Checking in on my 2016 challenges

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Just before 2016 started I formally and publicly challenged myself to accomplish a few things this year. You can read the original post here. I set a few goals for myself, some of them lofty, but I wanted to see where I can get myself. I also really enjoy the idea of challenging myself to do things rather than setting new year resolutions. To me it feels more permanent, like something that I will think about all year long. And I have thought about these things throughout this year. I worked on each one and kept track of where I was with each. Some of them I accomplished and others I didn’t. But, in the end I feel like I have learned a lot and bettered myself and the life I am living.

My challenges in 2016 were the following:

  • Write my niece Olivia a letter each month (Accomplished!)
  • Perform a standup comedy set (Unsuccessful)
  • Run 400 miles (Unsuccessful)
  • Get a job / position writing code (Partially Accomplished)
  • Learn to Swim (Accomplished!)
  • Write 100 blog posts (Accomplished!)

Writing a letter to Olivia was really fun and much easier than I thought it would be. I’m not really sure why I thought it would be hard as it only took a few minutes each month. I sent out the one for December just before Christmas and marked it complete on my list.

Performing a standup comedy set didn’t happen this year because I chickened out to be honest. I have some jokes written and a basic idea of how I want to do it, so I have moved this goal to my 2017 list. I am going to make this one a higher priority this year since it is rolling over.

Running 400 miles didn’t happen as I hurt my foot and got sidelined pretty hard as far as running goes. But, I am starting a new workout routine to keep being active and lead a healthier lifestyle.

Getting a job / position writing code is marked as partially successful as I did get a promotion to support Smartsheet API users which means I work in a realm of code each day. I do have to write code in my testing of issues and I have written code to help automate some processes for one off projects. So, I am marking this one as 80% complete. In the end I am happy with my career growth and the path I am currently on in the tech industry.

Learning to swim happened pretty early on as I wanted to be swimming on a trip Cassidy and I were taking in May to Hawaii, which I did. We went swimming in the pool almost every day that we were there. Since then we have gone swimming at one of the city pools a few times. I am now much more comfortable around water and in it. It feels really good to have finally done this.

Writing 100 blog posts was a big challenge, but also a fun one. I will be honest that this post number 99 for the year, but with one I have planned for tomorrow I will hit that goal exactly. This coming year I’m not going to set a specific goal for number of posts, but I will still be posting regularly. This way this blog will still be a collection of my thoughts, but I don’t want to force myself into writing when I don’t want to.

Overall, I am happy with these goals and where I am at the end of this year. It was so much fun doing these that I am doing some challenges for 2017. Right now I have some reading goals and some code / development goals. I want to finish the main Dune saga, read the Harry Potter books, and read the Dirk Gently trilogy. This should be about 15 books, so it will be a challenge for me as I don’t read that fast. As for code challenges right now I have that I want to present a talk three times in 2017. It might be the same talk three times or new ones each time or some kind of combination of the two. I am still thinking of something related to writing code, like maybe a specific number of projects or a git commit streak. I read about the 100 days of code challenge and that sounds fun, so I might do that. Finally these is my standup comedy set goal. I really want to do that and it will be a priority this coming year. I do want to set one more maybe, but this list feels pretty good and challenging.

If you’ve ever wanted to challenge yourself to things I highly suggest it. If you are going to do make a list. It doesn’t matter where you have, either in a notebook or online somewhere, but just make it. Writing down the challenges you want makes them tangible and puts them in the front of your mind. Reviewing the list is crucial to keeping them there and keeping you on track.

You can do it. We can do it. Bring it on 2017.

2016 Challenges half way point check in

Earlier at the start of this year I made some challenges to myself for some things that I would like to accomplish by the end of the year. Being that we are hitting the half way point of 2016 I thought I would check in on these tasks and see how I’m doing. As I publicly declared them to start I thought I might as well share the progress, good or bad.

In 2016 I have the following goals:

Send my niece Olivia a letter every month

So far this year I am six for all six months. The letter for June has already been sent. It has been a lot of fun to write Olivia and tell her about the stuff going on here in Seattle with myself and Cassidy. Going back to using pen and paper to write an actual letter has been super weird, but also incredibly fun. My brother keeps telling me how much Olivia appreciates it and how she really enjoys reading them.

Perform a standup comedy set

This one is still on the list to be accomplished. I have been writing jokes that I come up with in one of my notebooks and I’m starting to really come up with an idea of how I would like to present the set. I have also recently found some places in Seattle where open mic standup comedy is done. I have one place in particular that I think will be the place I do it at. As a bonus it is close to my house and should be easy to get to when I’m ready. Overall, I’m feeling pretty good about this one so far.

