I already went over it, but 2017 was a banner year. A lot changed too. My wife and I joke a bit about the popular kids from high school that, it turns out, peaked in high school. Both of us think we haven’t peaked yet. Hopefully 2018 is another step up!
Let’s start out concrete. I’ve got a number in mind and it’s 210 lbs. I haven’t been that weight since sometime in early college and I want to see and feel what it’s like.
Last year, I went from just over 275 down to under 240 in about 3 months on a keto diet. I’ve maintained that weight for the rest of the year, and I’m starting right at 240 this year. I already know 30+ lbs is doable, because I did it last year. I also feel motivated. Not only will I be healthier, look better, and feel better, but my wife and kids have never seen me at that weight. I’m not especially fat - my body fat earlier this year measured at 20% (about average) - but I’m also not in especially good shape. I’d like them to see me like that. It’s motivating.
I’m also really interested to see what losing this weight does for my blood pressure. Stan Efferding has a great rant somewhere in this podcast where he says “Want to lower your blood pressure? Drop your body fat. Want to manage your blood sugar? Drop your body fat. Want to lower your cholesterol? Drop your body fat.” We all want magic pills to solve these things.. because we’re too afraid to admit to the root cause.
And the things you need to do are all simple. Walk, frequently. Be active and move. Live in a calorie deficit. It’s actually pretty simple.
I believe it. So instead of dealing with some symptoms, I’m trying to deal with the root cause. I need to be lighter.
Here’s a simpler one. I want to spend 5-10 minutes a day, preferably right in the morning, focused on breathing and simple stretching. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized more the power of meditation for mental and physical health. I buy it. This might be in the form of prayer, or it might just be deep breathing, but I like what it does and I want to focus on it. It clarifies my psyche and engages me for the day. I want to make it a habitual tool.
I’ve got some related goals in mind too, things like a regular sleep/wake schedule and regular walks throughout the day, but I think breathing will be the bellwether for the rest.
I didn’t do the du last year, but my wife did. This year, we’ve already committed to doing it together. That will take a little bit of coordination to get good training time in, but we’ll swing it.
My first time was 1:46. This time, I’l be shooting for that 1:40 number again. If I’m as light as I hope to be, that will be a huge boost right there. But I’ll also be focusing on the run. I was top 30 on the bike stage last time, but then I lagged with a 10:20/mile run pace. I was gassed and it showed. There’s a lot of improvement to be made there.
I’m also hoping we can drag some more friends and family into doing the race this year!
Photography Sales (again)
Same as last year, although I have a little more of a plan to do it this time. I’ve got a printer now I like a lot, and I know enough about how I like things framed and matted. 12inchesbehind will be repurposed as my primary storefront, and I’m researching some other avenues for showcasing some work.
Aside from (hopefully) being a nice little side hustle, I’ve found that nothing teaches you more about your photography than making prints. An image can look great on the screen, but when you get it printed you’ll notice all the little horrible details that persist, or the noise in the JPEG compression, or how the crop could be better.. all the details that keep it from being your best work. Printing makes you a much better photographer than you would be otherwise.
Two House Living
We bought a house in Delaware in October and it has been awesome. So far, we’ve spent 18 nights there and put in a lot of work to make it ours. This year will be all about learning what it’s like to live in two houses. We intend to really live in two houses, rather than treat this as an occasional weekend retreat. In the summers our hope is to be there for three months, and we plan to use it a lot offseason as well. Eventually, when the kids are out of school, I’d like to split our time even more evenly. April-November at the beach, and November-April near DC.
We’ve also setup a little blog to record our memories and time at the beach, and I hope to put a bunch more work into that as well.
Eschew Social Media and Phone Time
For both my own personal thinking space and for work, computers are my lifeblood. I use them all the time to learn, record, and interact. Too much of this time these days is wasted on junk. I’ll get more into this for my last goal, but the byproduct is that I want to spend way less time on my phone and on social media. They represent the majority of wasted time on computers, so off they go.
To be clear, I don’t want to go too extreme the other way. I didn’t delete my Facebook account, I just deleted the app off my phone. I’m happy to have it, I just don’t need the compulsive habit of checking it every time I’ve got a spare moment. I also plan to stay active on Instagram, mostly because IG is about sharing/showcasing these days much more than FB.
Tech Free Nights
In a similar way, I plan to give up screens at night. My phone is going to charge on the other side of the room and I’m going to put the damn thing down well before climbing into bed.
Refocus on Doing
Here’s the big one for me. This one is the start of a life transition. A migration into a phase of living that, I hope and God willing, will take me through the rest of my life.
I mentioned the beach house earlier. The purchase caused me to think a lot about life, what I want, and what’s best for me and my family. And I realized something fairly startling: All My Big Purchases Are Done.
Almost by default, the work and energy of most adults is driven largely towards earning money, and preferably more of it over time. This is mostly a necessity and makes sense.
I’ve realized now though that I’m in a new situation. By luck, grace, and a little work I’m at a point where I don’t need to focus as much on earning more. More is always nice and I will of course keep making money. But there’s a subtle shift in my thinking now, where I can start thinking much more about how I want to fill all the decades of my life. I can be more selective about what work I do that earns money. I can take adventures in side projects, whether they’re side businesses, hobbies, writing, or drawing. I look forward to a day, not that far away, where my creative and productive output is entirely determined by me.
Here’s a John Adams quote that has application to my transition in thinking:
“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”
This continues to be a beautiful and prescient way to think about your life and the purpose of it for your kids. But you can also apply it to yourself. I have worked up to this point so that my future self can pursue what he wants to pursue. That’s the point I feel like I’m at now, and I’m incredibly eager to dive in and swim in the many years of work ahead of me.
As part of this transition in thinking, I’ve been using potential energy and kinetic energy as an apt metaphor for the kinds of effort I want to focus on. Potential energy - like researching, reading, watching - is useful and important, but it’s very easy these days to wallow in it without actually doing anything. So my focus and goal will be to maintain a kinetic output.
I hope some of this makes sense. I haven’t figured out yet exactly how to say all of this, but this is a first shot. I have much more to say on the notion of potential vs kinetic energy, which will hopefully get transcribed soon.
And that’s where we are at the start of 2018. LET’S GO!