I wrote this post on short-term goals last May, right before I started an eight-month internship in Silicon Valley. I had the opportunity to try living an “adult” life for longer then a summer for the first time ever – meaning I had complete independence outside of work hours, and wasn’t to an education system.
For each goal in my previous post, I’ll rate success ✅ and failure 🚫 on each goal, talk about what happened, and talk about what I want to do next. I’m finishing my last semester at Michigan; I’ll be returning to the Bay Area full-time in July.
This goal came out of a desire to meet more people, and then setting a tangible metric to aim towards. Meeting people socially did happen, but not in this fashion. This goal came out of two things: not having substantial friendships after my previous summer internships happened, and a desire to branch out and get to meet new people by confidently inviting them out to places. The first did happen, in a different fashion: I met other interns my age with whom I think I will have lasting friendships. Having an extended co-op (May through December), plus having the ability to go out on long road trips to amazing places in California (like the Marin Headlands and Mammoth Lakes) heavily contributed to this.
I still think that I need to work on my social skills and networking in general. I’m primarily lacking skills around when I first meet someone, and interacting with people outside of a group (namely one-on-one). As a result, I think I’m primarily meeting and knowing people inside of my current networks in group settings - which is fine, but makes me feel like my network is full of people who are very similar (especially people in tech). I can think of a couple of candidates in the Bay Area I would love to talk to, and may be willing to do it with me. However, I need to get a lot better at preparing for conversations - thinking of topics and ideas ahead of time, for instance.
This was something that I found - to my surprise - I absolutely loved and ejoyed doing. The sheer diversity and amount of amazing, awesome, and fantastic places in California boggles my mind. I saw mountains, deserts, high lakes, oceans, beaches, valleys, farms, and major international cities. The final list of twelve places in nature/around nature that I visited, after eight months:
I still have a lot that I want to tackle, however - being in California and learning about so many amazing places has only made my list of places longer. Here’s a sample:
Looking back on the photos that I’ve taken from this co-op on my Instagram, I likely got very close to this, despite only using my iPhone (didn’t even bring my dSLR). Especially near the end of this co-op, I was essentially there - my Thanksgiving trip had multiple amazing photos each morning and afternoon. You can see my Instagram for proof. Earlier on, however, I did not have as many amazing/adventurous weekends, which ended up being my primary opportunities for amazing photos.
I’m happy with having met this goal, and I want to further develop photography as a hobby. I think the best way to do so is to find other ways to take photographs other then amazing/adventurous travel opportunities, so that photograhpy becomes a regular activity I do. To help motivate this, and also for traveling overseas this summer, I’m just purchased a Fuji X100F, a great small portable camera that I could throw in my backpack and take anywhere.
I got nowhere close with this. I read almost two books… total. I first started Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates in June, which I then ended up restarting and finishing on my flights back home in December. In September, I also read Flight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, which a coworker insisted I borrow from him.
I’m beginning to see this goal as even more desirable. A lot of people I’ve started admiring for their ideas and thoughts are clearly well-read, and being well-read has clearly contributed to the ideas they think about. I’m just not sure how to gain time to achieve it.
I’m considering buying a Kindle to have a portable way to read on the go. However, I really do enjoy physical books - especially writing/marking them up - but reading a physical book feels like more of a commitment to sitting down and reading for a substantial amount of time. I need to find a balance.
I (with about 80-90% accuracy) have tracked my podcast diet over my time in California. I didn’t track the TV or Internet that I consumed as well, largely due to little TV consumption and an incredible amount of Internet consumption. I could/should start TV consumption tracking… but I probably average a single half-hour or hourlong episode a week. I’m also not sure how to track Internet consumption. I downloaded RescueTime a couple of weeks ago, which feels rather intrusive but could have useful results.
The original purpose of this was to get an understanding of what I consume and how often. That way, I could think about changing my information diet to suit other purposes. I haven’t come up with any new directions for my information diet, but I plan to make a post about my podcast habits and recommendations soon.
I’ve gained 5-10 pounds since I left Michigan. Being in an office and buying a car means I’ve been decently sedentary during the week, despite going out and hiking on weekends. Buying an Apple Watch helped me track and understand my sedentary-ness… which is something.
I have put time in my schedule during next semester for working out.
This didn’t happen. I went to the gym only a couple of times, although I tried to get out and hike every weekend.
I still want to keep this as a goal moving forward, but I don’t know how I would achieve it. If I can go to the gym multiple times a week and go on weekend adventures, then that covers physical activity for most of the week… then maybe I fill in the intermediate days with runs?
