This post has taken longer to generate than every previous goals post I think. It’s not the amount of time writing, I have no idea how long it’ll take, since I’m just starting now. No, I’ve spent quite a bit of time doing some serious evaluation of how I’m going to handle goals this year and what I want to focus on. Also, I sort of started on some things in January that slowed me down in general. Let’s get into that.
2017 so far and Initial thoughts
I’m looking at last year’s post as I write this, and I hope I don’t end up with the same situation. Last year I built out some goals and had a pretty good feel for a schedule and then it all started to change. I suppose that’s unavoidable, the day to day is going to change over the course of the year. The thing I want to have goals for is to make sure that I keep focusing on the direction I want to go. It’s not so much about getting to the specific milestone as it is about direction, motivation, and energy.
Each year I keep refining how I come up with the goals. In some ways, some of them are unlikely to change. Things like fitness don’t really change from year to year. Lose weight, get in better shape, etc. I suppose once I get near an ideal weight it could change, but that takes time. Other things change pretty dramatically.
One of the things I’ve noticed and been told is that I have far too much I’m trying to do at once. On the one hand, I think some of that comes from people who are generally lazy and don’t want to see someone else succeed. You see this a lot across all ages. The whole crabs pulling each other down effect. However, I’ve also heard from people who are more successful than me – who don’t feel like they’re losing anything if I do well – that I have too many things I’m trying to do at once. I’ve found this to be generally true.
Each year, I seem to whittle down further and further so I just decided to try to get as few goals as possible this year. And then to make them big. Like BIG big.
Actually what I did was spend some time in each of the major categories and thought about what exactly I wanted the results here to be in 5 and 10 years. It really put some things into perspective. Mostly that I’ve been thinking too short term, and that leads to my goals being just extensions of what I can do instead of trying to reach to achieve something.
I broke it into a few categories, similar to last year. Though since I wanted to pull from the other side (longer than a year), I got it down to a very small set of categories:
- Heath and Fitness
- Japanese Language
- Work and Career
- Hobbies, etc
This isn’t a huge decrease from last year’s category list, but a couple of important things moved around. First, I’m being less coy about what is and isn’t work and career related. Last year I had the ideas of “Community and Networking”, “Skills and Certifications”, and “Income” which sort of bridged between actual work stuff and what I’m now calling hobbies. The other thing that’s important is that I’m officially relegating writing to a hobby. It’s a hobby I’m going to take seriously, but it’s a hobby.
I also spent a lot of time kind of ruminating on my focus regarding hobbies. I’ve tried to take too many of them seriously, spreading out my effort. There’s nothing wrong with having multiple hobbies, but I certainly won’t have time to have more than one that I take seriously. The others I had been looking at were getting good at drawing or painting (something I haven’t taken seriously since maybe my second year of college), and getting deep into music production (which I’ve always wanted to do, but never spent the time).
I settled on writing again. I’ve been losing confidence since I haven’t made any measurable progress in the last couple of years, so this year my main goal there will be establishing momentum. Unfortunately, I think that writing for the club I’m part of has actually taken away some of the momentum I had. Barrel. Crabs.
I’m not going to post my 5 and 10 year goals for now, since they were more of a brainstorm than a real definitive list, but I think I have a better idea of what I’m doing.
As always, these are subject to change as circumstances change, though I expect to need fewer changes this time.
Health and Fitness
1. Lose 80 pounds
I’m tempted to increase this since I actually gained weight last year, but no. Physics is a bitch and all that. I have some pretty decent plans, and I’ve already gotten myself more or less off of soda and mostly off of fast food in January, so it shouldn’t be a giant change to eat healthier. I’m starting out the year (well, not counting January) with a 15 week plan/challenge that has 2 week stints that I designed. After that, I’ll evaluate where I am and make changes as necessary. The key thing is that changes should be lifestyle changes instead of something dumb like trying to manage calories while still eating mostly fast food. There are no other main fitness goals this year. The weight loss is what matters, anything else is just support.
