2016 Goals

Off to a late start, I am publishing this article half way into February. I planned on writing the 2015 In Review article and this article before the end of last year, but I finished the year with a shattered patella. I followed that with surgery to repair my knee this year. Between surgery and a brand new baby, almost everything in my life was on hold or pushed back for a while. I made a little progress on my goals, but writing about them had to wait until now.

In my 2015 wrap-up article part of what I talked about were goals I set for myself in 2015 and whether I accomplished them. I wanted to continue along that path in 2016 with ambitious but achievable goals. I feel more organized and productive when I have goals to work towards.

Over the last couple of years I have improved my physical health. I eat better, I've lost weight, and I work out on a regular basis. At my heaviest I weighed 245 pounds. Right now—mid-February—I weigh 188 pounds. I have lost a total of 57 pounds. I want to continue making progress getting in better shape this year. My target weight is 175 pounds. It has been a long journey, but that goal seems attainable this year.

The recovery for the shattered patella and subsequent surgery is the first obstacle reaching that goal. It put an end to the weight lifting routine I was doing in the second half of 2015. Rehabbing my knee is my number one priority. As part of my recovery process, I am seeing a physical therapist twice a week. This allows me to work on my range of motion, and rebuild the muscles in my leg that have deteriorated from non-use. It is a slow and painful process, but it is necessary.

As my knee permits, I want to start a new weight lifting routine. By necessity, it will focus mostly on the upper body until my doctor and physical therapist clear me to do lower- and full-body exercises. I will continue eating a sustainable diet, and tracking calories as necessary. Between the two I think I can reach my target weight within a few months.

For my personal software engineering goals, my first priority is to do a full refactor of the Maggie Gallery this year. The project is something I put together in honor of my daughter Maggie after she passed away. It is a gallery of all of the photos ever taken of her. It has been functional since her birthday last year, but I rushed it to get it live in time. It has a lot of rough edges. I want it to be something I can be proud of, and something I consider good enough to have my daughter's name on it.

Other than the Maggie Gallery, my software engineering focus this year is going to be on game development. I have been interested in game development since I was a kid when my dream was to one day make video games. That is not the path I ended up following, but I never shook the itch to make my own games. As a software engineer and with powerful tools publicly available, this is something I can pursue as a hobby. This year, I want to learn either the Unity or Unreal game engines. I want to build some simple games, learn game development patterns, and start on a more complex project. I may never make a career of making video games, but I think I can have a lot of fun making them on my own.

Last year, I set an ambitious reading goal of reading a short story, an essay, and a poem every day. Following through on that goal helped me read more than I had in years. It was a fulfilling goal, but by the end of the year I found myself missing longer forms of writing—although I did manage to squeeze in one novel last year. My goal for this year is to read an average of two books a month for a total of 24 books by the end of the year. This allows me to get a lot of reading in, catch up on the large backlog of unread books on my shelf, and enjoy a lot of variety.

This is the reading list:

  1. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  2. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  3. Five Skies by Ron Carlson
  4. Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
  5. Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser
  6. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  7. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  9. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  10. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
  11. Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
  12. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  13. Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson
  14. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
  15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  16. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
  17. Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
  18. 1984 by George Orwell
  19. The Once And Future King by T.H. White
  20. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  21. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  22. Dragon Seed by Pearl S. Buck
  23. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  24. Zone One by Colson Whitehead

To no one's surprise, reading a lot last year seemed to improve my writing. I didn't write enough to take advantage of that improvement. I plan to correct that this year. I want to write more on this website, and I want to write and edit several short stories this year. Before the end of the year I want to submit at least one short story for publication. There is no guarantees I will get published—the odds are against me—but I want to get a story to the point I am comfortable submitting it and see what happens.

Setting and achieving last year's goals was satisfying. I want to accomplish something similar this year. I want to get healthier, expand my knowledge in software engineering, read a lot, and improve my writing. I want to look back at the end of the year and feel productive. If I meet my goals, I think I will.

Tyler Walters

Written by Tyler Walters

Tyler Walters is a software engineer in Phoenix, Arizona. He is married to a beautiful woman and has three incredible daughters. He is interested in game development, writing, beer, and hot wings.