October marks the new year for me. Specifically, my birthday on Oct. 8. Seasonally speaking, it has made sense for me to do my goal evaluation and creation around my birthday. As the temperature drops, sky changes, and trees shed leaves, it's an easy time for me to construct new goals for myself. It's also an important time to take stock of the last year, and how I achieved, or went about achieving those goals.
This is the third year that I have made a clear set of yearly goals, and the other two previous years can be viewed from the Yearly Goals series page.
I made a few tweaks to my process:
- Do a six month review
- Make goals that stretched a few months, not the whole year, to test their usefulness
- Keep a calendar to track goal progress
The first two items on the list were to double check my allotment of time to each goal. The last was to keep a visual reminder of my goals and progress. Sometimes, when goals are buried in phones, or journals on the shelf, they slip out of the daily swing of life. Having the goals on my desk, making me track aspects manually, helped keep the goals in my daily conscious.
I was ambivalent about writing this year's goals post. I missed the mark on many, or flat dropped a few. I comfort myself with the thought that, like Jordan Peterson has mentioned somewhere in his talks or books, if you're always winning then you're not growing.
In that same way, it's beneficial to set goals that even if they aren't achieved, there is still growth. Once again, like a true writer (ha) I don't remember the exact source, but I learned about achieving goals in the proper way a couple years ago listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast. The example given was two boys that wanted girlfriends. One did all kinds of studying on how to get a girlfriend, blah blah blah, but was missing the practical concept of actually talking to girls. The other, going about his goals a different way, went up to girl-after-girl and asked if they wanted to be his girlfriend.
Some would applaud the latter effort, and others would be skeptical. However, the argument for the second approach is that the boy is exercising the difficult task of approaching strangers, as well as, trying to get a girlfriend. He is not only approaching strangers, but he is also trying to appear suitable—and mutually beneficial—to them. Ask a few people about that skill and my guess is that they will agree with me when I emphasize it's importance. As he tried to achieve one goal, is was surely gaining something beneficial in the process, even if we 'failed'.
All things considered, I am not 100% confident that all my goals were set up in the best way! I do know that many of these goals challenged me in the correct way this year. Here is the list of goals;
- Start my new career (12 months)
- Meditate 5,000 minutes (12 months)
- Do a press handstand (6-12 months)
- Go to Brazilians Jiu Jitsu class once a week (12 months)
- External Focus (3 months)
- Observe the phases of the moon (3 months)
- Finish editing, and adding to, "The Important Things"
- Go on 10 Hikes, while living in California, and blog about them (6 months)
- Five Minute Journal (3 months)
- Buy a book on star navigation
- Re-listen to Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
- Climb San Jacinto
- No alcohol or coffee in February
- Backpack to the Enchanted Valley
- Tune-up bike
I knocked out the bike goal very early on in the year (it's actually probably time for another tune up). Bikes are very interesting mechanical contraptions. I didn't quite understand how they worked and my curiosity led me to clean up the bike that I had used to ride to work that summer.
Ample YouTube videos helped me get this done. I went to the bike store and bought some chain lubricant and a brush. In total, I;
- adjusted the front and rear brakes
- cleaned the entire bike
- checked the front and rear gear derailleurs
- added air to the tires
- applied lubricant to the chain
I did not tighten the chain, or remove any links, which probably needed to be done.
The brakes were the touchiest of the tasks. I had messed with the back brake a couple years ago and did a number on it. I got them into better shape, but the real gain came from some other tasks.
Keeping proper air pressure is huge for performance, and it's something that I check way more now. However, cleaning the gears and applying the chain lubricant did wonders for the operation of the bike.
The first short ride I took it on was magical. The gears changed and the chain transitioned smoothly. Below are some scattered before-and-after pictures.
This was a great way to start the year. I took care of the low hanging fruit early on, so the next couple of goals will be quick hitters.
Edit "The Important Things" Document
I thought this would take longer than it did. Tt only took me a few focused days to complete.
This document is a collection of book notes that I organized into different sections. I couldn't think of a good title, so it got the one that it has. It's approximately 80 pages long and I wanted it to have proper punctuation and a consistent layout. Most of the text is direct quotes, and some are quite long, but I still had some errors to fix. It includes passages and quotes that I underlined from some 30+ books. It's amazing to revisit—at times—because it's easy to forget so much of the wonderful things that are found in books.
