Belated birthday resolutions

So much has happened this year! I'm excited to see what I'll do for 2014! I might say "what 2014 would bring", but I won't just passively wait, I'll seek it out instead!

Table of contents:

  1. Why?
  2. Thanks, previous year!

    1. Regular body strengthening and stretching
    2. Travel and unwind
    3. Avoid processed foods
    4. Write and read more
    5. Take point/responsibility and lead something
  3. What now?

    1. Explore connections with people
    2. Strengthen my sense of self
    3. Produce more and consume less
    4. Develop several exercise routines
  4. Onward, I say!


Day to day, I direct most of my attention to the present or near future. By reflecting on the past, and setting year-long goals, I can get a bigger picture of my direction in life.

This is my third year doing this, and I really enjoy it.

Thanks, previous year!

Here's what goals I focused on achieving for 2013:

  1. Regular body strengthening and stretching
  2. Travel and unwind
  3. Avoid processed foods
  4. Write and read more
  5. Take point/responsibility and lead something

1. Regular body strengthening and stretching

Grade: B

In 2013, exercising has become a lifestyle. I now feel like I'm missing something on days I don't exercise. I had set out to do regular stretching, yoga, and muscle strengthening, along with chiropractor visits.

Stretching is still not my strong suit, but I've been doing it. I stretch for a few minutes a day, 2-4 times a week, usually using a roller. I do yoga about twice a month. I've been working my legs, shoulders and biceps a lot due to climbing, yoga and board sports.

Kiteboarding has been great for abs and back (core, really), but I could definitely use some focus on these and other areas. As a bonus, without a plan, I've gotten into more serious biking, including biking up to Twin Peaks, over other serious hills in San Francisco and a couple longer trips. I also usually bike to work every day and have been exploring harder routes coming home.

By far yoga helps the most with muscle imbalance, along with kiteboarding. Rock climbing helps with biceps and shoulders, and stretching/flexibility. Toning up has been working rather well, although it's at a very slow pace since I haven't focused on explicitly looking tone, rather more on feeling like I can do all of the things I want to do.

As for chiropractor visits, interestingly enough my chiropractor has suggested I strengthen my body so as not to need his services, and that's what I've been doing :)

For 2014, I'm evolving this goal a bit.

2. Travel and unwind

Grade: A

If in 2012 I barely traveled, yet in 2013 I traveled more than ever before.

  • The Big Island of Hawaii, with amazing experiences that have humbled me (read: volcano, manta rays).
  • I took my girl to Romania (Bucharest and Constanta), and we also visited 5 other locations: New York, Venice, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, including a former Jewish camp on the way to Amsterdam.
  • Boston, where I lead my first outdoor climbing routes, hiked, ate amazing vegan food and caught up with my awesome brother.
  • The Philippines, where I spent most of the time kiteboarding and a bit less hiking through unfamiliar territory.

In the second half of the year I spent much more time reflecting than in the first. I daresay the first half of the year was at most 1 hour a week of reflecting, whereas the second was more like 2-4 hours a week. It would have been better to do a bit more of that in the first half, but all in all I'm happy with the perspective I've gained this year.

I've been thinking about the future (next 2-5 years) orders of magnitude more than I hoped and expected. So much so that I experienced a time of stress realizing I don't really know how to make the most of the paths I'm currently on. I'm extremely excited (almost an understatement!) about this year for many reasons: my career could take some interesting turns, my hobbies are becoming more advanced and specialized, and my personal development is accelerating.

I'm so happy with this year for all the travel and growth! I actually set out to understand the limitations of time, and I believe I'm finally getting there. I've taken on so many things that I have a much better sense of how much I can make a habit versus what's an occasional hobby.

3. Avoid processed foods

Grade: A-

As August came around, I switched from nearly-Paleo to nearly-vegan, which was, surprisingly, not a big change in my cooking habits. It was a BIG change in eating out habits, though.

Here's the extent to which I've been eating processed foods: bread, soy-based products (mostly tofu and tofu-like flavored stuff), chocolate (hey! I really like chocolate, okay?) and protein powder/protein bars. I'm least proud of taking protein powder, but as I'd been trying to gain muscle and eat less meat, I lost weight really fast (10lbs aka 4.5kg in less than a month). To counter that, I added fish to my diet, which helped reduce most soy/protein powder intake. The protein bars though I'm OK with since I've been hiking and exercising so much more and for such long periods of time that it became a convenient option. One of the most rewarding experiences has been to figure out vegan solutions (mostly legume-based), and to eat a lot of meals a day :)

I'm really proud of myself for successfully experimenting with diet so much this year. I'm still looking to improve my diet, and I think the natural next steps are: tastier cooking, less sugar, less bread. I've also experienced some digestive issues that I'll look into in 2014.

One final thing worth noting is how much more aware of my body I've become. I think along with processed foods and sugars, reducing red meats and dairy intake made a big difference also. Very excited about this!

4. Write and read more

Grade: C

Unfortunately, I didn't write much more in 2013 than I did in 2012. I did read more, though.

After April, I stopped writing altogether, largely due to personal and relationship commitments. I also had a drop-off in reading, but I did read 5 books and a bunch of articles/videos on personal development topics.

In 2014, I'll be focusing my personal development efforts on relationships, communication, patience and understanding. I also want to experiment more with gratitude and kindness and have some ideas there.

On a professional level, I've read about product management and that's going to increase for 2014. I would still like to learn more about investing and finance, but I'm not sure that it's high priority for me enough to really commit to for 2014.

I made efforts to contribute open-source, but then left Humble Bundle to work with Minerva. Coding-wise, I've continued to learn and become more well-rounded and independent. I'm very excited to continue this trend along with product management skills.

