Welcome to 2018!
Last year I published ten resolutions for 2017. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it ended up being a post that I referred back to throughout the year to see if I was on track with my goals.
Here’s how it stacked up:
Take better care of myself: I said that I’d change my eating habits and get more cardio into my routine. Both happened. I started following a ketogenic diet in the spring and jogging, including a couple of 5km runs. I’m down 25lbs from this time last year.
Attend more meetups: I got back into leading local WordPress meetups. WPToronto East meetups were small, roundtable discussion sessions hosted at Kobayashi + Zeitguys on the Danforth. I attended a few other meetups in 2017, but overall I’ve come to accept that I just can’t get out to as many meetups as I used to.
Create something new every day: While I did do more in 2017 than in previous years, I fell well short of my goal. I’m not giving up on this one yet though. (More on that down below.)
Improve my web development skillz: This was a straight-up fail. I started off with React For Beginners from Wes Bos but gave up a few weeks in. I made a few false starts later in the summer at working with Python and SQL.
Tinker with hardware: I wanted to do more hands-on work in 2017, specifically with Arduino and home automation. It didn’t take. Not even a little bit. I did next to nothing with hardware.
See more of North America: This was a success! I visited Sonoma County and Santa Cruz while in the Bay area for work; I checked out old downtown Gilbert in Arizona; and I went to Miami, Rochester, and Portland (Maine) for WordCamps. Plus I did some hiking in Maine, which was a nice experience.
Small road trips around Ontario: Another success. I got my G1 in February 2016 and my G2 in February 2017. Bought a used 2013 Honda Civic shortly after. Porthos — yes, we named our car — took us as far north as Tobermory, ON, as far west as Lake Huron, and as far east as Montreal, QC.
Spend more time with family: I thought that having a car would give me more freedom to see my out-of-town family. But it turns out that the biggest challenge wasn’t the distance; it was the time. On the flipside, we saw in-town family a lot more… but because of our roadtrips, we spent less time with them during the summer.
Read less fluff and more books: I started a list of books to read and it’s grown to over 200 entries… but I don’t think I finished a single new book in 2017. So that’s a great big fail on this one. By comparison, Matt Mullenweg read a whole bunch.
Write a book: I worked on a handful of Pro eBooks for the GoDaddy blog, and I got as far as outlining a book of my own, but that was it. I didn’t write or publish a book last year.
So that’s about a 50% success rate of sticking to my resolutions.
What did I learn in 2017?
Losing weight and gaining strength is a byproduct of a healthy lifestyle. Most of what worked came from small decisions around what to eat and how much to eat during meals. For exercise, it needed to become a habit, a ritual, a part of my daily routine that I didn’t think twice about.
Meetups aren’t really my thing anymore. They were fantastic when I was single and lived downtown. It was a way to socialize and network. But now that we have a little family in Scarborough — me, my girlfriend, and our new puppy — these meetups just don’t feel as rewarding. Time spent at meetups is time away from friends and family.
Creating something new every day needs to be a habit, or you need another method of staying accountable. I wrote a bunch of guest posts through December. I stayed accountable by giving myself due dates, blocking off time in my calendar to write, and tracking progress in a spreadsheet. (Aside: I switched over to Teamwork briefly and now I’m using Airtable.)
There’s a hefty opportunity cost to everything. Time invested into any activity — whether it’s exercise, creating, or learning — means time not spent on something else. While I understood that in theory, I didn’t fully appreciate the reality of it until late last year. It’s very easy to fall into a trap of thinking you have more time than you actually do.
I love being on the road. There’s an amazing sense of freedom that I didn’t understand before I started driving. Being able to pack up and head out for an impromptu weekend road trip is fantastic. You’re not waiting on an Uber driver or trying to figure out transit schedules or worrying about how much you can take with you. Just load up the car and go.
So, overall, I’d say that 2017 was a great year. I made progress, learned a lot, and had great experiences. And I’m pulling some of the things I didn’t accomplish into 2018, and making them more of a focal point for this year.
Which brings me to…
Ten resolutions for 2018
I started thinking about these goals back in November.
1. New fitness goals for a good cause.
Running isn’t my thing, but I adore cycling. To give myself something to work towards, I’ve signed up for three major events this year: The Ride for Heart; The Ride to Conquer Cancer; and the Friends for Life Bike Rally.
I’m setting out to raise $10,000 across these three events. Funds go to support the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada; the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre; and the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation.
I’ll be fundraising the traditional way by asking for donations; but I’ll also be running a series of WordPress workshops throughout the year with all proceeds going directly towards my fundraising goals. You’ll hear more about the workshops soon.
There’ll be a lot of training for these events, too, and I fully expect a byproduct of that training to be new fitness milestones: losing weight; gaining strength; and building my cardio endurance.
2. Start building something for the next ten years.
These last ten years have been full of learning experiences and doing things I’d never thought would happen.
I left home and went to college in a town three hours away. I moved to Toronto despite swearing that I’d never live in the big city. My hobby became my career. I met the love of my life. We went to Mexico. We went to Germany. We got a car. We got a dog!
