Belated Birthday Resolutions

Another year of growth! I've gone to lengths, places and areas I didn't think I would in 2014. I'm extremely grateful for the achievements and not surprised at most goals where I fell short.

Table of contents:

  1. Why?
  2. Thanks, previous year!

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

    1. Travel, travel, travel
    2. Grow my own business
    3. Become more physically fit
    4. Improve emotional balance
  4. Onward, I say!

Why?

I develop a longer-term perspective by looking back and forward 12 months each year.

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

Thanks, previous year!

Here's what goals I focused on achieving for 2014:

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

1. Explore connections with people

Grade: A

Funny thing is, shortly after writing last year's, I met someone on public transit who turned out to be a new kind of connection I'd never had before. 2014 hadn't even started!

I learned and experienced more than I thought possible already, and I cannot wait to continue. To list just a few broad notions:

  • a deeper understanding of love: placing someone's interests before my own, making them a priority in my life.
  • becoming a better listener (especially after reading Just Listen).
  • understanding more about being in love (also known as limerence): passion and enthusiasm, to a slight point of obsession; often fades after a while.
  • sexual tension: can be mediated from fading. :)
  • clearer communication: especially around expectations and needs. We make so many assumptions. This year I understood more about just how important it is.
  • getting in touch with my desires: emotionally, intellectually, and sexually.
  • opening up and pushing the limits of my comfort zone, in terms of jealousy, security, and more.
  • understanding the fad of vulnerability for its own sake.
  • be more grateful, mindful, positive and appreciative of the little things.

This would have been an A+ except the more I dug the more I found opportunities to grow. I came particulary short on:

  • trying many things out of my comfort zone: I only tried a few.
  • giving only for the sake of giving: I want to give much more.

2. Strengthen my sense of self

Grade: B

The funny thing about "self" is that it's a temporary, fleeting concept. Just like all of our experiences. I've yet to fully immerse myself into that idea, but I have made progress.

My sense of self has become stronger in that:

  • I started meditation, now do it daily. This increased my awareness of emotions and intentions.
  • I postponed decisions less, although I still do it.
  • I keep a growth mindset in even more situations than before.
  • My sense of ego gets in the way much less.
  • I stepped up my job responsibilities and communication toward leadership and product management.
  • I am trusting myself more and more, which leads to a higher sense of security and more courage than ever before, for example:
    • doing tricks when kiteboarding
    • going my own way when I know what I want to do
    • living on an island by myself
    • kiting in the waves, alone
  • Worry much less. I cannot emphasize how much this has improved my life and sense of self. I'm also much more present this way. Most of the worry faded as soon as I listened to my gut, especially around leaving my job.
  • Made plenty of scary decisions:
    • leaving my job
    • starting my own business
    • kiting in storm winds
    • faced new challenges in relationships
  • Practiced gratefulness (although I could do more).

I've yet to:

  • Make harder decisions sooner. For example, when I get a traffic citation, I avoid dealing with it.
  • Related to above, speak my mind on most important matters right away (I did eventually, but in some cases waited months -- especially professionally)
  • Deal more actively with jealousy, insecurity.
  • Take steps back to think things through and really see the situation for what it is (in particular, time commitments). Remember: it's OK to introspect more for now. I will get better at it with practice.
  • Take more personal time.

I could also do more of:

  • Be honest with myself (especially when I'm wrong).
  • Listen to my gut sooner. Helps to move on and dwell less.

3. Produce more and consume less

Grade: B

I knew this was difficult.

  • I produced a lot of courage and determination.
  • With that and passion, I developed my personal relationships more.
  • I kited more adventurously.
  • I stepped out of the norm career-wise.
  • I overall strengthened my sense of self.
  • I did things that others disagreed with, including in relationships, career and hobbies.
  • I barely spent any time on Facebook or reading random things. In fact, I unsubscribed from most things.

So, in that sense, I produced plenty!

However, I did not produce nearly as much value as I believe I have the potential to produce. What I could do more of:

  • Set aside time. I didn't take periodic time to produce, so this year my calendar has a slot set aside for producing.
  • Consume even less. Disconnect and reduce the noise. E.g. everything on social networks feels important, but is it really? E.g. I fear being disconnected means losing touch with career trends, but what if I proactively search for those myself?
  • Create something of value with my tech skills.

4. Develop several exercise routines

Grade: A

I'm the fittest I've ever been! This is fantastic!

  • I tried intermittent fasting to strengthen my body and maybe extend life.
  • I continued rock climbing and yoga, although less (until August).
  • I kited a lot (weekly to several times a week, for half of the year).
  • Biked and increased confidence there.
  • Snowboarded, decent snow in Tahoe already!
  • Did a few sessions of yoga at home.
  • 7m workout, 8m abs, stretching (though not enough)

More:

  • Dancing. I barely danced this year, only went a handful of times.
  • Yoga at home.
  • Stretching.
  • Organize or join some biking trips.
  • Gain muscle, focus on my chest and arms.

Overall I'm really happy with the progress of how I look and feel. My muscles are tighter than I'd like though so more yoga plus stretching for 2015!

What now?

Amazingness! I'm really excited for 2015! Similar to 2014, I will explore and learn about things I can't even conceive of right now. As a general observation, it was really interesting to learn that we project the same self in our future, but looking back are keenly aware of how different we become. So why should I expect to be "more of the same" by this time next year, when looking back a year I see myself as different?

Travel, travel, travel

I am finally at a place where I can raise how I travel to a whole new level. Both because I am independent in my career and because I gained more confidence in myself and as a traveler.

  • Travel to 2 new countries minimum. Ideally, these won't be "mainstream" western countries.
  • Travel solo to at least one destination for at least one week (dominant language must be one I am not fluent in).
  • Immerse myself in a culture and learn to speak that language at least at a beginner level (I'm looking at you, Spanish).
  • Visit Romania. It's been a while since I went back. And visit Greece or Turkey while I'm at it!
  • Work and travel for at least a week.

With these concrete goals I'm looking to expose myself to more cultural diversity and grow my philosophy on life. And of course, to adventure!

Ultimate goal: Become a confident independent world-traveler and work-traveler.

Grow my own business

I'm incredibly happy and grateful to become independent! I currently earn enough to sustain myself without having to sacrifice my hobbies too much. Of course, I have been more frugal since I left my full time job. It's absolutely worth it! And I'm setting this goal to work towards further independence and develop both:

  1. a focus on particular kinds of great work I do and
  2. a reputation, a network aware of my abilities and demanding me.

With that said, here's what the concrete sub-goals look like:

  • Earn enough to be extra comfortable. I have a personal definition of this.
  • Look into the legal and tax implications (e.g. LLC, retirement funds).
  • Create an emergency fund with at least 3 months of runway.
  • Save at least 8 months of runway overall.
  • Consider working with legal and tax specialists (lawyer, CPA).
  • Develop client base and bill at least 900 hours.
  • Learn what I enjoy to offer through my business and focus on that.
  • Get involved with mentors or groups that share my goals or values.
  • Invest in growing my own technical skills (native mobile, nodejs, angular, etc).
  • Create something of public value: an app, a website, a service, software tools, a blog.
  • Make a dream come true: work and travel (combine with above goal), a big reason I decided to be independent.

Ultimate goal: Become a confident independent business owner and feel empowered financially. Develop brand value around the quality of service I offer.

Become more physically fit

So I am the fittest I've ever been. Still, I want to keep going. I spend more time sitting around than I would like and I don't feel as strong or flexible as I'd like.

  • Invest in a standing desk.
  • Gain 5lbs (maaaaaaybe 10lbs) of muscle, focus on my chest and arms. I'll need to exercise these areas for muscle building.
  • Lose another 2-5lbs of fat and show some abs.
  • Continue kiting and rock climbing (1-3 times a week combined).
  • Continue regular exercise (3+ times a week: abs, general workout)
  • Yoga at home at least 1hr/week.
  • Stretching: research good routine. Include neck, shoulders, hamstrings, glutes.
  • Organize or join a few biking trips.
  • Dancing once every other month. I barely danced in 2014.
  • Watch my diet and keep to the general guidelines I am following today (low sugar, low processed foods, lots of vegetables and fiber, low meat).

Ultimate goal: Feel and look more fit and relaxed (aka less muscle tension, better posture). The better I feel in my body the more energy I have.

Improve emotional balance

I tend to dwell too much. I can also become withdrawn or uncommunicative if I push myself too far (say, by not taking enough personal time). I also experience emotions going up and down more than I would like. Sure, when it's on the uphill, it feels great--but wouldn't it be better to keep an overall higher level?

I experience much of the above because I'm not taking enough time for myself. To introspect, gather my thoughts, understand and be aware.

  • Meditate twice daily, 30 minutes minimum total. Ideally even 40. I'm not there yet, but I can get there by 2016 with commitment.
  • Let bygones be bygones. Write down the lesson to be learned from a mistake or loss, then look to the present and forward.
  • In the same vein, when something lands on my plate, immediately do one of the following:
    • Is it something I dread? If yes, then do it ASAP.
    • If it can wait without worry, file it with a specific reminder and notes/thoughts about urgency and importance.
    • If it cannot wait or is small enough to do in a heartbeat, do it.
  • Embrace urgency
    • Take the most steps back when I feel most sense of urgency and stress.
    • On days when I feel more pressure, meditate more.
  • Respect my own boundaries.
    • Take personal time unashamedly when I feel like I need it.
    • Speak up more when I don't really want to do something that someone else wants. Understand and explain why and arrive to a better consensus.
    • Think before I commit to spending time with someone, because I want to commit fully.
  • Get more organized.
    • Stop using "unread" as a reminder. Categorize the types of emails that stay unread and figure out ways to file them away.
    • Figure out a way to get back to people promptly when needed, and use reminders when not needed.
    • Each week, look back at what I have accomplished and what is most important that is left to do. Ideally, do the same each day.
    • Plan a realistic schedule for staying on top of things. Include working and traveling.

By the end of 2015, I want to do what I need to feel balanced and organized, emotionally and mentally. It's OK to have ups and downs, I just want them to be less frequent and to be more prepared and aware when they do happen.

Ultimate goal: Establish solid ground emotionally and mentally. This will help me handle uncertainties, both those I seek out and those that come at me.

This doesn't feel as much of a stretch as it did last year. Is something missing? Am I getting more realistic? More confident?

Onward, I say!

I don't have relationships explicitly on my list for this year. They're a subgoal under emotional balance.

Ironically, career was not explictly on my list last year yet I ended up radically changing it by leaving my job and becoming independent.

I extend much of my gratitude this year to:

  • being physically and emotionally healthy!
  • my family, for supporting me in my career decisions, financially, as well as with relationships and travel.
  • my friends and intimate relationships, for endless listening, advice, and teaching me to think in different ways.
  • the many people who have helped me advance my career or my personal adventures.

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

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