(For the first part of this post, go here.)
2015 was a great year, objectively and emotionally. In many ways, I have achieved the lifestyle I dreamed of and worked so hard for – I set my own hours, have more free time than 90% of the working population, make a comfortable-enough income, am married to the woman I spent most of my adult life dreaming about, have a son I adore with another one on the way.
Of course, when you get anything you’ve worked hard for, you typically find it doesn’t complete you in whatever way you thought it might. The story doesn’t end until you’re dead, and sooner or later hedonic adaptation dictates that you set your sights further afield – something better, something more.
In a lot of ways, as I get older I find myself focusing on trying to enjoy what I have, when I have it. Focusing on really being present when I’m rocking Ollie to sleep, or really seeing Thao, noticing what she looks like, how she moves, when she comes down in the morning, trying not to think about work or my worries when Tim is down and we’re hanging out.
It’s very possible to spend so much time in the future – with your goals, with the soon-to-be’s – that you end up absent in your own life.
These are the things that occur to me as I sit down to write down my goals this year. There’s always something more to get/have/be. But nothing means much if you don’t appreciate it when it’s here.
A brief note on process for this year:
I broke my life down into a few different categories, then gave those categories a number between 1-10, based on how happy I was with the way things are. Emotionally, for example, I’m around an 8 – pretty stable, pretty happy. Physically, I’m a 6 – not as overweight as I was, but not doing anything particularly great, either. There were categories for myself as a husband, as a son, for business and finances, etc.
Out of these, I picked four that were particularly lacking or important, then developed some goals or each. Those are going to form the basis for my main goals this year. (I also built out a much longer list of goals both minor and major; these are optional and may or may not make it into this post, depending on how long it takes me to type all this crap out).
Let’s get into it.
Physical goals are a recurring theme every year. In 2015, I feel like I came to the realization that many of those goals were things I wanted to want, not things I actually wanted.
In reality, I love food – I love cooking it, the sociability that surrounds it, the ritual of it. I don’t like restricting what I can eat, I don’t like dedicating will power to controlling myself around it. In the end, goals that are focused primarily on not doing things don’t end up being all that effective.
Still, health is important; what’s more, being healthier and fitter will help me in other parts of my life I am more motivated to address, like my income.
So, rather than focus on an immediate goal here, I’m going to focus on building some simple habits. Small things, perpetuated over the rest of my life, will have a longer and more lasting impact on my health than anything I’ll do for 6 months and then give up. Some of these I’ve already started, and I want to continue; some are new. But it’s the repetition, and the low-impact on my day to day life, that is most important.
1. Go to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Or Something similar) 2x a week.
I need to do something physical, but let’s be honest – I fucking hate working out. I hate it. So, I need something fun – something challenging, preferably with a social component, where people will expect me to show up.
There’s a BJJ school not too far from me, so I’ve blocked off some time in my calendar each week to go. I’ve called up, told them I’m coming, and put it in the schedule.
Now I just need to go.
2. Use a standing desk.
So, I’ve read lots for and against the standing desk. I’m very curious – the hope is that using the standing desk will both improve my overall health, weight, and ability to focus. Will I love it? Will I hate it? I have absolutely no idea. But it seems like exactly the kind of thing that I need – something that I can do each and every day without disrupting my schedule too much.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
QUALITY OF LIFE
This is a rather general category primarily concerned with sheer enjoyment of life.
3. Take family on a summer vacation.
Several years in a row, I’ve set as a goal to take my family on a summer vacation. I’m not really sure why it never seems to happen, but it’s something I really, really want to do.
This year, the aim is the same as it was last year: get everyone out to a lake house for the summer. I’ve already made the first steps. Not much to say about this – just need to do it.
4. Minimize Things.
In the middle of the year, I did a small thing that felt really amazing: I cleaned up my keychain. I cut down to just the keys I use every day. I switched over to the FreeKey. My keychain was suddenly light, minimal, and simple.
Then, towards the end of the summer I cleaned out my closet – got rid of anything I didn’t feel completely comfortable wearing. I ended up with about 20% of the clothes, but felt much, much better about what I have.
That was a great experience, and I want to keep moving down that route. I want to really love and value the things I own, and have literally nothing else. Things create stress, whether you realize it or not.
(This is, admittedly, a vague goal, but it’s more to remind me that I need to keep working on it).
Ah, creative goals.
5. Dedicate at least half a day each week to creative work.
Since I’m still working on reducing the amount of time I dedicated to non-essential work tasks, I’d like to use some of the time I’m freeing up for my creative work.
There’s the next HANL ep, the Giles Corey ep – these things are always on my mind, but it’s been very hard to get the time to put towards making them a reality. That’s only going to get more intense as the next baby comes.
So rather than try to finish something specific, or do something specific – I’m just going to focus on making the time. It’s important to me.
A general category for interpersonal relations, probably one of my most-neglected categories. It’s very hard for me to maintain relationships outside of my immediate family unit. It isn’t really in my nature to be the guy that keeps everyone connected, in the way that my dad was.
Anyway, it’s something I need to work on.
6. Do something each week to show my wife I love her.
7. Schedule 1 relational touch point each week.
This could be a phone call, a dinner, or a lunch – but each week, there needs to be one small event when I check in with a friend or family member. The key, I think, is to schedule it – to know who I’m planning on talking to and when during the week it’s going to happen.
A bit boring, probably.
8. Pay off all credit card debt.
We have some credit card debts left over from before we were married – need to get those all paid off.
9. Pay for Thao’s trip this summer.
Thao wants to go on a trip to a baby wearing conference this summer. I’d like to save up enough to pay for her flight and hotel room. That’s about $1500 or so.
10. Fund the college fund each week.
We were doing this, then stopped when money got tight. Not that things have smoothed out a bit, I’d like to fund this again at about $50 a week per kid.
11. Refund the Emergency/Home Repair fund.
This is a general fund for small emergencies or home repairs. In retrospect, that was probably obvious. This year, it got emptied out to finish ripping out the dead trees on our property, which was great. Now it’s time to build it back up to a balance of 3k or so.
12. Hit $250k gross business income.
That’s a reach for us, but it’s so much more possible this year than last. We’ve had some huge opportunities appear recently and I really think we can do it (on my way to my lifetime goal of a 1 million dollar gross business income).
13. Develop a meditation habit.
I’d like to develop a simple meditation practice. This does not need to be anything dramatic or difficult. Just 5-10 minutes a day, before I get down to work. I don’t know what it will look like, exactly, but something.
Overall, this is all about maximizing my time in the office – doing more with less, so I don’t have to spend as much time at work.
So, that’s it. A lot of goals, a lot of things to work on. A lot of things to appreciate.