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New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions:


I think with every New Year’s Resolution, I get better and better at defining ways and means for those resolutions to work towards what I truly value, and in the end, work out successfully. In 2018, I set for myself a “medium priority goal” of “read at least one research paper and understand it every two weeks”. I’m looking back and chuckling at how I designed that goal (I didn’t) and how it was structured (it wasn’t) and what impact that would have had on me if it did work out (minimal).

These days, I get tired more easily, pain lasts longer, and things seem a bit more bland. I’m definitely not a newbie to the life scene anymore. But with that tradeoff, also comes the value of experience and perspective. Hopefully, I understand better where to dedicate time and energy, and that’s reflected through years of growth expressed in these pages.

With that, let’s start on New Year’s Resolutions!


I think instead of firm resolutions, I might want to give definition to the habits and systems I want to build in the new year. From “The Confidence Gap”, unhappiness is living a life contrary to the values you hold dear. From “Atomic Habits”, good habits are identity-driven rather than outcome-driven. To that end, I’m relying on the values from “The Confidence Gap” I marked as “Very Important” to me to figure out direction, and James Clear’s Atomic Habits Summary to define those habits in concrete terms.

If there is an overall goal, it’s getting 1% “better” every day.

Looking at my year in review, I’d like to focus on my nutrition / physical health and my side hustle / financial health for this year, just two areas.


Nutrition

  • Identity: I am a healthy eater. I accept responsibility for my own self-care.
  • Goal: Drop my weight to 170 pounds, with a body fat percentage of 16%, by June 1st, 2023.
  • 1st Law: Make it Obvious
    • 1.1: Fill out the Habits Scorecard. Write down your current habits to become aware of them.
      • I purchase Chipotle, or Korean fried chicken, or don’t eat when I don’t have food in the fridge.
      • On occasion, I purchase chicken tikka masala from Trader Joe’s, and usually fall victim to purchasing other snacks like popcorn that blow through my macros because I know exactly where it is located.
      • Sometimes, I comb through my freezer and eat whatever is in there (e.g. edamame or dumplings).
      • When I subscribed to Factor75, I usually ate two packages a day. It gave me the carb amounts, but usually missed on the amount of protein I needed to take in and had too much fat.
    • 1.2: Use implementation intentions: “I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”
      • I will eat one cup of oatmeal (made with two cups of water with honey) for breakfast each morning at my kitchen table.
    • 1.3: Use habit stacking: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”
      • After eating one cup of oatmeal, I will throw in one vacuum-sealed bag of chicken breasts (2 breasts each prepackaged) with my sous vide machine set to cook at 150F for 3 hours on my stovetop.
    • 1.4: Design your environment. Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible.
      • Leave spice mixes outside on the countertop. I can use spices to change flavors of chicken breast and keep things interesting, which should reduce boredom and temptation to eat out.
      • Make sure my sous vide machine is cleaned and ready to go each morning.
      • Make sure I have a ready supply of vacuum-sealed, frozen chicken breasts ready to go in my freezer (I can budget 4 hours to package chicken breasts purchased in bulk from Giant in my vacuum sealer).
      • Make sure I have my air fryer ready to go for brussel sprouts (tray thrown in dishwasher the night before and air fryer wiped down)
  • 2nd Law: Make it Attractive
    • 2.1: Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
      • When I throw in my chicken breast in the sous vide bath, I can drink one bottle of Costco coconut water (the kind I like).
    • 2.2: Join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.
      • I subscribed to r/loseit and r/gymmemes on Reddit, it helps to tie humor into workouts by creating a positive association.
    • 2.3: Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.
      • When I put my oatmeal bowl down in my sink, I open the freezer door.
  • 3rd Law: Make it Easy
    • 3.1: Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits.
      • I will keep my sous vide machine, my air fryer, and my vacuum sealer in top condition, and fix or replace as soon as possible if they break.
    • 3.2: Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier.
      • I will keep my sous vide machine on my kitchen countertop, and my air fryer and vacuum sealer on my kitchen table in plain sight. I will move other countertop belongings to a cupboard or onto a separate shelf.
    • 3.3: Master the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that deliver outsized impact.
      • TODO ADD HERE
    • 3.4: Use the Two-Minute Rule. Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less.
      • TODO ADD HERE
    • 3.5: Automate your habits. Invest in technology and onetime purchases that lock in future behavior.
      • When I eat a meal, I will record it down in some capacity in Avatar Nutrition.
  • 4th Law: Make it Satisfying
    • 4.1: Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit.
      • When I toss my vacuum-sealed chicken breast into the sous vide bath, I will open the fridge door (to get my treat of coconut water).
    • 4.2: Make “doing nothing” enjoyable. When avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits.
      • If I miss a day when I don’t eat chicken breasts, then I can go purchase a Chipotle burrito with my cash budget.
    • 4.3: Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately.
      • If I miss throwing in the chicken breasts in the morning, I can do it in the afternoon or the evening.
      • If I don’t purchase chicken breasts and vacuum seal them on Saturday, I can do it on Sunday.

