All things considered 2020 was a year filled with personal successes. This was the first time I'd really set myself a structured set of goals for the year ahead, where previously I'd always been vague or completely brushed off the idea of any kind of New Year's resolution, I tried to give myself three clear, achievable goals for the year and - technically - I achieved them all.
📚 Read one book each month, all year.
I had initially pre-selected a handful of books I wanted to get through this year. Starting out strong I managed my first 3 books in as many weeks, but quickly found I'd lost interest in those I'd selected and it became a real push to make sure I continued with my goal.
What I actually ended up doing was reading 12 books in 12 months, not one each month as I'd first planned.
I read some fantastic books this year - having not read all that much in the past, I suppose I have quite a selection of books to pick from - I favoured sci-fi above all else, but did sneak in a couple of self-improvement reads as well as a mix of fantasy, too.
Something I noticed about my reading habits over the last 12 months is that once I get started with a story, it's hard for me to stop. I want to digest as much of the story, the characters and the world, as quickly as I can. To that extent I finished most books I started within a couple of days, and all of them within a week.
Where I struggled was picking up the book in the first place, thats just something I've got to work on. I feel OK about it, as in 2020 I still managed to consume as many books as I'd wanted, but as you'll see with some of my other goals, it really felt like a half-hearted attempt when I knew with 3 months to go I still had 4 books to finish.
It was honestly far beyond my expectations and I love that a McDonalds in Deptford is canon with The Dark Knight.
The sense of achievement I felt when I finished this one was palpable. That feeling was helped immensley by the vivid descriptions and fantastic story.
🏃♂️ Get running regularly again
I wanted to try and find the best way to quantify my activity this year. Exporting usable data directly from Strava is difficult, it doesn't have a simple format to work with unless you're trying to do something cool with gpx/map data and their graphs are on a per activity basis rather than across a longer period of time.
After some trial and error with a few different free apps, I ended up using Workout - CSV Exporter for iOS. This gave me a great breakdown of a ton of stats, but also allowed me to differentiate between activity types in a way that made sense to me.
I think I knew this already, but just simply visualising my performance this year tells a pretty clear story.
I didn't get started with running regularly until halfway through February. I started out strong and made it a real habit for the first couple of months but as we went in to lockdown and my routine changed, I found it hard to maintain that same velocity. Things improved over the summer as I managed at least one run a week, but notably that trend tailed off as the kids went back to school and my daily schedule changed again.
I did make a real effort this year to make better use of my road bike and topped up my lackluster running efforts with several hundred kilometers in the saddle.
This one I feel I did significantly better working towards. I can't go back in time far enough in Apple's Screen Time data for definitive evidence, but I definitely spend significantly less time on my phone than I did this time last year.
I've maintained a tidy homescreen with only 4 key apps available:
Although my use of it has dropped significantly in the last 12 months, I'm making a concerted effort to use instagram less than I do now. I'm trying to get in to the mindset of only opening the app when I absolutely want to post a picture, no more will I be ssat doomscrolling through an endless list of pictures.
Element earned it's spot on my phone's dock earlier this year, and although development is very much still ongoing, I hope that this is something I can continue to use, play with and learn from.
Summing it up
Like I said at the start, overall I think this year was a win for me. I haven't achieve the exacting standards I set myself, and there's a little bit of wordplay to help me technically achieve one goal, but I don't want to let this deter me. I absolutely stuck to a set of concrete goals I'd given myself, despite some very drastic changes to the world in the weeks after I set them, and I did so with time to spare
That time has afforded me the opportunity to ruminate on my goals for next year and distill down my plans for 2021 in to something I think gives me even more opportunity to improve.
2021 goals to come.
Sam Clarke's Newsletter
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