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Ask HN: New Years Resolution(s)?
37 points by mikeyur on Dec 29, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 69 comments
I want to know what your resolutions are for 2009. I know these lists are bullshit most of the time, but what's the harm?

I'll start first:

- Get Healthier (not just losing weight, but eating better and drinking less soda/sugar drinks)

- Learn how to use Photoshop

- Read more Marketing/Business/Entrepreneurship books that I tend to push off/forget about (the pile under my desk)

- Start blogging...(again)

- Start coding again + learn a new language (I'm thinking Python)

- Make a full time income online and move out (currently making a part-time income)

- Get onto the HN leader board (long shot)

I have more but I want to keep the list short and knock off one at a time. What's on your list?

I don't do new years resolutions, and it has been my policy since I was a kid.

My rationale: if you want to change your life or do something, don't procrastinate - start right then. Putting an arbitrary date on things you want to do never made sense to me. You just have to write it down and then follow through.

So you've inspired my New Years Resolution - no more New Years Resolutions. ;-)

I never liked the idea either -- it usually just encourages most people to picture their "super self" and then set a ton of unachievable expectations for the next 365 days.

I'll just be renewing my committment to simply do the best I can each day and know that's all I can do.

I tend to think the same way and will add that NYRs are similarly useless in that many peoples goals change during the course of the year. This leaves them stuck feeling guilty about not accomplishing a bunch of stuff on a list that they don't want to do anymore.

Two things come to mind:

1. Reach profitability with tarsnap. (This shouldn't be hard... I'm almost there already.)

2. Be a better friend to my friends. (This will hopefully be easier once resolution #1 is achieved, due to lower stress levels.)

I plan to

1. Be able to jog for 10 kilometers

2. Make a video that reaches 500.000 views on YouTube

3. Release at least one more app that brings in $2000 or more a month

Modest goals are easier to reach, and a goal that cannot be measured is no goal.

Your first goal is a great one. The third may be also. But the second one? It's impossible to determine how good a video is based on the views it receives. The masses generally don't like the top-notch high-quality videos, they like bland-and-generic above everything.

When I was 13, I got together a group of friends and released a video on Newgrounds that hit 100,000 views - quite a lot back then! The video itself was terrible, though: the fact that more people have seen that than anything else I've done online is not exactly a fun thought for me. And when you look at other popular videos, very rarely are they really smart, clever things. At best they're "cool." You don't have many instances of people creating something thoughtful and enlightening and getting half a million views.

While measuring goals is a great thing, possibly figure out how to make a more useful goal for the video. Possibly even just "make X videos." The more you make, the more you'll learn about making them, and the better you'll end up with.

The point of the video is the page views. One of my philosophies is this - I don't care about pleasing smart people. How are they better than people who are less smart?

If my goal is to create an intellectually stimulating video, then I would work on that. While that is a worthy goal, it's different from trying to create a video that has a lot of hits. I'd actually say that for the average user on this site, considering that most of us have university degrees, it would be much harder to create something that appeals to a person who only has a very basic education than it would be to create something that would be appreciated by people that went through the same educational system that we did.

It's great to be smart, but that does not mean you should insulate yourself from the human condition. It does not mean that simple pleasures are somehow lesser pleasures.

If you can make a video 500.000 or more, it means you understand the how a lot of people think, and this is more important than understand how people very similar to you think.

I don't care about pleasing smart people. How are they better than people who are less smart?

They're better because they're lucky enough to be born with greater faculty for comprehension. I understand you not wanting to appeal exclusively to bright people, but don't make the mistake of putting down bright people because they've got something going for them.

And you missed my point. You can't go out and easily devise something that will get lots of page views. To quote Roger Ebert, a person in a funny hat is not funny unless they don't know it's a funny hat. Look at the big YouTube "indie" successes and you'll see the the biggest ones are usually entirely unintentionally up there. The laughing baby. The kid playing Canon in D on his guitar. Yeah, they're great videos. But you can't put up a video expecting it to reach a certain threshold. And if you make videos specifically to meet said threshold, you're fighting against greater odds than if you just go out trying to better yourself as a filmmaker.

