2022 Goals

Published in Personal / Featured - 8 mins to read

It’s the last day of 2021, and given I’ve had so much time to ruminate over the past couple of weeks, it’s time to think about some goals for 2022. Goal setting turned out to be a valuable exercise for last year, largely because I achieved most of them, but I’ll talk about those in another post.

All of the goals I set are ultimately in pursuit of one overarching goal; that of sustainable, consistent contentment, ideally with moments of happiness thrown in. I think this goal is one that I largely over-complicate, and certainly view far more as some kind of equation to be solved rather than as a conscious daily choice. I’m currently reading Frank Herbert’s Dune, and one of its most famous lines is:

The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.

While it might be a bit cheesy, the habit of viewing happiness as a puzzle that needs a cerebral solution is one I want to break this year. I know that contentment for me looks like a simple life, with very few moving parts, cutting out as many distractions as possible to focus on a handful of key components. As such, I want to split my goals this year into three main areas: physical health, mental health and career. I also want to try and avoid binary pass/fail goals, as I think fixation on these can detract from the process of working towards achieving them, and the point of all of these is to practice and (learn to) enjoy said process.

Physical Health

My main focus this year not just in terms of physical health, but really in terms of my life in general, is training for the Eiger Ultra Trail next summer. My first instinct would be to have completing that race as my goal for the year, but I think that would put too much pressure on the event, especially given I might not finish it for reasons totally out of my control. In that situation, I don’t want to be unnecessarily disappointed, so the focus instead will be on giving myself the best possible chance for success, and doing things to improve my health in the process. I have two main physical health goals next year:

I love trail running, and the end goal of almost all of the exercise I do at the moment is to be able to spend more time going on adventures in nature, particularly in the form of races. I’m hoping 100 hours should be relatively straightforward to achieve given that I anticipate if I manage to finish the EUT at all, it’ll be in around 24 hours. I’m also going to count parkruns towards these hours, because even if they might not be trail running per se, they are at least somewhat in nature, and I love the social aspect of them, which makes them more than worth committing to every week. I also know that to have the best chances of success in the EUT I also need to work on my mobility, particularly in my hips, and my core strength, so yoga is a bit of a no-brainer. The mindfulness aspect is a huge bonus, as not only do I find yoga far less tedious than eg static stretching or regular core workouts, but it also has a positive effect on my mental health in the process. The cherry on the cake is that I know if I have a regular practice, any soreness or pain in my back, normally a mainstay in the nervous system of any programmer, will eventually ease and disappear.

Mental Health

Trying to think of mental health goals is difficult for a number of reasons. Firstly there’s no quantifiable metric for mental health to try and move the needle on, and secondly, much like finishing an ultra, you can do everything within your power to improve your mental health and still have it decline, or at least I seemingly can. The third, and in my opinion most important reason, is the need for self compassion when it comes to mental health, and part of that is still loving yourself even if you don’t meet your goals. After a bit of thinking, I managed to come up with one good goal and one that is something of an anti-goal…

I think the first one is pretty self explanatory - I know that probably the single best thing for my mental health is having honest, vulnerable conversations with people who know me inside and out, and I want to be more proactive about seeking those conversations out this year. The video games one perhaps requires more explanation, and stems from frequently finding myself feeling overwhelmed by constantly trying to cram too much into my week. Some people would say that spending some of your week mindlessly is important and others would disagree, but I think for me it’s important that not everything is about self improvement or productivity or lowering my VO2 max or whatever, and I need to remember how to do things just for the sake of them being fun. Video games are the obvious choice, given how much I love them and how often I find myself not having enough time to play the latest games. Admittedly, in past lives I’ve not only comfortably topped 100 hours of video games in a month, I’ve definitely had times when I’ve gone over 100 hours in a fortnight, and if you told me that once or twice I’d managed to rack up 100 hours at the mouse and keyboard in a week… well I’d have a tough time disagreeing with you.


And lastly, career. To be honest, I’ve never really set career goals before, and that’s largely because the job I started in 2021 was such a giant leap forward for me and my prospects, this is the first time I’ve ever really considered myself as having a serious career, let alone setting goals for it. With that being said, I do now have a great job which affords me a lot of opportunities, and I have grown an incredible amount as a developer in the past year, which has not only made me feel good, but has also given me a new set of aspirations for further growth. To try to realise those aspirations, I have two, hopefully straightforward, career goals for this year:

Having a mentee has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done as part of a job, but given that I’ve had no previous experience mentoring, I have largely been winging it. I’ve been fortunate to have a great mentee and they are the sole reason we’ve enjoyed any success in our sessions together, but I want to figure out a way for me to improve so that we can both reach our career goals faster. Similarly with pair programming, I am the most junior member of my team and they possess a wealth of coding knowledge and experience that I do not tap into as much as I would like. As discussed ad nauseam in our retros, for whatever reason we struggle to do as much pair programming as we ought to, and despite having tried a few strategies to facilitate this, we haven’t had any meaningful success. If I want to be the recipient of their wisdom, I’m going to have to proactively take matters into my own hands.

So these are my goals for the start of the year, and while right now I feel excited about them, I’m also not wedded to them. If I feel like they’re no longer serving their purpose - of being a vehicle for me to achieve emotional stability - then I’ll happily give up on them without feeling any guilt about it. Similarly, I don’t plan on continuing to write on this blog every day, because it too often feels like a chore and I censor myself far too much. I don’t know when exactly I will stop posting daily, as its hard to break my streak, and I certainly don’t plan on giving up on it entirely, but I would like to shift to writing fewer, longer, higher quality posts instead. I’m hoping to get round to creating a page on this site to track my progress towards 100 hours in each of these six areas, but I know what I’m like, so I’m not promising anything.

I have high hopes for 2022, but as always I’m trying to keep my expectations in check. Hopefully it continues on the same trajectory as 2021, and I manage to achieve as many of my goals as I did last year. Most importantly; happy new year everyone :)

See other posts in the Goals series