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Trying to finish things

I write jokes for a living, I sit at my hotel at night, I think of something that's funny, then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or if the pen is too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain't funny.

Mitch Hedberg

I spent a couple of months last year working on a small book. Now that the initial version is pretty much ready to go, I'm starting to struggle on getting it launched. I hate it and think it should just be deleted.

This follows on with a chat I had yesterday about game jams and maniac weeks - why do I find building games during jams easier than creating them over a longer period of time? I've written half a dozen games during jams, but haven't completed any other game projects outside of that.

A few different theories came up:

  1. Game jams force me to focus and cut out distractions. When time is limited to 48 hours there isn't really time to mindlessly browse the web or watch Just One More EpisodeTM.
  2. Jams force me to focus on one project for duration. I'm a project butterfly and often skip between them during the week. This gets worse as things get closer to completion and the inevitable "why did I ever think this was good?" thoughts start cropping up.
  3. Entering a jam forces me to stick with an idea and release it rather than squishing it because I think it's bad.

They're all valid theories, but #3 definitely hit close to home.

I'm not sure if I actually think these are bad ideas, or if I'm afraid to release something into the big, scary world. When you publish anything, there's always the risk that nobody will like it.

But if you never release it, you can guarantee nobody will like it. After all, how can someone like something they don't even know about?

As an aside, the initial idea for this post came in the shower about an our ago. In the time it took me to finish showering and dry my hair, I went from "that's something interesting to write about" to "what a terrible idea".

Groundhog Day Resolutions 2020 - Major Goals

Although I'm over a week into 2020, I'm still trying to decide on the major goals I want to achieve this year.

Current candidates are:

Run a marathon
Running a half marathon was a challenge for me. I'd like to take part in another one for 2020, but I feel like running a full 26.2 miles will be a much greater challenge. This goal also fits in with my "don't make all goals revolve around writing software" rule for 2020.
Release a game
I completely bailed on writing games in 2019. I keep telling myself it's something I enjoy doing - at least I think I enjoy it - but I never seem to make the time to create anything. For 2020 I'd like to release something.
Learn some physical skills

I've done bodyweight exercises on and off for a couple of years, but haven't done enough to really improve in any significant way.

I'd like to actually put some effort in this year and learn a few of the more advanced skills. I don't expect I'll be able to master a handstand, but I'd like to be able to manage a frog stand.

Write more frequently
Every year I say I should write more and I rarely do. Last year was my best year for writing, and I wrote more posts for this site than any other year. Although I already have a "blog more" goal set up on beeminder, I think I'll need to narrow this goal down to achieve it.
Complete a maniac week
I love the idea of a setting aside one week a year to run a maniac week. I've taken part in a couple of game jams and they're always extremely productive. Focusing some of that energy on my goals would be highly beneficial.
Increase my earnings

Last year my freelance earnings were down about 25%. This was partly because work was slower, but more likely because I got lazy towards the end of the year and didn't take on as much as I could. I feel a bit icky about publicly committing to this one. I'm not really sure why.

I'd also like a portion of my earnings to come from "passive" income sources rather than direct work.

I also have a list of around 40 minor goals for 2020 that I need to figure out. I'm trying not to get too hung up on having things 100% decided by January.

Groundhog Day Resolutions - January 2020

My 2019 Groundhog Day project was 70% of a success. I'm trying again this year and I'm aiming to improve on that figure.

Primary goals for January

1. Finalize my 2020 major goals

I have a fairly short list of major goals I'd like to achieve. I still need to go over the list to see what I really want to do vs what I think I want.

2. Finalize my 2020 secondary goals

This list if much, much longer than my primary goals list. I figure achieving 70% of a lot of goals is better than achieving 70% of not many goals. I'm also trying to sprinkle in some smaller goals that I can use to build "Success Spirals" (as seen in The Motivation Hacker).

3. Set up the 2020 hub page

I want to track the completion date of goals this time, but otherwise I'll keep the system mostly the same.

4. Create (and follow) a release plan for The Book

Although I set (and mostly finished) "Write a small ebook" as a goal in 2019, I still need to launch version 1. By February I'd like to have a solid plan in place and the launch underway.

