Each year, I make exactly one New Year’s resolution: only make one resolution. I’ve been doing that for five years, and I have a 100% success rate.
But I do make goals. The difference between a goal and a resolution is that with a resolution, as soon as you break it, it’s gone. But a goal is something you work towards, and you measure yourself not with the binary of achieved/failed, but by the progress and effort you make along the way.
Here are some of my goals for 2012:
- Build and publish an iPhone/iPad app – I’m thinking a budget tracker, not because there aren’t any, but because I can’t find any that syncs between multiple devices (e.g. mine and my wife’s). It also syncs to my second goal, which will involve keeping a better eye on my finances.
- Focus on getting out of debt. Due to some nasty medical expenses in the family over the last couple of years, coupled with buying a house, adding an extension and having significant cost overruns, we picked up some debt (a line of credit) – not including the mortgage – and the interest cost is more than I’d like. A big goal for 2012 is to pay it down – we won’t pay it off this year, but I want to be able to fold it into the mortgage next year (assuming the real estate prices don’t tank more, of course).
- Get on top of my own health. I’ve had weight problems all my adult life, and after 20 years of being between 20-40 kilos overweight, I suddenly lost 20 kilos and 3 pants sizes in under six months. This turned out to be an uncommon side-effect of developing Type II diabetes – my body started burning fat reserves like crazy, flooding my system with sugar (and making me need to urinate a lot – fat breaks down into glucose and water, basically). The weight loss was great, but the elevated blood sugar will kill me eventually if I don’t get on top of it. Fortunately I appear to have – from spikes of above 25 mmo/l of glucose (which is very high indeed), I’ve settled down to a more normal range of between 5 and 10 mmo/l (the 10 is a lot better, but probably still too high). My first quarterly checkup on this is at the end of the month.
- More regular exercise. Nothing too strenuous – I still have that weight problem, so running or jogging would be a bad idea; don’t want to damage the knees. Also, my diabetes was triggered by too much weight loss – I don’t know why my metabolic rate jumped up, but I don’t want to trigger it to that extreme again. Regular light exercise, such as walking, will (is!) help to stabilise it. To track this, I’ve started (today) to use RunKeeper.
- Keep on top of my reading. My goal of a book a week is never going to happen – not enough time, and too many things to do with it (including just keeping on top of my RSS & twitter firehose). That and I like to intersperse fiction in as well. But a book a month should be feasible. We’ll see.
- More blogging in general. And not just technical blogging – I want to get back to some general “this is my opinion about stuff I don’t really know anything about” pieces as well. 🙂
A huge part of all this is going to involve collecting metrics on myself. The metrics will be how I steer and adjust my progress to the goals. For example, monitoring my blood sugar levels has given me a lot of insight into how to manage my diabetes, and convinced me of the immediate and drastic benefits of exercise in an emotional way – I can’t get myself excited over losing weight, especially as I don’t feel unhealthy, but I can get excited about seeing my blood sugar graph stay low, and seeing spikes reinforces the decision to avoid certain foods. The concrete feedback helps me to steer, and it’s the steering – the act of being in control – that’s important to me.
(There are other goals, especially family ones – I want to get more involved with my daughter’s schoolwork, for example, and I want to get a maintainable garden established. But these lack the ability to monitor progress in a meaningful way)
So my meta-goal for this year is to be more consciously aware of what I am doing, why I am doing it, and to adapt.