2016 - It Was a Year

I know 2016 was pretty terrible for the world in general, but it was okay for me. No-one died (well, no-one I'm related to), I managed to leave the country without any hassles and come back, I worked, I played. It was a straightforward year.

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A Year of Challenges

Habits are a powerful tool for success, whatever that means to you. Through habits you can manage how you spend your time, how you eat, when you exercise, whether you floss, and myriad other little things which add up to bring you closer to being the person you want to be.

I stopped using a paper day planner quite a few years, but in 2016 I used a different kind of planner, not to keep track of day to day events, but to keep track of my goals.

The Ink+Volt Volt planner, designed by Kate Matsudaira (who wrote one of the chapters in The Architecture of Open Source Applications) includes pages to track yearly, montly, and weekly goals. But what I'm going to write about here is the Monthly Challenge page, which allows you to set yourself a new daily challenge each month, write down why you want to do the thing, plan to do it, and track your success.

These are the challenges I set myself for 2016, and what I learned from them.

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Welp, I did it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I wasn’t really excited by the new MacBooks that were announced this year. And the more I read the less compelling they seemed… As I talked with my co-workers, I heard some really good reviews of a couple of models of Windows computers, and since 90% of Firefox’s users are using Windows it’s probably not such a bad idea if I use it, too, both to help me understand the problems they’re running into, and to make sure that the code I’m writing will work for them.

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I Gave Up Social Media

In December 2015, I stopped reading Twitter. It was the school Christmas break, the girls were home and I wasn't working so I wasn't on my computer much, and I was too busy to read Twitter on my phone.

Then I just... didn't get back on again.

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How to Work Out Every Day (Kind Of)

I work out every day. Hah, no I don't. I do work out most days, though. I didn't used to be a workout-every-day person. I got to this point through years of incremental changes and adjustments in my habits and attitudes.

People are impressed that I work out. They say, "I'm so impressed that you work out so often!" They say, "That's great, that you go to the gym every day!" It's one of the few things that I get randomly acclaimed for. (Of course, that says less about the magnitude of the accomplishment and more about what we value as a society.)

But valued or not, exercise is profoundly important. If there is such a thing as a panacea, it's not aspirin or vitamin D or fish oil, it's exercise. It's good for your body, it's good for your brain, and it's good for your mood. Apart from the actual doing of it, there is no downside to exercise.

That's the trick, though, isn't it? The actual doing. The taking time out of your day, the sweating, the special clothes. It's a bit of a drag.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of exercise, you need to minimize the drag. This is how I manage it.

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