I went about three times in eight months.
The ultimate answer to all of these fitness goals that I’ve missed is to commit to a regular, serious routine and stick to it. It needs to have gym and running elements - and ideally prepare me for more adventures.
I did go for a few runs during August, but never into a good routine (or beyond 2.25 miles).
I think if I set a specific 5k as my goal and set a training schedule, I could hold myself to it.
I wrote a draft statement of purpose and talked to two professors about recommendation letters, but this ultimately didn’t happen. I didn’t think I could put forward a competitive application for the high-caliber Ph.D. and master’s programs I was looking for. I also received a full-time offer in the Bay Area, that I decided to take.
I want to re-evaluate why I would want to do grad school, and how. I’ve done more research via talking to a lot of peers who are taking different tracks with different goals, and decided that I should not think about a PhD until I’ve completed a Master’s - if I complete a Master’s. I’m considering applying for the Georgia Tech Online Masters of Science in Computer Science program, but I’m not sure what the outlook for that program looks like when it comes to grad school.
The overriding feeling (which I’ve discussed with other undergrads and people who have finished their undergrad as well) is that I’m moving into a life phase where I am not participating in some sort of educational system. Elementary school, middle school, high school, undergrad, now… I don’t have to go back. And not having that sort of structure (along with well-defined goals and metrics) feels scary and weird. I need to make sure I’m going back to grad school for the right reasons (deep interest in learning more about a subject), rather then that I miss that structure.
I received a return offer, and accepted it.
I’ll be starting at the end of June.
I didn’t make it to Chezy Champs.
This goal was intended to be a small step towards a larger goal. Rejoining the FIRST Robotics community seemed like a good, constructive use of my time outside of work. Attending Chezy Champs felt like a good first step to rejoining the community, and finding a good role within it.
However, two things have conspired against this goal.
Firstly, as time went by in California, I started to think that rejoining the FIRST Robotics community is not the best use of my time outside of work. I think I need to focus on fulfilling a lot of the goals that I missed (physical activity and exercise, reading books), exploring California, and trying to do constructive things in new areas and fields.
Secondly, Chezy Champs was the same weekend as I was able to attend the Southern California taping of the Grand Tour as a member of the audience, one of my favorite TV shows for years. This link talks about the taping the day before for the new opening segment - I didn’t attend that, but the next day when they taped the in-tent segments.
With a DS Lite and Pokemon Platinum that I bought used in Ann Arbor a year ago, I played very infrequently - but enough to beat Spear Pillar sometime in August-ish while riding Caltrain.
I just have to defeat the Elite Four to beat the main Platinum storyline. I should have more time at school to finish this.
This goal was in the vein of “I’m in the Bay Area, let’s do some silly/stupid Silicon Valley things”. I did plenty other things in this vein (chasing Snap Spectacles to Big Sur, feeling like I was in a ridiculously tech-oriented area) that I didn’t feel any need for this one specifically.
I would like to continue to do silly (and not problematic) Silicon Valley things in the future occassionally, but I don’t plan to track or make metrics for that. Those sort of activities would likely fall more under social activities.
This one was within grasp for a lot of my co-op, but I didn’t think about it seriously much until the end. I bought a bone-stock BMW E30, which would be a great candidate for a track day (as long as it survived and I could drive it home) for the duration of my stay in California (sold it at the end). I never got the BMW to a racetrack, though.
I did network with people who go to track days at Laguna Seca, Thunderhill, and Sonoma, so this can definitely still happen in the future.
Neither of these happened, for two different reasons. SF Cars and Coffee has been cancelled for most of the last eight months, and I couldn’t get away during the week of Pebble Beach for the hour-and-a-half (one way) drive. Almost all of the cheap activites are during the week. However, I’ve realized these events are less important; I didn’t have trouble meeting people who enjoyed cars. The Bay Area is teeming with them, including the person who I sold my E30 to.
I completely forgot about this one.
This has moved over time to be quiet low on my priority list of hobbies and interests to develop in my free time. At some point I would like to solve a Rubik’s Cube, but I have no plans to do so.
This was contingent on buying a helmet, which I never got around to. I did skate around for about half an hour with one not-great fall, in total.
It was difficult finding places to skateboard where it’s socially acceptable to skateboard and feels like an open/welcoming space to newcomers. Also, it feels impossible to take good falls like it is for skiing or snowboarding. Once again, it’s something that I would like to look at again, but is low on my hobbies/interests priority list.
