2020 was a mess on a lot of fronts, but a bright spot for me personally was following through on my resolutions. My biggest and toughest resolution was to learn Unreal Engine. A year later, it’s honestly still a work in progress. I’ve been simultaneously learning the interface, art pipeline, animation pipeline, visual scripting logic, and performance optimization among other things. Somedays feel like I haven’t come very far at all, but others feel pretty good, considering less than a year ago the program wasn’t even installed on my computer yet. Hopefully it’s upwards and onwards from here, but it’s hard to say. As much fun as it is, it still feels incredibly daunting. Here’s a small peek at a game I’ve been developing with what I’ve learned so far:
My second resolution was to exercise at least every other day. Above all else, this one made sure a missed day or two didn’t snowball into a completely derailed week or month. Seemed like a cycle I’d been stuck in the past few years, but this simple rule got me out of it. I made exceptions to let my body bounce back from injury or for a long weekend getaway here and there, but for the most part I nailed it. It’s formed into a habit at this point, and hoping to keep it that way.
My third resolution was to avoid hangovers. I know, I know, the depth of my shame is bottomless. I wasn’t exactly swearing off alcohol, but I’ve long been ready to swear off hangovers. I drink socially, so the pandemic really dropped my consumption this year, and in turn lowered any chance of being hungover to begin with. Even so, I still fell short on a few occasions. At least three I can think of. It wasn’t perfect, but it was more wins than losses, and if I can keep it in the front of my mind, the record should be an undefeated one soon enough.
Lastly, I took a shot at some monthly challenges throughout the year and reflected on my experiences with them month by month. In short, I ended up satisfying some curiosities, kickstarted some better habits, and knocked back a few bad ones.
All in all, it was a win in a challenging year. I’d never done anything like it and ended up having a lot of fun with it. So much so, that it feels weird to just stop down at this point. So I think I’ll keep on. More on that later.
Another month, another New Year’s resolution challenge. Two for May actually. I originally set out to forgo eating meat, but I decided to practice yoga everyday too. Yep, I went full Californian.
I’d have to guess the longest I’d ever gone without eating meat is no more than a couple days. Those off days being purely coincidence. The more I’ve learned about the health positive science that supports a vegetarian lifestyle, the more I’ve grown curious about giving it a shot. There’s also the ethical issues with eating meat that are sometimes on my mind. The ones most of us do our best to pretend aren’t there, myself included. For these reasons, I took a crack at it.
I had no trouble sticking to it for the whole month. Didn’t feel like a chore, and didn’t really miss anything either. Somedays though, I didn’t feel like I was eating as lean as I normally would, and I can’t say I always felt as full throughout the day. I’m thinking my inexperience with a meatless diet is more to blame there than a vegetarian lifestyle. Some nights we added a plant based meat with dinner. That helped maintain some familiarity for me. Other nights we made dinners that were so damn good, I’d prefer them to grilled chicken breast any night of the week. Looking at you, sweet potato street tacos. Then there’s the ethics. I don’t know the math, but had I been eating meat, 31 days is more slaughtered animals on my behalf than I’d like to think about. I guess that’s a win, but at the same time hard to swallow knowing it doesn’t bother me enough to swear it off for good here and now.
In the end, I’d call it a successful experiment and I’m glad I did it. It me forced to think about something I’d been avoiding thinking about. I’d like to try it again when we’re not locked down at home in a pandemic though. I think It’d be an entirely different challenge if everything wasn’t prepared at home. Looking forward, I’m gonna to try cutting back on meat. Not entirely, but ideally more regularly. Seems like a reasonable ask for something that’d help my body, my conscience, and the world I live in.
On to the Yoga. I’m not a complete stranger to yoga, but I haven’t practiced any in some time. I wanted to expand my experience with it, and that’s how the challenge came to be. I had it on the books for September, but decided I needed it more sooner than later. We’ve hardly left the house during pandemic. That’s months gone by without my morning bike commute, or my few mile walks on lunch. Felt like a good time roll the yoga mat out.
