This year I’ve been going through a bit of a transformation personally. Each year I tend to set goals, I move through them in a somewhat ordered fashion, then I re-evaluate after about 6 months or so to see how the year is going. In general, this seems to be working and in particular this year I seem to be getting a bit more organized in this respect.

Some points that seem to be helping me this year that I didn’t necessarily have in prior years:

  • Stoicism: has helped immensely in separating what is within my purview of control and what isn’t.

  • Discipline: on top of the lessons in stoicism, one act that I’m creating awareness around is what it means to be distracted in the modern era of social media, inecessent phone usage, and a constant news stream of worry and fear. I’ve all but eliminated the utility of much of these distractions down to a point where a cursory update is enough for me. In eliminating distractions, I’m more focused on what I can do to increase my skillset and attention towards meaningful improvement.

  • Dimensional Analysis: By organizing my thoughts, goals and disciplines into distinct categories I have been more aware of the overall utility of the efforts I make each day. Dimensional analysis here has provided me with the opportunity to see the things I spend my time on in terms of their utility for the long term and short term game.

  • Setting standards: when you start with the supposition that actions are necessarily done out of some value judgement, then you can state that focus and attention when directed does have some form of hiearchical value in the whole of life. We take showers because we don’t want to smell. You brush your teeth because you don’t want your teeth to fall out and you don’t want your breath to smell. You eat food because otherwise if you don’t you’ll die. You eat certain types of food because some foods provide you with better useful energy and at other times for the pure enjoyment of it. We don’t all go around eating whatever we want all the time without consequence. It is the realization that cummulative actions have cumulative consequences; by stating this fact, we can make the case that if we were to aim our actions and judgements in any sort of meaningful way we might be able to improve our well being. It’s better to aim purposefully than to degenerate from poor habits and a lack of discipline.

  • Stating the truth: in the evaluation of those standards, it is also important to be able to state the truth about them. Are the standards high enough, are they too high, is what I’m pursuing something I genuinely want, am I listening to myself and what my body actually needs? Knowing how to listen to your inner voice, to tell the truth to yourself, creates the opportunity for both trusting yourself and your actions as well as generally taking care of the things you seem to tell yourself you should take care of.

Some of these philosophical structures come from the lessons I’m learning from Stoicism, some of it comes from Jordan Peterson’s work, and much of it comes from the application of reasoned thought processes that have broken the cycle of nihilism and distracted behavior that plagues social media and the modern world. In this year and the last I have made the realization: given unlimited bandwidth for things that could draw your attention and given exceedingly limited bandwidth for attention to actually be given, people have a difficult time either deciding what to focus on or they lose the ability to control their impulses altogether. As a result of this narrative, it has become important for me to be more mindful of aiming purposefully in the various dimensions of my life and that of my community. Doing so has created more order, structure, and actual noticable improvements.

Some areas that I have targeted:

  • Financial automation: by automating budget, goals can be set and actually met over the long term. I’ve been able to automate enough that by this time next year we should be out of debt and enough savings to make a decision about moving if we so choose.
  • Physical fitness: running, working out, outdoor activities are both something I enjoy and it is actually good for me. I’ve gone from not running at all, to running between 5-8 miles a week. Some off weeks, but overall there is a steady pace of improvement. For this I’ve been using Strava to help keep track of my progress over the last 4 months.
  • Instrument/Piano: regularly taking piano lessons (as I did when I was a kid) has kept up a pillar of discipoline and something I get to enjoy hopefully for the rest of my life. Thus far I’ve been taking weekly lessons for 6 months now and it’s going quite well.
  • Maintenance task (home): I’ve assigned what I amount to as a generic maintenance task for the home. That is, anything that could be organized, removed, discarded, cleaned up. Over time this has resulted in less things we actually don’t want anymore, and more emphasis/time spent around the things we actually enjoy. As a result, we now actually have a decently growing set of plants that we’ve managed to keep alive for 6 months.
  • Keeping documents in order: there are many different things here that get fallen by the wayside, documents that need updating, insurance, or registrations, perhaps the things like the birth certificates, passports that need to be in order. I assign a task to get these in somewhat order because they tend to get disorganized at times.
  • Writing: I’ve been writing regularly for about 6 months now and I’m finally at a point where I’m ready to start contributing that writing back online in some directed way.
  • Educating myself: I’ve been spending time each day listening to either an audiobook, a podcast, or time spent online reading a few articles related to a particular area of research I’m currently working through. Competency requires you to actually practice something and it’s good to have something you actually want to learn. I’ve found ways to replace the onslaught of social media and news feeds with audiobooks, podcasts, and specific blogs from authors that I have found especially useful in my research. Hacker news works more often as a distraction than I have found it to be particular directly useful for my needs but I do occasionally go back to see what is going on in general.
  • Enjoying time with family and others: Not being constantly distracted has the benefit that I know how to organize my time at the end of the day and relax. This has provided greater focus for spending time with my family.

Some goals I hope to get towards in the next 6 months:

  • Write articles about algorithms and explanations of core computer science and game research concepts
  • Spend time improving my skills and applicable knowledge in mathematics as it applies to game design and research
  • Continue practicing my piano skills to play at another gig
  • Explore social meetups in the space of game research and design
  • Build a usable prototype/portfolio gallery based on experiments written in articles
  • Run in an actual 10k or some sort of race outside of my usual runs
  • Be closer to paying off debts
  • Plan a trip or visit the Pacific Northwest to explore the area
  • Get better at organizing regular simplified lunch routines

References

  • Modern stoicism: https://modernstoicism.com/
  • Future authoring: https://www.selfauthoring.com/future-authoring
  • Strava: https://www.strava.com/
  • Yamaha P-125: https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical_instruments/pianos/p_series/p-125/index.html
  • Financial Minimalism Budget: https://www.financialminimalist.com/fi-creating-the-budget/