2016 Goals and related thoughts

Another personal post. Ignore if you like, just best to do this stuff publicly since it’s more likely to happen then.

I wasn’t in a hurry to get to this after the year started for a few reasons. The main one is that things go a little crazy around all the holidays, and it takes a while for things to settle down again. I think things have settled, and it’s been kind of itching to get this written up and wrapped up.

2016 so far

It’s been an alright year, for how short it’s been. I think I might actually have some kind of schedule worked out that feels good. Something where I’m simultaneously getting stuff done that I wanted to get done and actually doing some of the more community oriented goals I have.

I feel bad that I basically neglected this blog in 2015. There were a number of reasons that happened, but they mostly boil down into needing to look for more work taking priority over basically anything else. It was short-term thinking that’s not my normal state, and I’m sort of ashamed looking back on it. At the same time, I did end up getting a job that’s more interesting than what I’ve done before in some ways, and with a path to move up for a while before things have to get messy again.

This year’s goals look a lot like last year’s goals. I’m basically in the same spot that I was last year at this time, though much more secure. I’m looking long-term again, and some things have become obvious. The main one is that if I am going to blog technical stuff, I should do it on a technical blog. Start something new, do it there. Keep the non-technical stuff here. Random one-off technical posts are fine, but they don’t really serve a bigger purpose.

I planned out my goals this year using a different method than previous years to try to see if I ended up in a different spot. I did, but it won’t look like that here. Basically, I ended up with a laundry list of habits to develop and what I call ‘directions’ to move in. Those aren’t goals, though they can be used to determine some goals. I can smell another blog post coming about some of those, or possibly even a few about the various topics.

I’m working on my Japanese study schedule post already though, so that’ll be next.

The short version of this year is: Less fiction, more technical writing. More investments in the future and community, and less looking for quick payoffs or money.

I did put some money goals in there too though, because why not?

Oh yeah, and I won’t have so many exercise goals this year either. Annual lifting benchmarks and such really don’t make sense at the level I’m at right now. It’s better for me to just keep progressing and keep at it.

On Challenge

Different people are motivated by different things. As a general rule, I tend to over schedule myself by about 20% per week. This does two things:

  1. Things that don’t matter end up falling by the side, undone
  2. I get significantly more done

Those are both important. Think back to high school or college. How many times did you or someone you know just start cleaning their apartment or something when they were supposed to be studying for the tests. It’s just an easy way to distract yourself by feeling productive. You’re getting things done instead of getting done what you need to get done.

The key with my scheduling is that I keep focus on the important things. Sometimes I clear the week, usually I end up with around 20% not done. Sometimes that 20% that’s left is also important enough to actually get done, just not as urgent. Then it goes on the next week’s list. Simple system, really.

The other major advantage (hinted at by #2 above) is that I when I get ahead of schedule for some reason – like an estimate was wrong or something fell through to give me more time, etc – I’m able to move on to the next thing immediately since I know precisely what the next thing is. Otherwise it’s far FAR too easy to just go “Well, I’m done, so I’ll just mess around” even if it’s unconscious.

There’s the rambling link to my goals. My goals are big, probably too big. Bigger than are really reasonable, especially together. I make a point of only writing goals that are measurable, defined, and actually possible. And looking at the list I’ve started on, and the thoughts I’ve had regarding all of them, I think it’s clearly possible for me to achieve all but maybe 2 or 3 of them without much more than 2 or 3 regular weekly schedules over the year.

The bonus goals are dramatically harder, mostly just there to keep myself pushing if I achieve some success in one or another category.

Basic Categories

  • Health & Fitness
  • Writing
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Blogging
  • Community & Networking
  • Skills & Certifications
  • Income

Last Note before we get into the goals

If things change dramatically again (job situation, family situation, etc), I’ll try to update with a new set of goals this time. These aren’t set in stone, since a year is a long time.

2016 Goals

Health and Fitness

1. Lose 80 pounds

Again? Yeah, well I actually lost some last year, but the math that makes losing 80 pounds in a year possible (though challenging) remains true. That’s a little under 3 lbs/week on average, if you’re keeping track. I’ve already made some progress here, so I’m feeling good about this one.

2. Bike 100 miles in under 7 hours

This was a goal of mine last year, but I didn’t quite make it (got to about 70). I’m talking about a stationary bike as well, just since it’s much easier to manage. This isn’t bike 100 miles without stopping, but it’s making me average over 14 mph. I can take breaks, but not too many or for too long or I’ll go over 7 hours.

