2020 Review

2020.12.29 | 6886 words |

See all reflections.

2020 was a unique year. It brought with it new challenges and opportunities.

One such opportunity was time. Time to build, time to be, and time to reflect. As the circumstances of 2020 forced stay-at-home orders and social distancing, I had more time to myself - largely isolated from the people, places, and activities with which I spent a significant portion of time, effort, and resources. This gave me space to think more deeply about who I was when stripped of many of the external factors with which I engaged.

Slowly, I began to reconceptualize who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do in this life. The results are not ground-breaking. In fact, they’re a close fit to the things I’ve been doing for years. But, like many things, the mere act of labeling or identifying this vision - this identity - has allowed me to better visualize and understand it as well as the things that do and don’t support it.

You’ll find this theme throughout my 2020 review - investing more in what serves me and less in what doesn’t.

Oh and that identity I mentioned? I sum it up like this:

My name is Hamilton. I’m a creative technologist x entrepreneur.

In 2020 I constructed a new identity for myself, launched my first business, released my first music videos, campaigned in the 2020 election, achieved a neutral carbon footprint, moved in with my partner Megna, refactored my Systems of Being, generated the faces of U.S. presidents with Artificial Intelligence, reached a 60% savings rate, ran 342 miles, participated in my first international art exhibitions, explored with socially-distanced friends, and grew as a Software Engineer at Instagram.

This is my 2020 Review.

2020 highlight reel in true zoom-call-from-my-bedroom-while-the-world-burns-bad-av-sync fashion

Self

2020 gave me a lot of time to think. I pondered a lot of questions about what I want this life to be. In the process I generated new systems, a new identity, and a new outlook on life.

In H1 I was focused on building a solid foundation for my life with a heavy focus on my financials and physical fitness. Going into H2 my vision shifted to building a foundation that would allow me to effect greater change in the world. Like many of my perspective shifts in 2020, it wasn’t a revolutionary change but a more focused and impactful version of things I’ve been doing for years.

I set some of the most stringent #self goals for myself to date and hit over half of them - achieving a 60% savings rate, carbon neutrality, and voting loud and clear.

Self H1 Goals

  • ✅ - (62.9%) Use full savings / 401k / ira -> 50% savings rate
  • ✅ - (4 abs, 2 ribs) Get a hard 6 pack

Self H2 Goals

  • ✅ - (61.8%) 60% savings rate
  • ✅ - (100%) 10% reduction in carbon footprint
  • citizenshit
    • ❌ - renew passport
    • ✅ - renew nyc license
    • ✅ - register to vote (and actually vote)
    • ❌ - library card
  • ✅ - settle in with Megna
  • ❌ - lasik
  • ⚠️ - learn

Who I am

The circumstances of 2020 resulted in a lot more time by myself and a lot less time in many regular routines - commuting to work, interacting with people, going to bars / restaurants / shows. This left a lot of headspace which I ended up using to think about who I was when these external factors were removed.

Many of these internal thought processes were triggered by things I read, watched, and listened to throughout the year. My identity thought train was influenced heavily by the principles found in Atomic Habits by James Clear

Through this contemplation I realized that I was executing on a lot of different projects in a lot of different buckets and directions. Some examples of this chaotic direction and its symptoms include my constant site reorgs and redesigns (2 this year), my 9 instagrams, constantly missing important goals, incohesive art direction / style, among many many others.

If I am what I do, then what am I?

From my survey of all the things I’d done in 2020 and in years past I wasn’t really sure. If I wasn’t sure myself, I figured it’d be impossible for anyone else to be sure.

Now before I go any further I want to make it clear that I value freedom and flexibility, particularly when it comes to identity. I don’t think anyone has any obligation to be who other people want them to be or even be who they were 1 second ago. You should be who you want to be. Period.

But in my case my boundless freedom due to having no established identity was causing me problems through inefficient effort expenditures and confusing visions for the future. Moreover I’d had a lot of success in boosting my creativity in previous projects by adding constraints to the problem space. So I decided to take time to determine who I was and who I wanted to be going forward in the hopes that adding some constraints would similarly focus my energy.

So I surveyed all the projects and efforts I’d undertaken in the past few years. I took stock of those I enjoyed and didn’t as well as why that was the case. I thought about all the hopes, dreams, and goals I’d set for the next 5, 10, 20+ years of my life. I then tried to condense that down into a single phrase for ease of internalizing and sharing.

