Jeremy Person's 2017 Resolutions

I haven't been writing much for the past three or four years. However, I always make sure to find time to write my annual resolutions post. I'm not sure why I slowed down on writing new posts, I certainly enjoy it. It probably has to do a lot with how busy life has become. I'll get to that further down within this post though, don't you worry. Do me a favor and slow down from your life for a moment and spend 5 minutes with me while we review another crazy year of my life and some lessons learned together. Want to read up on previous resolutions, or jump right to a certain section? You're in luck, I've linked them up in the header.

How Did I Do on My 2016 Resolutions?

2016 overall was another fast paced year that seemed to fly by. Lots of lessons learned and many more still to be learned. I would like to think my kids will some day read, and more importantly learn from these posts. Chances are if they are anything like me they will have to experience the lessons first hand in order to learn from them. My annual resolutions posts are my favorite since I tend to put a lot of work into setting goals for myself and trying to apply some creative work to them as well.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat of us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

- Steven Pressfield

Travel

Maui Coconut
In July we traveled as a family to Maui. It was our second time and a "little" different than the first when it was just Christina and I. We stayed at a great Airbnb with a pool so Tyler got lots of time to get better at swimming and boy did he. We also got lots of beach time in which is my heaven on Earth. I think the kids like the luau the best, at least according to Tyler who had that as the favorite event we did that week. Lizzy, our little star got up on stage with mom and boogied down. We went to Leodas Pie Shop and had some amazing key lime pie. Just a few blocks down the street from our condo was Maui Brewing Company where I had an amazing Imperial Coconut Porter, or two. One of the best beers I've ever had and I loved their food.

Maui Lizzy
The Road to Hana lived up to its reputation and made quite a few memories for us. It ended up being a long day with Lizzy getting car sick on the way back. We got a glimpse of what a hurricaine would be like. Tropical Strom Darby kissed the island for a day and it sure did get windy. We actually didn't even know the storm was coming until Christina was talking with a local while in the pool. Being that we were on vacation we didn't have TV on much and when we did it was cartoons for the kids in the morning. Long story short everything was just fine but the winds were unbelievable. I am my happiest in a warm, tropical enviornment so Hawaii and the Carribean are tough to beat. I think the kids had the most fun, especially Tyler. Lizzy is still young enough to need naps and the time difference seemed to really throw her off her game.

Roloff Farm
In October I visited my parents for a few days so we could go on a salmon fishing trip with an incredibly generous and kind family friend. One of the days leading up to the trip we had some extra time so we headed over to Roloff Farms. We even got a chance to meet Amy Roloff and get a picture. It was great spending time with my Uncle Greg who I hadn't seen in years. Like most families, it took next to no time for us to be best buddies. For Thanksgiving we spent some time down in Southern California to be with Christina's sister's family, as well as her parents for a few days. We forgot about needing to board Wilbur the dog so he came along with us which ended up complicating the trip a bit, but we still made the most of it. For Christmas we spent it with my family back in Portland for a week. It was a great time to relax and be with family. Christina and I even got a four hour nap one afternoon which I can't recall doing since Lizzy has been born. Looking forward to some more great trips in 2017.

Make it the Year of Health

Life in 2016 was busy. No, really, it was incredibly busy. Being a reactionary year, health rarely took priority in 2016. Lots of healthy food, little focus on excercise. I set some health goals in 2017 which you can see at the bottom of this post. At least during the second half of this year I think health can take much more of a priority.

Take Back Control

Of all the resolutions, this is one I did not succeed in whatsoever. In hindsight, I wasn't exactly setting myself up for success though either. On week days I'm averaging 4.5 hours commuting which takes up a lot of time from me, my family, and my health. Very often we spent the weekends playing catch up or attempting to rest up instead of thriving or enjoying life like I would have hoped.

Have a Creative Year

First off, I really liked the video from this guy so check it out. 2016 was a pretty creative year and I continued to learn a lot. I worked on side projects more than anything, with one side project still taking up the majority of my time. This was a good resolution for me because I am happiest when I'm creating things. I spent lots of time coding and experimenting and hope to continue that trend in 2017.

What Did I Learn in 2016?

Chris SaccaOne of my favorite lessons learned from the year is from Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital. He said many people spend a lot of time playing defense in life, but little on offence. For instance, if I were to ask you how you spend your time at work, how would you respond? My guess is you you spend a lot of time in meetings and email. When you think about what you have in your email and the meeting you attend, are those things you want to accomplish, or things others want you to accomplish? I find in my life, especially in business, I spend the majority of my time doing what others need. That isn't always a bad thing, I love helping people. The problem is if you spend the majority of your time helping others, and little time on what you want to accomplish, you'll find feelings like being out of control or being overwhelmed. The less you can focus on saying no and focusing playing offense, the more time you'll have for you. How can you do that? Let's next move on to Derek Sivers who came up with the mantra "if it isn't a hell yeah, it is a no."