The point I was trying to make, more succinctly, is this. You can't rely on quantity. If and when you get that many views, it will be entirely by accident on your part. The only thing you can control in your videos is quality. And, incidentally, quality means a better chance at getting quantitative views.

Quality isn't about "pleasing smart people." It's about bettering yourself through mastering the skills required to make a film. You can go out and make shoddy film after shoddy film and eventually hit a lucky break, or you can go out and try to make your movies as good as possible, and when you get your break it'll be more deserved and, for that matter, attract a better crowd. (When I made my big Harry Potter redub, I got IMs from "fans" for a long, long time. I still do, on occasion. It's incredibly annoying because none of them have anything more to say than "make another one just like that last one," and I've given up on the scene entirely. Later works I've done have attracted much brighter, interesting people, and that's a reward unto itself.)

It does not mean that simple pleasures are somehow lesser pleasures.

There is intelligence in simplicity. And not all simplicity is good simplicity, either. Don't let that let you think that there's no such thing as quality. There's eating a piece of fruit as opposed to eating a gourmet meal, and there's replacing the gourmet meal with a Big Mac. Both simpler, but with one there's something significantly lost.

If you can make a video 500.000 or more, it means you understand the how a lot of people think, and this is more important than understand how people very similar to you think.

You're only ever going to understand your own mind to any significant degree. If you become popular, you most likely won't know exactly how you do. If you do understand it, then you'll derive from the experience either a knowledge of a gimmick - "These people love me acting stupid, let's do it again" - or you'll understand it because you're creating a quality experience. It's why the best way of making a good movie is to adhere to your own standards and to focus on making, plain and simple, good movies. Any other way is riskier and will eventually demean you. Quality, on the other hand, always has an audience.

I agree with your points, but your points depend on the context. If I have some wine sipping Kafka reading man in a top hat telling me that the things he likes are the definition of quality, he's no more right than the surfer dude who swears by fart films.

The problem with a lot of modern society is that people tell us what we're supposed to regard as high brow - because a film is made by fox searchlight does not mean it's qualitatively better than a nollywood film.

Intellectualism - our constant attempt to break through the limits of human thinking - seems nowadays to have built a fence around itself and defined what belongs in and what does not. That's what I dislike.

To give an example, those wine sippers will overwhelmingly tell say that Jazz is a more intellectual musical form than country music. Utter bullshit, they are intellectually equal, one just happens to be inside the intellectual box and the other is not.

If I have some wine sipping Kafka reading man in a top hat telling me that the things he likes are the definition of quality, he's no more right than the surfer dude who swears by fart films.

I prefer Beckett and I've lost my top hat, but I'll argue back as to quality. "Enjoyment" is subjective, "quality" is not. To take humor as an example: a fart joke is extremely generic, requires no thinking, and therefore can be utilized by anybody equally. For most people older than 15, this means fart jokes lose their value in humor. It's not that a fart isn't funny, it's just that it's old and it's been used again and again. Compare this to the opening of The Metamorphosis, in which Gregor Samsa awakes to find he has become a giant beetle. Yeah, there's an artistic point to be made about him losing his soul and humanity, but MUCH more obviously, here's a guy who's just turned into a bug. The first we hear of him, he's a bug. That's hilarious! It would be less funny if it suddenly became a comedic gag used by everybody, but as it stands it's rare and it's clever. Fart jokes can be clever, but most of them aren't. And, for the record, most surfer dudes are a lot more sophisticated than they get stereotyped as.

The problem with a lot of modern society is that people tell us what we're supposed to regard as high brow - because a film is made by fox searchlight does not mean it's qualitatively better than a nollywood film.

No, the problem is that people assume that another person's opinion matters. Fact does - some humor can be argued very formally - but that's not the same as a title meaning anything. I like HBO shows because they allow more freedom to the creators, but I think that Fox's Arrested Development beats the pants off Curb Your Enthusiasm, despite (and because of, in this case) censors, shorter episode lengths, and more restrictions on content. The Arrested Development DVD set contains an episode that's longer, more risque, and with censors removed, and it's less funny. So HBO's format wouldn't work for the show.

Intellectualism - our constant attempt to break through the limits of human thinking - seems nowadays to have built a fence around itself and defined what belongs in and what does not. That's what I dislike.