Skills and Certifications

3. Study for and take the JLPT N4

I took the N5 last year and learned a LOT about what I need to focus on more and how to generally study for the test. I doubt I passed the N5, but I feel good about passing the N4 this year. Why go up a level instead of just nailing the N5? I don’t want to waste the time, frankly. If I happen to fail the N4 this year, I might consider holding off on advancing to the N3. Once I get to the N3 level I’m going to make a point of passing before I advance every time. Much longer post on this stuff coming later.

4. Get 2 new technical certifications

I basically have my job because I got a certification. Some of them seem like they’re actually worth it. I have at least one in mind right now, and instead of listing that one specifically, I’ll just say that I’m going to try for two by the end of the year. That shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. I am going to make a point of only going after what seem like valuable certifications and not just obviously-money-making ones that just cost a lot and don’t mean anything.

Writing and Blogging

5. Write 20 new posts on this blog

Same number as last year, same logic as last year (1 post every other week or so). This would not include crossposts from the new technical blog. This blog, the one you’re reading now, is going to be more productivity and personal garbage than the other one.

6. Write 60 posts on new technical blog

I actually lowered this number from what I had been thinking of doing. The only reason I can be confident I can pound out that kind of content is that I know many of the posts won’t be huge and long and rambling like the technical posts I put here have been. Some percentage of them will just be the whole “If you get X error, here’s the solution I found” kind of posts. This is just over one post per week. I’d only need to post two posts per week once a month or so even if I get this thing launched at the beginning of February. So the goal here is really more for consistency than for volume. Frankly, I’d put this one as my 2nd most important goal this year, after the weight loss. This is one of my longer-term plans.

7. Write 100k words into a story posted on a public site

I’m not sure where to post this, but I want to get something going on one of those public sites like wattpad, fictionpress or something. Not necessarily a high quality, edited 100k words, but just something to keep putting stuff out there into the ether and getting that social pressure.

8. Win NaNoWriMo

50k words in November. I did it in 14 days in 2015, I can fit it in this year too, no problem.

9. Rewrite, edit, and self-publish (or submit) my NaNo 2015 book

I really liked the thing I wrote for NaNo 2015. It had a lot of flaws – as you’d expect from a NaNo book – and I probably started 3 chapters earlier than I should have. Or arguably I could start the story where I stopped and go from there. Lots of options there, but I want to actually finish this book and put it out there. This is different from the thing for goal #7. That’ll be new, this is more of the back end of book development.

10. Self-publish 1 technical or non-fiction book

Another book? Am I crazy? Maybe, but a book about a topic or set of libraries or something doesn’t seem like it’d actually be that hard. I want to try it out and see how I do. Being entirely honest, I’m not sure I’ll have time for this AND #7 AND #9 but we’ll see. They’re kind of each different things and it mostly comes down to time management. I actually started a book in 2015 that I abandoned once I got my current job. I won’t go back to that one, since it was basically an extended tutorial on a set of libraries, and those go out of date rapidly. It did give me the chops I needed to sketch out the right kind of outline and do it. I wouldn’t be starting from zero knowledge.

11. Review 5 technical books

This is kind of cheating a little, since I’d be doing these as blog posts for #6. I want to make a point of reviewing some technical books as part of my blog. The motivation here is two-fold. First, it makes my blog show up for those authors when they search their own name. Since they’re probably more successful than me or at least more influential in their circles, that could give me some pull. Second, the reviews will have Amazon referral links on them (properly disclosed of course), and depending on the volume of traffic I could make a couple of dollars. So this really works as a potential income source and networking opportunity. I’m probably only going to review books I like though, since otherwise that makes things messier. I don’t want to be a general reviews site, I just want to point out useful resources to my readers from time to time.

Social and Networking

12. Have 500 Twitch followers

This goal assumes I’m going to keep streaming on Twitch. I want to, since it’s fun. Why pick a number like 500? It’s basically either impossible or too easy, depending on the circumstances. About 2/3 of my followers I got in maybe 2 or 3 streams. The rest of the time I’d get anywhere from 0 (usually) to maybe 2 or 3 at most. Using those numbers and some idea of how much I think I can stream this year, I could probably make a safe estimate and pick a number like 200. Instead I’m betting on luck to an extent. Maybe I play some game and happen to get on a bandwagon. Maybe I get raided. Who knows. This one has more luck to it than I like, but having a number is a handy thing. Just so I have a reference point on progress when I come back, at the beginning of the year I think I had 98 followers.

