Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My 2014 Resolution: No Resolutions!

There have been several years in the past that I did New Year's Resolutions. And like many people, I did not stick with them very long.

I've decided to try something slightly different. Not one year goals I have in the past, but three year goals.

Anything shorter seems like it is trying to change too much too fast. Anything longer range - it's too hard for me to predict what is going to happen that far in the future and come up with goals that are realistic.

Once I have my goals figured out for three years in the future, I take it back to goals that will be in the one year time range, then break those into one month steps, then into weekly and daily habits that keep me moving in the right direction.

Some of the goals are ones I'd rather not publicly post, but I'll share a few of them.

My biggest three year goals are to be 100% debt free (mortgage and everything), have my house be free of clutter that is just taking up space and not providing any benefits, and get to a point that I am doing something with my life I'm truly passionate about.

To be on track for these goals, I need to pay off 1/4 of my mortgage in 2014 (we've been aggressively paying it down and living well below our means, so this is entirely possible), get rid of anything we don't use on a regular basis, and try I few things I might want to do with my life.

I've decided that every month, I'll have new goals on the way to these. For January I will doing daily devotions, be working on some kind of project outside of work every day (blogging counts so this is it for today), work out every day (need the energy and health to tackle the other goals).

I also plan on going to at least one big conference this year that covers what I want to do. Right now the best option looks like one called "World Domination Summit." Besides having a cool name, it is a conference dedicated to all kinds of creative people who make their living online. This includes bloggers, podcasters, and I believe independent developers.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 2013 Goals Update #1

It turns out December is a crazy month to attempt a couple of the goals. Work has been nuts so finding time to work on side projects and work out has been a challenge. Sometimes my "workout" has been limited to jumping with the kids in the bouncy house we have in the basement. Or in the case of today, spending time with the kids playing outside in the snow.  A couple days I have missed my workout and/or working on side project.

The one that has proven to be really interesting and more of a challenge than I thought is the no unnecessary purchases for myself rule. December has two things going on: general sales just about everywhere you turn as retailer gear up for Christmas. This is something I was expecting.

What I wasn't expecting is almost every digital distribution channel out there - Apple's App Store, Google Play, Amazon Kindle store, and Valve's Steam - are doing some variation of "Here's the best of the year, and it's ALL one sale." type of promotions.

As someone who enjoys using good apps and playing original indie games, this is really hard to resist. So far I have managed.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 2013 Goals - Making December 2013 the Thirteenth Month of 2014

I've decided the best way to make 2014 rock is start figuring out what direction I want to go in 2014 and take baby steps to make it happen in December 2013. Kudos to Scott Smith of Motivation To Move for this great nugget of advice on his podcast.

I have also decided I need to have a limit on how many goals I try to track at once. Five is the absolute maximum, three would be ideal. It happens this month that a couple of my goals enforce each other so I think five is alright in this situation.

Here are my five goals:

  1. Workout daily.
  2. Eat healthy more often than not (or "Be more gooder than badder" as Scott would say)
  3. Work on a side project every day (app development and blogging are the main two I'm considering)
  4. Finish version 1.0 of the Bible Trekking app
  5. No unnecessary purchases for myself
I'd like to unpack that last one a little bit now. I've had previous posts about my tendency to impulse buy stuff I don't need and then I go around the house complaining we have too much junk we don't use. Solution: first, stop buying the stuff! Then get rid of whatever I don't use.

If I buy for something else, that's fine - otherwise Christmas shopping would not be allowed. Buying necessities is of course fine. I plan on just adding anything I want to a list and look at it in January and I'll likely be wondering why I wanted all this clutter in my life.

Today I had my first shopping trip with this rule. For some reason I was very tempted to buy a candy bar (which I do occasionally buy at the checkout) and an energy drink (which I normally only buy when I gas up the car).

Friday, May 17, 2013

SFW Streaking

I have discovered an idea that has made a huge difference in my life in building healthy habits: streaking. Now, get your mind out of the gutter. I mean seeing how many days in a row you can do one small habit.

I've found that I cannot have too many streaks going at once. One is very doable, two are manageable, and three should be possible. I think four streaks would not work and five would just result in nothing getting done.

I currently have two streaks going, and I had the first going over 100 days before I started the second.

My first streak was working out 10 minutes a day, every day. This could be an hour long run (if I could do that without falling over from exhaustion) or as little as a ten minute walk outside or on the treadmill. I am up over 170 days on this streak.

The second streak I started was working on some side project every day. I've got two things I'm exploring: app development and writing. Any post to this blog counts to this, as does any work I do on building mobile apps or web applications outside of my day job. I am up over 40 days on this streak at this point.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why don't we budget time?

It seems like everything I read about personal finances, one of the first things people recommend is having a budget. Except those that don't like the word "budget" they say have a spending plan. But the idea is always the same - plan what you are going to spend, and then follow the plan.

Pretty much the same goes with eating healthy. People plan what they are going to eat and then follow the plan. Examples include Weight Watchers (points system), Paleo (don't eat junk), and things like Nutrisystem (buy our food and eat that).

The one thing that people seem to not really think about budgeting is time. There are scads of methods of doing todo lists, project planning, prioritizing etc, etc. But very little similar to what I would consider a time budget.

Let's do a comparison. If you go out and spend money, you eventually run out of cash, overdraw your checking account, or hit your credit limit. You know when you have run out. You can do the envelope system or follow a budget and keep from going that far if you track your spending and stop before you hit your limit on any category.

Time: it is often that you can start on email, Facebook, Twitter, or maybe looking at cute cat pictures on Reddit and next thing you know what in the world it is 3AM, you meant to go to bed by 10:30 PM because you have to get up at 6AM the next day to go to work.

Very few people I have heard of do a time budget. In the above example - maybe at 10PM you could set a limit of 30 minutes to goof off on the Internet before going to sleep.

Is it hard? Or is it just something no one thinks about that often?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 2013 Goals - progress update #1

At the beginning of the month, I had a post about my goals for the month of April 2013 which seems to be going entirely too fast - especially for those late in filing their taxes. Luckily this doesn't include me.

Here is the list of goals I had planned and how I am faring on each of them.

* Work out every day at least 10 minutes - I'm hitting 100% on this one so far. Some days I barely get it in. My 3 1/2 year old daughter absolutely begs to do a kettlebell workout with me. This is not what you could call an intense workout, but it is a work. I'm rotating been that, a walk on the treadmill, Nike+ Kinect, and running outside now that the weather got nicer.

* Eat 80% paleo diet - this is one I'm probably getting right about half the time. Although I am not really tracking exactly what I eat so I couldn't tell you how far off I am for sure. Eating out and bringing junk food into the house for the wife and kids are my downfall here.

* Get down to 195 pounds - I'm down a couple pounds from the beginning of the month. This morning I was down to 200.6.

* Finish reading “Managing Humans” book by the guy who writes Rands In Repose - I had started reading this book last month and got a couple chapters in. So far it's been pretty enjoyable and has some good points. 

Side projects:
* Work on creating something every day at least 10 minutes (blog, writing, programming, websites, anything really) - I've got 100% on this one so far, although some days I don't really accomplish a lot. That is one of my big challenges - with a busy work schedule and kids that want to spend time with their daddy, sometimes I don't feel like I'm getting anything done. In the last week, I decided to prototype an app to see how I'm doing eating Paleo. I got as far as installing the latest version of Rails and setting up a couple scaffolds. Even that is much better than doing nothing because I'm "too busy."

* Read “Your Money or Your Life” book - when cuddling my younger daughter trying to get her to sleep, I have been reading this on my Kindle. I've made it through the first five chapters. The next one is "The American Dream - On a Shoestring" which I'm interested to see what the authors have to say.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Magic Word

Lately I have learned at work there is a magic word that is really hard to say and I don't use it often enough. It's not the words you'd think - "Please" or "Thank you" or even "I'm sorry." Those words we are taught since a young age - the words and when and where to use them drilled into our skulls to the point that I think everyone knows to use them (even the ones that don't).

I'm thinking of a different word even harder to say for someone who loves to help people. That word?


There's the point where things are just too busy to accomplish everything that you want to do. So you must say "No" to some things. This is going to either be by choice - you prioritize and intelligently pick and chose what needs to get done.

Or it could be more of by default. You try to do everything and just end up running out of time for some things. Who knows what gets done under this second system? It could be what is easiest, what is most fun, what people have yelled at you most to get it done, or just about anything.

I have also realized that I also need to remember this lesson at home, which tends to be a little harder to do.

So what gets done first? Whatever needs to be done to keep major problems from happening - paying bills, keeping the car repaired, etc. Next - whatever keeps making life better and better. Spending time with the kids and wife, learning new things, keeping in touch with friends, etc. Anything outside of those two things will need to fit into whatever time is left.