2016 Goals: A Reflection

Below is a reflection on the goals I created for myself at the start of 2016.
GOAL 1: No soda, candy or desserts

STATUS: Hard Fail.

WHY: I don’t really have a sweet tooth, nor do I feel intense cravings for junk food. But I definitely had my fair share in 2016.

LESSON(S) LEARNED: You can’t deny yourself the “good” things in life.

However, you should make yourself earn them. I found myself, and still find myself, eating sweets after long runs or hard workouts and I don’t regret doing so.

GOAL 2: 100 Push-Ups & 100 Sit-Ups every day

STATUS: Hard Fail.

WHY: Maintaining a routine of 100 push-ups and sit-ups every day is actually not good for you. I did it for about two weeks before I realized that it was not having the affect I wanted it to have on my body.

LESSON(S) LEARNED: You need to give yourself breaks and allow your body to rest.

You can’t push yourself to the limit every single day or you’re going to break. Your muscles need time to recover, rebuild and replenish depleted stores of energy so hitting the same muscle groups every day can actually damage them and cause them to become weaker.

GOAL 3: Reach the Purple Level on Nike Running

STATUS: So close, yet so far.

WHY: I started using the Nike+ Running app to track my runs in 2014. That year I managed to do 121 miles, and in 2015 I logged 296.7. Over the course of 2016 I ran 987.57, bringing me 1411, 142 short of my goal of 1553. I suffered two sprained ankles and banked too much on making up miles later in the year, which I never did.

LESSON LEARNED(S): I failed, so what?

I never thought I’d be able to run a mile in under 7 minutes and I ran Broad Street (10 Miles) at 6:37/mile. I won a 10K for my age group and finished 4th in a 5K at the Navy Yard. For me, running is about pushing myself and the more I can push myself to do things that make me uncomfortable, the further I will go.

GOAL 4: Make Plans with friends

STATUS: Success! (kinda)

WHY: This wasn’t a S.M.A.R.T. Goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based). However, in 2016 I feel as though I went a lot more out of my way to ensure that I spent time with my friends. I went on trips with them, moved in with some, and I feel and overall greater connection with the group of people that I associate with.

LESSON(S) LEARNED: Be proactive.

I used to sit around waiting for someone to reach out to me for something to do. It led to me getting bummed out most of the time and feeling like I had no friends. Then I realized something important. I have this thing, it’s called a phone. It can not only receive, but also send texts and make phone calls. I have found that it’s a lot better to spend time with people you like than sit in your boxers eating Nutella out of a jar.

GOAL 5: Ignore Negatives, embrace positives

STATUS: Another success! (kinda)

WHY: Again, not a S.M.A.R.T. Goal. Regardless, I spent a good deal of time learning about the power of your attitude and how it can shape the world around you.

LESSON(S) LEARNED: Everything is your fault*; life happens for you, not to you**;Be grateful.

*I stole this one from David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails. He said it during an interview with Tim Ferriss on the Tim Ferriss Show and it’s stuck with me. It’s pretty simple, almost everything in your life is your fault. So, take responsibility for your work, yourself, and your life and move it the direction that you would like to go.

**I stole this from Tony Robbins, the most incredible human being I have ever heard speak. Again, this came from an interview he did with Tim Ferriss from the same podcast. Essentially, I realized that I can’t go through life as a victim. Every single thing that happens in life, good or bad, is for your benefit, not to hurt you. It’s all about finding the lesson, and learning from it.

This is simple, but often overlooked, just be grateful for what you have. I started keeping a daily journal, and I include things I’m grateful for in it. That is something I’d highly recommend for anyone to do.

GOAL 6: Open up

STATUS: I don’t even know…

WHY: I clearly forgot how to make S.M.A.R.T. Goals… I also don’t really know how to establish metrics to measure “opening up.” Still, I like to think that I’m a little bit more open with my life to my friends and family than I have been in the past.

LESSON(S) LEARNED: Be vulnerable.

Despite doing a terrible job at defining this goal, I did learn the importance of “being vulnerable” to other people. There is no reason to be afraid to share your thoughts and feelings. They have merit whether people agree with them or not and you have a right to speak them.

It’s not necessary to overload people with your woes or look to others to solve your quandaries. But don’t be afraid to share any legitimate concerns you have or feelings that you hold.

It is also incredibly important to establish an environment where you can share your views and allow others to share theirs without fear, otherwise everything goes to shit.

GOAL 7: Learn JavaScript & Ruby

STATUS: Successful-ish

WHY: I already “knew” JavaScript at the beginning of 2016, however I am far better at it now. I’ve learned how to write things in Object Notation and do my best to keep my code DRY but I’m sure (and my buddy Millllllz would agree) I have much to learn. I also attended a workshop for Ruby on Rails so, while I don’t have a comprehensive understanding of that language, I still count it as being “learned.”

LESSON(S) LEARNED: Be curious.

The best way to learn how to develop is to have things you want to build. I have studied through a couple books but the biggest leaps in my learning come from having a project or goal and figuring out how to accomplish a task I’ve set out to do.

GOAL 8: Read every damn day

STATUS: lol

WHY: I technically read something everyday, and I managed to read 15 books in 2016.

LESSON(S) LEARNED: It’s not just how much you read, it’s what you choose to read; Record your reading.

I find that I enjoy reading best from a diverse range of topics. I’ve read books that covered fiction, biographies, human psychology, design, stock market trading, running, spirituality, and more. I’ve found lessons and repeating patterns in multiple sources that can be applied to my life.

I started keeping notes on books as I read them and that’s something I’d suggest for anyone. They weren’t detailed, I just pulled out main ideas that stuck with me and recorded them in Evernote for reference whenever I might need them.

GOAL 9: Get involved in communities

STATUS: Fail.

WHY: I wanted to join AIGA or whatever the equivalent of that might be for developers and/or product designers, and I just never got around to doing so.

LESSON(S) LEARNED: If you want to achieve a goal, you have to put effort into it.

I never looked into attending events, or reached out to anyone for advice on organizations to join. This one is on me for not investing the effort. Thankfully, there’s still 2017!

GOAL 10: Travel

STATUS: Success!

WHY: I started 2016 in California (somewhere I had never been), took a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (another place I’d never seen) and visited Ocean City Maryland twice.

LESSON(S) LEARNED: Go where your friends are.

The number one piece of advice I can give from this past year is to invest in traveling to see your friends. Yes, it can be expensive and nerve racking. However, it’s probably one of the most rewarding things you can do. Find a friend who lives somewhere you want to go, reach out to them, find a time you’re both free and visit. It’s that simple.