Are you out there working on your own to do list or are you letting everyone else write your to do list for you?

- Chris Sacca

Derek SiversFrom Derek's blog: "There was a music conference in Australia that I had told my friend that I would go with her to. It wasn’t even like the conference themselves were really expecting me, it was my friend Ariel Hyatt, one of the best publicists I know and she was speaking at that conference and asked if I would come with her as like a co-presenter in her mentor session or something. So I had said yes like six months before. Like yeah sure, Australia!

I’m living in New York City. And once it came close and it was time to book the tickets I was like “eh, I don’t really want to go to Australia right now, I’m busy with other stuff.” And it was actually my friends Amber Rubarth, who is a brilliant musician, I was on the phone with her and kind of lamenting about this and she’s the one that pointed out, she said “it sounds like your decision is not between yes and no, you need to figure out whether you’re feeling like fuck yeah or no.” And I said “yeah, that’s really what it comes down to.”

The idea is if you’re feeling anything less than like “oh hell yeah I would love to do that! Oh my God, that would be amazing!”, if you’re feeling anything less than that then just say no.

- Derek Sivers

Hell Yeah or No

Because most of us say yes to too much stuff, and then we let these little mediocre things fill our lives. So the problem is when that occasional big oh-my-god-hell-yeah thing comes along, you don’t have enough time to give it the attention that you should because you said yes to too much other little half-ass kind of stuff, right?

So once I started applying this my life just opened up because it just meant I just said no, no, no, no, no to almost everything. But then, when the occasional thing came up that I was really like “you know what, that would be awesome”, then suddenly I had all the time in the world.

Every time people contact you, every time people contact me they say “I know you must be incredibly busy”, and I always think “No, I’m not.” Because I’m in control of my time. I’m on top of it. Busy, to me, seems to imply out of control, you know? Like “Oh my God, I’m so busy! I don’t have any time for this shit!” To me that sounds like a person who’s got no control of their life."

Below is a short video where Derek explains his philosphy.

To me, ‘busy’ implies that the person is out of control of their life.

- Derek Sivers

Kamal Ravikant I read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson about 10 years ago. The book gave me the desire to walk the Appalachian Trail, a 2,160 mile trek between Georgia and Maine in the Eastern United States. The problem often times with hiking the trail when you are younger is you don't have a lot of money so you need to work. Then as you reach your mid twenties you start taking on more responsibilities which also requires more work. Then comes love, and then comes family and before you know it you're almost fourty and you've worked a lot but wonder what it would be like to have six straight months of nothing but nature. One of the books that has had the biggest impact on Tim Ferriss is Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. In part it inspired him to write his first book The Four Hour Work Week. I've embedded a video trailer of the book below to give you an idea of what the concept is all about.

Escaping The Daily Grind | Tim Ferriss

This brings me to a recent James Altucher podcast episode with Kamal Ravikant. Before I start there, let me first say you should check out James Altucher's podcast. I had been lightly following his writings but in 2016 got into his podcast as a result of my lengthy Bay Area commute. James is incredibly "real" and generous with his knowledge. Many times you'll think to your reading a personal journal when reading his work and on the podcast like you are overhearing a deep conversation with a friend. He doesn't hold back. Any way, in the episode Kamal talks about his 500 mile trek to Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Kamal talked to a monk. He asked him, “How do you find peace?” The monk said, “Easy question, huh?” “If I’m going to ask a question, that’s the question,” Kamal said. The monk gave him three answers. And I didn’t understand. I kept asking, “What do you mean? What does that mean?” He kept explaining, and I learned the number one philosophy for a peaceful life

- Kamal Ravikant

Favorite Purchases


Atlas Obscura Cover
PHP in 7 Easy Steps
Best American Infographics
Aaron Swartz Idealist
Tools of Titans
Knowledge is Beautiful
Picturepedia
The Way Things Work Now
Talk Nerdy to Me
Tarantula
Syma RC Helicopter
Onitsuka Tiger Colorado Eighty Five
Menchies
North Face Beanie
Fatheads Beer Hop Juju Imperial IPA
Amazon Echo
Peace Love and Open Source
Ninja Blender
Pocket Knife
Calm.com

What Did I Work on This Year?

My team's job is to maintain the content for help.netflix.com as well as an internal knowledge base for agents to assist you with your streaming problems. The articles today are static with very little personalization. Like any company, engineering resources can be tight so we ran a test using only our team with a jQuery, CSS, and HTML proof of concept (POC). Below were the goals of the test.

