My Goals for 2016

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to a great 2016!

Last year, I set three goals for 2015, and in general, I smashed them. I definitely can’t complain about the results. I realized in the last few weeks, though, that I never explicitly wrote a blog post about them. I mean, I originally intended this blog to track and motivate my goals, but I never stated what those goals were, at least not directly.

This year, I figured I’d change that. Since I easily handled three goals last year, I’ll set more this year. Indeed, I’ll go into greater detail, completely outlining my expectations and my plan of attack. At this time next year, there will be no mystery about whether I achieved or failed these goals. I also think writing them down in detail is both more motivating and lets me plan it out better, as opposed to just “let’s hope and pray it works.”

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Physical

Splits and Flexibility

I have unfinished business. I stayed very consistent with my stretching last year, up until my ankle injury, but I never fully achieved my splits. That changes this year. I will unequivocally get it, and while the splits are indeed my holy grail, I want to get more flexible in general.

I have greater mobility and range of motion in most of my joints compared to the average person, but I still have my tight places. Mobility deficits hinder strength and speed and endurance and, well, basically everything in terms of athletic performance. Every mobility restriction is an unnecessary roadblock, a speedbump for performance, and I want to get rid of as many as I can in the next year.

In particular, I wish to improve my shoulder flexibility. Years of martial arts sparring, which typically emphasizes chin down and a slightly rounded posture, has made my external rotation terrible. Reaching overhead is fine, but I can barely touch my pinky fingers together behind my back with straight arms. I’m going to address that this year.

2016 will be the year of mobility.

Nutrition

One of the best changes I made in 2015 was radically cleaning up my diet. I completely eliminated junk food for three weeks … and then Christmas arrived, bringing chocolate and cookies in never-ending battalions. You can’t refuse homemade cookies, right?

Rather than saying I fell off my diet, let’s say I took a holiday break. Time to get back on track. Rather than call it a diet, though, I want to focus on nutrition. As Jeff Cavalier says, if you are on a diet then someday you will be off that diet. Diets are for days and weeks; nutrition is for a lifetime. I plan on eating better for life, and I fully commit to that this year.

Foundation

I do gymnastic strength training, or GST, as part of the Gymnastic Bodies (or GB) curriculum. It’s basically a series of bodyweight progressions that get harder and harder, leading to more advanced moves. The end goal is to possess the basic strength of a gymnast, and we all know how strong they are. This is also why I need to improve my mobility, as tight shoulders will not allow me to advance very far.

The core training of GB is through the Foundation courses. There are four levels, and I am currently finishing up the first one. I was on pace to get it before 2016, but my ankle injury stopped my training for nearly three months. I’ve lost some ground, but I plan to finish F1 and be well on the way through F2 by year’s end.

Handstand

This one is for fun. I want to be hold a handstand. A few months ago someone made a funny offhand remark, noting how I can do all these fancy jumps and kicks but I can’t do a handstand. The context was a martial arts demonstration, and one of my students is a former gymnast, so it made sense at the time. Well, I can’t have a student show me up, can I?

My goal is a complete handstand, no support, for at least 10 seconds. I can go longer, but for the purpose of this, 10 seconds is the absolute minimum. That should be achievable in a year, right?

Chess

Get over 2000 rating

There’s something magic about the number 2000. Remember when everyone went crazy thinking the year 2000 would be a huge thing? The number has magic behind it. For most chess players, seeing someone’s rating starting with a 2 brings with it a sense of awe and achievement. That’s what I want.

My rating is currently 1970, so I’m painfully close already. I will put some restrictions on myself, though, to keep my honest. I will only face players rated 1800+, preferably higher. I play some team matches, where I don’t get to pick my opponent, but that shouldn’t be a big issue as ratings are generally close. Also, to fully achieve the goal, I need to either stay over 2000 for five straight games, beat an opponent above 2050 or reach 2025 myself. Those are my victory conditions.

