2021 Q1 Review

Date: 2021-04-04 | reviews | reflections |

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Every unit_of_time I sit down to reflect on my life - what I planned to do, what I did, and what I want to do next. I've found this helps me understand where I am as a Ham and deliberately iterate on how to be a better one. By publishing publicly, I force myself to take on the perspective of others - which encourages me to examine my decisions from many different perspectives, furthering my understanding of myself. Over time this practice serves as a history of me that I can analyze and share to see where my head was at, the decisions I made and why, and further learn from those steps and missteps.

2021 has been a hard year for me. I've spent a lot of time away from my systems which has meant less personal accomplishments than I'm used to. I think there were many factors that contributed to this poor performance:

  • A bit of burn out
  • A bit of depression
  • A bit of poor discipline

Likely contributed to by many other factors:

  • Ongoing effects of social distancing
  • Being stuck in a NYC 1 bedroom
  • WFH
  • Winter
  • etc

In place of my systems, I filled my time with:

I think it's good to remove yourself from your systems every now and then - it can provide good perspective and release. However I wouldn't consider this instance of removal healthy - it wasn't intentional and wasn't based on personal mindfulness.

All this to say that I haven't accomplished much in 2021, despite my lofty goals coming out of 2020. So this will be a lighter review than usual both to capture my light outputs and so that I can redirect some of this energy to getting shit done in Q2.

In 2021 Q1, I traveled to 9 new places over 28 days, learned to ski, consumed a lot of content, rearchitected my goaling structures, lost my 6 pack, hit a 70% savings rate, missed all of my project goals, built a monolith, and shut down my first business.

My name is Hamilton and this is my 2021 Q2 in review.


2020 didn't give me a lot of opportunity to travel or socialize safely. The past few months have been particularly hard and I've had a bit of a travel frenzy in response - traveling to 9 new places for a total of 28 days, crushing my half goal of 10 days in a new place.

  • ✅ - 28 / 10 - Go somewhere new for 10 days


Mission:  Explore the world and see life from new perspectives.


I went to 9 new places so far this year, ranging from large cities to remote geographic features. It was refreshing.

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  • Hunter Mountain, New York - My first ski!
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  • Tahoe, California - My first West Coast ski!
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  • Reno, Nevada - I stopped in before my flight to get a COVID test (#ifollowtherules) and to explore the breakfasts of a new city.


  • Hunter Mountain, New York - I went back to ski and to get Megna on greens. She did it with tears on her face and chicken tenders in her belly.
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  • Denver, Colorado - I went out west for more skiing. I had a trip planned the following week and figured I'd just extend it out. Great decision - got to see a lot of beautiful friends and mountains.
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  • Roadtrip - Colorado Springs, CO -> Page, AZ -> Grand Canyon -> Sedona, AZ -> Phoenix, AZ - Did some outdoors things! More pics to come on @hamy.see

The extended travel taught me a lot about myself, mostly reminding me of things I'd forgotten / taken for granted:

  • I love going to new places, learning about them, and having new experiences
  • I need to get out of NYC more

I traveled a bit too much in Q1 to be sustainable but I was traveling way too little for my own personal satisfaction in 2020 so this seems like a reasonable reaction. I'll likely continue an increased travel schedule throughout 2021, trying to keep the scheduling and budgeting as reasonable as possible. LMK if you have travel ideas / are trying to go somewhere!


I learned how to ski this year through 7 ski days, getting relatively comfortable on West Coast blues (different from East Coast blues in my experience and from talking with others). The sport is a bit more risk than I'm comfortable with but it's a really cool experience and is a good reason to visit some snowy mountain environments and another reason to go on trips with people - so a net positive.

I'm still not very good and the sport is really expensive but I think I can manage going a few times a year. It's a fun activity-based excursion that can be shared with lots of friends so is worth the cost in moderation.

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I reconnected with my photography practice this year. I think it's a great way to remember, process, and appreciate the explorations and experiences I've had on my journey.

