My goals for 2017

I read somewhere that the fear of ridicule is greater than the fear of death – the primal brain feels it better to be dead than to be an outcast.

I’m leveraging that primal evolutionary force to motivate me to go through with my goals for 2017, by making them public. In the same line of thought, I’m submitting this story to HN – I sincerely hope it doesn’t get upvoted.

I don’t believe in goals much. In my past experience, they represented either pipe dreams or I found better things along the way. However, I’m willing to give this a try again – I somehow feel this pressure will do more good than harm.

The primary goal of these goals (heh) is not to complete them. Rather, I want to see whether they improve my motivation and happiness on the day to day. If I find that they are not helping me have happy and productive days, I will scrap them. But I will scrap them publicly, if I decide to scrap them. What I don’t want to do is to weasel out of them, just because.

I will also publish an update at the end of each month.

Without further ado, here are the seven goals.

Goal 1: physical training

I’m following the bodyweight program in this amazing book. I will complete the beginner workout (which is about 6 weeks and which I already started last week). After that, I’ll move to the basic workout for the rest of the year. If I feel like it, I might pick the advanced workout, but I’ll decide that later, after at least 6 months of the basic program.

Time commitment: 3 hours/week (3 workouts per week, one hour per workout).

Why this: I’ve never maintained a consistent workout program for long. Also, I’d like to do handstand pushups.

Goal 2: main project

I’m writing a set of open source libraries for making web applications. I want to publish the latest versions of these libraries (I have a lot of them in a half-rewritten state at the moment). I also want launch a web application which has been the deeper motivation for these libraries. By launch, I mean have it live in a server and have at least one paying user on it.

Time commitment: 12-24 hours/week (12 means 2 hours per day 6 times a week, the minimum I should do. Going over 24 hours/week would be unwise, since I work part-time as a freelance developer).

Why this: I have been working on this project, in one form or another, since 2010. I recently realized this is a ten year project (meaning that I won’t get rid of it until at least 2020). And I feel this is the year to make it public.

Goal 3: side project

For years I have doodled a manifesto about economic and social change through whole system design, open source and social businesses. I want to finish a first version of it and put it online.

Time commitment: 3/hours week – maybe I can write for an hour on the days where I don’t workout.

Why this: this is the seed for all my future work after the main project – and I really want to get these ideas out there and start working on them with like-minded people.

Goal 4: finances

Pay all credit card debt. For accomplishing this with my current income, I would need a savings rate of about 20%. Also, I’m getting married this year, which will make this even more interesting.

Financial commitment: save 20%, and don’t lower your income.

Why this: it’s about damn time.

Goal 5: music

Memorize and play publicly (i.e.: in front of a few friends) two short but challenging piano works: Chopin’s Etude Op. 25, No. 1, and Prokofiev’s Etude Op. 2, No. 1.

Time commitment: 20 minutes/day. I will be using the amazing piano method from Dr. Chang.

Why this: I would love to be able to sit down at the piano and play music that I love. And also to share it with others. Also, I was very inspired by this article (thanks Vale!).

Goal 6: math

Read the amazing Topology Without Tears from cover to cover, and complete all exercises and proofs.

Time commitment: 20 minutes/day.

Why this: I really would like to follow and construct mathematical proofs. I desperately need this to understand certain algorithms and certain works. In other words, I want to become mathematically literate.

Goal 7: Russian

Read a short novel by Lev Tolstoi, in Russian. I already have an intermediate command of Russian, so this is not so crazy. And I might skip the epilogue. I’m also using an online version of the text which has interlined translations.

Time commitment: 20 minutes/day.

Why this: I started learning Russian four years ago, with the flimsy pretext of reading Russian classics in the original. Now that I have a Russian wife-to-be and Russian family, I feel it’s time to live up to that crazy idea. After tackling this monster, I hope I won’t feel lazy anymore when reading a random page in the Russian Wikipedia.

How this will change my day to day

  • I’m already doing the workouts since last week. I only need to keep this going.
  • I already spend about 10/hours per week on my main project. But I think I could increase this number to about 20 hours, and also be more focused in those hours.
  • I’m not used at all to writing the manifesto on a regular basis. I’ll use the same time slot as when I work out (usually morning or early afternoon). I expect this to be hard at first.
  • I should probably eat out less. And travel less.
  • I’m thinking of having an hour of “productive leisure” after I’m done with work, combining math, music and Russian.

That’s it, we’ll see how it goes. See you in a month. Happy 2017!