Resolutions for the Year

February 3, 2020
Confidence: highly likely

Seeing as it’s already(!) February, now is a bit late to be writing my new year’s resolutions. But late is better than never, so instead, we’ll just call them resolutions for the year. I’ve been putting this stuff off for six weeks now, so shoutouts to my new friend Katha for holding me accountable.

I’m half-way through a blog post on “excellence comes from qualitative changes, not quantitative ones,” and with that in mind, much of my focus for the next year will be to do things differently than I have been. It’s pretty clear that I could write more blog posts or read more books or live in more countries. But those things are playing to my strengths, rather than work on my weaknesses.

The big theme of 2020 is that it’s the year I turn 30! My god where has the time gone? Thankfully I don’t feel old, nor am I worried about an arbitrary number — but 30 feels like a good excuse to make some lifestyle changes. I’d like to spend a lot of this year focusing on having my life in a stable configuration for the upcoming decade.

Along those lines, I’ve divided my goals for 2020 into three categories — two focused on the future, and one for making sure I keep doing cool stuff in the here-and-now. Since we’re already here and now, let’s talk about that one first.


First, this year I will finish and publish my new book, Design and Interpretation of Haskell Programs. This isn’t going to be challenging other than simply putting in the time, so I’m including it just to ensure it actually gets done.

Second, I am going to perform two hours worth of live music this year. I’m not sure if the format will be one big show, or lots of little ones, but I’ve got 11 months to figure that out. This is scary.

Third, and relatedly, I am going to compose 5 songs that I’m proud of. I don’t really know how to compose music, but I am excited to learn. It’s probably one of those practice-makes-perfect situations — hopefully.

Fourth, I am going to learn a new programming language. I’m getting musty and curmudgeonly by only writing Haskell, so it’s time to branch out and learn something new. To avoid any weaseling, this has to be an interesting new language, so something along the lines of Prolog or Rust or Lisp, rather than Ruby or Go. The metric for success here is to have written a non-trivial, real-life, idiomatic program in the language.

Fifth, I am going to finish all of the exercises on Portswigger, because they’re interesting and very outside of my skill-set of writing good Haskell programs.

Finally for this pillar, I am going to read 10 really excellent books this year. Last year was a bit of a dearth on the reading front, and despite reading something like 60 books, I found it very hard to pick 5 good ones. I want to change that; there’s no point in reading a bunch of shit just for the sake of it.


A change I’ve really wanted to make in my lifestyle has been to get healthy. I’ve never been particularly unhealthy, which has been my excuse for putting it off for so long. But my biggest fear is that I am only operating at 1/10th of my productive capability, and simply have no basis for comparison. Rather than continue to worry about that, I’m just going to spend a year throwing empiricism at it and see what shakes out.

First, this year I am going to learn to love vegetables. Currently I don’t. I never have. People keep saying they’re good for me and I am going to die without them, but seeing as I haven’t ever died1 I haven’t really taken them at their word. BUT my god is this a ubiquitous one. At the very least, picking around the vegetables takes a big toll on my quality of life. So it’s time to face the fear, and learn to love vegetables. By the end of the year, I will be actively eating fruits and vegetables with every meal.

Second, I am not going to consume any alcohol in 2020. I’m already about two months in, and have been having a great time. But sometimes the urge comes back, and I need to beat it down into submission. Qualifying this as an explicit goal for my year will assuage the desire, I suspect.

Third, I am going to do at least 150 minutes of exercise every week this year. That’s about 20 minutes a day, and is allegedly the bare minimum necessary to keep yourself fit and healthy. Seeing as I currently do about zero minutes of exercise a week, this seems like a drastic improvement.

Fourth, I am only going to watch high-value TV this year. Since I started tracking my youtube view-time, I’ve been disgusted with myself. There’s a lot of dumb bullshit I watch just because it’s there; I don’t find myself actively learning or feeling inspired by it, and I never feel like it was time well-spent. Any content that isn’t actively-educational to something I want to learn, or otherwise inspiring, will be forfeited. However, I will grant myself one movie a week, because media can be a social thing that I don’t necessarily want to miss out on.


My final category of goals is of bigger, more meaningful stuff in my life that I think is missing.

First, I am going to do consistent journaling this year. I will aim for at least five times a week, but not stress the actual numbers so long as it happens weekly. I find journaling helps me sort out my mind, but sometimes there just isn’t anything that actively needs to be sorted out!

Second, I am going to volunteer my skills to a worthwhile organization this year. I don’t know who, exactly, but I’m sure almost every small non-profit has IT problems. And I’m good at IT.

Third, I am going to make five really good friends this year. Over the last several years I have moved too often to really invest in tight friendships. While we do our best to stay in touch, it is often not particularly successful. But strong friendships are an important part of any nutritious breakfast, and I find myself lonely without them. So it’s time to put in the work, and make some really good friends. They don’t necessarily need to be new acquaintances — new friendships with old people is OK. My criteria for success is to see these people at least once a week, and to always come away from my interactions with them feeling powerful, inspired, and better about life than I did before.

Finally, I’m really fucking tired of being on the move. By the end of this year, I am going to have found a place to settle down for a good portion of my 30s. Somewhere I’m allowed to live, with my own place, with a good and solid social network around me. This is the most important thing I’ve been missing for the last several years, and I am aching to get it resolved.

  1. Not even one time.↩︎