Here we go! My official goals and planning for the year 2023. I cannot wait to share all of this with you. Writing down my goals of the upcoming twelve months always excites me a lot. Because planning is something inherently optimistic to me. It’s very close to daydreaming. Fantasising about the future, but making it super realistic and tangible. So it’s even better than dreaming because I’m planning to actually live it!

Anyway, just like every year I will use the following structure to order my goals:

  • Cultural
  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Professional
  • Charity

But before I start listing all of my goals, I will explain to you my general vision for the year 2023.

My vision for the year 2023

After my reflections on the year 2022, I learned a few things that I would love to apply in 2023. Most of them are very specific to each pillar, but some things are more abstract and can be applied in general.

The first point is that I would like to be more consistent and focused this year. As I explained in my article on the exploration-exploitation cycle, I believe that periods of exploration and experimentation should be followed by periods of going into ‘monk-mode’ a.k.a. being very consistent and focused. And I feel that 2023 is going to be a year of exploitation. That’s why I will aim to be consistent and focused this year. That does not mean I won’t be engaging in any exploration or experimentation. Oh, no, of course I will continue to do that! But I will do it on a smaller, more narrow scale. So instead of exploring in all kinds of directions, I will be experimenting in a specific direction (I promise this will make sense when you are reading my individual goals 🙂 ).

The second point is that I would like to deepen my relationships with the world around me. I would like to make more mindful decisions. To be more thoughtful in my way of interacting with the world. In this article, I explain how I intend to foster these deeper connections with the world around me. In short: I will follow this structure for all of my endeavors: 1) study, 2) create, and 3) share and reflect.

The third point is to have fun, play, and enjoy the adventure of everything. What this really means is that I aim to add a layer of magic realism to my life. To elevate reality with some elements of my imagination. For example: instead of ‘traveling back to the Netherlands to see friends and family’, I will regard my travels as official expeditions. Like proper field studies, executed by a respected explorer/adventurer/scholar. This means that I must collect samples, observations, or something interesting every time I leave the house.

This last element also ties in nicely with my personal vision of myself. I managed to create an all-encompassing vision of what I do, who I am, and what I intent to do. I call it ‘explorer core’.

I generated this vision when I was trying to boil down my goals, dreams, values, and passions. First I managed to condense them down to these three bullet points.

  • Endurance adventure sporter
  • Independent, creative developer
  • Independent thinker

And when I saw these three bullet points together, I realised that they create the image of a historical figure: the explorer! Check out the images below (generated by A.I.) to see what I mean by this 🙂 Or you can read this article, in which I explain in more detail what I mean by the term ‘explorer core’.

a full colour poster from the 1960 of a explorer with a subtle mustache in a European forest holding a book and a pen

Alright, now that this general vision has been presented, it’s time to have a closer look at all of my individual goals 🙂

Cultural

My cultural goals have always been very free, just so that I can retain the playful element of it. This year, however, I do have one very big, specific goal. To organise a solo exhibition. This goal is a great project that will combine all of my subgoals into one. It’s my preferred way of working, as I explained in this article. Below you will find what my exact intentions are with this project, as well as my traditional yearly reading goals.

Organise a solo exhibition in Malta

My overarching goal for my cultural development this year will be to prepare a solo exhibition. This might sound like a bit of a grandiose idea, but what I mean by this is that I simply want to create a coherent art project and showcase it at a cool location. It does not really matter where this exhibition takes place (could be a bar, a gallery, or just simply outdoors somewhere). The point is that I have something to work towards.

The project I’ll be working on this year will focus on symbiotic relationships in nature. There are a few interesting aspects to this topic that I would like to zoom in on and I feel it will be a great project to experiment with new techniques, technologies, and mediums.

I love working on a project. It has a clear beginning and end, and it consists of many different disciplines. E.g. doing research, studying, analysing, creating, building, experimenting, and finally also networking, organising, and promoting. Each of these individual disciplines interests me a great lot, so I’m quite excited to get involved in them.

Underneath I will lay out a few subgoals of things I would like to achieve with this project.