Going to the gym

  • Identity: I value my own fitness. I am not deterred by the challenge constant physical improvement entails.
  • Goal: Get into the gym on my own, twice a week regularly, regularly enough where my personal trainer isn’t worrying about me and my progress (would have to ask him about that on June 1st, 2022).
  • 1st Law: Make it Obvious
    • 1.1: Fill out the Habits Scorecard. Write down your current habits to become aware of them.
      • I arrive on time only sometimes for personal training twice a week (Fridays and Sundays). When I don’t eat well, I don’t perform well, get demotivated, and spiral downwards.
      • Oftentimes I only go to the gym on my own sporadically. That’s once a week or no times a week depending on how I’m feeling.
      • When I go back to my parent’s place in Michigan, I go to the gym multiple times a week, and then come back and end up in a flow state where I voluntarily go to the gym by myself.
    • 1.2: Use implementation intentions: “I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”
      • I will go to the gym and do something on Monday evenings and Tuesday evenings.
    • 1.3: Use habit stacking: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”
      • After I shut my laptop lid for work, I will put on my running shoes.
    • 1.4: Design your environment. Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible.
      • Leave gym bag and gym shower slippers near the exit and packed with earbuds, underwear, t-shirt, socks, and gym shorts before I go to the gym.
  • 2nd Law: Make it Attractive
    • 2.1: Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
      • If I do cardio, then I will use the cycling machine and watch an episode of a Netflix show.
    • 2.2: Join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.
      • I will on occasion try out new classes or say hi to a familiar face (e.g. Emirates guy) in the men’s locker room.
    • 2.3: Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.
      • TODO ADD HERE
  • 3rd Law: Make it Easy
    • 3.1: Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits.
      • Make sure gym bag is packed and ready to go beforehand so I don’t spend willpower packing it. Pack my gym bag when I have some downtime before a work meeting.
      • Do the same set of stretches in the gym (if legs, then bird dogs and hip hinges, if upper body, then arm stretches)
    • 3.2: Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier.
      • If I fall out of the habit of going to the gym twice a week, consider going back to Michigan, working remotely for a week, and working out at the Anytime Fitness during that week to reset.
    • 3.3: Master the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that deliver outsized impact.
      • I remember what my personal trainer said: “Nobody likes going to the gym.” Somehow, that’s strangely motivating.
    • 3.4: Use the Two-Minute Rule. Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less.
      • TODO ADD HERE
    • 3.5: Automate your habits. Invest in technology and onetime purchases that lock in future behavior.
      • Use the Caliber iOS app to track my workouts and ensure I progress on my own.
  • 4th Law: Make it Satisfying
    • 4.1: Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit.
      • Every month, I will go to Spa World to take a nice, long bath and admire myself in the mirror.
    • 4.2: Make “doing nothing” enjoyable. When avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits.
      • TODO ADD HERE
    • 4.3: Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately.
      • If I don’t go on Monday, then I try again for Tuesday. If I don’t go Tuesday, then I go on Wednesday. If I don’t go on Wednesday, I go on Thursday before FriendsDays and inform my personal trainer.