Re-listen to Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
This was less of a goal, and more of just something on my to-do list. It's a long audio book and I had really enjoyed it on a longer drive up the coast half a year before. This book is described on Wikipedia, as;
"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West is a 1970 book by American writer Dee Brown that covers the history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century. The book expresses details of the history of American expansionism from a point of view that is critical of its effects on the Native Americans."
It's a powerful title that comes from, "the final phrase of a twentieth-century poem titled "American Names" by Stephen Vincent Benet. The full quotation – "I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass. Bury my heart at Wounded Knee." – appears at the beginning of Brown's book."
It details many historical events during the expansion west. Living in the Washington, and driving the coast, it's interesting to see so many names that come from the time period that the book covers.
It can be argued that the book does too much to guard the theme of "the noble savage". I read a different book that gave more context to this time period, another interesting historical read, titled Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne. It details the brutality of the Comanches in the south, and makes note that brutal treatment of the enemy was not uncommon in native tribes. Together, the two provide a more comprehensive view of the injustices that were committed by both sides.
Observe the Phases of the Moon
This goal was completed over a three month period from October through December. It was simple. I followed the moon, nightly, through it's cycles and observed the date in conjunction with how much of the moon could be seen. I drew a quick circle and filled in the amount of moon that was illuminated (my own moon calendar).
It's fascinating that we have 'weeks' and 'months' based, in part (but not following), the lunar cycle. What caused me to want to regularly notice the moon was that I really had no idea where in the cycle it was—especially when I saw it in the mornings.
I'm no expert now, but after three months of noticing the moons cycle I have a much better understanding of it's given position and shape.
In one of my Favorite Books, Constructive Living by David K. Reynolds, it is hypothesized that a lot of suffering comes from an internal focus. This goal was created as a consistency checkmark to make sure that I was showing appreciation, and pushing my focus outward at some point during the day.
A couple years ago when I was trying out The Happiness Checklists I made a point of giving someone a thought out compliment every day. It was tough to keep up with, but was also very satisfying. I wanted to do something similar that allowed me to remind myself that I should not passively thank people, and that I should look to bring others up more often.
Not all days were the same. Some were easy, some took more convincing, but this goal was only three months and would be replaced by a different daily gratitude check.
Very noble venture, but it wasn't as wonderful as I may have just described it. In total, I thanked, complimented, or helped someone 77/85 days that I tracked this. I am perplexed that there were eight days where I could not find a way to consciously turn my focus outward. Regardless, it led me to find moments where I could sneak in a "thank you", "I really appreciate", or compliment for someone else.
I was lucky enough to be gifted The Five Minute Journal for Christmas and that started another three month goal of completing a page daily.
Described on the website;
"The Five Minute Journal is your secret weapon to focus on the good in your life, become more mindful, and live with intention. With a simple structured format based on positive psychology research, you will start and end each day with gratitude. Thousands who use the journal have seen increased happiness, better relationships, and have become more optimistic."
There are morning and night prompts, and are always the same prompts day-to-day. The quotes are nice, too. The idea is to start and end the day with the proper mindset. I undertook this goal in the winter, which is literally a darker time, and it certainly helps to stop and jot down a few positive aspects (and improvement areas) each day.
I completed a page for the Five Minute Journal 79/90 days. Since I did not do this for the full twelve months, I have plenty of pages to use this next year.
No Alcohol or Coffee in February
These are two beverages that I tend to develop dependencies for during the course of the year. The last two years I gave up alcohol in February, and it actually wasn't that difficult to do, so I decided to up the stakes with coffee this year.
Wow, that was a terrible choice. Not having coffee, during one of the busiest months of the year (at work), was brutal. It was truly difficult. I never felt like, even after three weeks, that I had habituated to not having coffee in the morning. I could not wait to get back to that sweat 'feine in March.
Next year, I intend to give up alcohol in February again, but I don't know if I can do coffee again. I'm weak!
Despite the pitfalls, this goal was a success and I refrained from both liquids for all of February.
Six Month Review
The purpose of the six month review was to evaluate progress, and make corrections to stated goals. During the review, I noted the goals that had been achieved and also the goals that would be dropped.
"Meditate for 5,000 minutes this year" has been tracked by meditation minute weekly. I am behind on my minutes, but I have been consistently meditating. My 6-month total is 1,585 minutes. [...]
