I’ve never been one to make, never mind stick to, New Year’s resolutions. However, I do like to reflect on the past year and then outline my personal goals for the year ahead. A major difference from past years will be this blog post, in the past I usually shared these thoughts on social media (more on this later). So let’s get on with it…starting with my 2018 retrospective.
…kind of a steaming pile of…well, you get the idea. It was not all bad, there were lots of noteworthy achievements, some of which i’m even proud of! I was able to co-author two machine learning papers, one of which will be presented at an upcoming conference, and my Tesla Model 3 arrived (#happydance)! Fundamentally, 2018 was just an “ok” year as there were some noteworthy personal setbacks along with some professional issues that I plan on addressing promptly in the new year. Looking back, I did learn some powerful lessons in 2018 that i will be mindful of going forward.
Trust but verify. My father used to always say this, like a true cold warrior that he is, and he’s right. I learned this lesson the hard way in 2018. I mistakenly believed what I had been told by those I trusted only to learn later that there had been intent to mislead in the interests of avoiding conflict. Going forward I won’t be taking anyone’s word for it unless I see hard proof to back it up.
Manage first impressions. This is always much harder than anyone thinks. First impressions are always a crapshoot and I’ve learned the hard way that you have to manage this or you never get a fair shake whatsoever. I messed this up several times in 2018 so it is high time that I addressed the problem. These days, many folks make up their mind about you after only a brief interaction, and from that point forward you “are” what they think you are. Making the best first impression possible is something I am going to more closely manage in the future so I don’t have to do the extra work later to change someone’s mind about who I am or what I am capable of.
Prioritize what matters. I got this so horribly wrong in 2018 that most of what you read below for 2019 are just things I ended up carrying over from last year. It’s easy to let others dictate your life but the impact is the loss of what you care about the most, your priorities! This year i’m taking firm steps to ensure that I stay focused on the goals I care about in spite of what others want me to do.
My Goals for 2019 (and Beyond!)
Witness in-person with my son a SpaceX launch AND landing. I’d love for this to be a Falcon Heavy launch but i’ll settle for a Falcon 9 so long as we get to see it land. This really means a lot to me having my son witness something so inspiring. What SpaceX has developed to achieve this is one of the greatest technological leaps forward for humanity. They are opening up the possibility of sustainable space travel for the first time. I can’t wait to experience this firsthand!
Write 1-3 posts on Medium (or this blog) per week. This is so so SO much harder than getting my ass to a rocket launch. But I feel that the value in keeping my writing up-to-snuff along with getting community feedback is just too valuable to pass up. To that end, I will be posting at least once a week going forward so be sure to follow me here and on Medium!
Delete both my Facebook and Instagram accounts. This is no where near as profound as it might be for some folks. I’ve not really used either of these accounts for months but I would be lying if I said it was no big deal. I joined Facebook back when it was Harvard-only so the lost history is quite significant. That said, I just don’t agree with where Facebook has been going over the last several years and the value proposition of having an account is just not there anymore. Instagram was a short love affair that was cut off when they moved away from a chronological feed so I won’t really miss it.
Respond to emails and practice “inbox zero”. I know this sounds almost too simple but somehow I always manage to find some excuse why I don’t respond to all of the emails I get. Over the years I have begun to better understand how to manage large influxes of communication so it is time I put that knowledge to work on my personal inbox. I don’t care if I end up reducing things down to one sentence responses but it is better than nothing!
Get out there! No, this is not a play for some time on a cruise ship (no matter what my wife might say), instead this is a good swift kick to the rear as a reminder that I don’t have any good excuse why I’m not out there taking photos, spending time with good friends & family, or just plain exploring, or hell, maybe all of those at once! Bottom line is that i’m way too much of a homebody lately and that needs to change.
So there they are. My goals for 2019, some of which are easy (bye bye Facebook) while some are truly going to take some serious effort (must…post…on….blog). Regardless, I am going to give it my best shot and fingers-crossed my retrospective one year from now will be an amazing story of just how I managed to pull it all off.
Happy New Year!