It’s been a couple years since I wrote down some explicit goals for myself heading into a new year so I wanted to bring it back for this year, knowing that writing them down (and sharing them) make them much harder to punk out on.
Essentially my goals boil down to being more deliberate about how I choose to spend my time and they fall into the following buckets…
This one is the “easiest” in that the steps to being successful, though by no means easy, are definitely the clearest for me - eat better, exercise more and sleep better. For me, the last one is somewhat of a lynchpin in that when I find myself not getting enough sleep it makes it so much easier to eat poorly and so much harder to find time/motivate myself to work out.
After having lost 42 pounds before my wedding in 2006 (going from a robust 252 down to an in-shape 209), the past 3 years have seen me push me back up to a soft 233 and regressing like that makes me furious. I also recently got my annual blood test and while none of the numbers are super alarming (yet), they’re definitely trending in a bad direction. Let’s go to the numbers!
- Total Cholesterol: 199 (160 in ‘06)
- HDL Cholesterol: 37 (41 in ‘06) *higher is better
- LDL Cholesterol: 119 (92 in ‘06) *lower is better
- Triglicerides: 213 (137 in ‘06)
- Vitamin D 18.1 (didn’t test in ‘06 but it should be above 30)
So with all that in mind, I need to take better care of myself and here’s what I’m planning on doing:
- Get in bed by 10:30pm (not to sleep but to read/wind down. More on that below.)
- Work out at least 3 mornings a week. Ideally 4.
- Eat better. I’ll be periodically consulting with a nutritionist as well as doing periodical weigh ins, biggest-loser style to keep me honest.
- Cut back alcohol a lot. Have 1-2 drinks when I’m out socially and cut out the evening glass of whiskey at home “just because”.
My goal is to lose 25 pounds by June 1st, and ideally settle between 205-210 as well as get those other numbers back where they should be. I love the fact that this goal is so easily measured.
I’d go as far as to say that I’m addicted to information. That, paired with some of my OCD tendencies (including an affinity for completeness), compel me to want to “keep up” with all the various information channels I have at my disposal (Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, etc.). The first thing I do in the morning is check them and it’s often one of the last things I do at night. There’s some sort of psychological comfort in the fact that there’s always going to be something new there to check out. This is not normal, productive or healthy.
I’ve spent a lot of time the past few months thinking about the time and effort I put into these various social channels and whether I’m getting out value that’s commensurate with the time I spend with them.
Time is an incredibly (and increasingly) limited resource and I often find myself spending much of my “consumption” time reading about internet minutiae who’s interestingness has a shelf life that can be measured in hours and is often devoid of any meaningful lasting value. While I maintain a list of books I’d love to read, I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember the last book I actually finished because I spend all my “reading” time consuming things that provide enough contentment for a moment but seldom much more than that.
On a somewhat related note, Ryan Block recently wrote a great piece for the New York Times outlining why he’s quitting Facebook and Instagram and it touches on a lot of what I’ve been feeling of late. While I’m not ready to completely pull out of these services, I’m going to take a much stricter approach to how much I let myself be consumed by them. If the containment strategy doesn’t work for me over the next 6 months, I’ll be happy cut some of them out altogether.
Here’s the plan:
- Dramatically prune the people I follow on each of the services I frequent to a point where I can realistically keep up with and engage with the people on them.
- Read books. I’ll start with a goal of reading at least 1 book a month for the first 6 months and then I will re-asses. (Good news: I’ve already read 3 books since Jan 1)
The balance of consuming/sharing content vs. creating content has gotten way out of whack for me over the past few years.
On the creation side, I’d like to focus on taking photos (with my actual camera) and writing more. Instagram has been a great tool for taking lots of photos that look beautiful on my phone and are great to quickly share or email to a grandparent. However, while the quality of mobile photos is nothing short of amazing, they’re not the photos that are going to still look good 20+ years from now. So, while I don’t expect to move away entirely from iPhone photos, I plan to take more photos with my Panasonic GX-1. Relatedly, Marco Arment articulates the reasons for doing so quite well in this post.
As for writing, while the platforms have changed for me since 1996 (Blogger to Moveable Type to Wordpress to Tumblr), I’ve always kept a blog going but the amount of time, effort and thought that has gone into it has gotten lighter and lighter through the years. The problem is that it’s become so easy for bite-sized micro-thoughts (hello Re-blog!) to masquerade as “writing”. With that in mind, I’d like to get back to writing more regularly and I’ll be doing it here after recently resetting my old Tumblr account so I can start from scratch. This feeling is also what makes me really interested to see what Medium and Branch can turn into as they present really interesting approaches to pulling interesting content out of people that might otherwise remain undiscovered.
Here’s the plan:
- Get this blog up and running by the end of January and start with the goal of posting at least 2-3 posts per week and the re-assess after 6 months.
- Shoot more photos with my GX-1.
Generally this one is just about being present. When I’m home with my wife and daughter, my mind should be 100% with them - not checking email, futzing around with my phone or doing something else. When I’m at work my mind should be 100% there, focused on the tasks at hand. The reality is that the latter happens much more reliably than the former and that’s not a healthy long term strategy.
Here’s the plan:
- I’m not going to check email while my daughter is awake and I’m at home with her. Obviously, if there’s something pressing, I’ll excuse myself, tend to it and then return, but my goal is to eliminate the partial-attention that is so alarmingly easy to slip into.
- This applies just as strongly at work as well. No laptop/phone fiddling during meetings, etc.
- Make sure that I am spending my time on the most important/rewarding things. This will involve saying no to more things that don’t meet that bar.
- Worry about capturing less and focus on enjoying more.
Having a family (that includes a toddler) and working at a startup has resulted in an incredibly rewarding, if not frenetic, past few years. Rather that get swept away by it and constantly react to what are two always changing situations, I’m going to work hard to be more deliberate about how I spend my time - with family, colleagues, friends and for myself.
For me, these goals will help me become a more balanced person and will ultimately result in being a better husband, father, friend and leader at Foursquare.