I’m usually not a big New Year’s Resolutions guy, but I’ve got a few this year. One of them is committing to maintaining a blog, and so it seemed like a good idea to make my 2018 resolutions the first post on that blog.

Yearly resolutions

I used to think that New Year’s Resolutions were a bit silly. I’ve never been much of a traditionalist, and picking a specific time of year to improve yourself seemed extremely arbitrary. If you feel the need to improve yourself, you shouldn’t wait, right? Over time, my opinion has evolved a bit. Those things are still true: Jan 1 is an arbitrary time, and you shouldn’t wait to make positive changes in your life. What I’ve learned, however, is that it is useful to have regular, external markers that cause you to evaluate things.

I’m no expert when it comes to project management, but I’ve learned some things in my professional career. One of those things is that setting milestones and then evaluating against those milestones is simply how you get things done. If you want to accomplish goals, set a timeline for yourself. If you hit your goals, set new goals, and then set a new timeline. If you miss them, evaluate why, fix what you can, and set a new timeline. Just keep at it.

And while Jan 1 is just a man made barrier, it does coincide nicely with my holiday vacation. Time away from work definitely gives me time to reflect and think about what’s important to me outside the normal work grind. After spending a few days watching how I spend my time when I don’t have to be somewhere every day, I feel like I have a better context to evaluate how I want to spend my time and what things are important to me.

Even if you don’t like the New Year’s Resolution tradition, I do recommend putting some date on a calendar, and using it as a moment to consider where you’re at, where you’d like to be, and what you can do to get there.

Public commitment

While I’ve come around a bit on having resolutions, I’m somewhat reluctant to publicly talk about them. Studies say that it lowers the chance of success by creating a false sense of progress. It’s easy to say you’re going to do something, which then leads to feeling like you’ve already done it. I know I’m prone to this way of thinking myself, and I don’t like it about myself.

I’m doing it anyway, though, because I want to have the discussion. I wanted to talk about why I think it’s important to even have resolutions, and I want to talk about why I chose these ones.

The list already

Alright, alright, enough talk. What’s the actual list?

Write More

Commitment: Write one blog post a week
Goal: Make sure there’s at least one website I like.

In 2018, I’d love to do my part to take the internet back. We rely too much on Facebook, Twitter, and Google to facilitate basic communication. Meanwhile, it feels like blogging became largely a for-profit affair, with tons of media outlets adopting blog formats, and even personal blogs accumulating advertisements, affiliate links and paid reviews like weeds. The web just feels less genuine than it used to. So here’s my little corner of the web, and I’m going to endeavor to make it an authentic one. I’m not going to turn the tide by myself, but I’m going to do my part to share my passions, my successes, and especially my failures with those who might benefit from them. There’s more to it than that, and I’ll get into it soon, but that’s the main reason.

Give More

Commitment: Set aside fixed amount per month, and use it to back patreons, commission art, and support causes I believe in
Goal: Actively promote art and charity.

If one part of my plan to take the internet back is to make more content I want to see, the other half of that plan has to be supporting others who are doing the same. To realize that, I’m setting aside money every month to use to support artists and creators who are making things.

Part of this goal also involves giving to charity. I’m very lucky to be doing well enough to support causes I believe in, and it’s needed now more than ever. Normally, I wouldn’t be talking about charitable giving in public, because it feels a bit tacky, but I think it’s important to state up front that supporting creators is just a part of the overall plan. It’s nice to talk a big game about supporting art, and I think it’s very important, but I worry that it’ll sound a bit hollow without knowing that I’m also putting my money where my mouth is when it comes to fighting against things like poverty and injustice as well.

Read in Spanish

Commitment: Read 4 books in Spanish this year
Goal: Continue on the road to spanish fluency.

Two years ago, after a trip to Mexico, I decided to brush off my high school Spanish, and try to progress to some level of fluency. Despite taking several months off, I made a lot of early progress towards this goal. This year, I plan to continue that progress by reading Spanish language native books. They’ll probably be children’s books, but it’ll be progress! 4 might seem like a pretty modest goal, and it is, but it takes me a long time to read stuff. Every time I encounter a word I don’t know, I look it up then add it to an Anki deck, and that increases the time it takes to get through a book by an order of magnitude. It’s been great for picking up new words, though, so I look forward to the challenge!

Find a Fitness Routine

Commitment: Supplement running with at least one other form of physical activity
Goal: Get healthier with more well rounded exercise

Alright, alright, I know. Fitness related resolutions are extremely cliché. Thankfully, I’m not starting from scratch. Borrowing liberally from this great article on running, I hate running. I hate running roughly three times a week. As much as I hate running, it has one critical advantage over other forms of fitness: I actually do it. The ability to get up on a Saturday, sluggishly get dressed, and be 30 minutes into the run before I functionally wake up is huge. The sheer convenience of it is hard to beat. I don’t need to drive anywhere. I don’t need to set aside time in my schedule. I barely even need to be conscious!

Using running as my sole way of staying in shape has a couple of problems, though. One is that I tend to mostly fall off of it in the winter. Most of the year, I love running around the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Everything is green, and there’s great trails and parks everywhere you look. But come January? It’s cold out there, friends, and I’m a big baby. I always try to move the running inside to a treadmill for a couple months, and I often have a bit of success with that, but in the end, I’m usually starting over nearly from scratch in the spring. In many ways, that’s fine! The yearly ritual of starting spring with Couch To 5K (again) and eventually hitting long 15k runs in the summer does keep me pretty fit. It’d be nice to find some way to supplement running with something else that I’d have an easier time with keeping up in the winter, though. Ideally, that means something I can do at home, and furthermore, finding something I can do in the mornings before I’m awake enough to be actively miserable would be swell.

Another problem with running is that it’s just not very balanced. When I pick up a heavy box and pull something, knowing how many miles I ran the day before is of little comfort. So I’d like to do something that will help build a little muscle, as well. I have pretty modest strength targets: I just want to be able to move furniture around the house or move wood around the shop without hurting myself.

Currently, I’m giving yoga and bodyweight exercises a shot, and so far it’s working out well. The commitment, though, is that if I fall off that, I’m going to keep trying new things until I find something I can and will do on running off days.

That’s It! Thanks for being here!

The theme running through the first two goals of supporting a better internet is something I hope to continue to pursue throughout 2018. The first step was starting my own Mastodon instance, a federated, decentralized version of Twitter. Now the blog. And perhaps a running theme in my software projects this year?

And, so, that’s it! That’s the kickoff post for the new dyselon.com. It’s a bit far from the planned day-to-day content of pictures of electronics and food, but it seemed like a great chance to set a tone. I’ll get comments up and running soon, but in the meantime, if you’ve got any feedback, advice, or questions, feel free to toot me, tweet me, or e-mail me!