2014 Year In Review

In a fitting end to the year, I’m revisiting my first post.  In that post, I put together a long-winded list of helpful habits in order to keep a new years resolution.  That list boils down to the following advice: identify, write down, and publicize quantifiable goals with definitions for success and failure that can be evaluated at a regular time interval.  Track your progress, and don’t let a single failure derail the whole goal, but instead consider it a part of the learning process.  Finally, know when to give up.

I then proceeded to follow those instructions all year long.  I put my money where my mouth is, and for the first time ever, it paid off.

IMG_0953

Summary page from my goal tracking notebook

As you can see, my goals met with mixed success.  I’ll go through them one by one and provide some commentary and a grade, and then I’ll wrap up with some closing remarks.  Here goes!

Weekly Goals

These are the goals that boil down to “do something X times per week.”  I determined successes and failures on a weekly basis; if I failed to complete the goal for a week, that was a complete failure, but I got a clean slate the next week.

Work out 5 Days

47 / 52 weeks.  I only had one week with less than 4 workouts (the week I was in Vegas), and I basically didn’t miss a week from July on (including holidays and vacations), so I feel pretty good about this.  The raw numbers say A-, but I’m going to give myself an A on this one.  The key was being flexible enough to treat even relatively easy workouts (20 min on an elliptical) as workouts, without which I would have missed a few weeks due to limited time or desire (in particular on vacations).

A

Sleep 56 Hours

This went really poorly.  I did this in only 6 weeks this year, and three of those were on vacation (including the last two weeks).  Here we find a good example of the “know when to give up” rule.  I basically decided that I didn’t care as much about sleeping as I did about the things I was doing while I was awake; I still tracked it, but I stopped trying.

F-, though.

Get to Work Early 5 Days

The criteria for success here was either be online by 7:30 or in the office by 8:00 AM, all five days in a week.  This is another good example of knowing when to give up; although progress on this goal was initially promising, I decided it wasn’t worth disturbing my girlfriend to get out of bed so early, so I just sort of stopped.  I only succeeded 7 weeks this year before giving up.

F-.

One Date

I consider this a pretty strong success.  I got off to a rocky start — for the most part, I managed a date every other week or so — but the whole point was to find someone to go on dates with consistently, which I did (and she’s super great).  Plus, I was still trying really hard during those early periods; as I’ve mentioned before, it was a surprising lot of work to do the whole online dating thing.  I managed 40 weeks with a date this year, plus netted a girlfriend from it.  I’d call that an…

A+.

Contact 1 Long-Distance Friend Per Day for Seven Days

I managed 40 weeks contacting a long-distance friend every day.  For at least three of the weeks where I failed, I was actually out of the country and couldn’t contact anyone at all.  Most of the rest were single day failures.  Without going through my records and counting it up I’d guess I talked to someone on at least 330 days this year, with a possible max of about 345 days — that’s a solid 95%.

A

One Blog Post

I cheated a bit here, because if I wrote something but didn’t post it, I’d count it.  Also, I definitely wrote a blog post on Sunday once and counted it for Saturday.  Either way, I managed to write something in at least 42 weeks this year, which is pretty solid.

I will note that the point was really to get me to start writing fiction again, but I found that writing the blog was more enjoyable (and more readable, probably, since my fiction is terrible).  I give myself a solid B on this — I definitely passed, but it wasn’t excellent work.

B

Two Hours of Music

I only managed this in about 27 weeks this year, but I put those 27 weeks to good use.  I can play pretty passable guitar, which is particularly impressive since I’ve tried to teach myself at least two or three times prior to this year.  A bunch of the weeks that I didn’t get two hours in, I got some time (typically more than an hour), but there are definitely stretches where I didn’t play at all, but could have.  Given the 50% success rate (low) balanced with the results (fairly good), I’m going to give myself a …

C

Yearly Goals

< 10% Body Fat

Hahahahahaha!  No.  Not even close.  I gave up on this one after I gave up drinking for Lent and there was no change.

F –

Olympic Triathlon:

I never even really tried for this one.

F –

Dance Lessons:

I didn’t really try for this one either, although I brought up once maybe with my girlfriend… I think?  I might be making that up.

F –

Band:

I didn’t join a band this year.

F –

Complete 2 Coursera Courses

I completed a Stanford machine learning course on September 1 and a Princeton algorithms course on October 17 — plus I took almost all of an intro to interactive Python course out of Rice, but it ended while I was out of the country so I missed it.

A +

New Job
I didn’t publish this one originally, since I thought it would send a bad message to be like “I CAN HAZ NEW JOB” on the internet while I was still employed, but I did have a goal to get a new job (or leave my current job) by year’s end.  I am happy to report that my last day will be January 7, after which I will be effectively funemployed, but nominally working for myself, for some indeterminate period of time.  I’m looking forward to it!

twothumbs

What has two thumbs and works for himself?

However, because I don’t have a replacement income, and because I’m not quitting until 2015, I give myself a…

B

Conclusion

I gave myself a passing grade in 7 of 13 goals, which isn’t great, but it’s a whole lot better than the 10% or so that was quoted in my original post.  Plus, I think we can glean some more info from this.

Notice that, of the weekly goals, I passed 5 of 7?  In my original post, I mentioned that one of the worst resolutions you can make is to do something by year’s end, since you just keep putting it off forever and ever until the end of the year sneaks up on you.  That’s certainly what happened to me here.  Even my Coursera courses didn’t get completed until well after the halfway point, and I didn’t get a new job until the very end of the year (and at that I didn’t like… look for a new one at all).  Meanwhile, the weekly goals I gave up on I made a conscious decision to give up on — every day I recorded that I didn’t get to work early or that I didn’t get 8 hours of sleep — I never recorded that I didn’t take dance lessons or that I didn’t do an Olympic triathlon.  The key takeaway from this for me is that these goals are stupid and need to be reworked so they can be better tracked.

Due to mixed (but well above-average) results, I give myself a passing grade, but due to my poor setup for the yearly goals, it can’t be a high one.  I’ll scrape through the year with a …

C


Next week, I’ll reveal my goals for 2015!  Given what I’ve learned in 2014, I’ve come up with a pretty robust set of goals for the coming year that I can hopefully track a bit better than some of the ones I made this year.  Get excited…?

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