his is looking to be a big year for me. Lots of changes are happening: I'm moving in with my girlfriend, starting a masters degree, quitting my job and starting my own business.
I originally wasn't going to write this article, as I've heard communicating your goals can make you less likely to succeed. Plus, I am not a huge fan of broadcasting my inner thoughts online. I like to reserve that privilege for my friends, family, girlfriend, Google, and the NSA. However, becoming more active online is something I need to get better at. I also decided organizing and writing everything down would help me get started on attacking the new year.
That said, let's begin.
Personally knowing chronically ill individuals and having previously experienced hospital visits, health remains at the top of my priority list. Being healthy makes you more likely to succeed financially and academically, and it reduces stress. The importance of the coming year makes any additional creative/performance advantage I can eek out through healthy habits even more important. To make that happen, I'm going to focus on sleep, diet, and exercise.
Sleep is the most important. Sleep deficiency leads to increased risk of diseases, inhibition of performance and safety, difficulty learning, and overeating. Diet may be second, especially since exercise makes you more hungry (thus amplifying its effects). Finally, exercising. I am especially interested in the benefits involving mental abilities, improved sleep, lowered risk of disease, and looking super fly.
This year I aim to sleep 8 hours a night, cook no meat at home, buy less snacks, and exercise a minimum of 20 minutes every day. Cooking no meat is a stop gap on the way to vegetarianism. I tend to overeat snacks, so buying less will take the choice out of my hands and make discipline easier. The daily exercise goal prevents me from pushing it off, but allows me to modify my regimen to avoid injury. I've been trying to stick to this since Jan 1, and am currently at a 83% daily completion rate with an average length of 40 minutes. I'm already feeling stronger and more fit (I had gotten pretty lazy by the end of 2016).
Social and Personal
Mental health is definitely a part of overall health, and can be improved by fostering familial and social ties. Towards that end, I plan on talking to at least one family member every week and integrating my hobbies into social experiences. My hobbies are mostly just video games and software development. These can be socialable by playing only when IRL friends are available to join, and by finding others to collaborate on software projects with.
Having already been taken, my personal/romantic success can be defined by being a good boyfriend. This year I want to ensure that I work towards meeting my partner's needs by first ensuring that we feel safe and comfortable around each other. That means no yelling or harsh words by committing to early and often communication (on both ends). Next is showing appreciation and support through actions and words, for example through the 5 love languages. A part of that support is through daily encouragement and reinforcement when things don't work out. Finally, help her brainstorm her ideas/goals, contribute to her success (by, for example, setting up her blog), and hold her accountable for working towards self improvement (not that she needs me for this).
This year I start the OMSCS degree at Georgia Tech. I plan on taking 3-5 classes this year, and would like to earn an A- or better in all of them. The extra work/time of perfection may not be worth it: as long as I understand the material and am doing decently well, there may be better things to spend my time on.
Not having a job this year can make professional development a bit difficult, so I need to find ways to improve this outside of the office. Like I said earlier, collaborating with others on new projects would be a great way to meet people and learn. Helping people with their projects would be another great way. Reddit is full of game developers looking for play testers and feedback, submitting my input on their projects would likely be met with appreciation and would expose me to new game ideas. Meetups have tons of networking and knowledge-sharing events that I can attend. Columbus's scene may not be as vibrant as SF, NYC, or Seattle, but there is still more than I could hope to attend throughout the year. My goal would be to attend at least 5 different tech Meetup groups throughout the year.
At the end of the year, I'd like to break even on expenses and income. Without a job or concrete business plans, I envision this being difficult.
I project my expenses to be about $21.5k: $4k potential business expenses, $3k school, $4.5k food, $3k gas+car, $2k insurances (mostly on parent's), $2k unforseen, $3k misc/fun. Thankfully the GF will subsidize my housing because she's awesome, and because I subsidize her pet care when she travels. I am also fortunate the ACA and my parents allow me to remain on parental health insurance until I am 26. This low personal burn rate makes acheiving a net income of $0 this year less intimidating, and gives me peace of mind over the coming months as I dip into personal savings.
So, how am I going to acheive that financial goal? Starting Friday, January 13th I will have left my job and have no income generating side-projects. What I do have is decent savings, a solid support network, a few half-baked side projects, ideas, and applicable skills.
First up, I plan on filling out the paperwork required to start a real business, thus limiting my legal and tax liability. Next, I plan on finishing two of my half baked projects, the games Birdu and Jasig, and then advertising and monetizing them. For Birdu, I plan on implementing Google cloud integration, adding other rich features, optimizing, and improving the look of the game. I will also finish the blog instructions on how to implement it. Jasig I will completely rewrite in a new language/framework, making it faster, more maintainable, better looking, feature-rich, and enjoyable. I think that name might be trademarked as well, if so I will change the name once finished. Once these are complete, I will likely continue work on another game that I started but am located much earlier in the process of creation.
Next, I will refine my backlog of ideas and continue to brainstorm about ways to provide value to internet and software users. I don't view myself as only a game-dev or just a programmer, and thus will try to think along lines that extend out of these bounds. I intend to think critically about my program of study at Georgia Tech, and its potential applications of AI research in a business or consumer facing setting. Web development and scalability are also especially interesting to me. There are a variety of ideas on that backlog that could be good consumer facing applications, so I will need to do research into market viability in order to help me choose a project to work on. Once the games are "completed" I will revisit my expanded and improved list of ideas and choose a next project to work on.
Throughout all of this, my blog will continually expand. By the end of the year, I want to have written at least 24 articles, or 2 articles per month. The articles should be about 50% technical instructions, 40% development updates, and 10% personal. However, this is more of a guess at this point. I'm not yet sure of the best way for this blog to deliver value to potential readers. If it turns out different, but better, then so be it. I am very interested in blogging, knowledge sharing, and open-source collaboration for its ability to help others learn, help me learn by teaching, help me gain exposure, and for creating oppurtunities for community feedback. Thus, I envision this blog will be a central component of success.