Finish all GM Smirnov courses

In order to get there, I will need to study. I already own all of GM Smirnov’s courses. I just need to study them now. I just need to complete his Endgame and Calculation course, though that’s no small task. The calculation course is basically three courses in one; I’ve looked at the study material, and it might take me six months to get through it all. Still, that’s only half the year. I can do it.

Once I do that, I will need to relearn two other courses, as I only went through them superficially. If I do that, I should have all the skills and training I need to break through that 2000 barrier.

Play 100 games

Last year I played 45 games on chess.com. This year I want to double that, playing 100 total games. It’s all correspondence games, so it shouldn’t be an issue unless I get multiple 70+ move endgames. The more games I play, the more practice I get.

Writing

Keep Writing

This one is pretty simple. Go the entire year writing every day, just like the last six months or so. I’ll put no word count goals or anything else. If I keep up even half my current pace then I’ll crack 500,000 words before the year is up, and in all likelihood I’ll be closer to a million. Wow. I kinda want to put other writing goals, like NaNoWriMo, but I also don’t want to mess up my current situation. If I pressure myself to write non-blog stuff as well, it might backfire. I’ll hold off on that for now.

First goal, get to June 1st, 2016 without missing a day of writing. Do that, then get to Dec 31st, 2016, and let’s make this a lifetime habit.

Double Blog Vistors

I don’t know where they are coming from, but my blog had nearly 2,500 visitors in its first year of existence. That’s pretty awesome. They all started showing up after I started writing everyday, so I think the constant content updates have something to do with it. It’s been fairly steady, so good.

(Edit: I just got sent this cool infographic, which shows all the stats for my blog after one year.)

My goal will be to double that number. If I keep writing everyday for a full year, instead of half the year, that should do it by itself. Also, the more I write, the more likely one of those things gets picked up in a search engine at some point. Also, I hope to double my blog comments. So far I have one, not counting all the spam that gets automatically deleted. I don’t have control over that, but I have a full year.

If anyone ever reads this, you could be that person! Your comment could achieve my goal just like that!

Double Blog Income

My blog, almost inexplicably, made me money. I’m an affiliate for RCA and Mobe, and some people bought through me. That’s awesome. I also earned a writing job via my blog, which was both awesome and fun. Let’s keep that up.

If I double my blog visitors and I go through a full year, the doubling should come as a matter of course. That’s basic economics. I already make some money online, but if I can do it essentially free through my blog, something I enjoy, then I will be laughing. Let’s try.

Skills

Flow Arts

I wrote a post earlier in the week about the flow arts and object manipulation. I love this, even I’m not currently super good. I included a video in that post, so you can watch. My goal is to get much better. Every month, basically, I’ll shoot a new video, and at the end of the year we can literally see if I’ve improved.

Cubing

I wrote about how I finally solved the Rubik cube a few months ago. That was incredible fun, and I can now do it in less than two minutes consistently. Actually, I just took a break from writing to solve it, as I keep my cube on my desk. I just did it 1:35, beating my old record by one second. Go me!

I’m still using the beginner method, as I’m a beginner. There are advanced methods, though, that let you do it much faster. The world’s best can do it under 10sec pretty consistently, and 30-40sec seems attainable for those who study. I’d like to get there, but let’s start easy. I want a sub-60sec time before 2017. That seems perfectly reasonable.

Coding

This one is a little out of left field. I want to get better computers. I’m decent with them, as I use one most days, but I’m definitely suboptimal. I want to get better, and what better way than through coding? That’s an honest question, by the way. I don’t know if there is a better way, but this is what I will start with.

This is a spur of the moment thing, decided within the last 10 days, so it might fall flat on its face. Still, I’ll put it out there. You are looking at a future coder!

Conclusion

Well, that’s that. Instead of three goals, I have four areas of improvement, each with three or four goals within. Let’s be honest, that’s a lot, but if I accomplish even half of this stuff, I’ve had a hell of a year. In the coming days I will be breaking these down individually, and I’ll of course have constant updates throughout the year.

Here’s to a fantastic 2016! May yours be as productive as mine!

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