I aimed to practice at least 15 minutes everyday, and often did more. Missed a day or two when my schedule got a little crazy, but I made it up with longer sessions when I jumped back in. Everyday I’d search Youtube for yoga sequences aimed at whatever I felt I needed most in that moment. That meant a lot of sequences for back pain, which naturally led to a lot of sequences for improving my posture. I had a few back to back nights that I had trouble falling asleep, so I looked up a sequence to help with that, and it did. After the 31 days, I’m not a yoga guru, I can’t balance any better or reach any further. But I learned a good lesson. I’d only ever viewed or used yoga as a form of exercise. Trying my hardest to break a sweat, or I felt like it was useless. This challenge showed me for the first time how to use yoga for relief. God, I’m getting old.
I can feel the eyes rolling across the internet of anyone reading this, but they say writing it down makes it that much more real. What prompted me to do this, other than being the start of a new year, is just how stagnant my days have been feeling. This has been true for a while now. That may seem ridiculous to anyone who knows how my time is spent, and I agree. I’m absolutely doing a lot. I seemingly go to more birthdays in a year than I’ve had birthdays in my life. Always on the move, going here, there, or wherever. Traveling the world with my best friends. Last year I was in 4 new countries, Hawaii twice, Seattle twice, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Zion, Las Vegas and Florida. Laughing and making memories all a long the way. Life is not dull for me, I know this, and I do feel truly grateful for all the color my friends and family bring to my life, and grateful for the vibrancy of those colors.
Still I feel personally stagnant. I don’t feel growth. There are so many things I want to do that I’m not doing. So many things that I want to change that I’m not changing. This is me doing something about that, writing a list like every other starry-eyed sucker at the start of a new year. After thinking on it a while, I came up with three things that I want to strive for everyday of the year.
Learn Unreal Engine. This is a big one. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years and has the potential to open so many new doors in life. It’ll take a lot of time, energy, and discipline, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dreading it. Probably why it’s taken me so long to commit to it. But I kinda see it like when I first started learning guitar. Sore fingers, the awful sound of dead strings, and so much frustration. It was a real mess. But I did learn, and all that past frustration ended up bringing me a lot of happiness, still to this very day. So yeah, I’m dreading it. But I’m also hopeful and excited.
Exercise at least every other day. I’ll be 34 this year. At 24 my health and fitness was a very different picture. No question, I’m not as fit or as healthy I was 10 years ago. That doesn’t feel great, but it’s okay. I’m older, responsibilities have multiplied, priorities have shifted. I get it. But days, weeks, or even months gone by without honest exercise just isn’t gonna cut it for me. The goal isn’t working out hours on end, taking bicep measurements in front of a mirror. The goal is just to be more responsible about staying consistently active.
No more hangovers. Yes, this is seriously a goal. Shameful I know. Honestly might be the hardest one! When I drink, it’s very often an amount far and away more than what it should be. I know that. But when I’m in the right social setting, having a great time, it’s a breeze having somewhere in the neighborhood of ten drinks, and not even realizing it. The price is paid tomorrow, and I’m left angry at myself for giving up a day of my life. If I’m gonna take my ambitions seriously, I just don’t have that kind of time to lose anymore. So no more. Simple as that, but not that simple, I’m sure.
I also came up with some monthly challenges. I promise this isn’t self torture. The idea is to kickstart some new habits that I’ve been curious about for a long time. To see how they make me feel, what they teach me, and if any of them stick. I’m excited for them all. Well, all of them but maybe that 7AM wake up time (like I said, I can feel the eyes rolling).
The order of the months are meant to compliment the others around them, helping maybe build momentum. December was left open incase I come up something new. Some months will be tough, and some easy. There’ll be setbacks. I’ll miss days, get sick, be traveling, and swamped with freelance. Hate to say it, but there’s even a good chance I might be hungover! There will be days where I just won’t feel up to it. Every month is a suggestion, not a prescription. Guess the trick is not letting a setback become a deal breaker.
That’s what I got. We’ll see, wish me luck.