5. Take point/responsibility and lead something

Grade: B+

I've stepped up my game to lead and be a solo-engineer on projects, read about product management (though I'm at the beginnings), and I've also focused on more independent decisions in other areas of my life, which have given me more and more confidence to carve my own path. Biking and yoga are examples of passions I've explored purely by myself at first, and so was snowboarding in 2012.

Dancing has continued as well, although to a much lesser extent than I would like. Definitely want to invest more time dancing in 2014.

In relationships, I'm extremely excited to learn more about possible paths. If I'm right, 2014 is going to be a huge learning year for relationships, intimate as well as friendships.

What now?

This year had some interesting goals. I will keep working on them. Higher priorities, however, go to a few new ones for 2014.

  1. Explore connections with people
  2. Strengthen my sense of self
  3. Produce more and consume less
  4. Develop several exercise routines

Explore connections with people

This year I've been reliving my love of connection almost like my high school days. So much wonder and learning in meeting new people, making new friends, dating, reading about relationships, vulnerability, jealousy, etc.

Complementing my stronger sense of self, I'm excited to explore new ways to connect with people. An interesting way to look at that that I've recently learned about is 4D relationships. I'm especially interested in connecting for growth (spiritually, as Steve Pavlina defines it).

Here's the gist of what I aim to accomplish:

  • Understand what I have to offer
  • Explore my role in relationships
  • Understand my needs and the other person's needs better and better in a relationship, and how we can both best satisfy each others'
  • Develop deeper connections (through vulnerability, confidence, openness, conversation topics and communication)
  • Become a better listener, avoid being critical and judgmental
  • Give, give, give. Only for the sake of giving
  • Practice gratitude and appreciation
  • Try many things out of my comfort zone

Ultimate goal: Feel empowered in relationships, understand what kind of relationships work well for me, trust my gut when something ain't right (related to below goal), feel more grateful and appreciative.

Strengthen my sense of self

This one's related to everything. Knowing myself will help me construct healthier relationships. Knowing my intentions leads to producing more and consuming less.

The key areas I want to invest in this year are:

  • Self-confidence and self-honesty (aka security). Dare to make decisions, even if I'm wrong (helps with leadership, too), be honest with myself when I fuck something up.
  • Intention-awareness. I'm not as aware of my expectation and intentions as I would like to be. Sometimes I rationalize and tell myself I'm being reasonable when I'm not. I did that a lot more in the first half of the year, but it's still there.
  • Trust myself. If I'm going to become an agent of change and make powerful decisions, I need a lot of trust in my own reasoning. I may spend more time thinking things through, or, even better, spend a little less time as I get a lot better at making certain types of decisions.
  • Examine, examine, examine. Negative emotions like fear need to be taken out of the closet and stared right in the eye to deal with them properly. Do that.
  • Along with the above, practice weekly positive affirmations and "I'm grateful for..." as both a confidence boost and a reminder at what I accomplish.
  • Make some scary decisions

Ultimate goal: Security and confidence in my identity and my path. Even if I'm still figuring out what that path is.

Produce more and consume less

This one's the hardest. I failed fairly clearly at producing more in 2013, largely in the sense of writing. What worked well was making bolder decisions, and I will continue that. In order to succeed at this, though, I know I must make time for it.

  • Set aside one half-day (4-6 hours) every two weeks, strictly for producing something. Could be anything. During this time, practice focusing.
  • Make bold decisions.
  • Don't be afraid to create things that might be wrong or that people will disagree with.
  • Be open to learning and adapting when wrong.
  • Spend less than 10 minutes a day on Facebook, or reading random stuff
  • Scale back on incoming email, keep it to 15-30 minutes a day of reading news, etc.

Ultimate goal: Become a decision and thought leader. Create change in myself and my environment. Feel more empowered to one day create something of value that people will want.

Develop several exercise routines

I will continue: rock climbing, dancing, kiteboarding, snowboarding, biking and yoga.

This year I've been doing the 7-minute workout and really enjoying it. I'd like to add to that so I develop strength and balance in other ways.

  • Yoga once a week. Try yoga at home also to make it more convenient, and maybe increase to twice a week.
  • Stretching for at least 5 minutes every other day.
  • Abs workout. E.g. 8-min abs. 2-3 times a week.
  • Resistance training or other kind of triceps/pull-up style training at home, and focus on these at the gym, every other week.
  • Low-low-low sugar and simple carbs intake. I don't know what a realistic number of grams per day is here, and I'm sure I'll want some 20% cheating, but I know my body would appreciate this a lot.
  • Dance twice a month
  • Kiteboard 1 days (2-4hours each) a month minimum, on average. This might end up being 2 days a month on average during season, and zero-to-none outside of that. Snowboarding or snow-kiting replaces it then.
  • Rock climb 1-3 times a week.

This is all going to be very tricky. I'm glad I laid it out here so I can come back and see how doable it feels.

Onward, I say!

One thing that's not on my list of goals for this year is an explicitly career-oriented goal. That's fine, and it has a lot to do with how I'm happy with my career as it's currently proceeding. Worth noting also, I'm focusing on leadership and decision-making which will influence my career as well.

I want to take extra time (and words) to recognize and appreciate how blessed I am this year. My health and fitness level have never been better, my family's been supportive and understanding (even when I thought they wouldn't be), my relationships have grown and I've been appreciated so much that I feel motivated to give back in my own ways.

To everyone who contributed to my life in any meaningful way this year, thank you. I feel so grateful, it really has been a great year!

As usual, around next new year, I will report back.