The Year of Self-Validation and Chocolate

Hello, World in 2018!!!

It is that time of the year again when it is just beginning, when legends are born (birthday week!), when everyone is optimistic about life and love and generally believe themselves capable of conquering the world.

* drum roll please for my favourite month of the year *

It is January!

It is also a time when people do things as cliché as setting goals. Guess who joined that bandwagon? I did 😉 Somewhat inadvertently, last year I set some goals pegged on mobile applications on my phone and looking back on them a year later was not the worst. I have always been a skeptic about new year resolutions, so again, like I did last year, I set some with a twist, to make them more sticky. More than just stuff which will make me cringe when someone reminds me of them 2 or 3 months down the road because I have completely fallen off the wagon.

For Christmas, my extended family has gotten into the habit of doing Secret Santa. Last year, 2017, I got a box of chocolates as part of my gift from my Secret Santa. Not just any chocolate either, one of those expensive types that comes in one big box containing many little balls or squares wrapped in their own wrappers and with different flavours at the centre…yeah, one of those. Now for some reason, I did not gobble them all up in one go and then proceed to have a tummy ache for a couple of hours, I suspect because I am growing up. Heh heh.

I decided to instead have a chocolate each time I had achieved something. Let’s face it, we live in a world that has conditioned us to expect instant validation, feedback, gratification. You post a picture on Facebook or Instagram and then repeatedly visit the application afterwards, checking whether there are any likes, comments or any engagement yet. Same thing with Twitter. In a world where this false external validation fuels us, I am gaming the system and creating a personal validation system that actually reflects value in the ways that I would like to grow as an individual this year.

Also, this quote I came across a few days ago after I had already been working on this post and my goals for the year for a couple of weeks already, just reinforced my sentiments that much more…

“If it is true that energy flows wherever our attention goes, then your little wins should deserve your undivided attention and encouragement because they are energetic building blocks for bigger wins.”

This year is about the celebration of small wins, each and every one of them.

For every piece of chocolate I eat, I will jot down on a piece of paper what achievement warranted the eating of the chocolate and wrap that up in the chocolate wrapper then throw it into a jar. My Achievement Jar. The plan is to be able to reach into the jar whenever I feel like my life has stagnated and is devoid of signs of progress. Reach into the jar, pick however many wrappers of chocolate it takes to bring back into perspective the fact that even though the outward results of my efforts may not be glaringly obvious, I have indeed made progress in the days, weeks, months that have constituted 2018 thus far.

Now, this idea grew from just chocolate and now I’m thinking that besides the small ‘doable-in-a-short-time-frame’ goals, I should set bigger ones, monthly and quarterly ones, that warrant somewhat bigger rewards for myself. Like…a slice of cake for the monthly? Bottomless brunch for the quarterly? And the half year goals? So many possibilities! For now though, let us just pilot with chocolate.

I have attended many goal setting sessions at various stages in my life but never pulled through with working backwards from the bigger, main goal and breaking that down into smaller chunks with milestones and timelines. 2018 might will be the year. With all this chocolate waiting for me on the other side plus the knowledge from experience that little things really do add up (have you read about how I ran 325km in 2017 yet?), I reckon this is the year I make it!

 On writing,

  • This is the year I shall once again, for the millionth time, promise to write a post a week, minimum! So help me God. Chocolate at the end of every successfully posted weekly post. I pick Wednesday as my post day. I was born on a Wednesday!
  • I want to grow my blog mailing list to 1000 subscribers. I’m currently at 43. Chocolate at each factor of 100 milestone.
  • I am still on that, growing my Facebook following vibe. Target, also 1000. Chocolate at every factor of 200 milestone because I am further along on this path. Current count, 306.

On running,

  • I have been running pretty consistently and intensely already, the aim here is just to maintain the momentum. 15km is my weekly target, each time I hit the weekly mark, chocolate!

On swimming, like with the running in 2017, I want to let this take shape of its own accord. Swimming monthly packages are so freakin’ expensive though! But;

  • First quarter – swim once a week
  • Second quarter – swim twice a week
  • Third quarter – swim 3 times a week
  • Fourth quarter – swim 3 times a week, clocking 5km with each swim.
    • Chocolate for each weekly milestone achieved at each stage.

On hair,

  • I just want to get it all levelled out at collarbone length, and I am close, real close! Not interested in breaking this down any further so I am just going to say chocolate cake when I get there!