I think many of my problems with the practice in the past have been based around processes that don't fit my values. I don't like photo editing and don't like the hassle of carrying a ton of equipment so when I would take bad photos and people would recommend heavy editing I lost interest.

I've since settled on a more minimal process that involves zero editing, switched to easier-to-carry equipment, and plugged into my existing social media system which has really streamlined my photography and I've really enjoyed it.

Read: My photo processing system

I have been and will continue to post my photos to @hamy.see so follow along w me =)


Ugh I consumed so much in the past few months. I don't usually log much about what I've consumed but I'm kinda ashamed and it goes against so many of my values to do this that I feel a need to do some sort of shame reel.

This is likely an incomplete list as I don't want to spend too much time on this but know that there were many, many 3+ hour binge sessions behind this list.

  • Anime
    • Attack on Titan
    • Bleach
    • Jujutsu Kaizen
  • Books
    • New Brandon Sanderson book
  • Games
    • Oxygen Not Included
  • Manga
    • Hunter x Hunter - from anime end to manga end
  • Shows
    • Marriage vs Mortgage
    • Best Airbnb (name?)


In 2021 I found myself in a vicious cycle of not doing things. That cycle is something like this:

Bad mood -> low motivation -> not doing things -> Bad mood -> iterate

Usually I get over this through my dogma of 'Just start.' but this quarter it was more like a continuous cycle of 'Just start tomorrow.' which inevitably led to not starting at all. I feared something like this was coming in late 2020 and instituted some Systems of Accountability to keep myself moving but even those systems require some amount of doing / starting and my levels of that were so low that even those systems failed.

So here I am at the end of 2021 Q1 with out much to show for it. I've had a nice long break and am ready to reinitiate these systems.


Mission: Lead a happy, healthy, and impactful life.

The most productive outcome of my system sabbatical was that I found a new perspective on personal goaling. I realized that a lot of my goals were around the 'what' but didn't necessarily align with the 'why'. I pulled from some of my Atomic Habits learnings around identity-based systems and ran some scenarios around identity-based personal goaling.

It seemed like a good fit as it encapsulated both the vision of where I wanted to go and the short-term goals of how to get there, kinda like a hybrid of short-term and long-term goals. I piloted it for a few weeks and it seemed promising so I did a few more iterations before landing on the current version.

The structure today is back to domain-based but informed by identity.

  • I want to be an artist -> art
  • I want to be financially independent -> financial independence
  • I want to be healthy and athletic -> healthletics

This review is structured around these identity-based domains - a further validation for this goaling structure.

An example of this paradigm working for me is through my identity of Software Engineer, leading to the domain of Software Engineering.

Previously I had no explicit goals or foci around improving as a software engineer. This isn't because I didn't think I could improve but moreso when it came to goaling time it wasn't an area I focused on. By explicitly documenting this identity-based domain, it's easier to remember to make goals in this domain and align them with my long-term vision for myself.

Other domains that I've had implicitly but weren't explicitly goaled on in the previous system that are now include: Healthletics, Ham, and Financial Independence.

My hope is that this system will provide a better framework for tracking the vision I have for myself and aligning my goals and efforts with each of its facets.

I'm constantly iterating on my personal goaling and organization structures so lmk what you think about this!


Mission: Build a good foundation for a happy, healthy, and impactful life. Be a fit old Ham.

I've tracked ad hoc health and fitness goals on and off in my Self bucket but I think this is the first time I've ever had an explicit goaling bucket for them. This more closely aligns with my internal values and is a good example of how my identity-based domain goaling system has enabled me to capture more of my values in my systems.

  • ❌ - 65.7 / 125 (250 * 0.5) miles
  • ❌ - 3 / 6 pack
  • ❌ - Run > 1 mile / week with Megna

All that said, these goals took a plunge just like my others did and will need some major overhauls in Q2 to catch up. I did join Equinox which has led to some increase in gym sessiosn so maybe this is still salvageable.

Financial Independence

Mission: Grow my quality of life, stability, freedom, and ability to make change through wealth.