Of course. Real intellectuals don't do that. Roger Ebert doesn't do that with movies. Harold Bloom doesn't do that with books. (Bloom does insult lots of books - he hates Harry Potter - but his arguments are based on logic. While I like Harry Potter, his scathing criticism made me think much more about my liking it. I was suddenly more critical and judgmental, and just happened to find it wanting. Bloom dislikes postmodernism, though, despite its artsy airs.) However, what you're doing is responding by saying there are no standards at all, and that's just as heinous as saying that there are predefined standards in given genres. The proper response is to develop your own taste. That doesn't mean disregarding taste entirely. It means deciding for yourself what's good and what isn't.

To give an example, those wine sippers will overwhelmingly tell say that Jazz is a more intellectual musical form than country music. Utter bullshit, they are intellectually equal, one just happens to be inside the intellectual box and the other is not.

Au contraire! (Sorry, by the way: you picked humor and music as your two arguments, and those are two things that I spend a lot of time delving into, and I've already got a lot of these arguments rounded out in my head. Hope you don't mind.) Country music is defined by simplicity: the melody is simple, the instrumentation is simple. The lyrics - simple. Jazz music, meanwhile, is inherently complex. It requires a lot of skill on part of the musicians. I've played the flute for over 8 years, and I'm still mediocre at jazz improvisation. Meanwhile, jazz also deals with very complex tempos and melodies. As a result, it's got much more range in style - musicians have got a lot more to work with, and they produce more fascinating pieces.

I'm not at all a jazz fan, it's not my style of music, but at the same time I can intellectually acknowledge what's going on, and I like listening to certain jazz artists a lot. I've yet to find a country musician that really does interesting, nongeneric things. I like a few folk artists: Bob Dylan does some interesting stuff with his instrumentation, and he's got an incredibly unique sound; Sufjan Stevens takes folk and minimalism and creates some beautiful orchestrations. I don't have any country artists I can say the same about.

The people who listen to country almost all to a T are less diverse in their music than jazz listeners. This isn't because listening to jazz makes you smart. Some jazz fans are pretty stupid about their music. At the same time, though, if you like music for music's sake, and you give everything a chance, you find that certain genres have much more to offer than others. Jazz is one of the most unique in that it shares few elements with any other style of music. Country, on the other hand, is the opposite: it deals with the bare essentials of music style, and so elements of country appear in rock and even in some strands of orchestral music. A local band, Fountains of Wayne (they had the hit Stacy's Mom), has a few songs that borrow heavily from country. When I'm in the mood for that sound, I go to them, because there's nothing that "pure" country has to offer that I can't get from their few songs. There might be more to country than I think, and if so I'd have to judge that other music on its own merits, but at the same time, your assuming they're equal intellectually is hardly right. In fact, I'd counterpoint you by saying that your saying everything is equal is just as much an instance of fencing things out as assigning arbitrary values without thinking, because you're not giving each item a chance to make its case.

The intellectual box is very often full of shit, because not all intellectuals think. What I ask is that you don't deny the value of intelligence just because some morons try to fake it. At the same time, don't deny the value of quality to yourself. If you do, you will find that you will churn out items of much lower quality than you are capable of, and the only people that flock to you are the people who agree with you that quality doesn't exist. Then you'll realize you've created just as awful a box as the other camp - and worse, your box isn't creating anything for anybody.

Doing something to be able to say "I did that" is a goal in itself as far as I'm concerned.

But it's not. You don't gain anything from being watched 500,000 times.

Smosh has been seen millions of times for acting like dicks and whipping Pikachu. There are funnier things on YouTube. There are cleverer, better things. Smosh is seen because they're bland enough to get spread around. That's not a virtue. They will never do anything outside of YouTube and I doubt they'd want to. They know they're just kids who got lucky.

It's like wanting to be popular in school. Why bother? You get nothing out of it but the knowledge that other people think a certain thing about you. Better spend your time working towards quality.

By that logic, why bother doing anything? All you get is a pat on the head and a few slips of paper that happen to be assigned arbitrary values of worth by a body outside of your control.

You never ever do a thing for the reward you think you'll get. You never do it so that somebody tells you it was good, or writes about it. You do it because you care about creating something good.

This is what splits the world, from what I've seen. Most of the world would rather be seen doing something wonderful than doing it. The rest are the people who I like, and who incidentally do things that I like. I don't know how it is for you, but if I ever thought the meaningfulness of my work depended on somebody else telling me it was good, I would shoot myself in an instant and never think twice about it. I sometimes feel that the kids who go on shooting sprees are the ones who don't get that other people don't matter.

You could trace everything I do to the people who have inspired me. First and foremost among everything, that means you'd trace it back to Bill Watterson of Calvin & Hobbes fame. I read his comics when I was four and they inspired me. I laughed. I wept. Often I would weep laughing. I got the Complete Calvin & Hobbes for Christmas, which included hundreds of ones I'd never read before, and I found myself laughing and crying again. It's something truly magnificent, and, furthermore, it was the first masterpiece I ever came across as a kid.

Bill Watterson didn't make Calvin & Hobbes so I would tell him it was good, or so I'd write this. He didn't do it to become famous. He did it because he figured if he was going to make a comic, he was going to make it as good as he possibly could make it. He drew hilarious pictures time and time again because he never let himself repeat something he'd done, and he never let himself settle for something that wasn't hilarious. Same goes with writing. When he drew the to-me-iconic picture of the dead bird that starts 6-year-old Calvin thinking about the meaning of life, he did it because it fit with the characters and expanded his world. His thoughts were first and foremost on his creation.

That's why I say focus on quality. The OP thinks I'm saying it so that the "intellectuals" will judge him better. He misses the point just as much. My point is that you do things because you think they're good. You do it for the sake of doing a good job. The only penalty for your not going a good job is that you'll have done a bad job - and for me, and for a lot of others, that's enough.

Harry Potter Revisited got 113,000 views in 4 years. 220 people wrote to tell me what they thought about it - and none of them mattered. The ones who liked it liked it for what was good. The ones who didn't didn't like it for what wasn't. It most likely inspired nobody. It wasn't anything more than amusing to people who were old enough to have a really firm grounding in comedy. The only comments I ever cared about were the few people who got addicted to Newgrounds after watching the video. Introducing those people to something new was a nice feeling.

On the other hand, when I published my novel last year, I got less than 6,000 views on Scribd. A handful of sales. By a metric, that matters far less than the video that gave me Internet fame. On the other hand, my CA borrowed my copy of the book, read it through in a weekend, and, handing it back, told me that I'd described the ways she felt about things and had never told people. And tonight, my girlfriend told me that her mother, while reading, kept nudging her on the plan and saying, "I know how this feels! This is exactly what it's like!"

So, I managed to use words and reach out to people, which isn't easy to do. (I'd argue it's harder than almost anything else in the world.) That's the achievement, for me. It's knowing that I did something well.

A new slinkset for New Year's resolutions: http://resolutions.slinkset.com/

I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions, much like I don't believe in a state of "I _will do_ something." You won't do something if you aren't already doing it, unless a major force compels you.

Going to the gym and having a healthy diet is not a "new year's resolution." It's a lifestyle. You have to do it for your entire life, otherwise why even bother starting?

One of my resolutions is to move out. From your logic, since I'm not already living on my own and I don't have anything forcing me to move out (getting kicked out, etc) then I won't ever move out. You're discounting self-motivation from your equation. I want to move out, I have set my mind to it and have started putting the pieces together to do so, therefore I will.

I totally agree with you that getting healthy/losing weight is a lifestyle change, but you have to start at some point. It's something I am working to continue into the new year, not just a task to work towards starting Janauary 1st.

You don't have any goals in your life?

In the sense of "If it isn't actionable and quantifiable its a delayed failure rather than a goal:"

1) Go to gym 100 times for at least 45 minutes.

2) Sell $30,000 worth of Bingo Card Creator.

3) Take money from customers for 2nd project. (sales > $0)

4) Not disclosed.

5) Reduce food budget to 1/2 of current level.

6) Declare income resulting from wages of exactly zero yen/dollars for December 2009 to appropriate tax authorities.

4) Not disclosed.

Ooh, now we're curious!

