2022 Resolutions

Goals vs. Skills

Often, we plan by setting goals: targets that we want to achieve. “I will do X by Y.” Goals are good for high-level planning, motivation, forcing functions, and as a vanity metric.

Goals, however, don’t tell you how to accomplish the goal. They also don’t guarantee an improvement. They only guarantee that an outcome will occur.

For example, suppose I lose 3 pounds in 6 months. Am I healthier? Will the weight stay off?

When it comes to continuous improvement, hitting goals are still real accomplishments. However, they don’t necessarily correlate highly to improvement.

So, when it comes to personal growth, I want to start focusing on something different: skills. I view skills similarly to how I view environments (or, more precisely, I think your skills make up your environment.) Skills help you to produce regular, consistent results.

I take “skill” to be more general here. It includes things like being able to hammer a nail or being able to write a Java program. However, it also includes habits and behaviors. Getting yourself to go on a jog when there’s six inches of snow outside is a skill.

Decade Resolutions

The other thing I want to focus on with resolutions is looking at a longer horizon. Making ten year resolutions requires a different kind of thinking, one that I’m definitely not used to.

I view this more as setting a direction or anchor to move towards. You can’t predict exactly how things will turn out, but having a focus will hopefully lead to more meaningful results in the long run. It also makes more sense to view these as a rolling window, rather than end-to-end cycles.

Interestingly (or maybe sensibly), it seems to me that you need to focus on skills in the short term to accomplish long-term goals or ambitions.


There are a number of things I want to work on, but a common theme in many of them is doing “hard” work. Sometimes this means complex, technical stuff. More often, it means getting started and doing something that I’m not in the mood to do.

Here’s a handful of the skills I’m hoping to work on: