Resolutions Update: May Edition

Follow up to Resolutions Update - April Edition

On 2 Jan, I outlined my New Years Resolutions for this year. I also made sure to publicly commit to these resolutions, since public commitment is a powerful tool to build habits. But it wouldn’t work if I announced it once and then never talked about it again. Additionally, as time goes on, I learn more about how things are going and decide to update my resolutions. Therefore, I’m aiming to provide monthly updates on my progress. Here’s the one for May, following the one from April.

Blogging Update

Goal #1: Publish 200 essays from 1 Jan 2013 to 31 Dec 2013.

Progress as of 1 Apr: 52 essays (26% of goal in 24.9% of allotted time)

Progress as of 3 May: 63 essays (31.5% of goal in 33.7% of allotted time)

Commentary: This past month, I had to slow down yet again to account for finals week. Also, I’ve done the bold move of shifting my blogging over from my old site, Greatplay.net, to this new site you see here, Everyday Utilitarian, which has also slowed me down. So I’m a bit behind in my goal, but now my school year is done, and I expect I’ll be able to get a lot of blogging done over the summer. And I’ll have exciting new things to blog about now that I have new direction in my blogging.

-

Goal #2: Add four games to the arcade by 31 Dec 2013.

Progress as of 1 Apr: Three games are half-made and the last one is started.

Progress as of 3 May: No change.

Commentary: On the old site, I had a Games Arcade. I’ve now moved this over to my personal website and feature my games there. I still like making games, so I’ve decided I’m not going to give up on this goal.

Diet Updates

Goal #3: Follow the No S Diet – No Snacks, No Sweets, No Seconds, Except (sometimes) on days that start with “S”.

Progress as of 1 Apr: 100% Success for 11 Mar - 1 Apr

Progress as of 1 Apr: 100% Success for 1 Apr - 3 May; 97.4% Overall Success since 1 Jan (N=76).

Commentary: The diet is still going strong and easy to keep up with. The No S Diet has been simple to keep track of and stick to and amazingly successful, contributing with exercise to me losing more than 35 pounds. However, I think it’s time to experiment with something different.

The No S Diet was successful mainly because it didn’t require me to obsessively count calories. However, I want to try a month at calorie counting and tracking and see how it goes. Therefore, I’ve signed up an account at Cronometer and will begin tracking my food and exercise.

So I waive all the restrictions of the previous goal. For this new dieting goal, I pledge to:

  • Ensure I do not consume a net energy of more than 2438kcal each day. Cronometer says this will lead to a weight loss of 0.5lbs/week at my current weight and height.

  • Ensure I consume at least 91.5g of protein each day.

  • Ensure I drink 2.5 liters of water each day.

We’ll see how this goes for the month.

Exercise Updates

Goal #4: Exercise five times a week for at least twenty minutes, either doing bodyweight exercises or running, with the goal to be able to run a 5K without needing to stop to walk.

Progress as of 1 Apr: 38.5% Success for 11 Mar - 1 Apr

Progress as of 3 May: 90% Success for 1 Apr to 3 May; 82.2% Overall Success since 1 Jan (N=73).

Commentary: Last month, my exercise habit crashed and burned. This month, despite still being busy for finals, I was able to revive it well and keep it going. I still haven’t been able to reach my previous ability to run 2.7mi without stopping, but I hope to catch up to it soon.

I’ve also added another program to my exercising routine: Stronglifts 5x5. The website reads like a very strange and overconfident infomercial, but it doesn’t sell you anything (at least not immediately) and some of my more fitness-based friends and r/fitness all swear by it. I’m aiming for my exercise routine to involve five days a week alternating between the Stronglifts weight lifting exercises and trying to run a 5k. If it’s not possible to do Stronglifts (inability to access equipment, for example), I’ll go back to my bodyweight exercise routine.

Also, in an attempt to further reduce calories, I’d like to commit to walking 40 minutes a day. This is about the amount of time I walk around normally in the college environment, but I expect my summer to be far more sedentary and I want to commit to keeping this walking aspect of my life around.

Productivity Updates

Goal #5: For a period of four non-consecutive hours each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, work using the Pomodoro Technique of alternating between 25 minutes doing work and five minutes taking a break.

Progress as of 1 Apr: 76.9% (N=13).

Progress as of 3 May: 100% Success for 1 Apr to 3 May; 90.6% overall (N=19)

Commentary: I was able to start implementing this resolution very well once I found a better method of reminding me to start and keep track of my time. Indeed, it started going so well that when it got to the end of April and I had to complete a lot of tasks for finals, I expanded it to be in effect every day, rather than just four days a week.

I think this resolution suffers a bit from knowing what is and is not “doing work”. Does being in class count? Does being in a meeting count? I kind of had to pick and choose. But there’s a better way – don’t maximize time on task, but minimize time off task. Therefore, I resolve that for at least twelve hours each day on weekdays and nine hours each day on weekends, I will be doing something important, whether it be an item on my to-do list, being in a class or a meeting, or exercising. Other activities, like socializing and sleeping, will be confined to the other twelve hours in each day.

However, similar to the “S-day” exception from the No S Diet, I reserve the right to waive this productivity requirement whenever special situations (girlfriend visits, trips with friends, vacation, etc.) call for it.

Hygiene Updates

Goal #6: Brush my teeth twice a day

Progress as of 1 Apr: 66.7% success for 11 Mar - 1 Apr

Progress as of 3 May: 88% success for 1 Apr - 3 May, 77.5% Overall Success since Jan 1 (N=107).

Commentary: This is getting better, but still the hardest habit to maintain.

Driving Updates

Goal #7: Get my driver’s license.

Progress as of 1 Apr: Almost ready to take the test.

Progress as of 3 May: No change.

Commentary: As I’ve said time and time again, this remains mostly a scheduling issue – it’s difficult to learn how to drive while I’m at college. I hope having more free time over the summer will aim for me to get my license.

Finances Updates

Goal #8: Do not have expenses I personally have to pay for (rather than my parents paying for them) exceed $2000 (while not causing myself to lose friends, sacrifice other valuable relationships, or otherwise become unhappy).

Progress as of 1 Apr: Slight concern

Progress as of 3 May: Slight concern

Commentary: As I said before, it’s difficult to plan for an uncertain future, where I’m not sure how much money I’ll make during the summer, what summer expenses will be like, how much plane tickets will cost, and what it will be like to live in an apartment next year instead of a regular dorm. So I’m slightly concerned I might max out above $2000 and I’ll probably have to make a new budget with new circumstances in mind in the future. For now, however, I can rest assured I have enough savings to back up all my expenses and I have zero chance of going broke. In the end, it’s just an arbitrary monetary goal, but I still want to try and stick to it.

-

Goal #9: Earn at least $6200 (while not sacrificing my long-term future by narrowly focusing on income).

Progress as of 1 Apr: $407.43/$6200 (6.57%)

Progress as of 3 May: $479.93/$6200 (7.74%)

Commentary: I’m still not nearly at the level I was expecting in order to meet my goal, and it’s unlikely this will change. I still think it’s good for me to focus on a route that emphasizes professional development over actual sources of income, but this goal is looking worse for wear unless I can pick up some more summer income from somewhere.

Cleaning Updates

Goal #10: Clean my room three times a week. Progress as of 3 May: 75%

Commentary: I started out having picked the wrong days to delcare as the days I would clean my room, and often found myself too busy to start with the initial cleaning. But once it got cleaned the first time around, it was pretty easy to keep clean.

However, now I’ll be ending my junior year of school and therefore my time in a dorm room, so I won’t really have a defined area to keep clean. I’ll make sure to try to stick to tidiness, but for now, I’m removing this as a goal of mine.

Bet Updates

Inspired by Maneesh Sethi’s “How to Make it Impossible to Fail”, I had pledged to donate $5 to the US Republican Party for every time I failed in completing a resolution beyond the first time. Well, I did fail four times beyond the first – once on cleaning my room, once on exercising, and twice on brushing my teeth. Therefore, I “owe” the Republicans $20, and it’s time to pay up…

This month, my total amount of failures went from 21 down to 7. I’m going to attribute most of this to the power of this per failure betting mechanism. There were definitely times where I really felt like not doing one of my habits, but then remembered that I would have to pay up if I failed. Then there were times where I thought no one would find out if I failed, but then remembered that I pre-commited to this betting plan on my website. I considered lying, but then I realized that would derail everything I wanted to accomplish. So I decided to go on with the habit, despite the discomfort.

Thus, given this success, I’m going to keep this wager. Hopefully I won’t have to give any more hard earned money to the Republican Party any more. It’s already motivating me to succeed.

-

Followed up in Resolutions Update: June Edition