What to do in 2021

It’s a new year, and time for a little annual goal setting. This usually turns out to be largely aspirational exercise as a good number are dead on arrival, but some make it through to become useful daily practice, and regardless, the mere act of thinking about a year’s worth of time and writing a few things down is worth the effort ten times over.

Small things for discipline and mental health:

  • One thing at a time: The longer I use computers, the more I feel them fraying the edges of my mind. On bad days, it’s legitimately difficult to concentrate on anything as a combination of notifications onslaught and muscle memory keeps me alt-tabbing between a dozen different things. Focus on the task at hand. Do one thing at a time.

  • Stay positive: I have an unhelpful predisposition to negative thinking, and that’s exacerbated in 2020 as the public discourse for every policy matter of import as gone totally off the rails. Look for more inspiration in art and nature, read less Twitter, and stay positive despite macro-level circumstances.

    More ambitiously, become a champion for positivity. Most of today’s internet consists of people screaming at each other, but there are a handful of notable figures who many to stay out of the fray, do interesting work, and viscerally radiate waves of inspiration. Do that.

  • Less screen time: Between computer, phone, and tablet, the amount of time I spend on screens has reached levels that would be embarrassing in a sci-fi dystopia. Spend less time with gadgets, keep them out of the bedroom, and arrange to periodically set aside large blocks of time where no electronic stimulus is allowed at all, including podcasts (thinking only – let the mind drift and be bored).


  • Exercise: I had a great year for exercise in 2019, but 2020 was less so as there was no longer a run/walk commute to force the issue, and having to face the death cult of San Francisco made the simple prospect of going outside unappealing. Get back on the wagon in 2021.

  • Kanji: Keep working on kanji and Japanese vocabulary through WaniKani. I won’t hit level 60 this year, but try to keep pace of a level every ~2 weeks to gain another ~25.

  • Write: 2020 was my worst year for writing in half a decade. I normally rely on being inspired by talking to other people and through changes in scenery, both of which were difficult this year. Again, get back on the wagon. Write more articles and send more issues of Nanoglyph. Revert to pen and paper if necessary.

  • Tweet: This is a weird one. Twitter’s the worst thing to happen to society this century, but, I’m not going to help much of anything by checking out. It’s also a good exercise in trying to think of something interesting to say every day, even if only a small amount.


  • Reignite work: Within the ~15 years I’ve been working professionally, the software field has changed a lot. It looks less like the wild west, and more like a refined, all-too-serious profession that may be a bit too sterile for its own good. This is better for stability, but less good for interestingness. Read more broadly, and look for opportunities to be re-inspired by work and technology.

  • Reevaluate locale: California’s lucky enough to have been bestowed with great weather and immense natural beauty, but its policies get a little wackier with every passing year, and currently, its politicians are hellbent on making sure that nothing’s left of the state post-Covid aside a smoking crater in the ground. Do some expeditionary work to more vital parts of the country and strongly consider relocation.

Random ideas:

  • Drink more water.
  • Play the guitar more.
  • Do a podcast.
  • Write a zine.
  • Ship another Postgres patch.
  • Get rid of accumulated apartment junk.
  • Invent a cocktail.
  • Learn and understand the ARM instruction set.
  • Visit more natural areas and parks.
  • Learn to sketch.
  • Redesign this site.

Did I make a mistake? Please consider sending a pull request.