What I Have Resolved To Do

January 9, 2022

2022 is here, and I’m very determined to kick its ass. My best years have been those which I came to with a specific, scary plan. I’ve had sloppy, weak plans for a few years in a row, and the years turned out pretty sloppy and weak as a result. NOT THIS YEAR, BABY.

One big issue I’ve had with the last two years is that I haven’t had enough to fill my (copious) time, and because of that I fell back on traditional (and stupid) ways of killing time: scrolling dumb websites, watching TV and playing video games. That’s no way to be spending my golden years of retirement. If I’m going to be wasting my time, I might as well be getting paid to do it. Instead, the plan is to say “YES!” to enough cool projects that I don’t have time to spare.

Before getting to the actual goals, I have a mantra for the year that I’d like to focus on:

Brook no excuses for suboptimality. This is my mantra for the year. Whatever I do, I will do it with gusto. This is not to say that every essay needs to be ruthlessly edited, but it does mean that every essay must accomplish my goal for it. It means I will go the two minutes out of my way to fold my laundry, or to get rid of the unused, uncomfortable chair gathering dust in the corner. It means actively working towards making everything in my life better. I’m retired with infinite time and effectively infinite money; I have no excuses for living a suboptimal life. And this mantra is to help me remember that.

My goals for the year, in no particular order:

In 2022, I am going to read and engage with 52 papers on topics that I find interesting. The engagement part is critical — it’s easy enough to “read” a paper but moving your eyes over it. However, the purpose here is to rapidly inject ideas and methods into my head. Engagement here means I need to produce some sort of artifact as a result of working through the paper: something that proves I understand the ideas in it. I’ve already done one, which should give you a sense of what it means to engage.

A common failure mode I see in myself is engaging in suboptimal behavior due to a lack of easily-discovered knowledge. For example, I put off playing piano pieces in Gb for like a decade because I didn’t know what notes were in that scale — even though when I sat down to think it through, it took less than 2 minutes to do. Thus, be it resolved that I will spend 2 hours a week this year researching high-value topics.

One of the things I have been consistently putting off is learning how to feel good in my body. My body is a weak programmer body, and it gets hurt all the time when I try to exercise. Getting hurt all the time really kills any sort of fitness momentum I have. So this year I will get fit, or at least get to a point where I understand my body well enough to not get hurt when doing fitness.

This year, I am not going to go to bed until my living and work spaces are tidy. This includes the kitchen.

I will compose and publish 12 original songs this year.

In 2022, I resolve to not be a curmudgeon. This means that when things annoy me, I will calmly go and discuss the issue with the first parties. Whenever that isn’t an option, I will come up with some other pro-social solution to the problem, possibly including just deciding to not be bothered by it.

Relatedly, this year I will not attempt telekinesis. Attempting telekinesis is when you try to solve a problem by wishing really hard that it would go away. Like, when someone is bothering you but doesn’t realize it, and instead of solving the problem you just sit there smoldering — in essence, hoping that if you concentrate hard enough you could make their head explode. Similar to above, I will either go calmly attempt to solve the problem, or stop being bothered by it.

During 2022, I will publish 100k words. They do not necessarily need to be in text format.

My biggest takeaway from the Elon Musk book is that Elon is significantly more willing than most people to invest in himself financially. I recognized that fact when I read it, but didn’t do anything with it. So this year, I’m going to spend $10,000 of my own money on my own projects. Not only will this help my projects, it will also help me burn my runway cash, which should get me off of resting on my laurels.

Similarly, I am earmarking another $5,000 for solving trivial problems in my life. I don’t like spending money on things, even when that money would pay off in big dividends, and this is a current failure on my part.

On the community front, this year I will reach out cold to one cool person a week. I figure that even if only 5% of them respond, that will be two new excellent humans I’ll have created new relationships with.

Something I did during 2018 that aggressively changed how I felt about my city was to actively meet people. This was one of the best exercises I’ve ever done, but I’ve fallen out of the habit and find myself pining for the results. So in 2022, I will meet two new people a day.

Playing music with other people is one of my most cherished hobbies, and I barely do any of it. By the end of the year, I will be a member of a musical community in the same way I am a member of many programming communities. I realize this is not a very SMART goal but I don’t know how to make it into one and it’s very important to me regardless. Please get in touch if you have some ideas!

I don’t have enough good friends in my life. By the end of the year I will have five really good friends. Musicians from the above goal are allowed to count towards this. The SMARTer version of this goal is that I will spend quality time with three friends a week on average this year.

Whew! What a lot of things to track. I’m fully aware that when I make goals, I usually completely miss the ballpark on what I’ll think of as important a few months down the line. So instead of just weaseling out, this year I am allowed to cancel one of these goals, and adjust the parameters on another two. I hope to not need to do these things, but they’re available if I need to.