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.


The Problem With New Year’s Resolutions

Every year, we’re inundated with people telling us what their resolutions are. “I’m going to get up at 7am every day.” “I’m going to drink 6 liters of water every day.” “I’m going to exercise 6 days a week.”

First, I don’t fucking buy it. You’re not going to do those things; why even pretend that they’ll last a week? Why are you sharing with the world these ridiculous goals? If you wanted to get up earlier, just start doing it. Don’t wait until the 1st to start a new habit.

It’s tempting to join the crowd. “Hey, what are your New Year’s Resolutions going to be?” Everyone is doing it. Why not? The holidays are over, you’ve gained some weight, you’re reflecting on how much better you think your life should be.

It’s kind of honorable, in a naive optimistic sense. It’s the thought that counts, right?

No: the way we approach resolutions is totally wrong.

Don’t fill up your life with meaningless checkboxes.

People seem to want to build more habits. “Every day I’m going to meditate for 30 minutes.” Why are you doing this? Why have you decided to build the perfect morning, or make a certain amount of money, or whatever flavor of the week trick?

Here’s what you should really be doing:

Figure out your goals for the next year. Break those into meaningful chunks of a few weeks or months.

(or don’t. Continue to resolve to go to the gym for the first 2 weeks of every year.)

Here are my goals for this year, since you asked:

  • Write a book. I’ve wanted to; why not? If a book is 100000 words, I can get it done by writing about 275 words per day.
  • Make a major change in my life. Move away from Santa Barbara, get a different job, find a serious girlfriend, get a dog. I don’t know. Wheels are in motion; I’ve got to keep them in motion.
  • Learn enough about BioInformatics to either get a job in it next year, or decide to go back to school in it, or decide its not for me. Stop complaining once and for all about not being on the front lines of cool medical science work and either figure out how to get into it or give it up.
    • As part of this, learn Python
  • Get down to 10% body fat. Last year I got down to 13-14% before the holidays destroyed my progress; I can get down to 10%. Why? 10% is where the abs are visible.

But there you have it. Not a single meaningless resolution.

Roundup: Doing Stuff That Matters, The Diderot Effect, and Evidence Against the Insulin Hypotheses

‘Weekly’ Media Roundup (Oct 26th – Nov 1st)

How do I consume so much stuff? Is it healthy to read this much and listen to this many podcasts? I hope you find something enjoyable in here. This week I’ve been obsessed with nutrition, so I hope I don’t overload you there.




Personal Improvement







The Other Most Important Thing

As I’ve written about before, taking action is The. Most. Important. Thing.

But there’s another thing that’s also important: Consistency.

Over my life, I’ve wondered why certain things are so hard for me… losing weight, getting in shape for a sport, learning an instrument, finding a job.

The answer comes down to my consistency putting in the reps.

When I am losing weight, I am eating well every single day. When I’m plateauing, I am making cheat days a habit.

When I am getting in better shape, I am exercising 3, 4, 5 days a week consistently, whether or not I ‘feel’ like it. When I’m skipping days, the weights and miles don’t go up.

When I’m learning an instrument, those tricky passages start to seem a lot easier when I’m putting in the time every afternoon. When I’m prioritizing other things, the easy parts get harder.

It’s hard to look at success and not see a pattern of consistency.

Bobby Fischer, according to internet rumor (if you have a reference, please share) was obsessed with chess, and read every book about it.

The Beatles played 262 shows at one club in Liverpool over 2 1/2 years (IMDB).

Michael Phelps went 5 years without missing a workout, 365 days a year (Parenting).

What can you do?

Tell your spouse you love them every day. Show up to work early every day. Schedule your workouts on your calendar. Meditate first thing in the morning, not just when you feel like you need it.

Take action, and do it consistently.

Roundup: Finding Your Love Language, Research into Ketogenic Diets, and Becoming an Excellent Manager

Weekly Media Roundup (August 1st – August 15th)

My apologies; this is the second Roundup in a row that I’ve been late with. I’m about to leave the country, so I’m expecting the next one will be late. I stumbled on an exceptionally quality batch of shows and books since last time – enjoy!



  • Gary D Chapman – The Four Love Languages
    • This book should be required reading for everyone. If you haven’t read it, get it now. Learning which of the four ‘buttons’ other people respond to is invaluable, not just in love, but in work and family and friends. Teaser: the four are physical touch, words of affirmation, presence, and acts of service, and everyone has one they naturally resonate with. Buy it now.





  • TED Radio Hour – Fighting Cancer
    • Fascinating talk on detecting cancers using microRNA and new open-source drugs that could speed up the pace of research.
  • 99% Invisible – From the Sea, Freedom
    • What makes a legal state? You’d be surprised who has tried.

Personal Improvement





What is Progress?

Sometimes, I wonder what I’m obsessing about.

People find out that I’m into personal improvement and kind of scoff, or give a little grin of disdain. I listen to hours upon hours of podcasts and books, and can get lost reading through blogs. My browser is constantly full with tabs (which is ironic, given that many of the tabs are about decluttering).

I follow a whacky diet. I have to tell people I don’t eat breakfast, or I’m not eating meat today. I skip social occasions to exercise.

And then, someone tells you how much you’ve changed.

It all suddenly becomes worth it. Did you know you’d changed that much? Everything you’ve been working for pays off.

Someone you haven’t seen in a year goes on and on about your weight loss.

Maybe the suit you bought last year fits loosely. Did you have any idea?

Self confidence gurus teach that you should be happy with yourself. And you should be. But nothing beats a compliment out of left field. To me, that’s the difference between keeping on the straight and narrow and giving up.

I’ve read about the benefits of doing annual checkups. James Clear does a couple – an annual Integrity Check and an annual Progress Review – and it’s embarrassing that I haven’t done one for myself. It would be highly informative how much my squat has increased.

I probably shouldn’t publish my salary on here.

But even without those objective measures, does a coworker ever stop you in the hall and tell you they are impressed with your personal growth?

You’ve improved. That 1% a day has added up. Your debts have dwindled away, your house is 20% cleaner, you make your bed without thinking about it. Your hard work to make friends has payed off when you get a text from someone to hang out.

Last week, my boss told me he had really noticed a change in my outlook. I hadn’t noticed a change in my attitude – but I’d been working on it.

That’s what progress looks like to me. Keep at it.

(And while you’re at it, tell someone else that you’ve noticed they’ve improved for the better. Pass it on.)

Roundup: Pirate Treasure, Sharing Salaries, and Purposefully Procrastinating

Weekly Media Roundup (July 18th – July 31st)

I didn’t listen to as much over the last few weeks as I normally do, but here are a few things I enjoyed:






Personal Improvement





  • David Eschenlohr – After Improvement
    • I don’t entirely buy his philosophy of self-improvement is a sham, but he makes some good points about living life for yourself as well as improving for the sake of happiness, not for the sake of improvement. Worth a skim.