As if I succeeded on the goals I had set for 2012!. Jokes on me.
Well, if put that way, things probably sound bad, but I’d like to not give away hope on new year resolutions and past year reviews as such when some of the people I look up to are living a phenomenal life driven by goals, hard work and perseverance (look here and here). I shall do the same.
Also these are not goals per se. I suck at goal setting and achieving things by the time limit. So I prefer an alternate, seemingly easy path of setting themes for my life for 2013. These are just new habits I’d like to see in myself that I do daily until one day, they become second nature to me just like brushing. I bet all of my beliefs based on some man’s belief that you’ll become at least an expert at something if you spend time deliberately practising it daily. And so here are the four things I want to be really good at in 2013.
1. Code daily
This was a priority in 2012 too, but just a priority. Didn’t break it down to fit into my daily schedule. So I suffered from lack of focus, and spent time on it based solely on how inspired I was at the moment to sit and code. But I know now that I should never trust inspiration and motivation to get to me to do some work. One day they’ll be high and I’ll code throughout the day, and the next day, I’ll sink into a great depression that would take at least a week for me to recuperate from. Now I know better. Whether or not I get a job I love, I’ve made up my mind to do deliberate practice of coding daily.
The specific details of the goal (just so I don’t regret this year too, brooding over why this goal failed):
1. The goal should be to learn at least one new thing daily – however small it may be.
2. Doing stuff is way better than learning stuff. But reading and learning is unavoidable when it comes to coding. I have to keep abreast of the tech I’m investing it. But I should spend as much time or even more to write sample code than to read and watch video tutorials. Have some interesting projects to work on.
3. This should be the main focus of the year. And so this should be the main focus of every single day. Starting the day with code would be the best decision I would ever make if I kept through it. Make it a habit. Strive for it.
5. Have more than one projects at a time so I could jump from one to the other and totally avoid the block I felt when coding the twitter url shortener app.
6. Put this all into a workable detailed schedule so you don’t have to make a decision every morning as to what to do. “If it is Monday, do rails, tuesday is for ruby quiz, and wednesday is for jquery and so on.” Have a plan.
2. Ideate daily
This is my second most important goal for the year. The goal is to sit down daily and strengthen my idea muscle, specifically the part of the muscle that would help me in becoming self-employed like Patrick McKenzie, a guy who makes incredible amount of money through his software which sells bingo cards for teachers (it’s a silly idea). It’s the simplest idea ever, yet one of the best execution ever. He has squeezed every single drop of juice out of this market. He’s the best in this very small market. I want to come up with such an idea that I can code myself, create an app for it and make money out of it. It’s a goal that would help me in the long term. I doubt any visible result would show up as a result of this by the end of the year. But it’s like the direction control of a ship in the middle of an ocean. Over time, it would totally decide where the ship would land.
James Altucher’s guide on this topic is very precise – Come up with 10 ideas on a topic daily. And most importantly, the ideas should pass a certain validation test: An idea consists of: description (what is the idea?), spec (detailed description), timeline (how long will it take to completely realize the idea?), and the next step to execute (what can I do immediately to bring the idea closer to materializing?).
I prefer to focus more on ideas like what kind of internet services I could build around a particular tech (eg. pdf generation library. What are the things that I can dynamically generate as pdfs and sell? Patrick would answer ‘Bingo Cards’). I have to make sure to ejaculate all the crap ideas I have in my head until I hit the one that passes the bullshit detector. I have to become an idea machine.
If I do this daily for one full year, I should be having a good idea ready for execution at hand. I might even implement it and start earning some money out of it.
3. Blog daily
I’m still wondering whether this is a good goal or not. It’s pointless to blog daily. But what I think I mean is it is important to write daily. Helps me to introspect, find my own faults, find others faults too, and be close to my heart. I do wish to improve the quality of my writing – be very comfortable with a larger vocabulary, convey a thought in its naked and pure form, write stylishly (dunno what that means), and be known for my write-up’s unique style and quality.