Studying the laws of nature

  • Study geometry
  • Read the book The Nature of Code
    • This is an amazing resource on natural laws and how to use them in code
  • Extract and use data from Maltese nature
    • Either by field studies or by the use of sensors
    • Or maybe use an interesting existing database

Explore different mediums

Next to making digital visuals, I’m excited to try and experiment with more traditional ways of creating visual output. I’m extremely excited to see where these experiments will lead and I’d love to find interesting ways to combine data, the digital, and traditional visualisation methods. I’m mostly interested in different printing techniques, for example:

  • Pen plotting
  • Lino printing
  • Suminagashi

But I won’t limit myself to these strictly. Because this goal is all about exploration and trying new things. To keep things SMART though, I’ll set the goal to have tried at least three traditional manual techniques. These experiments should be shared on my Instagram page as proof. And for the exhibition, the effects of these experiments need to be visible in the end result. In one way or another 🙂

Reading challenges

Finally, I have my traditional reading challenges. My target for 2023 will be to read at least 45 books. That’s 5 more than 2022 because I’m feeling cocky. Furthermore, I’d like to continue the diversity reading challenges that I started last year. That means: reading at least 5 books written by Asian, African, and South American authors, and at least 10 books written by non-cis-male authors.

  • 45 books in total
  • 10 books by non-cis-male authors
  • 5 books by Asian authors
  • 5 books by African authors
  • 5 books by South American authors

Physical

My main lesson from 2022 was that I would like to narrow my focus concerning my physical development. My long-term goal is to complete a full Iron Man before I turn 30 (in 2027). In 2022 I, therefore, had a very diverse range of goals that included various swimming, cycling, running, and triathlon-centered goals. And I failed 94% of those goals… So in 2023, I am going to take a different approach. I want to create a solid base in just one discipline of the triathlon (running). I aim to create a solid routine and a certain consistency. This routine will serve as a base in the upcoming years on top of which I can then add more swimming and cycling related activities. In my 2022 reflection on my physical development, you can read more about my choice for running as my favoured discipline. I also wrote a paragraph in that article where I explain my new, holistic approach to training. Anyway, here are 2023 physical goals:

Running

  • Run the Gozo 50K Ultra Marathon (in May)
  • Run my first official marathon (in Oct/Nov, together with Wies)
  • Run from the North to the South of Malta (unofficial marathon)

Strength

I should supplement endurance training with strength training. I’ll incorporate these exercises into my morning routine. These exercises take around 10-20 minutes every day. At the end of the year, I should be able to check my results on Stava, because I log all of my activities. Every week should be (5 x 15min =) 75 minutes of strength training. The goal is thus to have logged (52 weeks x 75 minutes =) 3900 minutes of strength training at the end of the year.

  • 2x per week core exercises for runners
  • 1x per week leg & ankle exercises for runners
  • 2x per week upper body exercises

Mobility and flexibility

In light of my holistic training approach, I will also focus on mobility and flexibility. I have always loved being flexible, so this section of my physical development is very exciting to me. But apart from it being very exciting and fun, it’s also very good for my overall development as an endurance athlete and as a human being in general. Most of it will be focused on yoga. I love doing some yoga exercises to start off my day. It’s a very nice way to wake up the body and the mind.

  • Yoga
    • Study the history, background, and techniques of yoga
      • Read minimally one authoritative book on this topic
    • Start every day with 10 minutes of yoga (two days off a week)
      • (10 minutes x 5 per week, x 52 week = ) 2600 minutes logged at the end of the year
  • Mobility
    • Dynamic warming up before every cardio exercise
      • (5 minutes x 5 per week, x 52 week = ) 1300 minutes logged at the end of the year
    • Static stretching after every cardio exercise
      • (5-10 minutes x 5 per week, x 52 week = ) 1300-2600 minutes logged at the end of the year

In order to check my progress, I’ll take ‘before’ pictures at the start of the year, and ‘after’ pictures at the end of the year. Maybe I’ll do some mid-term check ups, but most importantly are the ‘before’ and ‘after’ moments. The pictures/video’s will be of +/-10 basic yoga poses.

Fasting

Like every year, I will participate in the Catholic fasting period. You can read in this article why I do this and what I gain from it. This year it will start on Wednesday the 22nd of February (Ash Wednesday) and last until April the 6th. It will coincide with my training for the Gozo ultra marathon, which will be quite nice because my training plan requires me to not drink alcohol anyway.