13. Have 500 Twitter followers across accounts

Too easy, probably. I have a few accounts I’m using and unless something happens with twitter (there have been rumblings) I think I’ll end up with a pretty good number across accounts. This includes my technical accounts and such, and even with basically no content I’ve been getting a pretty decent stream of followers just from the auto-follows people do. I have some plans for social media, so I wanted to work in a goal. Might have a post later on the Twitter stuff, though I’ve gotten some ideas recently for helping out my following. We’ll see.

14. Mentored by 3 people more successful than me

I need to be around more successful people to become more successful myself. It’s pretty obvious when you think about it. Part of why I like my current job as much as I do is that a good percentage of the people I work with are (probably) smarter than me. That makes me smarter, over time. On a similar note, I want to get pulled up by people more successful than me. The reason I used the term ‘mentored’ instead of ‘befriend’ is because mentoring is a more professional thing. I could and might even pay for it if the right opportunity pops up. Restricting friendship to successful people or just trying to be friends with successful people because they’ve got that money still seems gross to me. Start with mentoring, if I end up with friends, great. If not, that’s fine too.


15. Make money from 2 more sources

Honestly, these income ones are less important this year, since I’m in a longer-term cycle right now, but two sources of side-income seems reasonable. If I achieve every other non-income goal on this list, I’ll have at least two sources. The point is to build up streams little by little, since it adds up.

16. Make $3000 side income

I sort of doubt that the stuff I’ve outlined above would make me this money, so I’m leaning on luck here. I might also find some side opportunity this year. As long as I stay employed, I won’t feel too bad missing this one, but it’s good to try.

BONUS GOALS (Pushing harder on the above goals or extra details. The 20% above the 20%)

17. Lose 120 pounds

18. Write 30 new posts for this blog

19. Have 1000 Twitch followers

20. Have 1000 Twitter followers across accounts

21. Create a publishing company

22. 120 posts on  new technical blog

23. Review 10 technical books

24. Self-publish 3 technical or non-fiction books

25. Get 4 new technical certifications

26. Completed the Genki I Textbook + Workbook

27. Completed the Japanese in Mangaland and Kanji in Mangaland Series

28. Completed 5 chapters of the Genki II Textbook + Workbook

About the bonus goals

The bonus goals aren’t supposed to be all possible at the same time like the regular goals. A few are just details, but most of them are doubling down on one or another specific direction. I don’t ever want to end up where I’m not pushing hard.

2016 Quarter 1 Goals

The following should be completely by April 1, 2016

  • Lose 40 pounds
  • Have or scheduled to test for 1 certification
  • Written 6 posts on this blog
  • Written 10 posts on the new technical blog
  • Written 20k words on a story online somewhere
  • Rewritten and started editing on the NaNo 2015 book
  • Have 200 Twitch followers
  • Have 1 mentor or a solid lead on one
  • Have 250 Twitter followers

Final Thoughts

It was hard to come up with goals this year. On the one hand it felt like I was just repeating or extending what I wrote last year, after having completely abandoned that direction last year. On the other hand, I don’t suddenly think those were all bad ideas. They just ended up not working out at the time.

Are there too many this year? I don’t think so. The income ones aren’t really important and will only apply if I find an opportunity that will pay off this year. The NaNoWriMo one is basically free. The rest kind of work together into: Health & Fitness, community development, and skill development. There’s a huge amount of overlap between the goals, so while they might mostly be too big and hard, I don’t think there are too many.

I’m not sure this plan will survive the quarter. Last year’s didn’t. I still think that setting goals is important though. It helps me to organize my thoughts, set realistic expectations on what I can do in a year and prioritize what I think is important. This year my primary motivation is going to be community. The new blog will be a major focus, along with Twitch. Programming on Twitch Creative could be an interesting source for more community building. I started doing it just to hang out with my regulars while I was doing the coding I was going to do anyway. Now I have some more ideas for making it more interactive and interesting. Still, it seems like Twitch is controlled by a set of kingmakers. Sort of annoying. It might make sense to try to build a network of Twitch programming streamers. Hmm, that one have to go in the cooker for a while. There might be something there. We’ll see. I shouldn’t have ideas while I’m typing posts.

I’m going to try to make a point of doing quarterly updates to my goals progress. Then at least I can change them if my situation changes. It feels good to have this post done. I have at least two or three more kind of rattling around in my head, so I might post some more soon, but I don’t like to promise anything.



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