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2013 Goals

by Rob Friesel

After six years, 1 I’m comfortable calling this a tradition: setting some personal goals (“not resolutions”) for the new year. Call me weird, but it makes me feel more comfortable going into the year–like having a map by which to steer.

Looking back over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that there are a couple of items that always turn up on these lists. Some are about reading, or else writing, or else exercise. Reflecting on them, I realize that they are turning up there for a reason — these are places where I need to be motivated. 2 And/but: I’m going to try to shoe-horn some other items onto the list this year. That’s what it means to push yourself, right?

  • Reading: 48+ books in 2013. Let’s start with the easy stuff right? Looking at my trend since 2007, I should probably set the bar at 65 books, but those leap years seem to be outlier-ish spikes so… I’ll aim for 48 and see where I get at the end of the year.
  • Reading: these 12 specific books. I have a habit of putting off books that I “should” read. In previous years (e.g., 2009, 2010) I have come up with a list of 12 such titles. And so, I re-introduce that notion for 2013:
    1. The Rings of Saturn
    2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
    3. The Third Man
    4. Ethan Frome
    5. Revelation Space
    6. Cat’s Cradle
    7. A Wizard of Earthsea
    8. Midnight’s Children
    9. The French Lieutenant’s Woman
    10. The Pragmatic Programmer
    11. The Blind Assassin
    12. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman
  • Exercise: Average 25 miles or more per month. Another easy one? I’ve had “exercise 4 times per week” on here for the last two years. That was in part to acknowledge that a lot of my activity here was coming from climbing. But sadly, climbing is on the wane for the foreseeable future. So I’ll focus on running. Is 25 miles per month too low? Not for someone that hates running!
  • “Re-learn” statistics. I took a stats class in college. And according to my transcript I did reasonably well. But I’m rusty, and I can’t seem to remember a damn thing. Certainly not enough. This is a place where I should be able to perform. And so I’ve enlisted some help in getting back on this one. Before 2013 is over, I’m going to be all chi squares and shit.
  • Learn some R. If I’m dorking around with math and statistics, I may as well learn me some R fundamentals.
  • Learn some Python. Apparently, if I’m studying data analysis, I also need to learn some “applied Python”. Not shooting for mastery; just want to be able to follow along better.
  • “Ship” one trivial “novelty” app. I don’t know. A single-serving site. A “beefy” version of my Goodreads Timeline Generator. Written in Node.js. Deployed to Heroku. Who knows. Something. Just a side-project. Just something to tinker around with.

Perhaps I’ll add some others as the years progresses. But looking over that list, it seems like a good place to start.

UPDATE: (1/1/2013) And almost immediately after posting this, it occurs to me that I should add two “footnotes”:

  1. Tentatively penciling in propose a talk to a non-local conference as a goal. I’ve given two pretty strong talks at VT Code Camp, and while I’d like to give another, I also think that I should find a topic to pitch for something… not in Vermont.
  2. No specific writing goals this year. What’s this? An anti-goal? A non-goal? Some form of writing goal has been on every year’s goal list since the beginning. I want to take a different approach this year. I kept telling myself in 2012 that I was doing it “for fun” or else “for me”; but I also kept tracking those numbers as though I was trying to look at it like a part-time job. And every time I looked at that log, it just made me feel like I was… Well, “failing” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first word that comes to mind. With that in mind… “I’m taking the year off.” Maybe by taking the pressure off of myself, it’ll make it easier when the well is full again.
  1. See also: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.[]
  2. Translation: “publicly shamed if I fall down”.[]

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day. Science fiction writer by night. Weekend homebrewer, beer educator at Black Flannel, and Certified Cicerone. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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