"No alcohol in February" was accompanied by the more challenging "No caffeine in February" and I was able to abstain from both. [...]
"Go On & Blog about 10 Hikes in Cali" is on track to be completed (but just barely). I have done 8 out of the 10 with the other two scheduled. [...]
"Backpack Enchanted Valley" has not be planned yet but I am thinking June. [...]
"Go to BJJ Once a Week" is still in effect. This year I have made it 22 out of 25 weeks. Sometimes I have been going twice a week. [...]
"Do a Press Handstand" is one goal that has been dropped. It's a 12-month goal and I wasn't making the gym time to pursue it. I also have stumbled into a chronic wrist pain that makes the handstand position difficult. [...]
"Buy a Book on Star Navigation" was an impulisive goal that, despite being interesting at the time, never came into fruition. That being said, this year I have read Hiking with Nietzsche, and I finished reading The Self Taught Programmer, and Indeh. I have been jumping around in two books Meditations for the Humanist and The Pragmatic Programmer. I am currently reading Lost Connections. [...]
I normally track my habits on Way of Life, which is great to see streaks, change habits, etc. However, after listing to Tim Ferriss's podcast with Jim Collins, and acknowledging my affinity for spreadsheets, I am going to try a personally tracking based on his own spreadsheet. I have thirteen different things that I want to track for each day (I will eventually list the items). The fourteenth item is a description. Now, the description I want to be like something I heard in a Art of Manliness podcast. I want it to be like Homework For Life where I may note an accomplishment or failure but it should also be quick blurb of what I can remember (story) that day. It should be 1-3 sentences long. I will still use Way of Life for small habits like flossing, and wearing a retainer. [...]
I added a few habits, or things to accomplish this year. One being Stoic Mindfulness Training, which I have mentioned before. It was a month long and included Stoic audio recordings, practices, and exercises. I followed that up with 3 months of using the 5 Minute Journal everyday. I tracked how well I did for three months and was able to successfully fill it out (morning and night) 79 out of 90 days. I also upgraded my blog and began writing more. I have aspirations for longer form writing, and have spent some time on one particular document. [...]
To recap on some notables;
- I dropped the press handstand goal
- Participated in a month long Stoic mindfulness training
- Started tracking life activities in a spreadsheet based on a podcast that Jim Collins was a part of
Goal Evaluation (Cont.)
Go on 10 Hikes, While Living in California, and Blog About Them (Climb San Jacinto)
There are some gorgeous hiking trails in the Palm Springs area and I did not want to pass up the opportunity to explore more during my last winter in the desert. The previous year I had dreams of going up San Jacinto. It has an elevation of 10,834 ft and a prominence of 8,319 ft making it quite the site.
Completing ten hikes and climbing San Jacinto were actually two separate goals, because I wasn't sure that I would be able to go up San Jacinto due to the weather, get the time off of work, or find someone to do the climb with me.
I wanted the blog posts to be a series, so Hiking From Coachella Valley: 10 Hikes for a Mild Adventure was born. I won't go into detail about the hikes because I already did in the individual posts, and they can all be viewed from the link or tab in the navigation bar.
The series started with a short, but long, trip to the Grand Canyon. Ambitious start, but being so close to such an impressive site was tempting. It was very rare to have two consecutive days off when I was working in California so I didn't want to waste the opportunity. That kicked off the six month series!
It culminated with the San Jacinto climb in mid-April. The snow was melting fast enough to allow for a safe ascent, and my brother was driving from the coast to complete the difficult hike with me.
This was a special time. I was about to move back up to Washington in a few days, ending my career in golf, and wouldn't be returning to the area the next year. I had spent two winters (12 months total) in a different state, experiencing all the beautiful 'in-betweens' that happen as life progresses.
Being able to climb the mountain with my brother was perfect. It was a fitting ending to that chapter of my life.
In my six month review, I considered the fact that my next move may be my last move for a long time, and I noted that from the time I was eighteen years old and moved to college (seven year period);
- I have lived 12 different places
- I have moved 14 different times
- I have lived with 24 different people (many of whom were strangers when I moved in)
On April 25 I posted the final blog article for the series and completed the ten hike, ten post, goal that lasted six months.