And now I’m about to turn 30. It’s bizarre to think about. Despite everything that’s happened I still feel like the same kid I was fifteen years ago. I remember when my parents were in their thirties. I thought that was old! Yet here I am…
So, on the cusp of turning 30, I’m looking back over everything that’s happened — all the learning, all the experiences — and trying to figure out how to coalesce that into something that I can start building on for the next ten years.
I’ve thought about it a lot over the past year. At first I thought it might be a nonprofit; and then I thought it might be some sort of side hustle; but, as last year came to a close, I realized that there was already something I was neglecting to build up. Myself.
Throughout 2017 I thought that different aspects of my personality, my different interests, should be split off into separate projects. I thought that they were incompatible with each other.
But that goes against everything that I like about other people. I like the combination of diverse interests and personality that makes everyone unique.
So why not own it instead of trying to hide it? That’s being your “authentic self”. It’s not some superficial performance with a polished persona.
So that’s what I’m going to build on for the next ten years. Myself. And I’m going to continue doing what I do best: reading, watching, curating, sharing, presenting, and documenting in hopes that others find it useful or helpful or at least interesting. And if they don’t, that’s fine, but it is what it is.
Speaking of which…
3. Create for the sake of creating.
In 2017 I had the goal of creating something new every day. That didn’t happen.
So, in 2018, I’m doubling down. This is the year of creating for the sake of creating. It’s a content creation challenge.
I’m talking the full gamut here: Interviews. Podcasts. Video. Seaming. Illustrations. Photography. Portraits. Painting. Writing.
I’m getting serious about content creation and turning my website into an open notebook to contain it all.
And I’m going to publish often. I’ve even got a content calendar set up in Airtable to keep myself accountable.
(Hopefully I’ll get a book done by the end of the year, too.)
4. Improve my data-crunching skills.
Another failed goal for 2017 was to improve my web development skills.
I realized that, unless I had a real reason to work on something, it was easy to dismiss. So those tutorials I set out to do at the start of the year were quickly abandoned. There were more pressing tasks to focus on.
I still want to improve my web development skills, but this time I’m treating them as a byproduct to working with data.
Specifically, I want to drill into:
- Scraping, storing, and retrieving data.
- Manipulating data.
- Visualizing data.
- Interacting with data in different ways (e.g. messenger bots).
There are a number of languages and technologies that’ll come in handy here. My hope is that the skillset I pick up will be versatile enough to apply in different scenarios.
5. Make things by hand.
I’m opening up the failed “do things with hardware” goal from 2017 and instead looking at doing more things by hand in 2018.
This could be artwork, crafts, and yes, even hardware… but I don’t want to make electronics and the like a requirement.
Top of mind? There’s some small-scale furniture restoration I’d like to do, and I’ve got some basic projects in mind for organizing things around the house.
6. Track everything.
I’m using Airtable to keep myself accountable with personal writing assignments and projects.
I’ve got a “base” set up with different tabs for my editorial calendar, guest posts, and tracking my creative work.
Maintaining a daily weight log via Fitbit kept me motivated last year because I could see progress being made over time.
Doing the same thing for my December guest posts was super helpful, too.
I figure continuing that into 2018 just makes sense.
7. More road trips south of the border.
The Ontario road trips will continue, but I’d also like to see more of the US.
Ideally Arizona in the spring; Washington in the summer; and New England in the fall.
I’d like to get back to Chicago at some point, and NYC – it’s probably been five years since I was last in New York.
8. More workshops and presentations.
I really enjoyed the few speaking engagements I had at WordCamps last year. I’d like to do more of them in 2018.
I’d also like to get back into leading regular beginner tech workshops, like I used to do for Camp Tech. I’m particularly interested in helping makers, creators, crafters, and artists wrap their heads around using the web to showcase and sell their work.
9. Pay off the last of my student debt.
I cleared off a big chunk of my student debt over the last couple years, but I still have some to go.
My original goal — which was shared on my friend’s blog — was to clear it out entirely by 30. I don’t think I’ll make that deadline, so I’m amending it slightly to debt free at 30. (I’m aiming for Canada Day. Fingers crossed!)
10. Make time with friends and family.
Last but definitely not least.
If there’s one thing I learned in 2017, above all else? You need to make the time for the things you care about.
It’s not enough to simply want to do it, or know that you need to do it.
For me, that means setting a date and time and getting it into the calendar and prioritizing it. Otherwise iton’t happen, or other things will pop up to fill in the space.
Friends and family deserve at least the same level of diligence as time spent on work or personal projects.
This year, I’m going to give it that attention.
Those are my ten resolutions for 2018.
A quick recap:
- Achieve new fitness milestones while supporting great causes.
- Focus on building up myself. (Call it a personal brand; portfolio; whatever.)
- Double down on creating for the sake of creating.
- Improve data-crunching skills, learn new dev stuff along the way.
- Make things by hand: artwork, crafts, tech hardware.
- Track everything to stay accountable and monitor progress.
- Take more road trips south of the border.
- Run more workshops and do more presentations/speaking.
- Pay off the last of my student debt.
- Make time for friends and family.
I’m always curious about what others are setting out to achieve for themselves. Hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, or drop me a message and let me know what your resolutions are for 2018. I’m happy to link out to your blog post as well, if you’ve got one.
Update: A few other resolution posts that’ve caught my attention…