Yearly Wrap-up and Retrospective: 2019

Another year has passed and it’s been a tradition of mine as of late to look back on the year that was to see what I hoped to have done, what I did, and where I might improve. I really wish I knew where 2019 went because it seemed to have just flown by. It seemed like it was just yesterday that I was writing about 2018, looking onward to 2019. Now 2019 is gone, the new decade has maybe? begun, and I’m a year older.

First, Let’s Look Back to What I Wanted to Accomplish

Heading into 2019, I set several goals for myself.

  1. Lose Weight: I had been struggling getting my diet under control for several years with a lot of progress and then relapses.
  2. Read More: After reading like a fiend for several years, my reading had tapered off and I was hoping to read more.
  3. Build My Side Project: I had plenty of false starts working on my new side project. Building part of it and then not liking where it was, etc. I wanted to actually finish it and teach myself Node.js, React, & GraphQL in the process.
  4. Write More: I’ve been neglecting writing actual content for my blog and even had an idea for a novel. I wanted to write more for both.

What Went Well in 2019

I was able to significantly progress in my strength training.

I went into 2019 setting strength goals of squatting 275 lbs., benching 225 lbs., deadlifting 400 lbs., and hitting 150 lbs. on the Overhead Press. I was able to hit each of these goals except for deadlift. In July, I switched to the nSuns lifting routine and was able to really increase my main lifts. I think part of it was psychological, realizing that I could actually lift the heavier weights. (As an aside, seeing the weight go up on squats was kind of scary to me prepping for the heavy sets.)

I managed to get to

  • 300 lbs. on squats
  • 230 lbs. on bench press
  • 160 lbs. on overhead press
  • 345 lbs. on deadlift
Charts showing progress in squat, bench press, deadlift & overhead press

Not too shabby.

I stalled out some on overhead press and bench press, but I’m slowly working my way back up. Better to go slowly and not hurt myself.

I made significant progress on my side project.

Thanks to Wes Bos’ Advanced React tutorial, I was able to gain a grasp on React & GraphQL and make real progress on my side project currently called ‘Digital Family Cookbook’. The web app is mostly complete. I’m currently working on tidying some things up and unit testing. I haven’t really done something like this in a while so I’ve been pretty excited seeing the progress.

I did manage to lose some weight.

I wasn’t able to completely fix my diet, but I did manage to lose 15 or so pounds. Could’ve done better, but I did better than previous years.

I started playing goalie in hockey.

This wasn’t really a goal for me at the beginning of the year, but in September, I started playing goalie in ice hockey. I was able to borrow the gear from a fellow goalie in the lower league, tried it in some practice sessions, and decided I enjoyed it. I’ve since purchased the gear and just finished my first season. I had some good games, but I also had some stinkers as well. Either way, I’ve had a lot of fun playing the position and intend to continue playing goalie in the lower league and skate out in the upper league.

Me tending the net as a hockey goalie

What I Struggled With in 2019

I didn’t write nearly as much as I wanted.

Looking at my blog, it shouldn’t be that hard to realize that I didn’t write all that much or add that much content. I had a bunch of weekly reading lists, but that’s not quite the same as pieces that have depth to them. I did start outlining an idea I’ve had for a novel. The idea isn’t new, but I started to lay it out. But that’s about as far as I got. I ended up getting distracted with other things and let it go by the wayside.

I didn’t read that much.

Social media played a bit of a role in this one. I was trying to go to bed a little on the early side so I could read for a bit before bed. All too often though, I ended up pulling out my iPad instead of my Kindle. Part of it I might chalk up to some of the books I’ve read and am currently reading. Some tended to be rather dense (good books, but just diving into their subjects deeply) and I wasn’t always in the mood to really focus. The book I’m currently reading, Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975 by Max Hastings is a fantastic look into Vietnam, but requires a lot of focus to keep up with what’s going on. It’s also almost 900 pages. I hope to finish by the end of the month.

I was a little too loose with my diet.

This one is pretty much everyone’s achilles heel it seems. I was no different. I went through stretches of being good and not over-indulging, only to follow it up with some less than disciplined days. I made progress, but not as much as I could have.

What I Hope to Accomplish in 2020

I don’t think I’m going to change my goals for 2020. I’m going to stick with last year’s goals and do better.

  1. Continue Working on My Diet: Not much more needs to be said here. The one thing I’m going to try to change though is to do better to record what I eat and drink in MyFitnessPal. I think some of the days I realized I was going to exceed my goals (not in a good way), I just stopped entering what I ate. Maybe by entering in more, I might be able to look at things in a different way and hopefully make some positive changes. I know I’m still going to have some days that might not be ideal for my diet, but screw it, I only live once and I’m not going to cut out all of the junk...just hopefully lessen the amount of times that happens.
  2. Finish Up My Side Project: This one should hopefully not take too much longer. I hope to finish it, figure out the best way to deploy it, and share it with the world. I have a few other ideas for other projects as well, so who knows, maybe I’ll end up building more in some of my free time.
  3. Read More: My reading list has continued to grow, so I’m going to need to spend some time knocking out more of it. My plan is to cut back some on social media, Reddit especially. While I enjoy some good nonfiction, reading about history and whatnot, I’m thinking I might also lighten my reading a little bit and try to knock out some of the “easier” reads off my list. Hopefully that will make it easier to pick up a book rather than my iPad. I do plan on continuing to read my subscription to The Economist, but hopefully I can mix that in well enough.
  4. Write More: This one is probably going to continue to be a little tougher for me, but I’m hoping I can set some time aside and put some focus into it. I think one thing that always scares me with blog posts, especially ones focusing on technical subjects is making a mistake and writing something that turns out being wrong (Relevant xkcd). If I can will myself past that and get used to correcting myself when I “oops”, it should help me on my way. I’m hoping to make some progress both in writing more blog posts as well as maybe some work on my novel.

What Are Your Goals for 2020?

What are your goals for the new year?