New years are a time for both reflection and looking forward. I’ve never been good about resolutions—I’d inevitably forget or de-prioritize my resolutions as the year progressed. This was because I’d set my resolutions based on whatever whim I was pursuing at the time.
This year, for the first time, I followed a structured goal-setting process: I started with a set of 25 goals and whittled them down to a single goal across each of four axes of my life. Those domains are fitness, finance, mental, and social.
I designed each goal to be specific, realistic, and falsifiable. Each one also encompasses several goals from my original list as milestones or as indirect results of the root goal.
First up: my fitness goal for 2021!
Fitness: get 1% faster
1% might not sound like a lot, but it really is. Despite being a thoroughly mediocre sprinter, I’m only about 10% slower than Usain Bolt! 1% faster means 6.81 in the 60m, 10.69 in the 100m, and 21.73 in the 200m (all FAT times). I’ll need to hit several subgoals to reach this one: first, I’ll need to find success in the weight room. As I mentioned in my essay about body composition, I’m shooting for a force number of 3.5, which corresponds to a hex bar deadlift of 693lbs at a bodyweight of 198lbs. I’ll also need to keep my weight and body fat percentage within reasonable bounds: I’m shooting for 198lbs and 8% body fat. Finally, I need to stay healthy. Any significant injury could completely derail this goal!
Finance: 50% less discretionary spending
At the end of last year, I went through all of my spending on Mint. I suspected that my discretionary spending had gone up with COVID (and especially after moving in with my parents)—I was right. In 2021, I’d like to cut back on non-essential spending. For tracking purposes, discretionary spending is any spending that’s not rent, groceries, or utilities.
Mental: one hour of solitary free time a day
I’m defining free time as non-gym, non-track time that I have to myself. I’m not setting specific tasks for this time, though I hope to spend my time mostly reading or writing. Ideally, I literally have at least one free hour a day. I suspect, however, that work and social obligations will make that extremely hard. (I’m kind of cheating here—as I write this post on January 8th, I’ve only succeeded at this goal twice since the new year.) If I need to, I’ll loosen this goal to “seven hours of solitary free time a week”.
Social: twice-weekly live conversations with friends
This was by far the hardest goal for me to set. Quantifying social interactions is a dangerous game. It’s important to me that I don’t fall victim to Goodhart’s law—my social interactions should be for the sake of good conversation, not to hit this metric. Out of the four domains I set goals for, I neglected my social life the most in 2020. The only reason I talked to anybody other than my family and girlfriend was friends proactively reaching out to me and setting up times to talk. I’m so grateful for that, and this year, I’m going to pass that forward!
Hopefully, setting explicit goals in each of these domains (fitness, finance, mental, and social) will change my behavior for the better. It’s important that I close the feedback loop—at the end of this year, I’ll make sure to reflect on each of these goals and whether or not I achieved them.