July / August 2017 Personal Goals & Review

Every month I review how I did during my last month and plan out my focus for the next month. A month ago, I did this in two separate posts, June 2017: Monthly Goal Review and July 2017: Monthly Goals. From here on out, I’m going to lump these together into one review + next month’s post.

SLC View from Plane
SLC View from Plane

July 2017

Here’s the goal I set out for myself in August.

By August 1, 2017, I want to develop an understanding of the role writing (in particular this blog) plays in my life and develop a plan for the rest of the year.

I did stick with blogging for the month, but I can’t say I have an understanding of the role it plays in my life (overall). I did develop a plan for the rest of the year though, which is a plus. The plan is rather loose at this point: creating occasional content, trying different post styles and attempting to write some more interactive, editorial-style posts that are more shareable. Also, reading more about how to market the content I’m writing. Writing itself has been fun, but it’s amplified when that content is read.

Let’s go over the other goals for the month and see how I did:

  • + Post every other day. I didn’t post every other day, but I did post 14 times in July (31 days). That’s close enough for me.
  • + Continue minimizing my Reddit/Facebook time to 3h/wk total. I aimed to lower this time to at most 10hr/week. According to RescueTime, I spent 8hr/wk on this! Not too bad – and it does include some promotional posts within that time.
  • <> Write 1+ post(s) using Tableau (or something) for data visualization. I didn’t decide to use Tableau, but I did start on a post that uses data viz that I’m hoping to release next month.
  • – Comment on at least 3 blog posts a day. This one was crazy high, and I adjusted it mid-way through the month to “try to comment when I read something” which has been much more healthy. The mindset shift from a passive reader that never comments to an active participant is the goal there.
  • – Build external links to to 10+. This one is tough. I came up with a strategy to get more backlinks here, but it’ll take a little while to create the content for it and do the networking to make it happen. Not going to press this one to get poor links, and instead let time solve it, and do what I can to write.
  • – Write a post that uses a drawing. I’ve never considered myself an artist, but I want to get better at communicating in different mediums.

Other Goals

Goals from July 2017 that weren’t related to my main goal.

  • + Put all yard trash out by the curb. Did this every week that it wasn’t raining.
  • + Go through the remaining areas of the garage and take things to Goodwill. Went through most of the rest of the garage, and have a pile ready to go to Goodwill here.
  • – Don’t go 2 days in a row without exercising. Although I did go to the gym MWF for 3 weeks out of 4, exercising on the weekend didn’t usually happen. July in Florida isn’t the most encouraging time to start a home workout goal.
  • – Drink less alcohol. Between having internet outages, Game of Thrones parties, and going away parties, work events and others I likely drank considerably more.
  • – Have a plan for what to do with photos. Although I didn’t do anything with photos, I did tackle my moms’ old jewelry and was able to sort through and part with some of that. Not what the goal was, but I’d consider it a parallel victory.

For Fun

Us at Epcot
Us at the Japan Pavillion at Epcot.

July was our last month with Disney annual passes – and we took full advantage of that. Usually, this involves me meeting up with Mrs. Minafi close to her work, and us heading down to Disney on a weekday evening. This is the best time to go, as the crowds are lower and the heat is starting to calm down. We checked out the new Avatar Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, had a tasty African dinner at Tippins there, went to Hollywood Studios for one last ride on the Hollywood Movie Ride and had dinner at a drive-in — well a Sci-Fi Diner Drive-in.

We spent the last night of our passes at Epcot, our favorite park, hitting up some old favorites – Living the Land, Sake at Epcot and dinner at Le Cellier – a steakhouse in the Canada pavilion.


The great movie ride
The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The primary goal for the month was understanding what role this blog should play in my daily life – which somehow was accomplished. For now, it’s going to be about sharing personal stories, exploring my thoughts and writing informative posts about some of the things I do feel qualified to teach. Ryan Holiday’s book, Perennial Seller was a great read during this month too. I like the idea of concentrating some effort on creating something that lasts – in the form of some cornerstone content that plays to my strengths (in this case programming, math, analytics, teaching). I’m working on something with this in mind now – an interactive blog post about What is FIRE? (the actual name will be much more catchy, don’t worry).

It also helped me understand what this blog is not. I don’t want to spend 80% of my time marketing, or constantly selling. I don’t want to have ads on every page, or affiliate links in people’s face. I want people to walk away feeling inspired or driven to make an active change in their lives. I feel if I’m able to accomplish that, good things will follow. Developing that voice will take time for me, but I’m enjoying finding it.

The biggest hiccup from last month has been the slow pace Google has indexed my blog. I moved from WordPress to Medium, then promptly back to WordPress. Unfortunately, Google’s been slow to pick up the change back to WordPress, resulting in a bunch of inaccurate links to Medium. I’ve marked them as inaccurate, uploaded new sitemaps, and requested indexing — all the steps — but now it’s just waiting on Google.

August 2017

During July I didn’t travel anywhere. In August though, I’m heading out for 4 nights and 9 nights – meaning I’ll be away for nearly half the month. I’m looking forward to these trips to St. Petersburg (for Mrs. Minafi’s birthday) and Salt Lake City (for work), but it will mean a slightly less ambitious set of goals for the month. With that in mind, here are my goals for August.

By September 1, 2017, I will have created and received feedback on a draft of an interactive blog post on early retirement and financial independence that will be a piece of cornerstone content for this blog. The post will be both an introduction to the topic, and a pitch for its benefit to the reader.

I’ve started on this post, but to create what I really want to create, it’s going to require lots of JavaScript and graphs that change as the readers entered data changes. The inspiration for this is Bret Victor’s Explorable Explanations idea, which explores the idea of active reading. I love his definition of an active reader, as it goes to the heart of the content that I want to write.

An active reader doesn’t passively sponge up information but uses the author’s argument as a springboard for critical thought and deep understanding.

Aside from this high-level goal, here are the sub-goals I’m aiming for this month.

  • Create the draft of the above post.
  • Reach out to at least 4 people for interviews in this post. I’m hoping to have a section of that post with a few profiles. This will involve getting a few names to chat with me.
  • Reach out and receive feedback from at least 10 people on the interactive post. If you’re interested in being an early reader, please let me know!
  • Continue to post 3x a week. With 14 days of travel this month, continuing to post will be a challenge in itself. Maintaining the post level from last month.
  • Write at least 1 short post (<500 words) each week. I have a tendency to ramble. I want to get better at writing short-form, straight-to-the-point content.
  • Post on Twitter/Facebook once every day. I’ve been using Buffer to schedule these days in advance. Growing an audience on social sites takes time, but this is a good start.
  • Reply to every comment, tweet, and email about Minafi. Whenever someone engages, I should respond.

In other words – keep trying to grow the blog through amazing content, persistent content, and engagement.

Life Goals for August

Outside of Minafi, there are a few things I’m hoping to focus on here in Orlando.

  • Clear out all remaining unclutter items on my list besides photos – I have a growing set of things that have a next owner, but I haven’t handed them off yet.
  • Continue MWF workout schedule while in Orlando
  • Work out when traveling at least once every 3 days. I’m awful at exercising when traveling. I want to change that up and work out a few times during these trips.
  • Take everything in the attic down. This is a big one. We have various holiday things stored up there, and I want to move them down to our (now available) garage. The hope is that I’ll better go through them there.

What are your goals for the month? How did you do on your goals from July?

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I'm , a full-stack product developer in Salt Lake City, UT. I love enlivening experiences, visualizing data, and making playful websites.

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