I set 12 ambitious goals for 2019. Perhaps even punitive ones. The ones undone are rolling over to 2020…and 2021 if not done. I committed to these will keep going. Was it right to put a specific list of fiction books versus “read x amount of fiction”? I can see arguments on both sides. What I’ve really learned is again underscoring James Clear’s axioms: you don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.
So system-design is the real new goal of 2020, but the (many) unfinished goals I will still chip away on.
1) Fiction Backlog, 2) Non-Fiction Backlog, 3) Works of Trollope
I completed Palliser. This was maybe the best use of a publicly stated goal. Even by the end of Phineas Finn, where I had started the year, I was ready to be done with the series. I will review them in another post but in short the books were in aggregate repetitive both stylistically and thematically…and yet, seeing through the characters through six books was rewarding. I wouldn’t have done this if the goal were not set.
Fiction backlog – hardly started, really. I ran aground on Infinite Jest, which I will almost need to restart now. Will sticking through it be as rewarding as Palliser? Here’s hoping. I enjoyed reading other works of fiction through the year, especially Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan, and a number of works by Louis Auchincloss.
Nonfiction backlog – A very strong push in the last weeks of December could have gotten this done. I languidly enjoyed the longest of the works, Johnson’s Birth of the Modern and Caro’s The Power Broker. Too languidly for a timed goal. Putting these books formally on a list was the right thing to do; the list was well selected and each work so far is terrific. It took me almost twice as long to read Birth of the Modern (1991-2019) than the period it covers (1815-1830)
The setup of moving books to the right when done was the correct one…but this is three-shelf case, and I would be distracted by non-goal books on the top shelf, placing new ones there. The goal shelves need to be goal shelves only!
#4) 189 lbs, #5) 15% bodyfat, #6) Run another marathon
Zero of these complete. It’s tough that all three of these are so far away from completion. At times I was very disciplined about Crossfit classes, which will likely remain the centerpiece of my fitness efforts. Sporadic keto and occasional fasts would get my weight down, but no where close to these goals, especially #6, which is hampered by still-tight IT bands and quads. I feel much stronger and healthier overall, but my weight is higher. A final ingredient may also be the complete removal of alcohol…a story for another time.
#7) 183 Blog Posts, #8) 3,650 minutes of meditation, #9) Complete a novel
1/3. The blog post goal is one I think I added again almost punitively. It is a good exercise. It forces me to ship. Complete a novel — here I put in many hours but they were furtive bursts, not a consistent and well planned effort. I have 80,000 words done. At least half of those will have to be left on the cutting room floor. It also was really the hardest of the goals…maybe the blog posts is the other. Anything creative being scary and easiest to talk oneself out of.
The Sam Harris meditation app continued to improve through the year, but is successfully incorporated into my life. Here again: success was a system not a mere aspiration.
#10) MarginCaller.com, #11) A book for TriplePoint, #12) 25k creators on Woovit
#10 is punitive, a goal which to do correctly takes time out of other goals…this or a suitable substitute may be deferred well into the future. A book for TriplePoint: almost unstarted again because I didn’t schedule the time for it. I’m giving myself success on #12; though the number is 15k we substantially tightened sign up requirements and even changed the business model to prioritize enterprise needs of publishers. A lot of work…continuous, attention-grabbing work, went into this, and Woovit is in good shape now.
The further mea culpa with 2019 on reflection: a wild card of non-work time, which was the School Board race. A very time consumptive decision…one that obliterated roughly four or five months of leisure time. In deciding to do it, just after these goals had been published, was tantamount to resignation from getting these other goals done. Even after the race was over, the aftermath has been time consuming. I will write on these another time.