The urge to tick off, year by year, how I’m heading towards all my life goals is tempting. For the first 24 years of my life I had specific plans: primary school, secondary school, JC, college — which entailed a detailed, course-by-course breakdown of how I was going to fulfill requirements from two different degree plans — etc.
After I began working, plans became a little harder to come by. For one, I had to figure out what I wanted to actually do at work and how to do it better all the time. It became a lot easier to focus on two-week sprints and the next thing in front of me.
Yet somehow, without the plans, I crossed off a list of things in 2015 that I’d been intending to do:
- Traveling in Europe: London and Paris, in May. Featuring a surprise one week extension in France courtesy of the Paris postal service.
- Run more: A 5k, and finishing just (barely) shy of my goal time.
- Learn more: Digging into the wonderful and terrifying world of machine learning. Being invited to attend NIPS (which I’d never heard of before) on short notice and then having a great time.
I’m not keen on making any 2016 resolutions because the habits I’ve been trying to build have happened through quiet persistence, not because I wrote them down. I’m still torn between making a giant master chart of my goals broken down by month and week and day, and saying “yeah sure why not” to every random opportunity that sounds cool.
I do wish I’d thought more about volunteering. I’m glad I was able to achieve or participate in the things that were important to me this year, but I can’t in good conscience complain about the state of the world and do nothing to contribute. If I was really required, somehow, to make a 2016 resolution, it would be to try and fix the things I don’t like.
So here’s to a new year — to the courage to be able to deal with whatever happens, and to the small, unexpected pleasures that make most things worthwhile.