On Twitter, I’ve been getting somewhat active on Twitter, and have been thinking about investing more time into curating that. It is an awesome way to develop a professional persona, shout out Aunt M.!

  • So I’d like to try out the whole scheduling posts every so often vibe. See how it goes. Each week’s worth of scheduled posts warrants a chocolate.

On travel, after visiting 4 countries in a span of less than 3 months in 2017, I reckon I have not been dreaming big enough! 2018…

  • I want to go to 10 countries. 5 in the first half of the year, 5 in the second half of the year. So, should you come across any travel opportunities, involving anything Python, Scala, Data Science, Data Engineering or Machine Learning, do hit me up! Extra interest if there’s a chance part or all of the travel will be catered for. In celebration of each country conquered, I shall find a native cocktail and have a few.

On reading,

  • I am still going to leave the target at 50 books for the whole year, chocolate every 2 books.
  • Because I clearly need to work on my resilience when it comes to reading more technical and mature content, here I am setting out to do a chapter a week of a technical-content-like book, with each successfully completed chapter warranting a piece of chocolate.
  • I would also like to read more academic papers concerned with my field of work. I’m targeting one every two weeks as well committing to writing up a summary, each warranting chocolate.

Are those too many things to be setting out to do already?

* starts sweating profusely *

Okay, just a few more…

On language, this year I will not do any language competency exams. Instead, I will take a more immersive approach.

  • Read 2 French books, cover to cover, over and over, up to the point of complete comprehension
    • C’etait Mieux Avant (it was better before) and
    • La Carte D’identite (the identity card)
  • Same with the Spanish, 2 books read over and over again to the point of complete comprehension
    • I haven’t found any Spanish books yet
      • Each cover to cover iteration of both the French and Spanish books warrants a chocolate
  • I discovered a YouTube channel with children’s stories translated into different languages, French and Spanish included. This will be part of my years’ immersive experience. By the end of the year, I would like to be able to hear and understand each of those stories. The small digestible step to that goal is to listen to one hour of these stories every day that I am at work. I will alternate the focus of each month from language to language, with the books as well as the story videos.
    • 3 hours worth of listening warrants a chocolate

If you are thinking I have set too many goals, I reckon I have.
If you are thinking I will eat way too much chocolate, I reckon I will.
If you are thinking I am much too ambitious, well, modesty of ambition has never characterized successful leaders.

If you are wondering how I will be able to afford all the chocolate to keep the reward system functional, I’m glad you brought that up. I am open to any and all donations of chocolate, as long as it is the nice, expensive kind that comes in a big box with little balls or cubes of chocolate with different centres. Heh heh, see my high maintenance self.

Here’s to 2018, The Year of Chocolate!
The Year of Celebrating Small Wins!
The Year of Self Validation!

…you should too.

To keep up with my musings, subscribe!
Like it? Share it!Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn


Add Yours
  1. 1
    Barbara J N

    Kat, you’re quite the inspiration!

    Now… what is that channel with the kids’ stories… that is something Ally would find useful as she is always trying to improve her French.

    I haven’t sat down to think of my goals this year yet… I always write down fresh ones end of Jan because that’s when I do a ‘finance reboot’. To me it’s the scariest time of the year! Yikes! I won’t have half as many goals as you so that I wont be too disappointed in myself is I don’t achieve them – but maybe I should add in a few this year as a challenge.

    Enjoy all the chocolate and ****Happy Birthday**** as I will def forget now that Facebook is my Birthday Alarm and I restricted my time on social media last year – if I don’t login on your birthday, no birthday wishes will come your way :-/

    • 2

      The channel is called bookboxinc. They have quite a couple of languages too!

      Do make some goals! It always helps to sit down and decide where it is you want to go…in my opinion.

      …and thank you for the birthday wishes!
      Kuzeeka tu. 🙂

  2. 3

    Dear Katty,
    I wish you the best of 2018. While I believe the goals seem a lot, but I will encourage you to strive hard to achieve them. Modesty of ambitions has never characterized successful leaders. I am just wondering how all that chocolate will all settle in you 😀 What are your favourites?

    Have you heard of Blinkist? It’s an app that summarizes books for you in a 15 minutes read. Try downloading it. It’s one of the best rated apps in 2017 by Google Play. I am listening to a free audio summary everyday.

    • 4

      Ha ha, yes, I know I have set too many goals. But I would rather fall short due to having set goals too big. 🙂

      Will check out Blinkist, sounds like a really useful app! Thanks Sadiq!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *