Update: you can view my progress so far here.
It’s the last day of 2022 which means it’s time to reflect on the year past, and set some new goals for 2023!
Last year I set six goals. I completed two of them (trail running and videogames), and abandoned the other four somewhere around May or June. I feel perfectly at peace about giving up on some of them - it was clear to me that they weren’t providing the value I’d hoped for, and wouldn’t be the best way of spending my resources. In part this is due to Goodhart’s Law, something which I only learned about this year, paraphrasable as:
When a metric becomes a proxy for a hard-to-quantify goal, it ceases to be a good proxy.
The goals I picked were proxies for various things I wanted to improve on this year, and it turned out several of them are bad. Now I am armed with that knowledge, I can try and mitigate against various issues with optimization-by-proxy.
At the highest level, I want to optimize for happiness. I’ve chosen three things as suitable proxies for that; health, progress and novelty. In order to operationalize these, I have chosen a handful of tangible, quantifiable goals, as below. If any of the subgoals stops being a good proxy for their abstract supergoal, then I will gladly give up on it and try and pick something more suitable! Because of this, I don’t anticipate completing all of them - I predict I will finish 3-5, and I will use the first couple of months of the year to explore which ones seem particularly valuable to continue with.
Run 3650km this year. My actual goal is something like “adhere strongly to routine which includes exercises”. I ran 2866km in 2022.
Complete 12 concrete steps towards improving my eating. Step 1: read Why We Eat (Too Much), and publish notes. I’ll post all of these on this site somewhere, and I’ll specify each one once I’ve completed the previous.
Schedule “slack night’ once per week. Definition of Slack comes from Zvi:
The absence of binding constraints on behaviour.
See also Neel Nanda.
Write 12 blog posts (including one fictional), 120 tweets, two EA forum posts. Here my actual goal is something like “share ideas/thoughts/opinions publicly, get feedback, iterate, have better ideas/truer opinions as a result”.
Average < 1 hour of screentime per day on my phone, install browser extensions to ban Twitter, Youtube, Manifold during working hours. The real goal here is “do more deep work”, but this one is particularly hard to operationalize.
Write 1200 lines of open-source code. I know this is a notoriously poor proxy for developer productivity, but I would like to write more code, so this will have to do.
Read books from female authors of 12 different nationalities from Africa, Asia and South America. Korean and Japanese authors are excluded because I’ve already read several books by them.
Cook recipes from 12 different cuisines. British, American, Mexican, Indian, Italian and French are all excluded, because I already semi-regularly cook dishes from these places.
Try each of the the following at least once:
- A dance class
- A martial arts class (including boxing)
- Authentic relating
- A yoga class
- A meditation class
- Maybe other things that I haven’t tried yet - please send me your suggestions!
I’ll set up a way to track all of these goals somewhere on this site, to keep me accountable. Wish me luck!