It's a marketing strategy on his part.

> 6) Declare income resulting from wages of exactly zero yen/dollars for December 2009 to appropriate tax authorities.

I think honesty might be a better goal.

Excellent list.

I created an almost identical list of precise goals and it is already helping me.

I believe New Year's resolutions are like the fast food of goals/personal development: easy to come up with, may make you feel better in the short-term, and like fast food.. exit your system quickly.

Do yourself a favor and work towards your goals every day. Even fifteen minutes a day accumulates compound interest over time.

Mine are really similar:

    - Get Healthier (not just losing weight, but eating better and drinking less soda/sugar drinks)

    - Read the piles of books on my desk

    - Start blogging

    - Learn a new programming language (C/C++/Objective-C, and the OpenGL library)

    - Make a decent income online where afford to buy a brand new Macbook Pro without putting it on a card I can't afford to repay...

    — Start a totally bootstrapped company

Oh yeah, forgot one:

    — Get dressed most days; when working from home, its so easy not to get dressed until the
      late afternoon or even not at all, but doing so limits my productivity substantially!

Apart from the second to last mine are almost identical :)

- Get Healthy (there is even a gym at work.. which is a measure of my laziness :()

- Read the backlog of books & journals

- Learn a new language (Japanese I think)

- Learn a new programming language (Probably Ruby)

- Start blogging again

- Actually get my company off the ground to the point I can quit my day job


Why wait until the new year?

Why not push away from the keyboard right now and go spend 15 minutes on something that will move you closer to one of your goals?

You'll feel a lot better, and you'll be 3 days ahead of the game. :)

Ask this girl out.

Don't wait.

Speaking from experience: any doubts you have in your mind are inconsequential. Go for it! :)

Go for the new years kiss!

Good luck :-)

- live healthier

- learn Python (I wrote this one before I read the 5th item of the above)

- save/invest more money

- spend less time on HN

- figure out how to monetize my free time and then do it

- set up linux and mac os x boxes in addition to my windows box


For those who don't understand the joke, Herring means Computer Resolution.

I tried to figure out what he means for at least 5 seconds and I admitted that I laughed.

-5 for this? Stop downvoting him/her.

Yeah. I didn't get the joke at first; the explanation was worthwhile.

Him. Thank you.

Mine would be to make sure I never go below 2560x1920 again.

1024x600. Hooray second gen Netbooks!

Instead of having a ton like last year and failing, this year I'm just going to have one resolution:

- Waste less time

  * Attend lots of comferences/meetups
  * Get funded
  * Launch paid for product
  * Grow advertising revenue
  * Sell the company
  * Profit!!

It's funny how similar some of mine are. Or maybe it's not funny at all, maybe that's why we're all here...

- Start blogging again

- Learn Python properly (I know a bit, but would like to be comfortable/fluent)

- Lose some weight

but also (and these are optimistic/long-term, but hey):

- Really work to grow my client base, further my business's reputation, etc

- Release one of my as-yet-unfinished SaaS apps for some passive income

- Get an office and my first employee (currently freelancing from home office)

I'd delay the office as long as possible for almost all software-only shops. It's a PITA, a distraction, and an additional expense. Once you grow to a certain point and NEED the space, or if your home situation is too distraction-filled, then go get an office.

Too many people are hooked on the idea "if I can work in my PJs, it must not be a real job". If that describes your (or your family's) opinion and you can't change it, you might have to, but look at an office as a necessary evil, not an indicator or predictor of successfulness.

Edit: clarified that I meant renting real estate not just "the last" which could be employee or office.

Good point. Don't really have room for anyone else to work here though, unfortunately, so if I add anyone then an office is basically a necessity. I do agree with what you're saying, though.

- get things done instead of thinking what new year resolutions I want for next year.

- getting things done instead of listing an item declaring the un-usefulness of writing a list.

Read HN only on Saturdays (or some other fixed day of the week). I can easily waste 2 or 3 hours a day to "keep up" with the news, this is ridiculous.

Trying to learn something truly worthwhile by reading the news is a bit like trying to learn by watching TV or trying to get rich by buying lottery tickets: sometimes it works, usually it doesn't, and even if you succeed it's not quite as edifying as doing it the right way (ex: learning useful knowledge by reading books or getting rich by starting a company).

