieved that. I read more recommendations (sorry if you've recommended a book and I haven't gotten to it yet), read more novels, and got into comic books.
One thing I am a little concerned about was that I had several periods where I felt burnt out on reading. I'm not sure if that was disappointment on missing my goals, the kinds of books I tend to read, or something else. I usually have a month or so where I don't feel like running each year, so maybe it's just something I should expect.
Incidenttally, I made a list of some of my favourite books of 2016.
Photography was my breakout success of a resolution in 2016 and mostly a happy accident. I had been taking pictures with my phone while out on runs, and that is basically impossible between ~November and March because iPhones are designed by people who are unaware it can get colder than ~10ºC. I decided to buy myself a point-and-shoot as a Christmas present and made a resolution to take a photo daily to justify the purchase.
Photography ended up becoming a major focus of the year. In part because I had to take photos daily, I went on more and longer runs to find unique shots. Experimenting with my camera eventually led me to reverse-engineering my camera's remote API (and then giving a talk about it at !!Con).
I got an interchangeable-lens camera, and that ended up getting me even more into photography. It was small enough to fit in my bag, so I'd take it with me wherever I went, and would take pictures along the way. I forced myself to use it in full-manual mode and learned a lot about how to take better pictures.
The highlight of the year was probably when a friend asked if they could buy canvas prints of several photos of mine and give them out as Christmas presents.
My final major goal of the year was to start doing programming art projects. I had originally hoped that this would be the major accomplishment of the year, but photography ended up taking that role. I only did a few small projects this year, but I'm happy with the result. This is something I've wanted to do since undergrad, and doing anything is exciting. I also feel positioned to make some cool stuff in 2017.
I finally played around with the pico-8, and made some small things I quite like. I made several twitter bots including one that generates snowflakes whenever it's snowing in Winnipeg. I also made a numbers station podcast.
One of my goals had been to travel to two new places. Apparently, I decided to travel a lot instead.
In May I went to New York to present at my favourite conference, !!Con. It was amazing and wonderful, even if I did spend my birthday alone in a hotel room desperately trying to finish my talk (NB my friend Eric took me out for dinner that night and was otherwise quite wonderful and supportive).
Then still in May I traveled to Portland for two weeks for some conferences and learned that I actually could enjoy traveling on my own.
In July, I ran 21 miles to a music festival at Bird's Hill Park. This was wonderful even though I had measured wrong and thought it was just going to be a ~16 mile run.
In September I cut off contact with the world for a week and went to Boulder for a computer-free vacation. I spent the whole time running, and reading, and taking photos. I knew a week alone was going to be either amazing or terrible and I'm glad to say it was the former.
In October I won tickets to a conference, so I flew out to Pittsburgh for a weekend.
In December, I went to Philadelphia for a secret Mountain Goats house show. It was magical, and remained magical even once snow storms delayed my return trip (it helps that I got to hang out with my friend Tim who was also stuck in the Philly airport).
Finally, in December, on my way back from Philadelphia, I spent 14 hours in the Montreal Airport (which I got to by way of Charlotte, because air travel is weird). This was my worst trip of the year, but honestly, it was kind of surreal.
All in all, I spent more than a month in the US this year, and got to see a bunch of friends that I only knew from the internet. I'm going to try to travel a bit less in 2017, but travel this year was pretty great.
Not a resolution, but I watched and reviewed 62 horror/Halloween movies in October, and that was more movies than someone should watch in that time frame. I hope I never watch 62 movies in a month ever again.
The goals that have kept me the most motivated in previous years are ones that had frequent check-ins. They ensured that I couldn't procrastinate, and each section was smaller and more manageable.
The worst goals were the ones where I set goals too high and then immediately was insurmountably behind. When this happened, I found myself feeling terrible about what should have been good results. Relatedly, this year was a good reminder that continued growth in everything forever isn't very realistic (especially as I add new thing to focus on). There should be room to celebrate maintaining.
With that in mind, and given my success in 2016, I've decided to experiment a bit with the format. Instead of 25 resolutions, this year I've made 25 pairs of resolutions.