This didn’t happen, either. I didn’t put much thought to it besides further recognizing the need to do so. I think I might try fidget tools and painting my nails next.
I’ve started painting my nails navy as both a visual, taste, and texture reminder of this commitment. However, I still find myself chipping at my nails (although I’m getting better at not chewing them, but instead throwing the pieces away). I’m not committing to putting new coats of nail polish on regularly enough.
I definitely made progress on this vague goal. My work attire started as a button-up with jeans or chinos, and gradually became hoodies with a more colorful set of V-necks and jeans or chinos. Being close to a Uniqlo (unlike being in Michigan) is fantastic, for picking up fashionable basics that aren’t graphic tees (especially chinos and plain shorts). I also tried bleaching and dying my hair, which I thought worked well and I should play around with more.
The biggest thing on this front moving forward: I want to work on removing hoodies largely from my wardrobe - that really sticks out as being lazy, male, and tech, and is gradually affecting my confidence when I wear those outfits. Since I’ve started school, I’ve bought a nice puffy jacket and sweater from Uniqlo, and a $40 faux leather jacket off Aliexpress that have been good investments on this front. I also want to explore/mess around more with hairstyles and color, and bleached my hair again in January along these lines.
This didn’t happen - there was cheap food for lunch and dinner that was far too accessible.
I’m not sure if this’ll happen when I’m full-time either: I have too many things I want to do with my time, and far too many cool and interesting places to eat in the Bay Area in my free time. On the plus side: my parents’ Christmas and birthday gifts to me were cooking utensils and pieces, which - along with considering getting a crockpot or slow cooker - is starting to inspire trying various recipes.
I ended up not working on non-work projects during my co-op, including anything iOS-related.
I would weakly still like to do this, but I primarily feel similarly to my involvement in FIRST Robotics and Chezy Champs: it’s simply not as interesting to me anymore, and I’d rather try other things. This goal more generally was about having personal passion projects in CS (and picking iOS as a specific thing I’ve had interest in in the past). I’m not so sure that’s a good move anymore for two reasons. Firstly, I no longer want to do passion projects in iOS - instead, I’m looking at various hardware projects, and software projects that are not tied to a specific platform. Secondly, I’m reconsidering whether I want to devote serious time to passion projects. There are a lot of other hobbies and interests that I could pursue instead.
I bought an Xbox One in September that I sold right before I finished my co-op. I rarely played it, despite having two of my favorite games (Forza Motorsports 6 and Forza Horizon 2). I did end up playing some PC games: namely Team Fortress 2 (which essentially is like comfort food to me since I’ve played off-and-on for six years now) and a little bit of Counter Strike: Global Offensive.
This goal was a good idea to see if I enjoy playing video games, and would like to take it as a hobby more seriously. What I learned was that I could see myself maybe playing more PC games (and building a desktop) to have a social thing to do with friends farther away. However, casually playing games frequently doesn’t have much appeal to me. I sold the Xbox One right before I left California - I couldn’t see that I would play much more console games in the future.
I’ve made some progress on this front. In October, I spent $50 on the macOS and iOS apps for Day One to serve as an impetus to start journaling. I’m successfully journaling every couple of days (usually every day, occassionally more like twice a week). That’s served as a good unstructured writing practice that I hope to expand into other types of writing.
I haven’t been able to keep up this commitment to Day One after starting school. I missed a couple of days, and then found myself getting lost with too many things to talk about. I regret not doing it - but there are too many other things with life (primarily schoolwork, friends, and trying to get enough sleep) that are preventing me.
I met 3⁄9 of my “personal growth” goals.
I met 1⁄3 of my “technical” goals.
I met 3⁄6 of my “miscellaneous” goals.
I am decently happy with how my non-fitness-related “personal growth” goals went. The intent here was to pursue new hobbies and activities that I thought I would enjoy, and I did. This includes traveling and exploring nature, getting more into photography, and podcasts.
However, this eight-month duration and my utter failures at fitness really exposed the difficulty - and, in my case, primarily inertia - behind working out, endurance training. and general fitness. I think my new approach needs to be to commit to a very specific schedule of when I will be in a gym (and which specific gym), and when I will be doing jogging/endurance training (and where). Then, I need to figure out a way to maintain discipline and encourage habit-forming that stays for longer then two weeks.
I look forward to putting together a similar list of goals after I graduate in late April!
Here’s a couple of last photos that I took while in California, some from my Instagram.