I’ve never been a believer in New Year’s resolutions; there’s a reason it’s a cliche to start a new exercise program in January and abandon it by February. Resolutions tend to be things that people would like to do…and by the end of the year, they become things that people would have liked to have done.
At the same time, goals can be worthwhile – especially if they’re SMART goals. A SMART goal is one that is specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.
Specific: It is clear exactly what the goal is.
Measurable: It is clear whether the goal has been achieved.
Actionable: It’s clear what actions need to be taken to achieve the goal. “I will be a millionaire in a year” isn’t actionable; “I will spend at least two hours per week writing” is.
Realistic: The goal is something you can realistically achieve within the given time bound.
Time-bound: There is a deadline for when the goal will be accomplished.
For 2018, I’ve decided to set New Year’s commitments. Why commitments instead of resolutions or goals? Because I’m committing that these are things I will get done this year (and I’ve actually set up a penalty for if I fail to accomplish any of them). In 2018, I am committing that:
- I will publish at least one book – this will probably be either my computer science textbook or my first novel.
- I will apply to speak at [at least] two conferences – probably the two I spoke at in 2017 and any others that look good.
- I will update my blog at least once per month.
None of these goals are based on things outside of my control; I’m not resolving to make six figures from my book (although it would be nice!), have my talks accepted, or write an outstandingly brilliant post; I’m simply committing to doing the work, and posting a public record of that commitment. When I’m running on way too little sleep because the baby was screaming all night long, I won’t have the option to say “oh, I guess I have a good excuse for not meeting my goals this month” – I have this commitment to hold myself accountable.
Are you setting goals for 2018?
I’ve been reading quite a bit of different material lately; here’s a quick roundup.
FiveThirtyEight has an interesting article, with discussion, about the history of countries cutting spending during a recession. The Baltic states, for example, slashed spending immediately after the credit bubble popped in 2008, and have since suffered the deepest recessions in Europe. China, on the other hand, increased government spending with a massive (relatively the world’s largest, although smaller than America’s in absolute dollar terms) that went towards infrastructure (as I’ve argued that most of ours should have); as a result, not only is the country being upgraded, but wages are actually increasing. In fact, China’s economy grew by 8.7% in 2009.
I’m currently contributing five articles per month to BrightHub, mostly on the topics of college and graduate school (actually, all of my articles are in those two areas right now, but I’ll also be writing on family friendly games and web development). So far my most popular article by far is the one on choosing a PhD thesis topic, though the one on PhD requirements is a strong second. Occasionally I’ll just browse through the articles and see if I find anything interesting. Today I ran across this cute Sunday School lesson about creation; if I still taught Sunday School I could totally see doing something like this.
Next week I’ll want to start reading up on the hot deals in Vegas in preparation for the honeymoon; we already got half-price tickets for Cirque, but there are a number of other shows we’d like to see. I particularly want to see Lance Burton, since I just missed his last show when we were there before and this will apparently be his final season.