Personal Year in Review: 2018

Last year, I tried a series of experiments:

  1. 2018 Experiment: A Reading List
  2. 2018 Experiment: Daily Meditation
  3. 2018 Experiment: HIIT Burpee and Running Program
  4. 2018 Experiment: Ketogenic Diet


The reading list is a good idea. However, I started with 101 books to read this year and only read about twelve of them. I did look at twelve more, but I either stopped because I wanted to spend more time on them or because I wasn’t enjoying them. This year, I’ll keep the list down closer to fifty-two and keep the page counts lower.

The other good thing that came from the reading list is I kept a list of books I heard about during the course of the year, but keeping focused on the list removed the urge to read these new books. I added them to a 2019 list of books to look at and after reviewing the 500 or so books on the list at the end of 2018, it felt right to pick only 10% of them. This seems like a better process than selecting books in the moment.

Daily meditation was a game changer. I meditated consistently for the first two months. Then, I had a problem with my phone, and I did not have access to the meditation tracking app I used for a week or two. After this break, I fell out of the habit. There’s something about following a ritual that enables making something into a practice. Change it a little bit, and it is easy to lose the habit. It took me until October to start again, and I have been consistent, more or less, since.

It’s hard to say exactly what meditation does, but I find it changes my personality a bit in a positive way. I’m less likely to get angry or frustrated, because meditation shows that most of our thoughts and feelings are just pure nonsense. If you do it long enough where your legs start to hurt, it can be a useful exercise in thinking about impermanence. The pain is there, and it is unpleasant. But, it is temporary, and let’s just see how long we can go and not let it bother enough to stop meditating. You might think it sounds more like sado-masochism, and you’re not completely wrong. Still, it is a useful exercise.

The 2018 Experiment: HIIT Burpee and Running Program, modified as described in the discussion session, shows real promise for being a program that can be used to maintain muscle strength as we age. However, I am going to focus on running and losing weight, and only do 30 burpees in 10 minutes twice a week to establish a habit. Any more and I would expect to gain weight. I would like to get stronger and improve my overall fitness, but only once my weight is under control.

Finally, there was the 2018 Experiment: Ketogenic Diet. I lost about ten pounds trying this before 2018. When I tried it in combination with the HITT program above, I gained fifteen pounds. The Ketogenic Diet is impossible to follow if you have a wife, children or social life when you are expected to eat the same food as everyone else. If you can get everyone else in your life on board, it’ll probably work. Otherwise, you are best served trying something else.

Personal Goals for 2019

  1. Weight within 15 pounds (7kg) of ideal weight: Ideal weight has been traditionally been defined as 100 pounds (~46kg) for 5 feet (~150cm) and an additional 5 pounds (2kg) for each additional inch (2.5cm) of height.
  2. Running program: Run 6 days a week for >= 40 mins.
  3. Daily meditation: 300 days and/or 200 hours.
  4. Read Book of R: complete book and all exercises.
  5. Read book list: aiming for half the list.
  6. Be creative: One drawing, poem, essay, etc., a week.
  7. Improve relationships: Starting with something small, a Postcard Friday but using TouchNote to send the cards. It allows for adding digital pictures and some text, which strikes me as an interesting way to blend the physical and the virtual to help keep in better touch or open a new, different channel of communication.

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