This led me to my new identity:

My name is Hamilton. I’m a creative technologist x entrepreneur.

For me this encapsulates my infatuation with systems and processes of technology as well as my duality of passion for artistic and business pursuits. If I only had one sentence to share what it is I do with my life, I think this is a pretty good stab at it.

What I do

As I’d hoped, this commitment to identity brought extreme clarity to many of my eternally debated, soft answer questions. One clarified question of extreme importance to me was “Should I do x or not?”. My identity helped answer this by providing an explicit boundary for whether x was something that helped me get closer to what I wanted or didn’t. If it didn’t, then I shouldn’t waste resources on it.

This clarity was felt at all levels of my life - from the projects I considered picking up to the core systems and values on which I run my life. I knew that changing everything to fit this identity all at once would be a herculean task similar to the work involved in moving an entire dynamically-typed code base to static typing. So I opted to go the progressive-typing / migration route (a la Python or TypeScript) by altering systems and proceses to fit my identity as I ran into them and found they were lacking.

My first step was to add a reminder of my chosen identity to the top of my “Morning Ritual” Trello card which I look at each morning to help prepare for my day. That sentence:

I am a world-class creative technologist and entrepreneur.

Trello Morning Ritual card

Trello Morning Ritual card

Now this system ended up changing pretty much all of my systems so it would be infeasible to go through all of these changes here without turning this into a novel (or getting it more novel-y than it already is). So here I’m just going to share the results of this system on my core foci - their missions, lenses, and goaling metrics - as those are how I determine what I’m actually going to do in life and thus will cover the most ground for the least amount of words.

For the purposes of this post, I will call these core foci and their corresponding metadata “systems of being” for clarity and brevity.

Systems of Being

For those that are new to my reflections, I split my life into four different foci. These foci are by nature subjective but they’re the best organizational structure I’ve been able to create to date to encompass the different buckets of values and efforts that I hold and execute on in any given time frame.

Those foci are:

  • Projects - The things that I build and create externally
  • Self - The things I do internally to construct a strong personal foundation
  • Adventure - The things I do to experience and enjoy life
  • Work - Is what it is

In each focus, I have generated a mission to direct my efforts, goaling metrics to prioritize my efforts, and in some cases a lens to help me better constrain or focus the types of efforts I take on. I’ll share those here to hopefully shed some light on this new identity I’ve created, the ways in which it’s effected my life outlook, and for posterity so I may have a snapshot of my current operating system in future cycles.

Overall

I do realize that not all life efforts fall into these foci. One obvious meta example is why these foci even exist. I capture this idea with a top-level mission and value set for life itself.

Mission: Lead a happy, healthy, and impactful life.

Values

  • Be smart, systematic, and symbiotic
  • Be practical and sustainable
  • Do good
  • Have fun
  • With elegance and grace

Projects

In the process of creating my identity I realized that I actually have a duality of passions and creation types that I build each cycle. Those creation types each have their own purposes so I decided to support this duality through two distinct focus systems within projects.

Projects - Business

My goal for business is to make the world a better place. But I thought it was too broad to be optimally useful for me. For instance while quitting my job and volunteering 365 days / year would likely make the world a better place far more than anything I’m likely to do in the next 5 years, that’s not something I would currently consider yet it’s in line with that mission. So I’ve added a lens to better constrain the types of opportunities and work I’m willing to undertake.

Mission: Make the world a better place.

Lens: Build profitable businesses and technology.

Goaling metrics:

  • Money
  • Reach
  • Craft - Accurate, Robust, Performant, Quality, Learning, and Good for the world

Projects - Art

In art I had a similar problem to my business bucket. My mission captured the direction I wanted to go in but didn’t sufficiently capture my idea of how I wanted to get there. So I added a lens and complimentary “feel” to help me build the things I want to build.

Mission: Explore the nature of life from the perspective of the universe.

Lens: Monoliths.

Feel: Slow, minimal, elegant, timeless.

Goaling metrics:

  • Purpose
  • Elegance
  • Craft - Accurate, Robust, Performant, Quality, Learning, and on Theme

Self

Mission: Build a strong, healthy, and sustainable foundation for life.

Goaling metrics:

  • Health
  • Finances
  • Satisfaction - Fun, Learning, Calm, Purpose

Adventure

Mission: Fuel my energy, outlook, and understanding of the world.

Goaling metrics:

  • New experiences + Learning
  • Connection
  • Fun

Work

Work was a hard one for me as I don’t think I’d really given it as much thought over the years as I had my other foci despite it arguably being one of my most invested buckets with respect to time and effort (e.g. 5 days / week, 8 hours / day). My initial reaction was that it gave me money but I realized that while this is a factor in my decision making it doesn’t drive my decisions or fully answer the why I choose to work the way I work. In the end I think it ties in closely with my projects focus as a way to better understand how real teams build real things.

Mission: Build and hone skills for business and technology creation.

Goaling metrics:

  • Project Management / Collaboration
  • Project Scale / Technical Complexity
  • Money

Other system changes

A few other system changes I’ve made that have had outsized impacts on my life in the last few months:

  • each day:
    • Exercise
    • Build 1 feature in a creative technology / business
    • Ideate and opportunity size 1 business idea
  • !phone - Only use intentionally - phone out of reach / sight when not using, no endless scrolling ever
  • !contumption - limit of 1 hour of screen time (tv, movies, fiction, social media) each day
  • clear mind - limiting alcohol, getting good sleep, and staying away from internet rabbit holes

As I mentioned there are many, many more changes to my systems but I think this is enough on that for now. I’m planning on detailing one of my systems each month and posting it to my blog with the systems tag. Check that out if you’re interested in learning more.

2020 Elections

The next thing I wanted to feature in this section is my participation in the 2020 elections. Now most of the work in this bucket actually belongs and is written about in the #projects section but I wanted to mention it here because the 2020 election did effect many of my goals and subsequent efforts this year and I think it’s a great early example of me making value-based decisions, plans, and executions in public. This is something that I think was beneficial for me and those around me so I’m sharing it for posterity as an example of something I’d like to continue in the future.

I believe the United States has a lot of potential for good and evil. So when it came time for the 2020 elections, I determined that my efforts here could have a multiplicative impact on the world depending on the results. For instance, pushing for a climate-focused politician could lead to millions of dollars in support of climate initiatives - far exceeding the $100s I’d be able to move for that cause. Of course if they didn’t win then all that effort would go to waste. It’s a gamble, but like any gamble we can compute an expected value. It’s that expected value that I used to play my hand.

In 2020 H2 I explicitly goaled on election-related items:

Self

  • citizenshit
    • ✅ - renew nyc license
    • ✅ - register to vote (and actually vote)

Projects

  • [HamForGood] Build a better world
    • Elections - Get people to vote and get Trump out of office
      • ❌ - ($0) $1000
      • ❌ - (9,596) 10,000 people

I knew that any external election efforts could potentially bring a lot of flack and I like to take steps to lessen bias in my decision making so I started by noting my values in a government and researching how the candidates aligned:

Once I’d decided what I was going to support, I got started. My efforts were small but I like to think they had some impact. I’ll note I have no evidence either way.

My work fell into two buckets:

Not much else to say here other than that this was an effort that spanned many foci, many months, and many projects and that I think actually mattered.

#remindme to continue to do things like this in the future.

HamForGood (Personal)

My personal HamForGood is the same idea as HAMY.LABS HamForGood - it contains things I’m doing to better the world. It doesn’t have the 20% rule attached to it and is funded through my personal accounts but it does utilize the same causes and organizations. This makes it more consistent if more modest in the high end of potential.

I did a few things in this bucket to respond to the growing issues of 2020.

  • Created a Social Justice cause and started supporting the ACLU and ADL
  • Increased contributions to my Social Investing Fund by 25% which is a personal fund pool with a goal of donating 1% of its assets each year
  • Started supporting an Accessible Technology cause by donating to Ubuntu

Another big thing I did in H2 was commit to a 10% reduction in my carbon footprint:

Self

  • ✅ - (100%) 10% reduction in carbon footprint

According to my calculations at the end of Q3, my HamForGood (Personal) contributions and the institution of my personal Earth Tax have effectively negated my carbon footprint through the purchase of carbon offsets and biasing to greener life alternatives.

I’ll note that I do not believe that purchasing carbon offsets is a panacea and that there’s a lot of room for error in my calculations and that carbon footprint is nowhere near a full picture of my personal impact on the environment. But I do believe this is a step change in my personal treatment of Earth and something that would be extremely beneficial if replicated by other humans.

