2021 Goals: Reframing a crisis
I was gonna write something witty and topical. I was; I swear. But every time I wrote something, there was coup or an impeachment or some other constitutional crisis. Honestly, it’s hard to keep up. I hoped 2021 would be less eventful.
That said, I’m still optimistic. There is radical progress on vaccine creation. Georgia just elected its first black senator. The news is now full of inane stories about the president’s choice in wristwear. Must be a slow news cycle. Now seems like a good time to publish my goals for the year.
- 4-pack by 40. I turn 40 this year. It’s scary. I don’t wanna get older. Also, I’m vain — very, very vain. Maybe I won’t seem old if I’m in visibility better shape. The problem is I like cookies. I really like cookies, so losing enough body fat is gonna be hard.
I’ve considered setting up a commitment contract. Here is how it works. I set goals and commit to give a large sum of money to a cause I hate if I fail to meet that goal. I write a check and give that check to a friend. If I fail to meet my goals, the friend mails the check.
Commitment contracts are simple but effective. There’s even an website that serves as the role of your friend. I haven’t decided to do the contract, but it may be the only way I can make this goal.
- 20m workout 3x a week (6mo). I’ve always had an outlet for exercise. I used dance three times a week. I was obsessed with rock climbing. I’d spend four hours at a time at the circus gym. I loved making progress: getting stronger, more flexible, and more coordinated. Above all, I loved the community that formed around these activities.
Classes, especially group classes, are hard to justify right now. This year I’ll sample virtual options. I haven’t decided what I’ll do yet. I can buy a dedicated machine like a Peloton or Mirror. I can sign up for Apple Fitness+. I can get a virtual personal trainer. There are a lot of choices.
- 20m Flexibility for 2x a week (6mo). I’ve neglected flexibility training the last few years, and I’m not as bendy as I used to be. If I don’t have a regular plan now, I won’t be able to touch my toes when I’m 50. Regular yoga or stretching seems quite doable and likely necessary if I am to meet my other fitness goals.
- Move into my house. It’s been nearly three years since we’ve moved into our house. We still haven unpacked boxes. We still don’t have blinds. Our first-born sleeps in a̵ ̵c̵u̵p̵b̵o̵a̵r̵d̵ ̵u̵n̵d̵e̵r̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵s̵t̵a̵i̵r̵s̵ an alcove attached to the kitchen. As much as I like being a Dickensian villain, I might try to get my son into a room with a door this year. I’ll also aim for zero unpacked boxes, fewer things, and a usable attic and garage.
- Teach my son how to ride a bike / scooter. Teaching your son how to ride a bike. That’s gotta the most suburban American dad thing to do. I guess I’m a suburban American data. I’m gonna do it.
I’d like to say I’m enduring his learning tantrums, because because I enjoy the look on my child’s face when he accomplishes something. I’m not. I’m teaching him because we have a bike and a scooter. I’m teaching him because he’s slow. I mean he moves slowly because he has stubby little legs and is distracted by numbers on houses and plants and other nonsense. I’d like for him to move faster. That would be a serious quality of life improvement for me.
- See family 2x. I hope air travel get’s better soon, cause I’m not looking forward to driving across the country with a toddler and a newborn. There’s reason to be hopeful. We’re ending the holiday season, there’s a vaccine, and the weather is starting to change. Ideally, cases will go down. On top of that, my parents, sister, and brother-in-law should be vaccinated by the end of next month. Maybe they can fly to see me.
- Take a long vacation. The last real vacation I took was during the Obama administration. I’ve planned vacations since then, but family crises and pandemics seem to get in the way. This year, I’m gonna make it happen.
- 80 hours of create time. Making stuff is hard. It’s harder when it becomes a chore, when it feels like a job. This year, I’m gonna try make space for creative work.
I want a total of 80 hours over the year. How I spend the time is up to me. I can write blog entries, or sketch a webcomic, or train a neural network. Whatever I feel like at the time. 80 hours isn’t that ambitious; it’s 90 minutes a week. Some weeks I won’t make it, and some weeks I’ll get drawn into whatever I’m doing. Hopefully, the habit sticks.
- Read 26 books (7 books that have won both the Hugo and Nebula). I’ve read well over 26 books a year for the past three years. I thought about increasing this number, making the goal more difficult. I decided against it. I don’t want reading to become a chore, and goals don’t need to increase in difficulty. Reading (or listening to) 26 books is still great.
Instead, I’m gonna focus on what I read. I know I’m gonna read science fiction and fantasy — can I read better science fiction and fantasy? There are two main awards for best science fiction and fantasy book, the Hugo and the Nebula. 25 books have won both awards, and I’ve read 11. This I’m gonna put a dent in the remaining 14.
- Continue bullet journal task tracking and migration (9m). Same as last year. I find the task migration and task tracking algorithm for bullet journals useful. I want to make sure I continue this habit.
- Atomic Habits journal (6m). In addition to bullet journals. I’ve been reading about other systems. Last year I read Atomic Habits. I thought be great to try it out this year. I bought the journal, and I’ll coming up with habits to track and trying to do one-line journals daily.
- Design my life. Occasionally, I reflect and wonder if I’m doing the right thing. Career conversations at work led to me to this talk on Designing Your Life. The idea is simple, your can apply design thinking to planning your life and your career. I watched the video and liked the process. I’m taking the class with some folks on my team. If next year you find yourself thinking, “wow that’s a well designed life Kayur’s got there”, you’ll know my secret.