'Take no one's word for it' in 2017
Brett Terpstra wrote in a recent post:
I’ve had a few really good coding days in a row here, which has meant not as much blogging this week.
Me, I’ve had a few really good coding months in a row here. Which has meant not as much blogging this year.
In my review of 2016, I was happy about progress and hoping to write more:
I’m moving to a new country and starting in a new research scientist role in 2017, and one way or another I think that will affect my writing here. What I hope will happen is that I’ll be able to write more about science and data as I learn more things faster in my new position.
It didn’t work out this way. I’ve learned and done more over the past 12 months than any other two to three years combined. But all that work wasn’t open source, and was for a team for which confidentiality matters, which means I couldn’t write about any of it. It also left me with much less time for writing than I used to have.
In 2017 I did a lot more coding, a lot more data analysis and machine learning, a lot more scripting and automating, a lot less bike riding, a lot less listening to music, and moderately less reading. It was a year well-spent, but also a year of strong tradeoffs.
So here is Take no one’s word for it in 2016:
To quote again from my review of 2016:
The knock on new year’s resolutions is that they encourage you to wait until a seemingly arbitrary moment in time before you make a big change or do something to make your life better. Another knock is that this encourages you to attempt large changes instead of piecemeal changes, which increases the amount of discipline required for success, and therefore increases the chances of failure. Larger changes would happen less frequently, and that makes error-correction harder.
I think there is truth in there, but as with a lot of things people criticize today, the criticism loses a lot of nuance or selectivity and becomes absolute. You shouldn’t wait until new year’s to make your life better, but setting checkpoints for retrospectives and projections at regular intervals is useful. New year’s is arbitrary, but no more arbitrary than any other time or date if you don’t have better reasons for them. Just make sure you’re not using it as an excuse to procrastinate.
I have my personal plans and goals for 2018, but I am wary of making them too specific. I couldn’t have planned for most of 2017 (I wrote a lot less than I thought I was going to, for one), and even though I expect 2018 to be less eventful, I can’t set my tradeoffs for a whole year. I do have a theme in mind, though, and I will try to apply this theme by planning one month at a time.