Goals Update: 2 Months Later

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post saying New Year’s Resolutions are BS. You should do goals instead.

Soooo…. how’s that going? It’s important to check in on your goals now and then and make sure you’re actually making progress. If not, let’s revise the goal and move forward.

Here were my goals:

  • Write a book
  • Make a major change in my life – move, dog, gf, etc
  • Learn about BioInformatics
  • Get down to 10% body fat

How am I doing?

Make a major change in my life: done! I randomly met an amazing girl. We’re moving so fast it’s scary, but it feels right. I’m going to keep holding on to this roller coaster. This is an awesome change in my life, but it also has downsides…

Write a book: not even started! I can blame this on not having as much free time as I used to (see the above goal), or I can blame it on not having a system in place (write for an hour a day when I get up, for instance). I think I need to revise this goal anyway: the point is to achieve something big and difficult. At the time I wrote this goal, a book seemed like the thing. But it could also work for a large software project, or actually completing several short stories. I’m going to revise this goal: finish a first draft of a short story by April 1st.

Learn about BioInformatics: in progress! I’m planning on starting an online series of courses starting March 9th (The BioInformatics Specialization on Coursera, for those interested).

Get down to 10% body fat: in progress! I’m still tracking my diet daily; still recording my weight daily and my bf% weekly. For those interested, on Jan 1st I was 180lbs, 15.7%bf. Today (Feb 26th) I’m 170.8lbs, 14.3%bf. It seems like a lot of weight lost, but in actual fact I’ve just returned to where I was before Christmas. My challenges here are that I’m working through an injury and am having difficulty exercising, as well as the usual social pressures to eat out and have junk food at parties.

What have I done to stay on track?

This year, I wrote down my goals on a sticky and put them on the mirror in my bathroom! Every time I go in there I’m reminded that I have yet to start writing a book, but I’m also reminded to step on the scale and make my daily diet plan.

What are you doing to stay on track with your goals? Leave a note in the comments.


Roundup: Gene Therapy, Radical Decluttering, and the Calories In/Calories Out Debate

‘Weekly’ Media Roundup (Sep 9th – Sep 25th)

Well, that ‘week’ got away from me. I’ve been busy decluttering, but I have consumed lots of great information. I especially like some of the nutrition podcasts I list below.






  • dev-human – Things I was unprepared for as a lead developer
    • Interesting list of things to expect when (if) you get promoted into management
  • Matthias Felleisen – Growing a Programmer
    • Traditional university curriculums focus on teaching languages and algorithms and data structures, with little emphasis on how to design and maintain large programs. Let’s flip that script.
  • Jeff Knupp – How ‘DevOps’ is Killing the Developer
    • Stop trying to make software developers into general purpose tech workers. This might work for startups, but developers like to, you know, develop.
  • Sam Altman – Stupid Apps and Changing the World
    • Sometimes world changing apps look like toys at first. Keep on doing what you think is important.

Personal Improvement






  • Healthy Food House – They Said That Drinking Lemon Water In The Morning Is Good For You. Here Is What They Didn’t Tell You
    • TL;DR: Start drinking a glass of lemon water every morning
  • Danny Lennon – Is Your Low-Carb, My Low-Carb?
    • No one seems to agree on what low carb actually means. What should it mean?
  • Dr. Jason Fung – Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
    • This is one article from an extremely informative series on fasting. According to Dr. Fung, fasting (in any of several forms – Leangains, Eat Stop Eat, two weeks, etc) is important if you have built up insulin resistance over time, and can help your body reset itself and drop excess fat. Read this again!
  • Flowing Data – Years You Have Left to Live, Probably
    • Over 95% chance that I’ll live another 20 years? Sweet. Of course, this is totally wrong if you believe in the Singularity.

Evolving from Too Many to Just Enough

Why do I follow so many personal improvement blogs and podcasts? “I thought you said you were going to be more deliberate?” my girlfriend asked.

She has a point. I wrote explicitly that I was going to do just that.

(I am following my own advice, to some extent: I am re-reading The Success Principles one chapter at a time, and I am consuming personal improvement podcasts in smaller bites.)

She’s right – I’m following too many.

I’ve been asking myself why I’m so obsessed with this stuff, and I think I have part of an answer: I have Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). I’m following so many things I constantly have an urge to catch up, or I’ll get behind.

(The truth is that I’m already too far behind to catch up, no matter what I do.)

If I don’t read that article, listen to those programs, and subscribe to this guy’s newsletter, I might miss The One Key that will change everything.

What if James Altucher interviews Jack Canfield? Wouldn’t that be the best thing ever?
(He did. It was.)

More on FOMO here: Frankly Speaking: How I Got Started (#9)

But I’m not going to follow none.

But FOMO is only one part of the reason. I think there are huge benefits to following success oriented personal growth coaches.

1. Motivation

The desire to improve myself was something that I lost a long time ago (it’s hard to remember… something about college and hazy living rooms). By listening and reading and watching people who are motivated, I rekindle something inside myself that says, “life doesn’t have to be like this. Improve yourself!”

People like Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield and Napoleon Hill and Seth Godin and Gretchen Rubin and Lewis Howes and Jordan Harbinger and James Altucher and James Clear and Andrew Ferebee have sparked in me a desire to get better. When I find myself on my butt, feeling down and unmotivated, I can listen to these people and remind myself that life doesn’t have to be a grind. It can be what I make it.

2. Knowledge

The problem with the self help and personal growth world is that it can be a giant echo chamber. Just like exercise and diet magazines, ultimately there is a finite number of basic truths.

Why don’t I just listen to myself, and follow my gut? I’ve been doing that, for 35 years. Without going into detail, I’m less than satisfied so far. Without reading about these things — and taking action! — I wasn’t aware (or didn’t believe) that

  • making my bed every morning sets the stage for the rest of my day
  • taking a cold shower every day helps me overcome fear
  • taking action is the best thing I can do to get somewhere better in life
  • I can free myself from 90% of social anxiety by following simple rules: be impeccable with your word, don’t make assumptions, don’t take things personally, and do your best.
  • a good way to build a habit is to stack it with another
  • meditation is something that a majority of super successful people practice daily
  • it’s important to choose the people you spend the most time with
  • feeling compelled to lie means that you are not confident in yourself
  • and the list goes on…

So What Now?

I’ve learned two things: it’s important that I continue to check in with the media that means the most to me. However, it’s also important that I cut out the media that is overwhelming me and not providing value. I’m keeping a “Top 5” list, but I’m cutting the cord on anything remotely smelling of marketing fluff.

There’s a topic on Quora that dovetails nicely with this post: Has anyone achieved anything by reading self-improvement articles/books?

The top answer?

Certainly, the people who are impacted most by self improvement books and articles are the people who write them.

Keep that in mind when you read my blog!

Roundup: Meddling with Our Genes, Fecal Transplants, and Being More Confident

Weekly Media Roundup (June 13 – 19)

I love a good long drive – lots of time to listen to podcasts! I got sucked in this week – hope you find something interesting.






  • David D Burns – Feeling Good
    • I’ve mentioned this one before, but this is a great one for overcoming depression using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I read chapters on overcoming depression due to tragedy and sickness, as well as getting to the root of the depression.






  • The New York Times (Aziz Ansari) – How to Make Online Dating Work
    • Actually go out on dates!
    • The 3 questions that matter (according to OkCupid): “Do you like horror movies?” “Have you ever traveled around another country alone?” and “Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?”

Personal Improvement


  • Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich
    • I finished this book this week, and was highly impressed. Really interesting stuff about the power of mastermind groups and overcoming fear. It falters a bit when the author starts to describe his belief in telepathy, but this is one to come back to again. Definitely pick up the physical book, because there are a lot of lists.



Roundup: Placebos, Being Frugal, and a Tech Bubble?

Weekly Media Roundup (June 6 – 12)

I’m… I’m not sure what happened. I don’t think I listened to any podcasts this week. I consumed a lot of interesting articles, and I listed to about half of an audiobook… but no podcasts. Sorry? Maybe it’s for the best…


Personal Improvement


  • Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich
    • I’m not completely finished with this, but so far there are some great reminders to use auto-suggestion and be decisive. So far a treasure trove of truths and strategies. Not so much about financial success as personal.






