In a previous post I evaluated my 2016 goals. Now it's time to look towards this year. I want my goals this year to be a little more specific so I achieving them feels possible and I'm a little more motivated. But I still like the idea of having themes for the year. So my goal setting is going to be a little something like this:

  • Select 2-4 "themes" for the year. A theme can be any sort of general word or concept that I want to focus on for the year. They aren't achievable, but they are things I want to constantly keep in mind as I make decisions.
  • Set 5-10 goals with specific, measurable requirements. While the themes will guide my decisions more generally, the goals get down to the nitty gritty. They are the specific things I want to do. I will consider my year a success 1, if I'm able to accomplish these specific items.

First let's talk about my themes for 2017...


One of the things I'm unsatisfied with in my life is my connection with other people. This is both in my existing relationships and with new people. I want to spend more time connecting with my friends this year. Talking with them about struggles and successes. And I want to reach out more to new people. I want to get to know more people in my church and in the local Knoxville tech community.


This theme has two parts to it. The first part of sustainability is my use of physical resources. I want to reduce my footprint on the earth. That means reducing my waste and producing more of what I'm using. I'd like to use less energy and reuse more. Two of the things I badly want to do in this vein that won't be official goals this year2 are to buy an electric car and install solar panels in our house.

The other part of sustainability is creating habits that I can keep. Think carefully about how I can carve out time to read more and achieve more of my goals. Getting more specific in this list is step one to making improvements a little more sustainable.


Not long after Charlie was born last fall I had a small scare with my heart health. I was having some intense irregular heartbeats and chest discomfort which was likely stress induced3. I'm working to get myself in better shape through running. I also want to play more tennis and basketball because those are great workouts that are fun (and let me interact with people). I've also got some tooth issues despite my best efforts to brush frequently. Past Chris was an asshole who didn't like to take the time to brush his teeth enough and now I'm literally paying for it.

Okay, so those are the general themes of my year. Those are the things I want to focus on in 2017 on a macro scale. But now I want to share the specific goals I have. These should be at least tangentially related to the themes, but they don't have to be.

I'm giving myself a pass on January, since I'm just now getting this out. At the end of this year I'd like to do more planning for my goals in December. This past year I was swamped with launching Outshape, so this got pushed back.

Anyways, onto the goals!

  1. Read 15 books
    I read more last year than I have in recent years. I want to improve on that. I'm always inspired by Ryan Holiday's reading and while I'll never read that much, I think this is an achievable goal. I just need to get myself through A Dance With Dragons 4
  2. Run 2 5Ks
    I've started a running plan in Runkeeper to get myself back in running shape. I ran a 5K last year. I think I can run at least 2 this year. I'd like to maybe run a 10K as a sort of stretch goal.
  3. Play basketball or tennis once each month
    I love to go shoot hoops alone. It's incredibly therapeutic for me (unless I'm shooting poorly). But I also love that basketball and tennis involve working out with other people.
  4. Go camping once
    I can't remember the last time I went camping which is sad. Talked about doing this with friends several times in 2016. But I always came up with a reason not to. I'm gonna change that this year.
  5. Read 500 chapters of the bible
    If you read my post about my 2016 goals, you know my pursuit of God is one of the things I'm least satisfied with. Connecting with folks at church is a great way to improve this. Another way is getting into the bible and reading and absorbing His word.
  6. Write on my blog twice a month
    I want to share my thoughts more frequently. Also taking the time to write forces me to be more introspective and think critically about myself in various ways.
  7. Create a garden with at least 5 vegetables and herbs
    This falls in the sustainability camp. I'm happy with the little mint plant we have and the basil we've grown. I'm going to expand on this when we move into the new house.
  8. Attend some kind of tech meetup once every month
    I need to get to know more folks in the local tech community. One of the things I've long thought of trying to do is organize a Startup Weekend in Knoxville. My experience with it in Orlando was one of my favorite things ever. I'm not making that a goal for this year, but I want to meet more people and make contacts that could help me pull that off.

  1. Whatever the hell that means

  2. Largely for financial reasons

  3. Newborns have that affect I hear

  4. My ability to achieve this goal is dependent mostly on George R.R. Martin's ability to release Winds of Winter this year

At the beginning of last year, I set out my list of goals for the year. Now it's time to evaluate them.

Less watching, more doing

In my mind, this is one of my bigger fails of the year. Lauren and I still have the default move once Charlie is put to bed to say "what are we watching?" Occasionally we do some work or writing. But 95% of the time it seems like we're sitting down to watch TV. It's tough because I love TV and movies, but I think we can strike a better balance here.

Settle my soul

We've definitely made progress on this one. We're very close to buying a home and moving. Still have to make sure all the financials get taken care of, but I'm very excited about it. As far as I can tell we will be living in the same city for many years to come.

Take care of my body

This is another pretty big fail. In the exercise area at least. Had a gym membership and didn't go all year 😅. I did run a 5K this summer, so that's something. I do think my eating was much more healthy and adventurous this year thanks to Cooksmarts


This one was pretty vague so I don't know really how to define success or failure. I would more just call it a constant struggle. I'm always trying to keep things organized and attack small messes before they become big ones. But with a toddler running around making messes like crazy, it's hard to be mindful.

Grow my own food

I'd call this a very minor success. We had some solid mint, green onion, and basil plants growing. We lost the basil when fall/winter came, no surprise. The green onion survived until just recently. And the mint is still thriving! It's not a bad start, but I hope to expand on it in the new home.

