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Work Backwards

David Brown reminded me of a great piece of advice a couple weeks ago. Advice that in and of itself is totally obvious, in retrospect. It is: work backward. Start with picturing the result you want and in your mind work back to the present. Visualizing the path and thinking "what can I do now, to get closer to this goal?"

The mental exercise can result in many possible paths for achieving an outcome. I believe it is important to not just pick one of those paths and stick to it without any deviation. As new information is learned the best path always changes. Dynamism is important. The exercise is more useful to get a range of possible ways to achieve an outcome.

When I can visualize realistic paths to a goal, something that once seemed impossible and lofty feels attainable. This helpful for me to establish confidence in the things I am doing today.

Warm Day in Boulder

Today was a very warm day in Boulder. It was 50 degrees for most of the day and we still have about 5 inches of snow on the ground. I made full use of the warm weather and hiked all day.

I started off in the morning with Green Mountain Loop

View from the top

And then went on a run (mostly walking tho :p) from Flagstaff to the top of Sanitas Valley Trail.

Made it back to the car just in time for sunset.

In total I went 10 miles and 4,000 ft up.

Choice Fatigue

Choice fatigue is a phrase I've been using lately to describe the situation when a decision has to be made between many good options. In this case, it is difficult to make a decision. Not because a good choice is hard to find, but rather because the worry of not making the absolute best choice holds back any decision. When the difference in the quality of the options is marginal, the time lost trying to make the best decision can outweigh the marginal improvement gained by the best option.

Choice fatigue can also play a role in product design. For example, Amazon helps their customers avoid choice fatigue by naming only 1 item in each category the best selling item. So when users search for a product like "reading lamp" they aren't given 100s of results with only a marginal difference in quality and no easy way to distinguish between them. Instead, they are given assistance picking "the best" option by labeling it as the #1 best-selling product in that category. This prevents users from becoming too fatigued by the options and therefore unable to decide.

2017 Resolutions

2016 was the first year that I had and actually really tried to stick to any new years resolutions. I made 5 and was able to stick to 4 of them, the last uncompleted one was more of a goal and may yet be completed. I never wrote those with the intention of sharing them, but this year I am going to.

I believe an important part of picking resolutions is making sure they are defined in such a way where you can absolutely say whether they were completed or not. For example instead of something like "exercise more" I would write "run more than 500 miles tracked on Strava". Very easy to determine the success condition. So here it is, my 5 resolutions for 2017!

1. Write and publish something every day.

Success condition: Post count for 2017 on davidkircos.com is > 365 on Jan 1, 2018.

This one is going to be the hardest. Because of that, I am going to leave it the least specifically defined. This does not mean I am going to write a full blog post every day, even tweet-length posts count. As part of this, I'm going to stop automatically posting to Facebook and Twitter. I'll only share certain posts there.

2. Read 36 books.

Success condition: This Good Reads Challenge is completed.

I love reading, I have never been intentional about making it a habit. Now I am going to try. If you're wondering why 36, that is about one book every 10 days. My very rough book theme this year is "Important things we rarely think about." Which includes things along the lines of farming, history, infrastructure, how other countries governments' work, microscopic fabrication, religion, etc.

3. Music purge. Listen to (and play) all new music.

Success condition: Have my Spotify library filled with new music on Jan 1, 2018.

For the last couple years, I feel like I have been stuck in a music rut. I've been listening to mainly the same stuff over and over again, not making any effort to listen to new music. This year I'm going to try to listen to only music that I have not heard before. I've gone through Spotify and removed all my saved songs. I am relying mainly on Spotify radio and playlists to discover new content. By the end of the year, I hope to have a whole new library of music I enjoy listening to. I've been in a similar rut with music that I play on the piano. Part of this resolution is learning to play new stuff too.

4. Run a marathon.

Success condition: Complete a marathon without stopping running.

As I said after running the Detroit half-marathon, I intended to run the Athens Marathon this November. Furthest I've ever run is a half marathon, so this is the next logical step :)

5. #GiveFirst 10%.

Success condition: (breaking my own rule) this one will be mostly judged by gut.

Give 10% of my time and money to organizations which I believe will contribute to one of the 6 things measured in this graphic. If at the end of the year I feel I have slacked giving 10% of my time, I'll make up percentage points by giving more money proportionally.

Here's to a great new year!

Farewell 2016

There is this running joke online that the year 2016 was horrible. Sure, lots of famous people seem to have died (anecdotal) and there is a general uncertainty about the future (trump). However being an optimist, I think it's important to remember that the word is still getting better. In fact, the world is better than it has ever been.

Worldwide poverty is in a free fall.

Child mortality rates are too.

Although there is a rising global fear around terrorism, conflict-related deaths are just about as low as they have ever been.

And on a really positive note, almost half the world is online. With no sign of the progress slowing down.

Continuing on that positive note, albeit on a much smaller scale, I've personally had a great year. Of the 5 resolutions I set for myself this year, I've completed 4 of them. With the 5th hopefully being completed soon... I know mysterious. I never wrote those resolutions with the intention of sharing them. But this year I'm going to, my next post will contain my resolutions for 2017.

Happy NYE!

Note:

All the charts here are from ourworldindata.org, I highly recommend this article on their site about why most people think the world is getting worse and how they are wrong.