Be good to yourself. Be good to others. Be good to Earth.

Relationship

In the midst of all the challenges, changes, and general chaos of 2020 I was taking on another large change in my lifestyle. At the end of July, I moved in with my partner Megna.

This one change had a resounding impact on many different parts of my life from the way I lived to the way I worked to the way I slept. It’s challenged me in ways I couldn’t have imagined and while it’s impossible to see the future, 5 months in my analysis suggests that this was a good decision.

Some ways moving in has made an impact on my life:

With all this talk of systems, you didn’t think I’d leave this area of my life unsystematized did you?!

Of course I systematized my relationship. It’s too big a part of my life not to.

We live in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan which brings with it many challenges. When coupled with 2020 circumstances, this means we spend most of our time coexisting in the same physical space with limited breaks. This level of coexistence breeds high tensions - people need their personal space.

One system that I’ve found to be particularly useful for us to ensure we’re on the same page and dealing with conflicts before they fester is the introduction of what I call “Retro Dinners”. I co-opted the general idea from a podcast and combined it with components from other retrospective processes like the agile sprint retrospective.

Read more about that here: System: Retro Dinners

So far it’s helped us better understand where the other person’s head is at and give regular feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. We’ve also never murdered one another so that’s a good sign.

2020 Savings Rate

2020 Savings Rate

Finances

Self H1

  • ✅ - (62.9%) Use full savings / 401k / ira -> 50% savings rate

Self H2

  • ✅ - (61.8%) 60% savings rate

In 2020, I goaled twice on savings rate (50% in H1 and 60% in H2) and was able to hit it both times, hitting an overall savings rate of 61.8% in 2020. This was made possible by several efforts and factors this year: moving in with my partner Megna, pandemic restrictions, and a continued focus on minimizing superfluous expenses not to mention retaining a job and being on the winning end of market volatility during a global pandemic.

Net worth over time

Net worth over time

These factors enabled me to grow my net worth by 81% year over year, an achievement I didn’t think possible (and that may not be replicable).

I’ve written an in-depth review of my 2020 finances including details on how I worked to achieve my savings rate, where I spent my money, and changes I’ll be making in 2021 to continue to improve my financial systems.

Physical Health

Physical health is one of those things I don’t typically take explicit goals on (except to #stayhealthy and #dontdie) but it is something I want to keep in my awareness. I believe, like money, that it’s something you should regularly pay small amounts of attention and effort to so that it doesn’t become a huge, impossible problem down the road.

My general vision for physical health is to be a somewhat fit, healthy old person. I don’t need to be competitive in anything - I’ve only ever been a middling athlete myself - but I do want to be able to walk and jog and go up / down stairs with minimal pain for as long as I’m alive and I’d also like to ensure I’m alive as long as possible. That’s it. That’s the goal.

Also I’d like to have abs for as many years as I can but this kinda relies on the being able to do physical exercise and continued breathing in the maslovian hierarchy so it takes a backseat.

As far as I know I’m a healthy, fitter-than-average 26 year old. So I’ll just talk about the areas on which I have interesting data and leave it at that.

Weight

I don’t think weight is a good proxy for health. Weight doesn’t tell you much about a person’s cardiovascular health, muscle composition, mental status, etc. But it is easy to measure and, when combined with other data, can lead to some interesting insights.

In 2019 I decided to start weighing myself once a month. At that point I’d weighed about the same 165 lbs (give or take a few lbs) since my junior year of high school (~10 years) so when I confirmed my weight at the first measurement I lost interest. Then, around the time of my 2019 review, I got interested in #data again and measured for a few months. Again, I lost interest.

Weight over time

Weight over time

Last month we found our scale while cleaning the apartment and I decided to take that opportunity to weigh myself again. I was surprised to find it reading 151.4, 10+ lbs less than my mental model of myself tracked me at. The reading I just took read 154, giving credence to both my lower weight average and tendency to fluctuate from month to month.

If I had to guess the source of this weight loss, I think I’d point to 3 things:

  • Cooking more at home
    • Less restaurant-infused calories
    • Leaner poulcetarain diet
  • Less drinking - Alcohol is a lot of calories, y’all!
  • Lighter lifting - Losing muscle and muscle is heavy

The main reason I wanted to include this section is that I think it’s a great example of the power of measurement as a tool to level your biases and understand your story.

While I don’t think weight is a good proxy for health, I do think dramatic shifts warrant investigation. In my case, I think this is a natural reaction to my changing life patterns but it could’ve totally been something worse. If I hadn’t taken the, albeit spotty, measurements it may have been many more months before I realized anything had changed and potentially allowed an existing problem get worse.

This is one of the main reasons I do these reflections - to regularly take measurements of my life to understand what’s actually happening and respond accordingly.

A few more times measurements came in handy in 2020:

Running

I first started running when my friend’s mom started a running club in elementary / middle school. A few days a week we’d walk to a local park and run laps around the pond situated in the middle of it. But I didn’t really start running until I got to high school when I didn’t make the base ball team and realized that I just wasn’t very good at the sport. I pivoted to running track the spring of my freshman year, started cross country the fall of my sophomore year, and never looked back.

Running has been a “core satisfaction” of mine ever since, being a major outlet for physical energy, a regular mechanism to get out of the house, and (similarly to meditation) a way to calm my mind. So it’s a habit I keep around. I no longer attempt to run super competitively (though I am planning on entering a race each quarter) but I do try to keep a habit of running ~3 times and 10+ miles each week as my primary source of cardio (and these days main mechanism of getting off my ass).

Strava year in review

Strava year in review

Overall I didn’t do too great, hitting 342 miles on the year ~30% less than my optimal of ~500 miles / year (from 10+ miles / week). But it’s better than the 203 miles I ran in 2019 and slow progress is still progress.

Strava logged distance by week

Strava logged distance by week

From the weekly breakdown we can see that I ran very little at the beginning of the year, pretty regularly (though not regularly hitting 10 miles) through the middle, and then hit some volatility near the end.

No plans for much change in 2021, will just try to hit my 3 runs a week more often.

Lifting

I lift weights to build muscle. The way I look at it - I diet to control body composition, run to maintain cardiovascular health and body motion, and lift to build muscle structures. So where dieting and running are for core fitness and health reasons, lifting is more for looking good. It’s here that we attempt a 6 pack in the Maslovian hierarchy.

I use an app called Strong to track my workouts and generally make sure I’m not doing too little in my routines. It’s also convenient as it lets me output all my workout data which I can then analyze how I wish. That’s what I did here using Python.

I was relatively consistent in lifting frequency throughout 2020. There’s a definite decrease in lifting frequency around the start of the pandemic. This roughly aligns with gym closures in the city when I transitioned to at-home-workouts.

Lifting frequency

Lifting frequency

When we look at the total amount of weight lifted, we can also see a major drop off around the same time. This is again likely due to my at-home-workouts which have been less diverse and less intensive than my in-gym workouts.

Lifting weight

Lifting weight

For example, in the gym I’ll include incline dumbbell press on chest days. At home, I don’t really have any surface I can use for that, so I’ve dropped it from my workout.

Another is leg days. I’d typically squat with some 135 lbs using squat racks there but at home the most weight I can get up to is 105. I don’t even do that anymore, moving my leg days to be lighter and more focused on cardio, further reducing the amount of weight I move for this workout.

For at-home workouts, I’m relegated to some minimal equipment:

Overall I think it’s been pretty effective. I’ve certainly lost muscle as indicated by my weight loss but I’ve been able to do an approximation of most of my workouts at home. I’ll definitely be going back to the gym and adding back in dropped exercises when things get healthy again - both as a way to expand my fitness and as a way to get out of the house. Until then I’m pretty content with my current workouts and don’t think I’ll feel much of a push to achieve pre-pandemic weight levels ever again.

Projects

2020 gave me a lot of time to think about what I was building and to actually do the building. A lot of that time was spent experimenting in new directions and a lot of this experimentation helped me to validate and solidify the identity I chose.