I've attempted to make the first resolution in each pair an achievable but satisfactory goal. The second resolution is related, and more ambitious. My hope is that I can accomplish a fair number of the first resolutions and some of the second resolutions.
I'm really excited with the format because I have a lot of ambitious goals to strive for, including some previous failed resolutions that I think I'm finally ready to accomplish.
- Run 3 times in a week 50 times
- Run 150 times.
- Go for a 10 mile run 10 months.
- Go for a 13.1 mile run 6 months.
- Go for a 26.2 mile run.
- Run 750 miles.
I'm hoping to improve on running in 2017 by every single metric. I've seen steady growth every year so far, and I think I can keep that up for at least a few more years.
I'm probably still a few years away from being able to challenge my record for most miles in a year, but 750 miles would be a good step. I also genuinely think I have a strategy for getting myself back in marathon shape. I would love to make up for my aborted last marathon attempt. I am also ready to do that, and then feel like I never have to run a marathon again.
- Read 18,250 pages.
- Read 90 books.
- Read a book a week 50 times.
- Read two books a week 30 times.
- Read 25 recommended books.
- Read 15 400-page books.
- Read books from 20 countries.
- Read 40 novels.
- Organize my library.
- bcj Memorial library.
The first four resolutions are in line with what I did last year. I think it's a good amount of reading and I'll be happy to keep it up. The next four are mostly about ensuring I'm reading the kind of books I want to be reading.
The last two aren't reading directly, but my library has been in disarray, and I need to make this the year I get it organized. I'm hoping I can get it in a state where I can make it easy to lend books out to friends.
- Make 10 things with the pico-8.
- Make a game.
- Make 3 image filters.
- Make 5 art tools.
- Make a new website every letsencrypt renewal.
- Make a webapp.
- Write a parser generator.
- Write a programming language.
- Write a photo-management tool.
- Write a Twitter client.
- Write a server.
- Write a shell.
- Audio-based programming project.
- Write a music player.
- Hardware-based programming project.
- Projects in 10 programming languages.
- Make a bot every month.
- Make a substantial NaNoGenMo entry.
There are a lot more hobby programming goals on the list this year. I don't plan on finishing (or even attempting all of them), but last year I did a decent amount and I want to make sure I have a variety of goals I can work towards.
I think 2017 could be the year where I finally make some real headway on writing my own hobby programming language. I feel immensely more prepared than when I first made that a goal in 2014, and I'm really excited by the prospect. I also hope and expect it's the year I actually finish the parser generator I've been playing around with for about six months now.
- Take 20 photos I'd frame.
- Develop a photo myself.
I have very few photo goal on this list because I'm not really worried about motivating myself. While I'm sure I'll do a bit less than last year, I'm still really excited about it, and I'm still going to be running and walking to work regularly.
If I feel like I'm not doing enough, I can always turn some of my programming projects for the year into ones involving photography.
- Study a language 3.5 hours 50 weeks.
- Study a language at least 200 hours.
- Read a book in a foreign language.
- Watch a movie in a foreign language.
Learning a new language has often been on my resolution list and I've always failed at it spectacularly. Unlike previous years, I'd like to make a serious attempt at it this year. I'm not sure I'll be motivated enough this year, but I'm happy that my resolutions actually reflect the time commitment this will be.
- Knit a scarf.
- Knit a hat.
- Knit something for a pattern.
- Knit something for my niece.
Knitting is a bit of an unknown on this list. I've wanted to learn for a while, but I've never tried it before. Hopefully I like it and this goes well.
- Have a birthday.
- Be alive in 2018.
- Watch 50 movies in Shocktober.
- Host 4 Shocktober movie nights.
I'm hoping live through the year can remain the free space on my bingo card for years to come. If I accomplish no other goals this year, I hope I at least finish this one.
Since I watched so many movies last October, I thought I'd make a formal goal for it this year. And also make that goal way lower than last year's tally. I watched 50 in 2014, and it was a good number.