I saw dozens of these “me at the start of 2017” memes floating around at the close of 2017, and I couldn’t help but share in some collective sense of exhaustion after a year marked by alarming US / world news, a very dynamic — sometimes dizzying — work life at a startup, and some pretty significant personal life shifts.
Me at the start of 2017 vs me at the end of 2017 pic.twitter.com/er9PUwiA1U
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) December 9, 2017
Despite the uncertainty of 2017, I am proud of some of the foundations I was able to begin building during the year, groundwork that will help me to build toward healthier exercise, tech, and social habits.
Using that as a launching pad, here are the goals I’ve got planned for 2018:
- Read more and keep track of what I’m reading. I’m pretty sure that I’ve signed up for the GoodReads annual book challenges for like the past 4 years, and then I’ve been too ashamed to see how bad I did. But I signed up again anyway for 2018.
This year, I’ll be motivated by some bookish friends who like to discuss what they’ve read. Also my coworker started an awesome nonfiction bookclub at work, so that should help me remember to read habitually. I also wanna make sure that I switch up genres a whole bunch, so that I don’t get burnt out on a genre.
Community building with other queer, nonbinary folks. I’ve been lucky enough to have found some very supportive friend circles in the literary and tech communities here in Seattle, and I wanna organize more events with these lovely folks. I also want to work in these communities / across communities to help build better roads into the tech industry.
Drink more water. Like many Seattle-based adults, I like to bathe my insides with coffee and other highly caffeinated beverages. Then I’ll sometimes go out for an alcoholic beverage in the evening. None of this is really hydrating, and I don’t wanna turn into a pickled pumpkin by the end of the year. There’s this cute app that rewards you for drinking a healthy amount of water everyday.
Reduce multitasking / context switching by intentionally choosing and shaping my environments. Last year, I learned that my hobbies and work really thrive when I create space for myself to focus on one thing for prolonged periods of time without interruption. I really became a lot more aware about this tendency in myself after reading a NYT article on “monotasking”. Writing, reading, programming, and playing piano are just a few of these types of activities I like to do, and I feel like my efforts go a lot further when I’ve got the space to focus on these things. Some ways that I have reduced multitasking recently:
- Removing social media from my life. Last year, I deactivated Facebook and have stopped posting to a few other platforms. Luckily, many friends also email out event invitations to peeps without Facebook.
- Switching notifications off on my phone for the myriad of apps that are not urgent
- Arranging my tmux panes so that I don’t need to switch windows to get info
- Investing in some really great headphones. I’ve used the Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones daily since Oct 2016 and they have yet to fail me. Also my barber informed me that these have a bluetooth attachment so that’s ?
Continue Muay Thai training at least 2-3 times each week. I started going to Muay Thai classes back in August 2017, and I really enjoy it. The instructors are incredibly humble and supportive, and everyone cheers each other on while we do really difficult boxing and cardio drills. A super bonus: the instructors seem to have a penchent for blasting 80s and 90s pop, R&B, and hiphop while we suffer in the gym.
Travel more. In 2017, I got to fly all over the place with my spouse and with several friends. Overall, I went to six different cities, including: Honolulu, Saint Louis, Dublin, Berlin, Cologne, and Hamburg. I really enjoy visiting new places, meeting folks, and trying out new food. Looking forward to traveling some more!
- Get better at vim. I started using vim in Spring 2016 and haven’t looked back since. I often joke that I cannot abandon vim, because in spite of having the
:wqmuscle memory down, I’ve invested so much time learning vim that I can’t turn back. While I feel like I write at a pretty decent clip now, I have a feeling that I can still replace old habits with more efficient ones.
To achieve this goal, I’ll probably want to watch other vim users IRL or in screencasts to see the fancy kickflips they do. I got to see Adam Savage present at Strange Loop, and he discussed these custom workspaces he built, so that he could quickly reach tools and build “as fast as one can think.” I feel like that sentiment is really captured by an organized vim workspace.
- Continue writing in my engineering logbook at work. Here’s a blog post introducing the general idea and a great command line alias by Nick Rushton to help you get started. The logbook has been really useful when it comes to keeping track of complicated, multi-day tasks. It also helps me learn faster, which is especially important since I’ve been working with a new team and new code recently.
It seems like there’s so much to learn, and no one can possibly keep track of all the terminologies and workflows in their head. Keeping a logbook helps me offset a lot of the cognitive load, and if I need to look something up, I can just grep through my logbook directory.
- Take a statistics class. I studied English literature and German language in college and have never taken any formal training in stats. There are a few campus-based and online options that I’m looking at. My goals would be to apply my learnings to my work as a software engineer, so that I can make more data-informed decisions and tell stories with data once new features / fixes have been implemented.
- Write more technical how-tos. Shoutout to all the stackoverflow snippets, blog posts, code comments, gists, commit messages, github issues, and docs that have guided me throughout my education and career in software engineering. I feel a strong urge to give back when I land on a solution that isn’t already documented somewhere.
- Write code in a new language. In December, I played around with golang while working on Advent of Code. While I got distracted after the day 08 challenge by a really pleasant video game called Stardew Valley, I did learn a lot of interesting things about the language. My next steps in learning this language will be to complete the golang tour and then perhaps contribute to an open source project in golang.
That’s a whole lot to strive toward, and I may not make progress on every single thing here. That said, I feel like having these goals written out gives me a map with the directions on where I wanna head next.
if you play the spongebob theme tune at 11:59:34pm on new year’s eve and follow the captain’s instructions, we will all hit the deck and flop like a fish in unison at midnight and honestly I think the world needs that
— tom (@tom_harlock) December 21, 2017