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New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! This year’s Times Square ball drop was even more anti-climatic than last year’s; all the smoke from the fireworks obscured the ball so you couldn’t see it sliding down the pole. Apparently, it was also the first time in 30 years that it was raining in Times Square during New Year’s Eve. Not a great omen to 2019, especially considering the political news of the day and a looming recession. Always another side to a coin, though; political tumult means fresh blood in Congress and recessions mean cheaper stocks to buy. So let’s welcome 2019 with open arms.

I decided to dispense with the “priority” system and instead divide resolutions up based on “soft” and “hard” heuristics. Much of the failure to satisfy last year’s resolutions stemmed from inadequate requirements, and this year I am determined to not make the same mistake. However, I should also appreciate that some things can’t (or shouldn’t) be measured for fear of gaming (and playing) myself.

The “soft” resolutions:

  • Establish more feedback loops for all the activities I want to get better at: I think this is how I will become 1% better every day and prevent habit slippage, and how I will be able to accomplish multiple highly complex, multistage tasks required of significant, meaningful activities.

  • Minimize the amount of time I regret spending: Time is the only thing I will never get more of, and hence burning time doing pointless things is the one pain point that I should not learn to tolerate. Whenever I can, I should cut out the amount of time doing frivolous things (e.g. lying in bed looking at my phone), and redirect that time doing things I need (e.g. sleeping), I enjoy (e.g. date nights or friend brunches), or I wish to do (e.g. starting a business, filling in gaps in my computer science education, or tackling other fears and anxieties).

I don’t think I have any more heuristic resolutions, so I guess they must not be too memorable and don’t fit the definition of “resolution”.

The “hard” resolutions:

  • Go on a date, tackling the fear of emotional rejection: I already have some planned for the new year, so this shouldn’t be a problem to do per se, but carrying this over from last year’s resolutions to honor their integrity. Going on a date (my first date ever) will still be a game changing experience, because it will force me to deep-dive both in self-introspection and emotional interfacing with other individuals.

  • Run one half marathon in the summer, tackling the fear of being fat and resultant decreased mortality: While the gym is nice to go to, it’s really hard to make a concerted effort to go when abs are made in the kitchen, and when I don’t really want to set dietary or caloric restrictions on myself 😊 So over-exercising it is! I heard a friend say a year or so ago that half marathons are the perfect long run: short enough to be doable, but long enough so that you have to try. I’ll register for a half marathon before the break is over to hard commit to this goal. It changes the game because it will force me to wake up early to train (many races start at 8AM and require long commutes), stick to a planned training schedule ahead of time (including multiple runs likely of this duration), and force other good habits.

  • Become really good at making dumplings, and make a lot of dumplings, targeting the fear of being incompetent in home economics: I think this will not only reduce the amount of food I need to purchase (cutting down on the financial burden of eating out so much), but also provide a reliable benchmark for calculating caloric intakes (1 dumpling = X calories, and I know I ate this many today, so therefore…) and close the feedback loop preventing me from making progress on getting a fitter body.

  • Lay the groundwork for and begin executing a plan for financial independence, targeting the fear of running the rat race for the rest of my life: This really changes the game for me. I am terrified of money problems and going hungry or uninsured or vulnerable to political corruption, and the only way I see out of this is acculumating a good deal of financial, intellectual, and personal capital.

  • Go to PyCon 2019, tackling my fear of intellectual incompetence: I assess my lack of intellectual growth over the past year to be a very real threat to future personal growth. If I can’t change the game immediately in terms of financial capital acculumation (e.g. development of multiple income streams), then I need to do so intellectually. I need to prepare for the conference by preparing to meet many people and companies and coming out with a high intellectual return on financial investment. Since I purchased the tickets already, it’s no longer a matter of whether I’ll go, but what return I will see.

No academic resolutions anymore. Address my fears and anxieties first – then I will always remember how I made myself feel.