UI-800-3

  • Encourage more visitors to self-service using troubleshooting content, and avoid scenarios where a customer abandons self-service because the article seems too complicated.
  • Present information in a way that feels simpler, less intimidating, and easier to navigate on mobile devices.
  • Measure the effectiveness of individual steps within each article.
  • Currently no scalable way to measure what ~800 error code article steps work and which do not work for our customers on HC.
  • Today we unsafely assume that because a customer visited a HC article and did not contact us we resolved their issue because we don’t have a method for our customers to indicate their outcome.
  • Break-up our articles into smaller chunks/steps so the article and the steps themselves seem less intimidating.
  • Improved mobile (58% of users) experience.

That was possibly the easiest and most helpful help function I have ever found. Refreshing 😊

Netflix customer feedback

2017 Crowdsourced Resolutions

On a recent episode of Tim Ferriss's podcast he had a Random Show Threesome where Matt Mullenweg and Kevin Rose talked about resolutions. Mullenweg challenged Tim and Kevin to croudwource their resolutions to their friends and family. I've done that this year and even challenged some work coworkers to boot. Work challenges likely won't interest you on ths page, but on a recent date (yes, I'm oh so very romantic) asked Christina for some goals.

3 things to do more of in 2017
  1. (Christina) Get out and see and experience new things. Sometimes you are comfortable seeing things behind my monitor as opposed to getting out and doing it. Bucket list of CA sites.
  2. (Christina) More engaging with the kids (games, science experiments, playing with the kids).
  3. (Christina) Share with me. You consume massive amounts of information and data. You don't blog as much or don't share as much.
3 things to do less of in 2017
  1. (Christina) Garbage cans. Context: we live in a small space and like most guys, I have claimed the garage as my own. We have a refrigerator in the garage but being a small garage I had to put the recycling bin in front of it. You can get into it, but you have to have long arms. Luckily I do have that, but it is still a pain in the neck. On the weekends I love to put the cans out front so I can fully open the refrigerator. We drive my car on the weekends most of the time so the cans go on her side of the garage (behind her car). It drives her bonkers. ;)
  2. (Christina) Don't try and take on everything yourself in 2017.
  3. (Christina) You have lots to offer the world. Put myself out there more. Don't hold back from engaging with others.

2017 Resolutions

I know I reference Tim Ferriss a lot but another thing I read in 2016 was an article by Chad Fowler who was a guest writer on Tim's blog. The post is titled The Big Question: Are You Better Than Yesterday? and if you don't have 5 minutes to read it for yourself, it essentially boils down to asking yourself each day if you are better today than you were yesterday. Anyone who knows me knows that breaking large goals down into smaller chunks and knocking them out slowly over time is one of my favorite life hacks. I'm hoping to continue that trend in 2017 where I take goals I've struggled with in the past and try breaking them down into smaller chunks each day.

The secret is to focus on making whatever it is you’re trying to improve and make better today than it was yesterday. That’s it. It’s easy.

Chad Fowler

Get Better at SEO

This is a super geeky one but if you or your app isn't ranking well within Google, you might as well not exist. I know the very basics of SEO, but in 2017 I'd like my apps to get on the map. I'll report back what I learned about how my properties are ranking (before and after).

Health

I've gotten a little more granular this year. I have some detailed stats I'll share YoY with weight, steps walked, push-ups, and time doing mindful meditation.

Marriage

Life can be challenging. Add on top of that kids, challenging jobs, oh and the Bay Area and you're supposed to find time for each other? Yes, yes you are. We don't get out nearly as much as we should. Even if we can't find time out, find time for each other.

PS - Here's My Bucket List (so far)

I have lists for everything, but for some reason I've never had a bucket list. That might have something to do with getting older, the big 40 next year. I'll add to this list this year and throughout the years.

  1. Lamanai
  2. Turks and Caicos
  3. Hike the Wenthworth Flalls in Australia
  4. Hike the Camino de Santiago. Next to impossible until later in life when the kids are grown up.
  5. Hike the Appalachian Trail (the entire thing?). Next to impossible until later in life when the kids are grown up.
  6. See the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
  7. Go back to Amsterdam. Several more times. I just love that city.
  8. Travel to Spain. Everyone who does says it is their favorite European destination.
  9. Travel to London.
  10. Own a Porsche. An old one is just fine. My favorite car since I was a kid.
  11. See The Seven New Wonders of the World.
  12. Mount Pilatus, Lucerne, Switzerland
  13. Cardada Observation Platform, Locarno, Switzerland
  14. First Cliff Walk #1, Grindelwalk, Switzerland
  15. Harder Kulm - Two Lakes Bridge #1, Interlaken, Switzerland
  16. Gornergrat, Zermatt, Switzerland
  17. Glacier 3000 Peak Walk, Les Diablerets, Switzerland
  18. Gemmipass, Leukerbad, Switzerland