I'd be interested to know if there's some day of the week where the stories are usually the most relevant.

-Finish popalerts, & popschedule -Get portfolio site together -Figure out first year C corp taxes due. -Develop better communication and public speaking skills. -Make more connections with outside web consultants. -Wake up to the sound of an alarm. -Stop arguing with my girlfirend -Drink more tea, less coffee -Make Lists, get organized -Build large business web concepts (coke, nike, honda,...) -Paint more -Drink less

1. Finish writing my current desktop app

2. Incorporate (probably as an LLC)

3. Sell copies of said app to people in exchange for money.

4. Relax more.

5. Exercise more.

6. Visit more places and people.

7. If steps 1-3 work, buy Wil Shipley a drink!

8. Spend next xmas in Munich.

Don't incorporate too early. I did that a year and a half ago, but things came up and I wasn't able to actually start the business. After the setup fees, annual state franchise fees, registered agent fees, and dissolution fees, I'm down $700 with nothing to show for it aside from this little nugget of knowledge.

Thanks for the tip. I plan on incorporating after I've finished the app and am ready to sell it.

I don't do New Year's resolutions, but I have made a decision recently.

If I'm going to continue consulting instead of working on a startup next year, on the side I'm going to work on something technical and fun, like an automated .NET Ocaml-to-YUI Data Access Layer. Something where I can learn and create a framework to use in a startup later on.

- Quit smoking - Learn UI (CSS and Photoshop) - Excercise daily - Release my two side projects and turn them into profitable products. - Learn a new programming language (not sure on this one) - Publish some pending drafts to ACM - Publish some articles , long due, to selected magazines - Asking this girl out

I have decided to focus on personal growth. I made this list some days ago.

Personal qualities


- Non needy

- Non pleasing

- Give value

- Accept other peoples value


- Be faithful to own values

- Base in own self recognition, not others opinion.

- Accept the importance of signal values

- Don't do or say things that undermines my own status.



- running, cycling, swimming, workout.


- Sign up for several amateur races (running, cycling, triathlon)



- improve self promotion


- Blog, Network



- Launch my project


- Keep on working? (I've rewritten it two and a half time)

- Freelancing pays the bills



- Keep old friends, but focus on making new friends.


- Actively engage in other people lives, don't need "invitation".



- Date more girls, or meet potential long term girlfriend


- Dating sites, Social activities, Bars



- Participate in as many regattas as possible (I bought a sailing boat last year)

Method ?

Happy new year!

It's not a New Year Resoultion, but certain goals/milestones that I'd like to see achieved :

1) Develop some Social Networking Applications for Facebook etc.

2) Learn Cocoa Touch for iPhone and Develop Apps.

3) Learn a MVC framework like Django/RoR in and out.

4) Be consistent with the gym schedule and get some muscles :)

5) TBD soon :)

1.Work through Stroustrup's Programming: Principle's and Practice Using C++ (always good to review the basics)

2.Write an app and sell it for enough to replace my current income

3.Train for and run the Bay to Breakers

4.Achieve "Archer" level in recurve style archery.

1. Get my on-the-side business up and running and decide whether or not it is worth investing more time in. 2. Add 20k+ to my savings. 3. Improve my BASH knowledge. 4. Travel more. 5. Waste less time (TV and web)

Learn how to code because some idiots did not figure that computer science should be thought in elementary school just as Mathematics, Biology, etc...The plan HTML>CSS>Javascript>Python or PHP

- do more marketing for SmartFlix and HeavyInk (I hate doing it, but it works)

- I started lifting again three weeks ago - keep doing it.

- Get to the range more often to practice and carry my pistol more often day to day.

Same as last year...

- Lose weight - Learn C - Don't waste (too much) time - Get shit done

I did pretty well on the last two in 2008. Hopefully I can keep it up while making the first two happen.

1. Collect underwear

3. Profit


Learn a functional programming language. (Maybe Haskell, but I'm open to other ideas).

Not making resolutions. Whatever happens, happens.

Do better next year.

Remember peeps, good goals are measurable and specific.

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