Ok got a clarified thought. It’s no point maintaining a long streak of continuously blogging like that of Amitabh Bachchan (he’s been doing it for 4.7 years non-stop now). I definitely am going to break it. Even this one I have to make it backdated to maintain the streak. It’s causing unnecessary stress! And I definitely don’t want this to get in the way of my primary goal to code daily (I’m yet to start today’s coding session and most of the day is already taken up by writing this post). I no longer feel the need to maintain a streak. What about the goal at stickk.com? Well I’ll modify it to suit my need It is a goal to write daily which I intend to follow through diligently. It it is worth it, I’ll blog about it.
4. Exercise daily
I will fail in this one if I don’t be intelligent about what it means to workout daily. The body needs at least a day of rest in a week to recuperate completely from all the wear and tear that all the activities including exercise cause. So I’ve decided to take every Tuesdays off, and also the days I’ve travelled. So exercise daily means exercise 6 times a week.
I’m trying out a new workout style this year. Instead of jogging and then occasionally doing some strength exercises, I’m going to trust a new research. It says that to burn more fat (and to become thin), you have to burn fat not just when you are running or working out in the gym, but throughout the day. That would burn a lot more calories than a 45 minutes run. It means your body metabolism should increase. So, to burn more fat even when I am sitting and typing in a laptop throughout the day, I need to have more lean muscles, because muscles are high maintenance. So all I’m trying to now is to build some muscles in terms of pushups, situps, squat, and some core exercises. So far it hasn’t worked out very well. I have become fatter than I was when I was jogging. But that means I have to do more of these muscle building exercises. There are sites for that where I can find some free-body workouts and try them. It also saves me a lot of time (from 50 minutes down to 4 minutes) and increases my chances of not missing a day because of laziness. I can use the time to spend it with my wife or even simply code.
Well, that’s it. Just 4 things for this year – Code, Ideate, Write and Workout daily. No aiming for the stars or any shit like that. I know I’m an under-achiever and a lazy dog. And so my goals are not that extravagant. Most of the days I believe I have to kick myself in the nuts to achieve this very modest goal list. But I think I can (the kicking-in-the-nuts part, albeit tricky). Thou shalt always use the power of habits to achieve change and success!
The To-Don’t List
2012 and every years before sucked mainly because I did some stuff that I shouldn’t have. And when those things became a habit, they easily murdered my ambitions and me. So it’s important to have an eye over those things and be watchful of those moments when I find myself slipping into the default mode under a particular situation. A To-Don’t list achieves precisely that.
1. Play chess. Frikkin’ chess.com website man! The site is so awesome and addictive that it ruined my life. I played a whopping 800 games this year. I would have withdrawal symptoms if I ever try to quit playing in that site for even a day. It’s like Kung-fu panda eating large amount of food because he’s nervous. When I feel depressed, or don’t have any to-do list for the day, or for the moment, I default to playing chess. It’s a fucking demoralising game too. If you win, you’ll feel like great and want to detroy that particular opponent even more by clicking the ‘Rematch’ button. But if you lose, then that is the saddest thing that can ever happen to you. It will depress the hell out of you, especially if the opponent outsmarted you and trapped your one and only queen and covet her as his own – that is the saddest moment in your life’s history. Your heart will sink so low that you will feel it closer to your balls. Nothing can bring it up. And so the entire day would be lost doing nothing of value. I would play 30 games at a stretch and then go to sleep feeling like a non-contributing asshole. I want to stop the madness. No more chess this year. I don’t want to get better at it, I don’t want to know about the different opening theories, and I don’t want to covet another guy’s queen. NO FRIKKIN CHESS THIS YEAR! I played my last game yesterday. And that’s that to it. (looking back in 2011′s review, I had the same problem! It has now effectively ruined 2 years of my life!)