Over the years I've struggled with how best to manage money and its place in my life. I've often said that I think money shouldn't be the main focus of life but that if you don't manage it well, it will inevitably become the main focus, usually for worse rather than better.

More recently I've been of the mind that it's not the goal of life but it is an incredible enabler of your goals. It has ties to literally every part of modern day life. So as I was rethinking the kinds of identities I envisioned for myself I figured I'd solidify my stance with money.

  • ✅ - 72 / 70% Savings Rate

Despite all the travel I was doing this year and joining Equinox, I was able to barely hit the savings rate I set for myself. This is a great feat but I don't think my travel and spending was very sustainable so I'll definitely need to reel that in a bit in Q2.

Some factors that helped me hit this rate in Q1 but won't hold into Q2:

  • Much of my travel money was saved up from 2020 and is now depleted
  • Many of my 2020 bonuses were paid out in Q1 and won't be in Q2
  • I traveled relatively cheap


Nothing much to share here. HAMY LABS hasn't made any money and I've continued to give my regular amounts to orgs for good.

  • ❌ - $0 / $100 raised for climate change

One interesting tidbit is that I've actually given > $200 this year to good causes due to my Earth and System Tax. Both of these are taxes I levy on myself for doing suboptimal things - like being lazy and being bad to the Earth. It's good I gave so much but I only gave so much cause I was bad so I guess I should feel bad about it.


I had some really aggressive goals for myself coming out of 2020 and I was excited to work for them. Looking back at them now, I'm kinda like 'meh'.

I think my goals were too aggressive and when coupled with my low motivation this half led to pretty much nothing getting done. So I've again revised my goals and systems to be a bit more realistic and align closer with my long-term vision.

  • Art Build a high quality art practice
    • ❌ - 1 / 6 monoliths
    • ❌ - 0 / 2 exhibitions
    • ❌ - 0 / 1 solo exhibition
    • ❌ - 0 / 1 Collab
    • ❌ - 0 / 1 art learning course
  • [Entrepreneurship] Build lean, profitable businesses
    • ❌ - 0 / 3 problems researched and solved
    • ❌ - $0 / 100 monthly profit
  • Domain Authority Build my following
    • ❌ - 4,150 / 10,000 users / month

I think these goals are more reasonable for a given half. Obviously we're halfway through this half so I think I'll probably still miss a few of these but it feels more sustainable long-term.


One bright point of the quarter is that I actually started building some monoliths! I didn't get very far, but I did start.

More and more I think this is the direction I want my practice to go, so I'm going to keep doing it til it doesn't feel that way anymore.

Here's Monolith of Autonomy:

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I haven't really built anything business-wise this half which is probably good since most of my business ideas weren't based on a problem and thus likely wouldn't have succeeded.

LineTimes Closed

LineTimes Closed


I have kept LineTimes up and running and made some marginal improvements and marketing efforts but it's largely been a flop, grossing just 52 users in the past 3+ months while costing upwards of $50 / month to maintain.

LineTimes visitors - 2021 Q1

LineTimes visitors - 2021 Q1

I'm definitely not doing everything I could to make it a success but I'm kinda over the project and the limited traction makes continuing work on it even less appealing. I'll be pulling the plug in the next few days to save some losses and refocus my efforts elsewhere.

Domain Authority

I didn't share much this half, mostly due to my system sabbatical. But I did set the ground work for higher quality, more relevant shares for LABS, BLOG, and my YouTube channel.

The only real example of this I have is my video on Procedural Generation in Unity and its complimentary blog post. This topic is highly relevant to the things I'm trying to do in my own work and is a decent primer in the space.

I'm cutting back my shares execution model to ~1 / month so I won't be that active in this space but I hope that leads to some higher quality artifacts in the long run. Who knows? Maybe I'll get more into it again and that number will increase.


That's all I've got. It's been a tough quarter, but weather's getting warmer and vaccines are getting more common. I can smell the summer time and I'm excited to frolick in its warmth.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Just start.


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