Backpack to the Enchanted Valley
My brother brought this place to my attention many years ago. Unfortunately, he was not able to make the trip, but I was able to organize the backpacking excursion with two of my cousins after I had moved back to Washington.
I wasn't working a normal day job at the time so planning—for me—was pretty easy. I think it's important to really try to do the things that one wants to do, and that is why this trip ended up on the goals list this year.
Enchanted Valley is in Olympic National Park on the west side of Washington state.
I published a quick trip recap with pictures and completed this goal on June 9.
Go to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Class Once a Week
I started practicing jiu jitsu two summers ago in Spokane. When I moved to California for the first time I stopped for six months and basically returned a beginner. That was frustrating and I didn't want that to happen again.
Moving to California for the second time, I joined a gym that was close by and tried to keep up my practice. I worked more hours in the winter and that made it difficult to make it to class. Whenever I was traveling, or moving, I seemed to miss a week or two.
However, when I returned to Spokane in May, I felt that it was much easier to get back into classes, and that I didn't get worse from my time in California. I received my second stripe this summer, and am hoping, that by the end of next year I may be lucky enough to have a shot at earning a blue belt.
At the end of the year I discovered that I had made it to jiu jitsu 41/52 weeks.
Meditate 5,000 Minutes
This was a year long goal, and it may seem like an arbitrary number but I had done some calculations to get to this nice round number.
Simply dividing 5,000 by 365 (days) equals 13.69. That is a reasonable goal. However, I am disappointed to say, I did not reach that number. I wanted to emphasize consistency this year, and there were stretches of days, or random ones, where I did not take the time to meditate.
There arepeople that site the lack of evidence that meditation is actually the cause of the positive effects from 'meditating'. They might be right. Regardless of whether mediation is the cure some claim it to be, the practice of taking a short break and collecting, observing, focusing, or filtering thoughts is a beneficial exercise.
It's difficult to explain why I missed so many days, and it really fly's in the face of the disciplined image I sometimes have of myself. This goal was a nice wake-up call.
This year, I meditated approximately 3,800 minutes, and did not complete the goal of 5,000.
Start My New Career
The crown jewel of the 26th year of my life. I decided that the golf industry was not going to be my destiny and I was going to pursue a career in tech. This is a big and vague goal. Well, actually, it was a really simple goal. One could say I 'started' my new career the moment I decided I was done golf and began learning new skills. Or, perhaps, I started my new career when golf industry career ended in April.
I'll admit that when I first wrote the goal, I had a job in the tech industry in mind (i.e being hired). It was a big turn-around for one year, and I do not have a job in tech at years end.
But, In my six-month review, I wrote:
My revenue from this relationship has exceeded $1,000 this year and led me, at the beginning of September, to launch Jarrett Retz Technology Services LLC. I felt that this further legitimizes the revenue and I hope to increase that revenue from this solo-venture in the next year.
I am currently developing a web-application that would be offered as a service to other golf shops based on some of the work that I had done previously.
Late in September, I signed up for my first coding bootcamp that is set to begin at the beginning of November 2019.
Given the two pieces of information (business and bootcamp) I would argue that I completed the goal of starting my new career.
That concludes the evaluation of my goals for the past year of my life. Many things happen over the year and I still have a few more items to share, like my 'favorites', and the spilling over of goals from previous years.
Favorites From Last Year
- Podcast:Philosophize This! by Stephen West
- Book: The Enchiridion (Handbook) by Epictetus
- Audio-book: Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Quote: "What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him." -Viktor Frankl
- Hike: San Jacinto
Goals From Previous Years
Two years ago, in My 24th Year, I made a goal to leave North America (didn't happen). Last year, in The 25th Year I made the goal to buy a plane ticket to leave the country (this did happen). And finally, in May I went to Austria, Germany, and Italy with my girlfriend Meagan.
Also from last year, I had the goal to write, "52 Letters to People in My Life". At Christmas, I gave many of these letters to the people that I had written to. It was a positive emotional experience, and I didn't feel that comfortable doing it. I really tried to express appreciation and love in the short letters and the result ended up being a high point from the past year.
Doing the goal recaps makes me feel lucky, grateful, and inspired. I'm not sure the exact source of the thought (or quote), but I think it's true that people tend to overestimate what they can get done in a day, and underestimate what they can get done in five years.
If you made it this far in the post, I hope you enjoyed the content, and thank you for reading. Best of luck in the next year!