Seek God

Ugh. Another fail. I'm not even sure how to process this. We did join a church and have a community group, so I feel like that's an aspect I'm a little happier with. But my personal spiritual group and my leadership in our home has been pretty stagnant. This will definitely be something to pursue in 2017.

Release Outshape

I DID IT. It's been far from a success, but I made a thing and put it on the App Store and I'm proud of that. The feedback from people who play it has been great. And anytime someone calls it beautiful that makes me feel the best (because I probably spent way too much time freaking out over the aesthetics of it).

Start a podcast

No luck here. I'm bummed out about this.

Deepen relationships

I've been struggling with this all year. My dissatisfaction with my relationships with almost everyone in my life. Yet my personality's desire to hide and shut people off. I failed here, no doubt.

Take up less space

I think we're doing okay here. Our recycling bin fills up much faster than our trash. Our compost pile has taken on a lot of the food waste we generate. I'm still trying to keep the amount of crap in our house to a minimum. Which is another very difficult thing to do with a toddler. I look forward to a good purge when we move.

Looking back, I think my goals were a little bit too vague for my own good. They weren't specific enough to be achievable, and without that it's hard for them to stick. As I look to this year I plan to set my goals a little bit differently. More on that soon...

Nelson Elhage:

When developing a new project, or adding a feature, there’s a very strong instinct to start with manual testing – to run the binary and test the new feature by hand.

I try very hard to resist this urge.

Instead, as soon as I’ve added a feature, if I find myself itching to try it out by hand, I’ve learned to recognize that urge, pause, and step back and write an automated test covering whatever behavior I was about to execute by hand.

It's a sign of what a garbage developer I am that I never really consider this approach. I write some code, then check in the browser or on an iOS device to make sure it works. It would benefit me in the long term if I wrote an automated test before manually testing more often.

Andrew Thaler

Which is why, when I talk about Climate Change, I don’t talk about science.

When I talk about Climate Change, I talk about Fishing.

The depressing truth that people ignore the science of climate change and the stories of it's effect may be the only effect strategy for changing minds. Sadly, by the time there are enough stories to convince enough people to make a difference, it may be too late (if it isn't already).

via Jason Kottke

My 2017 Podcasts

Continuing the series of my favorite things heading into 2017, here's a list of the podcasts I'm listening to. Listing all of these made me aware that somehow in the past few months I'd become unsubscribed from How Did This Get Made. I've got some catching up to do.


Hello from the Magic Tavern | Feed | Website
A fictional improv podcast about a guy who fell through a portal behind a Burger King and was transported to the magical land of Foon. Remember, it's not real.

Dead Pilots Society | Feed | Website
They take pilots that have never seen the light of day, and get actors to act them out. Fantastic. John Hodgman's is so delightfully Hodgman.

Do By Friday | Feed | Website
The spiritual replacement for Top Scallops. Now, instead of pretending to talk about Top Chef, they talk about a task they've assigned themselves for the week.

The Flop House | Feed | Website
Three funny guys get together and talk about a bad movie. Never fails to make me laugh.

Roderick on the Line | Feed | Website
Merlin Mann and John Roderick talking can either make me laugh or depressed. And it's nice to to have that variety.

The Rest

99% Invisible | Feed | Website
Judge John Hodgman | Feed | Website
5by5 at the Movies | Feed | Website
Electric Shadow | Feed | Website
The Tim Ferriss Show | Feed | Website
Top Four | Feed | Website
Myke at the Movies | Feed | Website
The Ringer NFL Show | Feed | Website
The Sporkful | Feed | Website
Back to Work | Feed | Website
The Tennis Podcast | Feed | Website
Just The Tip | Feed | Website
The Moment with Brian Koppelman | Feed | Website
Review | Feed | Website
The Talk Show With John Gruber | Feed | Website
Remaster | Feed | Website
The Ringer NBA Show | Feed | Website
Core Intuition | Feed | Website
Hypercritical | Feed | Website
Star Wars Minute | Feed | Website
Revisionist History | Feed | Website
1947: The Meet the Press Podcast | Feed | Website
Stuff You Missed in History Class | Feed | Website
Ringer University | Feed | Website
Cortex | Feed | Website
Shawn Today | Feed | Website
Top Scallops | Feed | Website
Pod4Ham - a podcast about the musical Hamilton | Feed | Website
Presentable | Feed | Website
Debug | Feed | Website
Stuff You Should Know | Feed | Website
The Solid Verbal: Living College Football | Feed | Website
One Bad Mother | Feed | Website
Upgrade | Feed | Website
Lore | Feed | Website
Liftoff | Feed | Website
Under the Radar | Feed | Website
The Watch | Feed | Website - Podcast | Feed | Website
Shutdown Fullcast | Feed | Website
Song Exploder | Feed | Website
Exponent | Feed | Website
Road Work | Feed | Website
Unjustly Maligned | Feed | Website
The Bill Simmons Podcast | Feed | Website
Accidental Tech Podcast | Feed | Website
The West Wing Weekly | Feed | Website
Hello Internet | Feed | Website
Connected | Feed | Website
Analog(ue) | Feed | Website
Serial | Feed | Website
Quit with After Dark Post-Shows | Feed | Website
Reconcilable Differences | Feed | Website
Mixed Feelings | Feed | Website
Keepin' it 1600 | Feed | Website