2.Surfing into late night. The internet has a far stronger gravitational pull than any black hole in the whole Universe. If you take it lightly, and start the chain reaction of clicking through facebook and youtube links, you’ll never get back to reality recharged and full of vital energy. There have been days when I told myself that I’m very tired and have to sleep by 10:30 and then got lost in the dark charms of the internet. I would then tear apart myself from the chair and lay myself down and put myself in an agonized sleep at about 4:30 in the morning. And I’ll get nothing done in the next two days except sit and brood over my pitiful state while eating a lot of calories over a strong headache. This madness too has to stop. I have to learn to love sleep and make sure I get at least 8 hours of sleep every single day. I should probably write a script that shuts down my computer at 10pm daily.
3. Eat NonVeg as I please. Hard fact of my life: I’m getting old. I couldn’t get back to the shape I was 4 years ago, I couldn’t control the popping out belly, couldn’t do the jackie-chan flip I used to do while at college, I couldn’t kick my legs above my head like I used to without bending the knee, I couldn’t do 45 pushups.. aah, it’s painful to even type and acknowledge this. I see ‘young boys’ with barely some hair out of their face, a thin but lean frame, slightly feminine voice, the ignorance that comes with that age. I am never going to be that young again. And on that line, I’m never going to be thin and fit too! But I can try. What’s spoiling the ‘try’ is the easy access to high-calorie food and my ever growing appetite and taste for good food. I easily prefer any poorly tasting non-veg meals over any good veg items. And I do that almost every other day. Madness. Stop. I think it would be good to eat non-veg twice a week. But I’ve tried that and failed miserably. But that’s no reason to not try it again. Twice a week nonveg, twice a week nonveg, fail miserably, binge eat like a pig, twice a week nonveg, twice a week nonveg. The cycle should continue nevertheless.
That’s it for 2013. 4 new habits – to code, ideate, write and workout daily, and 3 don’t do items – play chess, surf late night and eat non-veg.
There are some things that I wanted to include in my list of new themes for my life like marriage, my anger, my financial situation, and my social skills. But I can’t find a way to fit them in my day-to-day life. Before you get any ideas, it’s not that I’m overlooking on these important matters, but that I have some other good answers for managing them instead of creating a ‘theme’ for them.
* Marriage – I’m going to let my inspiration and creativity drive the spice in my marriage life. I’ll do everything I can to have a happy married life.
* My Anger – I get way too much angry at some people I love very much and that bothers me. But it’s a good thing that it bothers me. I often catch myself these days just before I blast into an ugly shithole.
* My Finance – I can track my expenses, I can put on a budget for every month, I can buy mutual fund, reduce tax liabilities, read IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com etc. But I prefer to focus all of my energy on upgrading my money making skillset which I believe would give in the greater ROI.
* My Social Skills – I’m still awful at this. If you were to watch me getting along with my in-laws and their relation it would be paiful for you to even watch. I had joined Toastmasters 2 years ago, but lost interest and discontinued, a great tragedy that is. Had I continued that, may be it would’ve helped. But screw it, everything is said and done. I’m now married. I don’t have any need to woo another girl in my life, and so I’d put it on hold and have decided to continue to act by my intuition on those awkward moments (which only makes it more awkward).
* My Comedy Skills – Could I have another life in a parallel Universe where I can practise being a stand-up comedian and come up with insanely disgusting fart jokes? ‘Cos I’d love that.
Weird Stuff. After writing this I read the last year’s review post. It was shocking because it was annoying. I was bitching about the same things I’m bitching about here! I had chess addiction and wanted to overcome it. I even put it in the same to-don’t list! It only means that I hardly read and live by my goals that I set. This fact doesn’t help the least bit to reduce my annoyance. It actively aggravates it. But here’s a little consolation. When I wrote that review, it was just text and paragraph that could easily be forgotten. But now I’ve shrunk them to rememberable lists. I also should set myself a reminder to go through this post once in a month just to keep myself on track. Also I like to think that I’ve got better at setting reasonable and achievable goals and breaking them down to daily action plans. So I think I won’t write a post saying, “2013 sucked big time ‘cos I played too much chess.”