Because it coincides with my training period, however, I will make a few exceptions to my fasting rules on days that I go for my long endurance runs. During these runs, it will be okay to bring some gels/bars/fruits to keep my energy up.

For the rest my personal fasting rules will be similar to previous years:

  •  ✅ Allowed
    • Breakfast (oatmeal, fruit, nuts, grains, etc)
    • During the day (only water)
    • Dinner
  • ❌ Not allowed
    • Alcohol
    • Smoking
    • Drugs
    • Meat
    • Sauces like mayo/ketchup

Mental

This is a pillar for which I don’t really have a grandiose vision. I don’t really experience any struggles mentally, nor do I feel the need/desire to improve anything here. I can see that this might change in the future, but for now, I’m happy with how things are going. This however doesn’t mean I don’t do anything for my mental health. But it does mean I won’t really attempt any crazy, new efforts. Just business as usual 🙂

  • Yoga/meditating
    • My morning yoga routine does also involve a fair bit of meditation, which is quite nice mentally.
  • Fasting
    • During the fasting period of Lent, I usually go to church a bit more often. The mild version of asceticism also helps to strengthen me mentally. Outside of this 40-day fasting period, I’d be interested to try some 24h fasts or even a longer water fast. But I’m not entirely sure if this year is the right year to start with these experiments. Maybe I’ll try that next year. But I’d like to write it down here already so that I can reflect on it in December. Maybe I’ll experiment with some extra fasting in 2023.

Professional

For this pillar, I will keep my goals minimal this year. Partly because earning money and making a career has something perverse and vulgar that I would like to stay away from (at this moment). Nevertheless, there are two things I would like to accomplish this year that relate to this pillar:

  • Designing a long-term financial planning
    • Read minimally 3 books on this topic
    • Planning should encompass (minimally) the period until retirement
    • Minimally include
      • Income projection
      • Investment strategy
      • Saving strategy
      • Projection of expenses
      • Renting/buying house strategy
  • Update my portfolio
    • Either create a new portfolio from scratch, or update existing
    • Finalise all of my half-finished projects and publish them
    • New portfolio should reflect my professional identity as:
      • Independent developer
      • Generative artist

Charity

This is the pillar I added in 2022. I only had a minimal amount of goals, and they were not super well defined. That resulted in me not being sure what to do with it. I mean yes, I have collected a great amount of trash on all of the hikes I went on. And yes, I have talked and sang about light pollution during my public appearances. But what have I really accomplished? I felt like there was a bit of vision lacking in this section. I’m still not entirely sure how to go about this pillar. I’m not sure if this pillar needs a grand vision or direction necessarily. Anything small that is good for the world is… good. Right? If it’s good, then it’s good. It does not necessarily need to be part of a mission or something. It can just be a tiny, little good thing in itself.

Here is the introduction that I wrote for this pillar in 2022. It still holds up.

‘This is the fifth pillar of my plan and it is the one I only added recently. I added it because when I was writing this article, it dawned on me that all of my goals are essentially incredibly self-obsessed. Of course, that’s kind of the point of creating such a personal development plan, but it still left me with a nasty feeling. I realised that I don’t actually do that much for the people around me/the world/community. Most of the stuff I do in my life is driven by some sort of egotistical motivation.

Arguably the only truly altruistic thing that I do is donating a portion of my salary to a few charities every month. But let’s be honest: that’s the laziest and easiest way of pretending to do anything good in this world. It’s like securing your place in heaven by buying indulgence (Dutch: aflaat) from the Catholic church in the Middle Ages. So this year, I’ll try to make an effort of helping the world to become slightly nicer.

Oh, and no, I won’t be posting narcissistic pictures of myself doing charity work on the internet (or at least, I’ll try to). I’m just mentioning them in this document (and I’ll mention them in my monthly reflection articles) because it’s part of the direction I want to take my life. And these goals help me in holding myself accountable to actually go in that direction.’

I still do not have very concrete targets or goals for this pillar, so let me repeat my 2022 goals:

  • Clean nature whilst hiking
    • Always bring bin bags on hikes/runs/rides and try to leave nature cleaner than you found it
  •  Promoting darkness and fighting light pollution
    • Writing/studying/talking about this topic