- firm determination to do something
I started out 2015 with a laundry list of resolutions that looking back seemed destined for failure. Of the 15 I was determined to do something about, only 3 could be called mildly successful.
- Read books, a variety of them - good ones. Finish the books I started last year. - I did read a lot.
- Cook 2 new meals per month - Thanks to Blue Apron!
- Run 5 races - 3 out of 5 is kin d of a success!
- PR my Half Ironman time of 5:32:07 - finished, but didn’t come close
Rebuild an old bike - Rebuilt one and close to finished on the Bianchi
Learn Swift + Build iOS App. - started a course but did not finish
Be empirically skeptical - What does this even mean - ugh?
Compete in 2 more Tri’s (Olympic or Sprint) - nope
Bike at least one Cat-5 race - not even considered
Save More / Spend Less - lets not go there :(
Learn how to use APIs and make use of them. - Nope.
Learn 3 new web frameworks. - another smashing failure
Try 2 new restaurants per month - tried, but this goes against my Spend Less resolution
Photograph more AND actively sell my photography. - NOPE.
- Start blogging and stick with it - made it until March
Looking back, I can see the fault in my thinking - how can one have a firm determination to complete so many things?
Recently, I read some advice from Warren Buffett on how to be successful. He suggested to make a list of 25 things you want to complete over the next 5 years. Once you get to 25, select the 5 most important and forget about the rest. It’s great to be ambitious and want to improve yourself every single day, but sometimes it’s better to pare down your life than to build on top of it. And that is what I intend to do for 2016.
As I have been writing my new year’s resolutions, I have tried to narrow them down to first principles of what I think are important to me. If you Google “first principles” it will tell you that it means “basic, foundational proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption.”
Without further adieu...
Here are my 2016 resolutions - my four first principles (and one bonus) - along with some ideas on how I can achieve them.
- Coding - I’ve been exploring Python recently and am excited by the opportunities
- Reading - continue my yearly reading challenge - more books
- Analyzing - analyze datasets with my coding - starting with my 2015 resolutions
- Get outside - go hiking/cycling/running more, and more places
- New ideas - just be generally open to learning new things.
- New foods - always, with the exception of olives.
- Remove distractions
- Watch less TV
- Video games
- Organize my life
- Physical space: clean up apartment/desk, donate stuff
- Digital space: i.e. photos, videos, files, hard drives, notes
- Remove unnecessary expenses of time and money
- Creative projects: coding projects, physical projects, new products
- Bikes - finish my Bianchi
The idea behind this strategy is that the specific actions I take throughout the year do not matter that much. If I am Learning/Exploring/Focusing/Building, I’ll be moving myself forward and improving.
If I ever come across a scenario to do something or not, I can ask myself if it falls into one of these four buckets. It’s not a perfect system (we humans are great at making excuses for our counterproductive behavior and finding connections that are not really there), but it’s something I can try out for a year.
You thought I’d forgotten about the bonus:
Marry my best friend, Lina. If I don’t achieve success in any of the other four, I can rest assured that I have her to pick me up.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not an expert on achieving my resolutions - see evidence above re: 2015 - but I find it very important to have a strategy and to make it public to reinforce your behavior. Hopefully this can give someone reading this a good start to their new year as well...