2022 Personal Goals RetrospectiveTL;DR:
Goals aside, it was a fantastic year. I married my wife and we continue to enjoy our life in Los Angeles.
This year I challenged myself to:
- 100 pushups everyday
- Keep a daily journal
- Perform 160 Stronglift 5x5 workouts
- Use DuoLingo every day
- Every weekday (including holidays) wake up before sunrise
- A max of twelve alcoholic drinks
- Launch a personal project
A summary of what I learned is below.
100 pushups everyday
After last year's Strong Lift 5x5 goal, I wanted a means to "grease the groove" on off days. Not lifting but not just sitting around waiting for workout day.
So I challenged myself to do 100 pushups every day. I started on Jan 11th and 32,400 pushups in total. That means I missed doing pushups for 31 days and failed the challenge.
I still learned a lot, including:
- Get it done first thing in the morning
- Don't get off the ground until they are done
Like last year's weightlifting goal, if I crossed this off my last first thing in the morning I felt better about the rest of the day. Blood flow. No tasks hanging over your head and all that.
I should have constrained the goal more. On particularly lazy days or on days I remembered right before bed, I would do them on an incline or with bigger pauses between sets.
Next year, I'm going to push this challenge a little further:
- On the ground or it doesn't count
- I can't get up before they are done
- First set till failure
- Hands and feet on the ground at all times
- Time how long it takes (not a race)
- Do them first thing in the morning after stretching
If you want to see really inspiring pushup pros, check out this guy who is trying to break the pushup world record. 🤯
Keep a daily journal
Part meditation and part historical record for my friends and family, I wanted to start recording my life in all its exciting and boring details. Social networks feel like they get corrupted to the extremes: we see the best, worst and most staged versions of everyone's days. Or at least, that's what gets reinforced (aka the Matthew effect).
I love my life and am grateful for being alive. Some days are extraordinary and others are pretty average. Sometimes, I'd describe some boring detail of the day with great lucidity. Especially as it related to deviations from my morning routine (often, walking my dog Leche).
I made this challenge much easier for myself via one habit: writing the day's tasks, notes and summary in one giant file I committed to in git nightly. I wanted that file shared publicly as an accountability measure which presented a problem: I don't want to share personal or private business notes publicly.
That's why I wrote and published an open source tool to partially encrypt the contents of a file. This way, I was able to have a "one stop shop" for all my daily notes, tasks and musings and a security mechanism for protecting content I don't want public yet. Sort of like how gov't agencies black out lines of text when they declassify documents. 👀
I'm going to continue this challenge next year, with one change: I'll start tracking some regular metrics with it (TBD).
Perform 160 Stronglift 5x5 workouts
Total fail here. I started the year thinking I should do a 10x10 program (aka German Volume Training). That was not sustainable and I burned out and lost sight of my original goal. Around August my wife and started bouldering together weekly. I love it. This transitioned to two to three times per week and I found myself justifying that as sufficient exercise.
I did 93 sessions in total but there was a real lack of focus and I wasn't lifting progressively.
Next year, I'm re-committing myself to another 5x5 challenge but will supplement other exercises where I see fit. 🏋️♂️
DuoLingo every day
My Spanish language challenge definitely succumbed to Goodhart's Law. My end goal is to be conversationally fluent in Spanish. Enough that I feel I can be stopped by someone on the streets in Mexico and answer them quickly without asking "¿repite?".
DuoLingo alone isn't sufficient. It is a great tool for daily, slow speaking Spanish quizes but I immersion is best. Converse with people who only speak Spanish.
That being said, I made a small tool to help ensure I practiced daily.
Next year, I will send my family more regular video updates en Español. A little habit I call "hermanos hablamos".
Every weekday (including holidays) wake up before sunrise
Another total fail here.
Started the year off strong but did not have the conviction to stick it. All sorts of excuses I can come up with but the truth is: I'm a big baby with sleep. Also, we got a new bed that is super comfy.
This is still important to me but obviously hasn't been important enough. My hypothesis is that by waking up early, I will create spacetime for working on goals outside the 9-5 workday.
Next year, I'll make this goal a little more solid by stating it as a wakeup + pushup goal. A mental hill to climb, nothing more. I'll use as many tricks until it sticks. Cold showers, morning run, beeminder, goal buddy, etc.
No booze (but for special occassions)
Continuing my goal from last year, this was another easy win.
Life is better without alcohol.
I did have wine at my wedding, vows ceremony and both wine and beer over the Christmas holiday with my family. Well under my 12 drink cap.
Next year, I'll continue this tradition. I'll allow--but not require-- myself wine during my anniversary and over the Christmas holiday.
Launch a personal project
I went a little overboard with this goal. Turns out...I like to play.
Here are the side-projects I shipped this year:
- Everyone Everywhere All At Once (.com) -- a project inspired by the excellent film
- Privatize -- a tool to partially encrypt/decrypt the contents of a file
- Street Foodle -- a daily guessing game of international street foods
- Treadmill Desk Race -- a coworking event with other standing desk treadmill users
- A DuoLingo streaks helper
- Jada Off the Keys -- a chrome extension to remind you to "KEEP HIS WIFE'S NAME OFF YOUR KEYBOARD!"
- e25n -- a tool to help geeks be less annoying
I could have been better about promoting my big-kahuna side project 24HourHomepage and will work that into my goals next year.
Goals on my mind for next year
- Eating and documenting 50 types of pulses
- Cook more special meals with my wife
- Gain 5-10 lbs of muscle
- Walk 10K (standing desk treadmill) every work week
- 150 stronglifts
- V4 bouldering consistently
- Wake up before 5:30am
- Regular marketing of 24HourHomepage
- Tracking what I eat
- Document the "phubs" of getting sucked into youtube
- Be a measurably great engineering leader for my team
Have you challenged yourself to grow? If so, I'd love to hear about it! Do you routinely set a yearly goal for yourself? I'd love to hear that too!
Until next time, Justin