Secondary goals for January

1. Create a game for FFSJam

I created Mini Shinobi for FFSjam 2017, and it really helped me focus on getting something done. I'd love to enter something for FFSjam 2020 to make up for the complete failure of my 2019 "make games" goal.

Groundhog Day Resolutions - 2019 Review

2019 is the first the year where I've really made an effort with my Groundhog Day Resolutions; normally I burn out in a few months, but this year I managed to get something done every month.

Major Achievements

Ran a half marathon

I've never been an athletic person, so this goal was a big challenge for me. I'm extremely happy with how it went.

Restarted my GTD system

It's been years since I really put effort into keeping organized. I used Emacs org-mode for keeping track of per-project tasks, but I fell behind on the process and didn't really have a central inbox.

This year I started using FacileThings to keep track of all of my goals, projects and tasks. It's a little expensive compared to some of the other options out there, but so far it's worked really well for me.

Wrote a lot of words

I wrote more posts in 2019 than any other year since I started this site. I would have liked to have written more, but The Book took up a lot of my writing energy as the year went on.

Perhaps 2020 will finally be the year where I write once a week.

Wrote The Book

I'm not a very good writer, so writing a book was a win for me. I'm not totally happy with the initial version, so I plan on publishing some more updates early next year.

I fell into my usual trap of wanting everything to be perfect before releasing, rather than taking advantage of getting early feedback. One of these days I'll finally learn that lesson.

Minor Milestones

In no particular order:


My major goal of releasing four games was a total bust. I started with something way too big which derailed the entire goal. It's a little funny to me that I enjoy making games, but hate running and writing, yet the game goal was my biggest failure.

I would have liked to have released a new version of beeminder.el. It's something I use fairly frequently and I could really use some of the improvements.


Major Goals Achieved: 66%

Minor Goals Achieved: 72%

Primary goals set in my GHD posts:

Month Goals Set Goals Achieved Percentage
January 3 3 100%
February 5 2 40%
March 4 1 25%
April 4 3 75%
May 5 4 80%
June 1 1 100%
July 3 1 33%
August 4 4 100%
September 3 3 100%
October 2 1 50%
November 2 2 100%
December 1 1 100%

Secondary goals set in my GHD posts:

Month Goals Set Goals Achieved Percentage
January 1 0 0%
February 3 2 66%
March 0 0 0%
April 0 0 0%
May 0 0 0%
June 0 0 0%
July 2 1 50%
August 2 2 100%
September 1 1 100%
October 0 0 0%
November 0 0 0%
December 2 1 50%

Overall Monthly Stats

Totals Goals Set Goals Achieved Percentage
Primary 37 26 70%
Secondary 11 7 64%
EVERYTHING 69 48 70%

Summary and Looking Ahead

Looking over the year's stats, I'm pretty consistent at achieving around 2/3rds of all goals I set. I'm not sure if that means I set my sights too high, or if they weren't high enough to motivate me.

I'm particularly happy with my physical improvements this year. I've run nearly 350 miles and lost just under 20lbs. I didn't start the year with a weight loss goal, it just happened as I started paying more attention to nutrition and exercise.

For 2020 I want to avoid having as many goals that involve creating software. It's still something I enjoy, but it feels like I'm stuck in a bit of a groove and need to push my boundaries a little.

I didn't track completion dates for goals, but I'm pretty confident that the majority of them came towards the end of the year. I have a habit of putting things off until the last minute, so I'd like to make some improvements there for next year.

Groundhog Day Resolutions - December 2019

November's Primary Goals

1. Complete the MVP of my book

There's still a lot of editing required, but the core content and structure of the book is now complete.

At this point I think it's realistic to have it finished by the end of the year, with release date in early 2020.

2. Complete at least one secondary goal

I made progress on a couple of goals, but only finished one:

Primary Goals for December

1. Finish version 1 of The Book

There is a lot of work to do. Chapters need editing, layout issues need fixing, screenshots need to be taken and all of the code in the book needs testing to make sure it's accurate.

Secondary Goals for December

1. Complete three secondary goals

I won't be able to complete all of my secondary goals for 2019, but I'd like to hit 75% completion, which is another 3 goals. It will be very tight, given that there are only two weeks of the year left, but I'll give it a go.

2. Set my primary goals for 2020

With only 19 days of 2019 remaining it's time to start thinking about what I'd like to achieve in 2020.