2. Take and PASS the N4.
I didn’t pass the N4 in 2016. I’m not upset about it, there wasn’t really that much more I could have done given everything else about the year. However, I should have no trouble passing this year as long as I keep my efforts up. Technically, I can’t know if I’ve passed or not until the end of January 2018, but I’ll know. I’m not studying to take the test this year, I’m studying to pass it. I actually want to get so that I’m tempted to take the N3, and who knows, I might try to leapfrog the N3 and go to the N2 in 2018. That’s how well prepared I will be by the end of this year.
3. Learn 2200 Kanji meanings
This is part of that leapfrogging I’m talking about. I want to learn all the official Kanji this year. Not necessarily completely learn them – since that’s basically a giant vocabulary ask. No, just learn the meanings. Then, when I get to them in the vocab in my JLPT study, they’ll be much, MUCH easier. I bought Heisig’s “Remembering The Kanji” and I’m going to go through that in the order of the book using its method. Technically this could be a supporting goal instead of a main goal, but seriously. Learning all the Kanji shouldn’t be relegated to a support goal.
Work and Career
4. Four new certifications
Most of the things I want to do to advance my career this year aren’t exactly measurable or quantifiable. I wouldn’t want to risk posting any kind of confidential information anyway. I need to do some real thinking about what I want to accomplish at work this year as well, but this is something I can measure. This averages out to one certification per quarter. At this point I’m going to lead off with either the AWS developer one or the Salesforce Platform Developer one. This goal is pretty uninspiring, but I think having these things makes for more valuable professional development and skills. While work is right now my #1 area I’d like to develop further, this is the only published goal it gets this year.
5. Publish 5 books on Amazon
That’s absurd, right? Well, maybe. I’m planning on having two different pseudonyms – my “main” one which I put my more crafted work under, and another one that I use to just put things out. I won’t spend any time or effort marketing or otherwise on the other one, nor will it link to my main one or my name in any obvious way. The point is going to be just to get some stuff out there. To gain momentum. So I do a couple of books that don’t have any professional editing where I make my own cover, etc. These don’t need to be my favorite ideas or very good at all really. Once I’ve got the second one out, I can start getting a “real” one going. I expect that the real ones will take enough lead-up time they might not go out this year, depending on how long they are or whatever. That’s fine. I wouldn’t even feel bad if I put out five bad books this year. The point here isn’t to make money – it’s to put something out that’s finished.
SUPPORT GOALS (Instead of pushing farther this year, I’m trying smaller goals that I can check off while moving towards the bigger annual or even 5 – 10 year goals)
S1. Have 15000 Twitter followers
S2. Bike 100 miles in under 7 hours
S3. Complete Genki I & II
S4. Complete 3 more Japanese textbooks
S5. Get 5 or fewer answers wrong on a N4 practice exam
S6. Win NaNoWriMo
S7. Create and use a four week writing challenge
Honestly, I’m not even sure a bonus/support section makes sense this year. Maybe I say “I can add things to the support goals every quarter” or something. I’m not sure, I’m making it up as I go.
This post feels really short compared to last year. I’m trying to be much more focused so that I can be effective in areas that are important. Maybe this won’t work out at all, who knows? But I think that the focus will help. I figure I have 6 hours per day on average, including weekends, for things that aren’t work. Stuff like certifications are non-work-hours work. So, being realistic, there just isn’t time to do things like split my effort between writing and blogging. I might still do some blogging, but it’s not a focus. Similarly I might mess with other hobbies, but they won’t be the focus. That’s my keyword this year. Focus.
I might do some quarterly goals and such later, though I’ve had the best results just scribbling down monthly -> weekly -> daily plans based on my goals and that’s far too detailed to post here.
At the very least, I’ll try to give quarterly updates assuming nothing significant changes.
2017 will be a good year.