Run a total of 400 miles

This one I’m not so sure about. As of now I am still under 100 miles in total which if I was on pace I would be at or beyond 200 by this point in the year. Right now I am sidelined by a minor foot issue/injury that is keeping me from running. But, I am doing some work outs to keep up my cardiovascular ability as well as give my foot time to get healthier and stronger for when I do start running again. This is really just a sign of my lack of physical experience with the sport coming out and I need to take it seriously if I am going to keep doing it, which is the plan. I may not make it with this one, but I am sure gonna try to get in as many miles as I can this year. Next year might be the one I do this in.

Make writing code my full time work

As of the time of my writing this my job function is not writing code full time. I have started to do support for developer’s that are using the Smartsheet API rather than the standard support queue. This has been really exciting and is very interesting to me. I am also getting more opportunity in this to show off the development skills I have gained in my learning. This is feeling pretty on track as well.

Learn to swim

I completed eight weeks of adult swimming lessons earlier this year. I took what I learned there and used it to swim almost every day when Cassidy and I were in Maui. It was awesome. I’m not calling this one complete as though I do feel like I have the ability to get places in the water I am not the best yet at treading water and staying afloat. This summer I plan on swimming more at the city pools and getting more comfortable in the water. Once I am swimming easily in the deep end I will mark this as done. But, we are looking on track.

Write 100 blog posts

This year has been the most active for me as far as blogging goes. I really like the format of this blog and the freedom I feel in writing it. My last post prior to this one was the 50th post I wrote this year, so it is looking good to get to 100 by the end.

So far the goals are all looking to be on track for the most part. I feel like I am making progress on all fronts and can accomplish most of them. Rally it is only the running one that I think is in danger of not getting accomplished. Anything I don’t do this year I am thinking I will move over into next year. I will have to complete it along with whatever challenges I have for 2017. Have you set any goals for this year? How are you doing on them?

The end of the year is nigh! – Happy New Year to everyone

The last day of the year feels like a good day for a blog post. I really enjoy celebrating the coming of a new year. It is a great opportunity to reflect on the past year of your life and see what you enjoyed and what you would have preferred never happened, even to your worst enemy. Most people don’t like the reflection part and just go for the celebrating. I assume this is because reflection on one’s life is a one way ticket to a rabbit hole of worrying about one’s mortality. But, I still think it is important.

This past year I have made some big strides in learning code and making code a part of my work which I plan to continue in 2016. I made the trip of a lifetime to Japan with the best partner for my lifetime. Who is my amazing wife Cassidy if that is unclear in any way. Overall, I am really happy with how 2015 went and I look forward to working harder in 2016 towards new goals. When it comes to a new year I don’t like the idea of resolutions. Resolving to do something feels like setting up failure which doesn’t feel good. It feels like you are flipping a switch to make something good happen when life doesn’t work that way. For real change to happen real work needs to be put in. Instead I try to view them as challenges for the new year. It helps me to keep them in the back of my mind throughout the year and if I don’t complete them I can at least measure how close I came and what I could have done differently to accomplish them. All in all, personal growth happens. Huzzah!

This time of year the most common thing I see online is people talking about how much the last year sucked and how they are looking forward to the next year because it won’t be the last year that just happened which was crappy. The thing is that this happens year after year and in some cases it is the same people saying it every year.

Now, I’m not making any claim to have all knowledge of people’s lives and there is no way I can truly know how the last year of someone’s life was because I am not them. But, if you find yourself thinking this kind of stuff I suggest you try looking back at the past year and asking yourself what you could have done differently. Of course, there are the inescapable tragedies that happen in our lives which are beyond our control. I’m not telling people to ask themselves what they could have done differently in those situations. Sometimes the chaotic universe throws us a curveball and we have to find a way through the mess. But, in many moments in our lives we have the opportunity to make decisions. It is those moments I suggest people reflect on. Ask yourself, could I have made some better choices?

It may seem like the universe is a random place where nothing is controlled by anything. As an atheist this is my general view in many regards. But, there are plenty of moments in our lives where we have a chance to do something and what decision we make can greatly affect our lives. We have a lot more control than we give ourselves credit. I see a lot of people who put blame on the events of their lives for things not turning out a certain way. I also see lots of other people who have similar events, but take charge of their decisions and succeed. I’m not trying to preach to anybody here as that is not the intent of this post, but I just want to offer some perspective that we can accomplish the things we want. We just need to decide to do so.

So, Happy New Year everyone! I don’t know about you, but I’m all outta bubblegum. Let’s kick 2016’s ass!