Note: This is the second part of a two-part New Years’ Resolution series. I started out writing one long article, but once I hit ten pages in Google Docs, I was like … nah, it’s time to split things up. You can read the first part here.
I had a two-tier system in place for my 2019 resolutions:
- Work on a small, specific, self-contained project each month
- Have a set of large, ambiguous, big-picture goals that are meant to be worked on throughout the year
I knew myself enough at the beginning of 2019 to know that strict, set-in-stone plans weren’t compatible with my lifestyle — I wanted to give myself the freedom to adjust my goals and “course-correct” when needed. Thanks to this system, I accomplished about 80% of the resolutions I set.
I confess that I wrote out my long-term goals and then didn’t check in on them at all until the end of the year. This isn’t good — for 2020, I’ll be writing them out and sticking them on my wall! I am pleasantly surprised, however, that I managed to make significant strides in almost all of these areas anyway. I guess these particular resolutions were embedded in my subconscious?
As these are very abstract and big-picture goals, most of them don’t have a set “end.” I’m still working towards most of them, and I suspect I always will be.
Here’s a look at how I completed my big-picture goals in 2019:
Achievement, career, and goal-setting
Realistically plan what I can/cannot do
As you can see from the way I’ve run this site alone, I have a long way to go before I can fully trust my own time estimates.
I made a major realization about how much I expect from myself in late October, when I realized that I “like to believe that I can publish a high-quality article, written and edited with an Insta-worthy picture to match, every week, on my own. I like to believe that I can do this while also juggling a full-time job, a serious relationship, and a gender transition. I like to believe that I can do all of this while traveling frequently, which is overly optimistic at best and a recipe for misery at worst.”
I’m not sure if I actually got any better at the actual planning part, but now I am very, very aware that a lot of activities are more work-intensive than they seem — especially blogging. There are so many invisible, behind-the-scenes things that go on, such as color-toning and optimizing images, that I used to regard as trivial. That’s no longer the case.
Work somewhere that doesn’t make me feel like I’m selling my soul
This was a really important goal for me. I graduated college in May of 2018, and it felt as though I went straight from a nurturing environment where I excelled to a hellish place where I couldn’t get anything right, no matter how hard I tried.
I started working at Google in July 2019, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to work. Let’s just say that the rumors about the slides and roller coasters and yummy free food are largely true, and that my team takes work-life balance very seriously.
2019 also saw me making a career change, from software engineer (a person who wrote code) to a technical writer (a person who wrote about code). I haven’t written about them yet, but there were so many non-job-related mental blocks that I had to knock down in order to make this change — mental blocks that had to do with status, salary, gender, and other bullshit. I sometimes look back and can’t believe how far I’ve come in that regard.
Health and wellness
Eat fully balanced meals based on a nutrition schedule
Last year, a fitness-and-healthy-diet-obsessed friend of mine manually entered a nutrition schedule into my Google calendar. Every day, I get notifications telling me precisely when and what to eat, as well as how big those portions should be … and I feel so guilty about ignoring them.
I eat really well at work (I love a kale-and-spinach salad with chicken, cherry tomatoes, and quinoa — yeah, I’ve got millennial tastes when it comes to food), but I’m less responsible when I’m out of the office. Case in point: I’m currently sitting at IHOP, shoving chocolate chip pancakes into my mouth while typing this out.
I need to do better with this one.
Find enjoyable ways to cook
I’ve started to see cooking as a process I should enjoy rather than an irritating sequence of events that need to happen before I can put food in my belly. I can make really great noodles, pretty good scrambled eggs, and pancakes that no longer taste like glue and set off the smoke detector in my apartment. Oh, and I’ve gotten really good at re-heating Chinese food on the stove.
Basically, I’m starting to enjoy the process of cooking … kind of. The next step is to actually cook more.
Find a physical activity that I can become really good at
I went to pole fitness classes a lot at the beginning of the year. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed how it worked my core and arm muscles, but doing pole surprisingly triggered my physical gender dysphoria. It’s the same dysphoria I get when wearing a bathing suit to the beach — very mild, and largely ignore-able, but it was enough to make me not want to go.
Then I did ballet classes. Then I downloaded this fitness app for iOS that made me do a million push-ups a day. I’m not sure why I stopped either of those, to be honest. I feel like I got a really good head start into keeping a workout routine at the beginning of the year, and just let it fall to the wayside.
Relationships and social life
Be authentic in every situation
There are two ways I’ve strived to be authentic this year:
By keeping my obnoxious self in check — It’s pretty embarrassing to admit, but I have a flair for melodrama and a tendency to embellish my stories when I talk to other people, especially for the first time. I also used to pretend I knew a lot of things that I didn’t.
I’ve become hyper-aware of these tendencies this year, and do my best to keep myself in check — even if it means interrupting myself in the middle of a story to be like, “actually, I’m exaggerating, sorry. I can do that sometimes. What really happened was X.”
By rocking the boat when necessary — This seems like the opposite of “keeping my obnoxious self in check,” but I don’t think it’s obnoxious to call out the shit that bothers me. Letting people know every time they misgender me, speaking up about my political beliefs when the situation is appropriate, acknowledging the negative emotions that I feel sometimes … this can all be uncomfortable, especially for someone who has spent the last few years trying to be as pleasant as possible. I think it’s worth the momentary discomfort to be able to be myself.
Forge genuine connections with others
I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling lonely and isolated. Often, I’d wonder what was wrong with me — why was I always alone when everyone else seemed to be around other people all the time? Why did I feel so disconnected, even from the people I called my best friends?
The secret sauce, I’ve found, is that I must pull my head out of my own ass if I want to really connect with other people. I was always focused on me, myself, and I, as though the world were made up of just Marty and eight billion non-Martys. As cringingly narcissistic as it sounds, I had to really “get” the fact that everyone’s life was just as complex and intricate as my own.
I tend to dominate conversations, and I do have narcissistic tendencies that I have to keep in control. I think I did a good job downsizing my ego in 2019, but there’s still a long way to go. Fortunately, I’ve made so many new friends this year who do not hesitate to call me out about this sort of stuff. I appreciate them so much!
Help others reach their goals, making their success a priority of mine
This year, I made the people I cared about a priority and did my best to support them in any way I could. I learned a lot about people — their secret struggles and furtive hopes, about how they really lived their lives. I started thinking of myself not as an individual, but as part of a team.
And it’s not easy to do. I’m inherently pretty selfish, and have to do a lot of work to override that irritating voice in the back of my head that says fuck other people, look after you and yourself only. I’ve managed to override that voice a lot this year, though, and it only gets better with practice.
Show the people in my life that they’re important to me
I do all the things mentioned above to achieve this goal, along with trying really hard to be present and in the moment with others. I find that can be distant and dismissive when preoccupied. Being present is simple as putting my phone away when others are talking, or prioritizing certain situations over my work when needed.
Meet and shoot photos with more people
I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of new friends this year, many of whom were open to shooting with me! It’s so cool to take pictures with others and see what ideas they bring to the table.
Travel to cool places around the United States
Places I went to in 2019:
• San Francisco
• Los Angeles
• Palm Springs/Indio/Yucca Valley
• Slab City
• New York City
• Sanibel Island/Captiva Island
• Cape Coral/Fort Myers
• Palm Beach/West Palm Beach
• Key West
I didn’t get to visit too many states in 2019, but I certainly visited a lot of places! And yes, I got tons of pictures in each place.
Publish a new blog post at least three times a week
I published exactly 100 blog posts (101 counting this one!) in 2019:
• January: 20
• February: 3
• March: 2
• April: 4
• May: 2
• June: 15
• July: 9
• August: 2
• September: 5
• October: 3
• November: 25
• December: 10
If I were publishing a new blog post at least three times a week, however, I would need to publish at least 156 posts a year. And it’s obviously better to consistently publish ~2 posts a week rather than 20 in one month and 3 in another. I’m happy that I’ve managed to keep publishing, but this is something I really need to work on still.
Write as much and as honestly as possible
This was a resolution that was hard to keep in practice. I love writing, and I love writing honestly, but I generally don’t write about things in detail until I’ve more or less gotten over them. 2019 brought a ton of worldview-shattering and life-changing events with it, many of which I’m still coming to terms with now. Like my camera roll, my backlog of things to write about is pretty full.
I recently started writing about my experience at my first job out of college after vagueblogging about it for a year … so I’m about a year behind in writing about life events. Basically, I’ve been writing a lot, but I’ve barely made a dent in recounting the things that have happened.
As I mentioned earlier, many of these goals don’t have a set “end.” There are a lot of things I still need to work on, such as finding a schedule that pleases both my inner workaholic and inner adventurer. My “sweet spot” is when I can make a lot of memories while also producing a steady stream of output.
That being said, I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made regarding my work (which includes Fake and Basic), my career (as distinct from work), and my interpersonal relationships. I can do better when it comes to eating and exercising well, but I think there’s a solid foundation for moving ahead. I may not have crushed each one of these goals, but they’ve made me become a much better version of myself in 2019. ♚