Some projects, stats, and achievements I’d like to feature:

Read about all of these and more in my 2020 Review - HAMY.LABS

Projects H1 Goals

Projects H2 Goals

  • [HamForGood] Build a better world
    • Elections - Get people to vote and get Trump out of office
      • ❌ - ($0) $1000
      • ❌ - (9,596) 10,000 people
    • Climate change - Fight climate change and keep the world healthy and habitable for future generations
      • ❌ - ($0) $1000
      • ❌ - (264) 10,000 people
    • Social Justice - Fight for the equal protection, treatment, and love for all people
      • ❌ - ($0) $1000
      • ✅ - (23,633) 10,000 people
  • [Business] Build a business
    • ❌ - ($409.71) $1000
    • ❌ - (2) validate 12 ideas
    • ✅ - (153) websites -> > 100 views / day
  • [Art] Make art
    • ✅ - (1) Release a clothing collection
    • ❌ - (1) 2 Art exhibitions
    • ❌ - (1,983) hamy.art -> 10,000 followers
    • ✅ - (2) 2 collabs with artists

Adventure

2020 and the restrictions it brought with it narrowed my opportunities for adventure considerably. But I slowly learned to adapt, trading in restaurants for picnics and roadtrips for international flights - largely with Megna’s help. Once we’d shifted our perspective, we found a lot of things to do in the New York area like long walks through landmark neighborhoods and day trips to beaches, museums, and towns. Though I missed most of my goals this year, I think the little adventuring we did do reminded me of how awesome New York can be (and still is).

Adventure H1 Goals

  • ✅ - Roadtrip with Megna
  • ❌ - make work friends / connections

Adventure H2 Goals

  • ❌ - (0) Explore the world - travel for > 5 days
  • ❌ - (2) Explore New York - all 5 boroughs
  • ❌ - (0) Join an art / maker collective

Selected mems

A h&my new year full of friends, nugs, and resolutions.

Some pre-VID excursions.

Long walks between FiDi and Kips Bay along the deserted streets of Manhattan. Masks by Atelier Pinke.

The freedom of realizing roadtrips are still a thing.

Some sanity trips out of NYC.

A Central Park wedding.

Taking a stand and awkwardly posing for @megna.photo

A much needed respite on a NH lake with good friends, good food, and good feet.

Me and my pumpkin.

Thanks to everyone that risked the VID to hang out with us in 2020! To everyone that didn’t, we will hang soon. 2021 will be great. Chad promised.

Work

Work has continued to challenge my product creation skills. I think my main takeaway from this year is that software is an inherently human problem - we are often the bottlenecks in the development process. So I’ve been iterating on many ways to lessen the impact of that bottleneck - building systems and connections to help us be as effective as possible within the scope of project creation.

The main areas I think I grew in were:

  • Organization
  • Project planning
  • Prioritization

These are also the main areas where I think I need to grow. They’re not the only areas I have room to grow, but they are some of the most pressing for my near-term goals. You can find my list of learning domains for 2021 in 2021.

The main idea I’ve been pondering: How to move fast with stable infrastructure. Anecdotally I think I build my side projects far faster than we build anything at IG. This is for two primary reasons - 1) there’s almost no overhead for me to build and 2) my projects have almost no constraints or dependencies (or need to scale to hundreds of millions of users). I think there’s an optimal balance here where we can move as fast as possible with overhead that grows sublinearly with project scale and complexity. Just not yet sure how to achieve that.

Some projects I’ve worked on this year:

Work stats

  • 2 trips to California
  • 10 months working from home
  • 304 commits

Work H1 Goals

  • ⚠️ - (TBD) Be on track for promotion by end of year → EE or above
  • ✅ - (6) Own project through entire lifecycle

Work H2 Goals

  • ⚠️ - (TBD) EE in H2
  • ⚠️ - (Reprioritization) hit all project goals
  • ✅ - (6) lead a project
  • ✅ - (16) 2 technical interviews
  • ✅ - (2 internal) 2 tech talks / blog posts

2021

In 2020 H1 I began sharing my goals openly once again. I see it as a way to hold myself accountable, to garner feedback from my connections, and maybe even recruit some collaborators in the process. I used to believe it was bad for me because the act of sharing these goals felt like progress which stole motivation from actually making progress. However I now believe that was mostly due to a faulty system that relied too heavily on motivation - these days I try to build systems that run on measurable actions and measurable results. You can’t always change a result but you can certainly change the work you put in.

In 2021 I’m putting all the systems and learnings I built this year into action. I believe these systems are now in a relatively mature state - which is to say I don’t expect them to undergo another large refactor in the coming months - which means now is a good time to leverage them to produce the best outcomes I can before said refactor comes along.