Mission Statement Roullette

Ever since I lost religion, I’ve been wondering What’s My Purpose?

(When I had religion, it was easy: my purpose was given to me by God.)

I’ve talked about this before – purpose can be something you define for yourself. Sometimes, when I think of my purpose, it seems so hollow. It doesn’t resonate with me that my purpose might be to help others, or to live with integrity, or whatever feel-good crap you might find on “Make a Mission Statement” websites.

Is it reasonable that your purpose might not be knowable to you right now? Is it possible that to find your purpose, you must dedicate yourself to exploring life for a few more months, years, or decades? (Hopefully you don’t need to wait centuries.)

Or maybe, and this might be specific to you, you don’t actually have a purpose. You’re not driven by something so grand that you aim your life towards it.

Maybe purpose isn’t one thing — maybe it’s a dozen things. Maybe I have a professional purpose and a personal purpose and a public mission and a private mission.

Or maybe my purpose is purely hedonistic – to do exactly what makes me feel the best. From a subjective view, as long as this isn’t destructive, this seems like a reasonable purpose on the small scale. This also seems like the default for organisms on Earth. (Yes, we could argue about self vs group interest and collective evolution.) On a larger scale, I bet there are enough people who live selflessly that it sort of works.

I’ve been thinking recently that maybe my life doesn’t have a purpose… but this decade might. A purpose might be something that evolves, and an individual has many sequentially over their life.

Or a purpose might be something simple. To make people laugh. To help out when I can.

I don’t know the answer — and there isn’t one.

Here are a bunch of mission statements that I’ve found in various places. Please send me more:

  • Maya Angelou – My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
  • Sir Richard Branson – Have fun in your journey through life and learn from your mistakes. In business, know how to be a good leader and always try to bring out the best in people. It’s very simple: listen to them, trust in them, believe in them, respect them and let them have a go!
  • Stephen R Covey (7 Habits of Highly Successful People) – To inspire, lift and provide tools for change and growth of individuals and organizations throughout the world to significantly increase their performance capability in order to achieve worthwhile purposes through understanding and living principle-centered leadership.
  • Ghandi – Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
    I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
    I shall fear only God.
    I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
    I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
    I shall conquer untruth by truth.
    And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.
  • Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul series) –
    • Awaken the possibility in every soul.
    • To save lives, fortunes and futures.
  • Julianne Hough (Dancing With the Stars champion) – The purpose of my life is to be an infectios light of love and joy, to celebrate the little things, and to inspire others to embrace their true essence.
  • Lewis Howes (former pro athlete turned entrepreneur) – Teach 100 million people to make a full time living doing what they love because I believe if everyone is making a full time living — doesn’t have to be millions, but enough to live and have a good life — doing the things that you are most passionate about, you’re going to heal yourself from so much pain, and disease is going to be gone, and relationships are going to be better, and people are doing what they love and they feel like what they do matters and making money from what matters.
  • Tony Robbins (motivational speaker) – The purpose of my life is to humbly serve our Lord by being a loving, playful, powerful and passionate example of the absolute joy that is available to us the moment that we rejoice in God’s gifts and sincerely love and enjoy all his creations.
  • Oprah Winfrey – To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be. I never imagined it would be on TV. I believe there’s a calling for all of us. I know that every human being has value and purpose. The real work of our lives is to become aware. And awakened. To answer the call.


  • My ultimate mission is to live a present, disciplined life, in which I take care of myself in order to achieve my larger goals.[1]
  • To live life fully, honestly, and compassionately while making a positive impact on all those around me.[2]
  • To Empower, motivate and inspire people to living happier and more fulfilled lives.[3]
  • I want to be the kind of person my dog already thinks I am.[4]

Even more samples:
Sample Mission Statements, Vision Statements and Guiding Principles

And just for fun, a mission statement generator:
Mission Statement Generator