2017: The Year Ahead

Last year was the first time I’ve ever set serious goals for myself. Unfortunately, I did a poor job of setting solid goals and then sticking to them throughout the year. This time, I’ve done my best to set realistic and quantifiable goals. To keep myself honest, I’m going to try to journal daily and do weekly and then monthly retrospective. I want to do my best to evaluate my progress against these goals all year. I don’t want to look at them in the fall and realize how bad I failed. Here is a list of my goals, broken into two categories: personal and professional.

Personal goals

I intend for this year to set the tone for the rest of my life. I want to develop habits that ensure I live a long and happy existence. By focusing on mental, physical, and financial health, I hope to live long and prosper.

Read 24 books

Two a month, one every other week. That seems doable. I set this same goal for myself last year, but failed miserably, completing just two in all 2016. On the plus side, I started about half a dozen more throughout the year. The reading theme this year will be finishing. I have quite the list of books I’d like to get to on deck, besides the half-read books that need to be finished.

Lose 20 pounds

Again, something I set for myself last year that I didn’t meet. While I did lose about 15 pounds at one point, I was unable to keep it off the whole year. I’m right back at around 215, and it’d be great to get back down below 200 again. Unfortunately, my metabolism can no longer keep up with my appetite. I don’t eat well, and I’m also quite inactive, especially in the winter months. For about the past week, I’ve gotten back into tracking my food. That’ll be the biggest challenge for me. I tend to ignore my bad eating habits and ruin any fitness gains that exercise gets me during the year.

Run 2 5ks

To go along with my weight loss goal, I’d like to sign up for a couple of 5k runs this year. Towards the end of this past summer, I ran every other day for a little over a month. I’ve always hated running, but actually enjoyed it that time. My problem is that I don’t push myself to stick to it. I was an athlete in high school. I used competition to help me focus on my training in the off season. I don’t have that competition to focus on anymore. I think that it’s part of the reason why I’ve struggled developing a healthy lifestyle. By entering a couple of races, I’ll be able to keep myself honest in order to prepare for competition. Two seems like a good number, but I’d like to do more if I’m able.

Be debt free by year’s end

Since we’re planning on buying a house this year, it’d be nice if the remainder of my debt is paid off this year. I know there will be new expenses as a homeowner, so having my student loans out of the way will lessen those new bills.

Professional goals

I have a harder time setting professional goals, especially quantifiable ones. I’m pleased with my job and the work I do there. I’m in a good place, and there are certainly areas I can improve, but those things can’t be measured. I think that accomplishing the three goals listed here will pay off further down the line.

Take on 4 freelance projects

Looking ahead a few years, I can easily see myself as a freelancer. I have both the skills and the entrepreneurial mindset needed to be successful on my own. The last half of this year I became extremely intrigued by the prospects of freelance work. Having the freedom to choose who you work for, how you work, and when and where you get work done will go a long way in making me happy. I hope to pick up a few side projects this year to see how it goes, with the intention of making it a full time thing in a couple of years

12 month design and development challenge

At times during 2016, I found myself to be in a bit of a creative funk. I felt the desire to create something, but never knew what to do with that. If I’m going to take my freelance challenge seriously, I need to push myself to be a better designer and developer. Instead of setting abstract goals like ‘become better at JavaScript’ or ‘Learn X programming language’, I instead would just like to build stuff and learn what I need to make that happen. I am committing to the creation one thing a month, from a blank slate to a polished product. In doing this, I’ll feel much more confident in my abilities as a designer and developer.

Attend a professional development conference

Could be a fancy conference, or even a workshop would do. I haven’t been to anything related to my career, outside of what’s offered by my employer. It would be a great experience to get out and learn from people in the industry and get a chance to network with them.

Let’s go!

Of course, I have many more things I want to accomplish this year. I want to write more, become a better programmer, enjoy the company of the ones I love, et cetera, et cetera. But those things really can’t be measured. The seven goals stated here are SMART, and can progress against them can clearly be measured throughout the year. I’ll be doing regular check-ins regarding these goals in order to stay on top of them.

I’m confident that 2017 will go down as the best year yet. My beautiful fiancee, Katie, are getting married. We’ll be heading overseas for the first time to honeymoon in France. We’re also going to be purchasing our first home together. I plan on making the best memories over the next year. I want to be be able to remember how much I grew as a person this year, too!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you follow me on the great journey of 2017!