My guiding theme for 2021 H1 is to ‘Do more in less.’. What I mean by this is I want to build, play, and execute more in less buckets / directions with the ultimate goal of increasing my throughput in each of the chosen domains. This is closely related to my idea of minimalism a philosophy I value but haven’t practiced much of late and a direct derivative of the theme I published just last week to ‘Do more where I want to play, do less where I don\’t.’ (which just goes to show how often I refactor my systems). You’ll also notice that this is an extension of the work I did this year to align on an identity - a reminder that we are made up of our actions so we should be intentional about which actions we do and don’t take.

All that in just 4 words. Who said I couldn’t be concise?

2021 H1 Goals

2021 Projects Goals

  • [Business] Build a portfolio of lean businesses.
    • $100 / month profit
    • 6 businesses launched
    • 12 ideas validated
  • [Business / Art] Build a following to feed my portfolio’s flywheel.
    • 10,000 users / month
    • Establish a flywheel and strategy for shares supporting projects.
  • [Art] Build a high quality, sustainable art practice.
    • Build 3 monoliths.
    • 2 exhibitions.
    • Collab with 1 artist
    • 1 solo exhibition
    • Challenge self through an immersive art learning course
  • [HamForGood] Seed a tradition of allocating funds for the good of the world.

2021 Self Goals

  • [Growth] Learn - Expand my horizons and mastery of capability
    • Tech - Good code practices
    • Tech - Functional programming
    • Art - Learn about 3D art in Blender and Unity
    • Art - Learn about game development in 3D and Unity
    • Business - Validating opportunities
    • Business - Project Management
  • [Foundations] Be an athlete
    • Have a 6 pack
    • Energy for a 6 mile run on a Saturday
  • [Foundations] Prioritize what’s valuable
    • Lean into minimalism - more of what’s important, less of what isn’t
    • 70% savings rate
  • [Foundations] Build a system of systems - For every recurring problem, have a way to solve systematically
    • 6 systems - Each month, detail a system

2021 Adventure Goals

  • [Connection] Build a social community in NYC
    • Get away from drinks-first socialization
    • Monthly gatherings to connect
  • [Connection] Build a maker community in NYC
    • Monthly gatherings to build
  • [Exploration] Go somewhere new for > 10 days
  • [Exploration] Get in tune with the city’s art / maker culture
    • 5 new music venues
    • 5 new art galleries
    • 5 new art / tech collectives

2021 Work Goals

  • Build a track record of engineering leadership
    • Promotion to E5
    • Lead 3 projects
  • Share expertise and gain authority
    • 2 external tech talks / posts
    • 1 patent filed

Systems of Accountability

As I tend to say often - things don’t just happen, you make them happen - simply setting these goals is not enough. There also needs to be some sort of system to reach those goals. I’ll be committing to the new systems I built in 2020 to bridge the gap between where I am now and where I want to be and insitituting several systems of accountability to make sure I’m doing the work.

Connect with me around the internet to get updates on my journey.

Fin

Here we are. The end of 2020. It’s been a year.

This week I’ve been thinking about the toll this year has had and how it fits into the bigger picture of my community, my country, and my planet. It’s been 6 months since I’ve seen my family face to face and for many friends and close connections it’s been much longer than that. Millions have lost their jobs, their homes, and the lives that they once lived. The U.S. is arguably at one of its most divided points - physically, politically, and financially - in its history and is boasting a record high stock market on top of a faltering economy. We know of one impending doom event - climate change - and are largely failing that challenge.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m relieved to be driving the final nail in 2020’s coffin and shipping it on its merry way. It feels like we’ve been bombarded daily with new existential crises when we’ve barely addressed existing ones.

This paradigm is unhealthy and it’s not sustainable. But it won’t go away by itself. In fact, I believe if we leave it to its own devices it will just get worse.

What I’m getting at is I think 2020 was a hard year for everyone - for some more than others. I have hope that 2021 will be a better year. But I don’t believe this will happen by itself.

2021 will only be a better year if we take time to understand what happened in 2020, learn from it, and build systems to solve for those issues going forward. If this doesn’t happen, I expect many more 2020s to come.

So let’s work together to make sure 2020 stays in that coffin. Find a problem / issue that we faced in 2020 and commit to solving that this year. If we all do that, I find it hard to imagine we’d run into the exact same problems another time.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Be kind to the world.

2020 was a hard year. Acknowledge that. Accept that. Then make 2021 better.

To a better 2021.

-HAMY.OUT

 

About the Ham

Hi I'm Hamilton - I built this! If you want more content like this subscribe to my email list, connect with me around the web, or take a look at some of my other projects.

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