Mental Pivot

Notes and observations from a lifelong pursuit of learning.


Personal Theme, Habits and Objectives for 2020

Yes it’s cliched, but I find some benefit in looking ahead at the new year and thinking about my resolutions. Here are a few habits and objectives I’m focused on in the coming year. I’m not calling them “new year’s resolutions” since that feels too overbearing, but I do want to set down some thoughts so that I can come back to them at some later date to reassess or evaluate.

Theme: I like the idea of a yearly theme. I’ve seen the practice of “theming” discussed in several places online including the Cortex Podcast. A theme is an idea that can serve as a guidepost for many other activities and interactions. I like the idea of it since it provides focus and cohesion.

My theme for 2020 is “momentum.” For me, momentum means maintaining the persistence and frequency of my current and soon-to-be-added habits. Momentum is important in my life. I am prone to inertia and inaction. However, I find that when I can generate even the smallest amount of forward momentum, good things usually happen. Moreover, since we are at the start of a new decade, I want to be able to look back at the 2020s having completed some meaningful objectives. I know that momentum will help get me there. [I did toy with a couple of other themes that I may revisit on subsequent years: mindfulness/intentionality and “less is more”/simplicity.]

For my current habits I plan to continue my early morning wake-ups, my daily exercise routine, my new blogging habit (3x per week) and my reading habit. Some of these habits have taken me years to cultivate. It took me a good decade-plus to get into a regular exercise habit where I can automatically wake up and go to the gym. My reading habit which had lapsed for years only came alive again about 6 years ago once I decided to actively read more.

I do have some lapsed activities that I plan to rekindle in 2020. I used to keep a daily journal but became sporadic early in 2019. I started journaling again in December in order to build some momentum heading into 2020. Similarly, piano is something I had been practicing diligently for the past four years (after a long hiatus). I don’t have grandiose plans for my piano playing but I do want to reignite my daily practice habit even if it’s only for 15-20 minutes.

2020 is the 25th wedding anniversary for me and my wife. We used to go out a lot more before having children. I’ve told my wife that I’m planning monthly “date nights” for us in 2020 so that we can squeeze in more quality one-on-one time. It’s easy to lose sight of important activities like this when so many other people and things are competing for your attention.

I have long dreamed about writing a book. The blog writing habit is one small step in that direction. I aim to take more steps in 2020 to make more progress towards that goal. I’m still not certain whether this might be fiction or non-fiction, but I will keep outlining, writing and doing those activities that will move me closer to that objective.

Lastly, here are some of the books I have lined up for reading. I’ll add significantly to this list as the year wears on:

  • 11/23/63 by Stephen King
  • The Armchair Economist by Steven E. Landsburg
  • The Invention of Yesterday by Tamim Ansary
  • Margin by Richard A. Swenson
  • Quiet by Susan Cain
  • Range by David Epstein
  • The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
  • The Second Mountain by David Brooks
  • Shotguns and Stagecoaches by Boessenecker
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
  • Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu
  • The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler