Breaking New Years’ Resolutions Already?

February is right around the corner, so it seems like a good time to assess how the ol’ New Years’ resolutions are coming along.

Unfortunately, it appears I’m a little behind schedule. Let’s do a quick run through of the list:

1. Blog More

For starters, I haven’t written anything for the blog yet this year. I didn’t actually set myself a goal on blog post numbers, but since we’re here I think it would make sense to add this to the resolution list. It would appear to be more than reasonable to manage at least one blog post per week, so let’s set the goal at 52 blog posts for 2021. As we are now in the fifth week of the year, I’ll have a backlog of four posts to make up after this here post has been published.

2. Read 18 Books

In my last post (How many books did you read this year?), I pointed out that I only managed to make my way through 9 books last year. That number’s not too shabby, but when I consider how much time I spent on things of little productive value (scrolling through the new arrivals on Andertons, getting dragged into a YouTube recommended video whirlpool or watching my stocks go up and down (and then down some more)), I determined that I could absolutely do better.

So where am I up to? Well, I’m still reading Don Quixote… a book I had already started going into this year. I was around 200 pages in as of December 31st and I’m currently at page 340. This pace is perhaps not ideal given that the book has 982 pages. It looks like I’ll need to allocate more time to reading than I have been doing.

As I mentioned in my last post, I work fairly long hours during the week with any free time generally going toward my home workout regimen (next up on the list). Although I do make time to read just before bed each night, the current amount of time I am dedicating to the task clearly is not sufficient so I’ll need to consider adding further opportunities for reading beyond the current 20-30 minute reading session each evening.

3. Keep Up The Home Workout Routine

I’ve done a lot better with this resolution, although I’ve not been as strict with the regimen as I could have. I’d account my relative success on this resolution primarily to working from home a lot over the last month. The extra time gained in not commuting for 2 hours every weekday has enabled me to (usually) comfortably make time for my workout without that workout going too far into the evening – I much prefer concluding my workout at 8pm to 8:30pm so that I’m not eating dinner at too late an hour. It’s funny though, as although I’ve gained more time for my workouts in dropping the commute, the loss of this 2 hours a day commuting has meant the removal of time I would have spent listening to podcasts/audiobooks (for the walking part of the commute) and reading library books (for the tram part). This may explain why my completed book numbers have dropped a little lately.

On average, I’d say I’ve managed 4 to 5 workouts per week since the year commenced. However, most of these have been strength training and my goal was to (1) make exercise a daily activity rather than incorporating “rest” days (given that the workouts I am doing are nowhere near strenuous enough to warrant days off) and (2) to actually make cardio part of the routine. The routine therefore looked something like this:

  1. Day 1: Strength Training Workout A
  2. Day 2: Strength Training Workout B
  3. Day 3: Cardio (Exercise Bike)
  4. Day 4: Strength Training Workout C
  5. Day 5: Strength Training Workout A
  6. Day 6: Cardio (Exercise Bike)
  7. Day 7: Strength Training Workout B

…and so on. You’ll note there’s not much leaving the house involved which is partially for Covid reasons and partially because although I live outside the inner city, there still seems to be a fair amount of internally combusting vehicle and chimney use, so going for a jog for the health benefits while heavily breathing in all the pollution can feel slightly counter-intuitive.

As you’d expect, the workout which I have tended to skip has been the cardio, so I need to do better on that front. Overall, the workout routine is going pretty well, but there’s still room for improvement.

4. Finish the Mandarin Tree on Duolingo

This is another goal which I’ve been chipping away at little by little both at the weekend and during the week. Given how short and sweet the lessons are, it’s no problem at all to get through one or two review lessons over breakfast even on a workday. On the other hand, when I’m doing one of the new lessons which introduce new material and words, I generally prefer doing these a little more formally at my desk with my notebook, pen and Chinese dictionary rather than with my scrambled eggs.

In terms of progress, I’m almost on to checkpoint two of the tree (out of the six in total). I’ve been through all of the lessons in level one, but I just have four lessons left to max out to stage 5 and then we’ll be on to the checkpoint 2 test. This goal therefore seems to be on track.

5. Write More Songs

I’d probably place songwriting/pop music production at the top of my list of hobbies.

I spend the majority of my free time on Logic Pro X (Apple’s digital audio workstation) trying to come up with catchy, hooky pop songs. It’s incredibly time-consuming and unbelievably financially unfulfilling (Soundcloud sent me $0.20 this month), but I don’t think I can think of anything more exciting than when, after hours of grinding, you finally have that eureka moment and the song just explodes into life.

I’m not overly concerned with the numbers game with my songwriting in terms of pumping out as many songs as I can over the course of the year. I think it pays off far more in this realm to be thoughtful with your songwriting and spend the time necessary to ensure the song is just right, mixed nicely and mastered carefully rather than rushing and putting out multiple rough songs that sounds like they were made on a potato.

The bar for music is high, so my goal here is just to put out perhaps three solid songs which I’m totally stoked about. In terms of progress, I’m still working on the first track of the year but it’s definitely taking shape. I expect that the main structure will lock in to place in a couple weekends or so.

If you’re interested in listening to the songs I’ve already put out, my Spotify and Soundcloud links are below:

6. Codecademy Computer Science Path

This wasn’t actually on the original resolutions list, but I’ve recently started the computer science path on Codecademy to have a go with coding. The path starts off with lessons on the coding language Python and I’ve just completed the first 15 mini lessons which has apparently placed me 1% through the course – result!

The plan is therefore to get through the full computer science path by the close of the year.

Conclusion: Assessment of January’s Progress

Overall, we appear to be off to a fairly mediocre start. Although I’ve kept up my exercise regimen fairly well and my Duolingo progress looks okay, I’m behind on my blogging and my reading. Adding the Codecademy computer science path to the list will be a challenge, but I still think I can get through all of my goals without issue provided I focus on being productive with my free time and avoid the usual time sink suspects.

How have your resolutions been going? Have you kept to them?

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