New Years Resolutions

Published: 1/1/2021

I thought I'd make a New Years post reviewing some resolutions I made last year and making some new ones for next year [1].

Review

I actually made a note for myself about the changes I wanted to make last year. Here it is with some annotations:

So I guess I did okay last year. Here's some more for next year.

Productivity

I have some goals around habits and others around goals.

Habits:

Do pomodoros. I've been doing them a little more regularly with a script I made and I think they help me focus a lot. I think in the past I'd often sit down with the intention of 'work all morning' or 'work until you're too tired'. But I think I do need to take breaks if I want to work for a length of time longer than an hour. But everything I do for fun is sort of addictive so it's important to have good habits around the breaks I take. I think a work pattern of 25 on, 25 off for 3 hours or so will be fun and sustainable.

Read at least 5 pages of mathematics a day. I've been focusing on writing and solving various problems lately and I'd go weeks without really reading anything. But there's a lot of stuff I do want to read. I think a small daily habit instead of looking for blocks to read for hours will lead to me reading the most in the long run.

Take notes around those two goals. Specifically I want to write down how many poms and what I read every day. I think it will be cool to have that data later. I also want to publish that data somewhere on my website. Maybe make cool graphs. I haven't thought that far ahead. I have this vague sense that it would be good to be a less private person. That privacy is somehow bad. It just seems unnatural to sit alone in my apartment for hours every day. I guess this was sort of the motivation behind my failed lunchtime discord and burrito stream. I think I'll try to try more things in that vein this coming year. Though maybe focusing more on participating in the communities I'm already a part of than starting new ones.

Goals:

I want to write 3 papers this year. I've got a number of things half finished so hopefully I can get them out.

Social

I want to be more social on the internet. A lot of the internet for me has been reading things by people I'll never talk to and writing things that mostly no one reads (I guess this post is part of the problem). I want to get better at actually having social experiences on the internet. I'm part of some discords I don't participate much in and I'd like to change that. Part of the problem is I need to configure the notifications somewhere between 'never seeing anything' and 'a constant deluge of pings'. I think it's just a matter of picking what channels on a given server I want to pay attention to. I guess the other problem is it's sort of annoying for Rhiannon when I'm in voice calls late at night. I think that's a problem best solved by more rooms so I resolve to get more rooms in the new year. That will probably have to wait for the summer though.

Also I resolve to get married. Our first date got sort of pandemiced out but I'm sure we'll get it figured out this year.

Health

I want to exercise first thing in the morning. Just a short run or whatever is fine. I've been in the habit of starting the day with coffee but I think this would be better for my health and happiness.

Also I want to meditate for ~10 minutes after my run. This one is sort of speculative so I might stop after January if I end up not liking it. I'm just picturing sitting on the porch doing nothing for a bit mostly focusing on my breath. I feel like there's a lot of media signals telling me this is a good thing to try. I'm skeptical, but it's free.

[1] I have the sense that New Years resolutions are much maligned in our culture. Maybe more for being a cliche than being a bad idea. Maybe there's an archetype of person who makes unattainable goals or commits to unsustainable new habits every New Years only to be back to who they were by February. Maybe New Years can also be a way to procrastinate on new habits. It's fine to eat a ton of chocolate over Christmas; my new years resolutions will kick me back into shape (Maybe I'm both those people). But to the first point I kind of think I got something out of various habits I didn't maintain anyway. You can at least try something new and learn something about yourself. And to the second point I think if anything there are too few places in life that prompt one to stop and think "maybe I should be doing things differently". Steven Levitt's experiment assigning people to either make a big change they were thinking about or keep the status quo comes to mind.