Side Hustle

  • Identity: I’m a solver. I wish to solve challenging problems by analyzing a problem space, strategizing a solution, implementing it, and capturing the return. I want to execute on my belief that I am professionally more than what my day job title says I am. I want to life decisions not based on my financial constraints. I wish to persist in this final frontier of my fears and drill through to true mental freedom.
  • Goal: Create an app that could sell for $10,000 USD by June 1st, 2023. If selling on a revenue-based approach for 3.5x ARR, that means generating an ARR of $2,857.14 USD, or around $238.10 USD MRR. That’s 10 paying customers @ $30 per month. At around 1% conversion, that’s 1000 good leads I need to reach. At a possible 20% annual churn, that’s 200 leads I’d need to convert each year. That sounds…doable.
  • 1st Law: Make it Obvious
    • 1.1: Fill out the Habits Scorecard. Write down your current habits to become aware of them.
      • 99%, I oftentimes “strategize” (have conversations with people, create LucidCharts of complex architectures, write basic testing scripts) in order to avoid writing code and shipping usable product.
      • I send myself email notes on ideas and mark them with the email label “STARTUP IDEAS”. Not bad, unless it pulls me away from executing on an existing startup idea.
    • 1.2: Use implementation intentions: “I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”
      • Every Monday, I will pack my backpack with my work and personal laptops at 9:00AM ET, with the intention of walking over to the public library to work.
      • Every Friday and Saturday at 5:00PM, I will pack my personal laptop in my bag, with the intention of walking 30 minutes to a nearby coffee shop (either Union Kitchen / Ballston Quarter), or Dunkin’ Donuts on Fairfax. Will also consider Northside Social or Kaldi’s Social House.
      • After I send out a cold outreach email, I will move a paperclip from one jar to another, with the intention of shutting my laptop lid and going for a walk after I moved all paperclips from one jar to the other.
    • 1.3: Use habit stacking: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”
      • After I shut my work laptop lid, I will unplug my work laptop from my desk and plug in my personal laptop instead.
    • 1.4: Design your environment. Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible.
      • Place painting in front of TV, and move TV so that screen faces wall, after I am done watching TV.
  • 2nd Law: Make it Attractive
    • 2.1: Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
      • After I step into a coffee shop, purchase a large coffee or tea. It should be hot and delicious and get me settled into working at the coffee shop.
    • 2.2: Join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.
      • I joined MicroConf Connect’s Slack community.
      • I used to post on Indie Hacker’s daily standup thread, I can start doing that again.
    • 2.3: Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.
      • Brew some coffee at home using my Keurig, pour it into a Thermos, and drink some before packing up and heading out.
  • 3rd Law: Make it Easy
    • 3.1: Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits.
      • I can create a list of startup ideas on my technical blog, Bytes by Ying, or on a private Notion page.
      • I can pare down my total set of ideas that would only take me one week to implement, tie into an existing marketplace or platform (e.g. Google Chrome extensions, Shopify apps, etc), and that have demonstrable value to somebody (e.g. there’s a JIRA ticket on my day job’s board to implement a non-competitive feature because a stakeholder found it important enough to get a bespoke implementation of it).
      • I can set a hard deadline to either ship the product and publish a blog post on Bytes by Ying, or to ship something and meet a particular KPI (e.g. number of page views).
    • 3.2: Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier.
      • Keep backpack packed with personal laptop before I shut company laptop lid.
    • 3.3: Master the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that deliver outsized impact.
      • TODO ADD HERE
    • 3.4: Use the Two-Minute Rule. Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less.
      • TODO ADD HERE
    • 3.5: Automate your habits. Invest in technology and onetime purchases that lock in future behavior.
      • Use Notion AI or ChatGPT to come up with early drafts of content I want to write.
  • 4th Law: Make it Satisfying
    • 4.1: Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit.
      • TODO ADD HERE
    • 4.2: Make “doing nothing” enjoyable. When avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits.
      • TODO ADD HERE
    • 4.3: Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately.
      • TODO ADD HERE