By Jarrett Retz -October 11th, 2020


Again, I sat down the week of my birthday and produced a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish in the next year. I had decided, the previous year in 2019, that I would stop my pursuit as a golf professional and pursue a career in tech.

This life change would take the lead in my goal list, but many other aspects of my life in the previous year found their way into this year (BJJ, meditation, blogging). However, no matter the goal, all of them would be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the world in February and March of 2020.

Life was put on hold for many people and lifestyles changed completely. Despite the terrible effects of the virus on many parts of the world, my life, and the lives of many people I knew were not cast into chaos.

I remember hiking (training for a backpacking trip) and seeing a friend that I knew when I used to work at the golf course. This was in June or July. They asked how I was doing, and I told them about how we had been affected by the shutdowns, etc. I realized that I was really quite fortunate given the circumstances:

  • I couldn't name a single person that I knew that was killed by the virus
  • I was getting more work at this time than I had back in March
  • Most of my family and friends hadn't lost their jobs
  • I talked to, and saw, family more than at other times in my life
  • I could still practice BJJ, go backpacking/camping, go to the store, get a beer at a restaurant patio somewhere, etc.

I felt very grateful, and continue to feel gratitude, for the circumstances of my life. I accomplished some goals this year and missed a few others. I'm not unaffected by failing to accomplish a goal, but my perspective has been adjusted by the events of the last year.

The rest of this post will about the goals that I set forth, how I went about accomplishing them, and whether I was successful or not.

Goal Evaluation

Complete Nucamp Bootcamp

In September 2019, I signed up for a web developer boot camp with Nucamp​. It was a 5-month program. Unfortunately, the class I signed up for was canceled. Not enough people signed up, so I could postpone my enrollment or cancel.

I decided to cancel. Instead of signing up for a later class, I bought online classes and worked through them on my own time.

I was a little upset when it was canceled, but by the end of the year I had—actually—forgotten that this was a goal at the beginning of the year.

I voided this goal in October 2019.

Meditate 5,000 Minutes

This was a carryover goal from the year before.

It's difficult to explain why I missed so many days, and it really flies in the face of the disciplined image I sometimes have of myself. This goal was a nice wake-up call.
This year, I meditated for approximately 3,800 minutes and did not complete the goal of 5,000.

I missed the mark last year and—unfortunately—missed the 5,000-minute mark this year as well. I had a better start than in 2019. I started meditating two times a day for ten minutes each. This was getting me above the daily mark of around thirteen minutes, but I couldn't sustain the momentum through the summer.

I'm 0-2 on this goal. Next year I think I'm going to shoot for a 60-minute session once a week. In the last two years, I've gone for shorter sessions, which have been nice, but I'm curious about more depth.

I missed the goal for my 27th year by only meditating 4,073 minutes.

Become a Blue Belt in Jiu-Jitsu or Go at Least Once a Week

I wasn't very happy with my progress last year in BJJ. At the same time, I was still getting better and thought that a blue belt was within reach.

During the summer, I got my third (also maybe my second?) stripe. In November or December, I was graced with my fourth stripe. This meant that I would test for my blue belt next time there was testing. I don't know exactly when testing happens, but I think there is typically testing in the fall and spring.

In March of 2020, the pandemic brought on by COVID-19 caused many shelter-in-place orders and shut down many businesses. My gym closed for ten weeks and, to my knowledge, testing was postponed.

The gym started putting on Zoom classes but didn't open back up until the beginning of June. This was earlier than other parts of the state and country but still had been a ten-week hiatus from normal training.

Once the gym opened back up, I started going more frequently. I felt that my skills had declined while the gym was shut down and that I really needed to start going three times a week. I feel much better where I am now.

I made it to BJJ 37/42 weeks this past year. I didn't count the ten weeks that the gym was shut down.

This goal was, unfortunately, not accomplished. At the same time, some forces were outside of my control that contributed to the failure. I'm confident that in the next year, something will get worked out for testing going forward.

Make $--- in Business Revenue

I started a freelancing business at the beginning of September 2019. I set a revenue goal for this year that was about 25% of what I had been making as an assistant golf professional. I figured that I was going to be working at a normal job, so making a fraction of my income from freelancing seemed reasonable. Well, that's not how it turned out!

I didn't have a job other than my freelancing. This put me under some financial strain, but it also caused me to push harder to make more money freelancing.

At the end of the year, I had beat this goal by 65% of what I had wanted to bring in at the beginning of the year. My net profit was just below the revenue mark that I had set.

It was nice to cross this goal off pretty early in the year, but there is still a lot of work to get done next year.

Talk to Family Once a Week for Three Months

I don't live particularly close to my immediate family, and over the years we have been spread across a couple of states. Back in college, it seemed normal to go a couple of weeks without talking to members of my immediate family.

To make sure I wasn't getting caught up in my own life I set this goal for a three-month span. However, I decided to extend it for the whole year, and with the pandemic, it only made sense.

I talked to members of my immediate family 45/52 weeks this year. I reached my three-month goal but still went seven weeks without having a chat!

Propose to Meagan

I wanted to ask my girlfriend of two years to be my wife in my 27th year. Proposing can be easy to put off, but after talking about it for half-a-year I decided that Oct. 27 would be the day. It was our second anniversary so I put together a plan for we got engaged on Sunday, October 27, 2020.

I think this was the first goal I crossed off the list for the year.

Help Nonprofit/Charity or Contribute to Open Source

I wanted to try out my new tech skills, while getting some experience, and a common way to do that is by helping nonprofits or contributing to open source. In the winter of this year, I got on MeetUp​ and found a Code for Inland Northwest group that was based on the Code for America program. This group was focused on the upcoming 2020 U.S Census that would take place at the beginning of April.

The local Complete Count contact, Alex, had created a website on Wix and was focused on reaching all the communities that don't get counted. There was another leader of the group, Kimball, that was a developer and was focused on reaching tribes in the area.

Alex did most of the work on the website (spokanecensus.org) but helped with creating some views on the site and assisted her with questions. Furthermore, I jumped in and completed some of the SEO information on Wix.

The pandemic threw a wrench in many of the Census plans. We stopped meeting up (as all groups did) back in March. I'm not sure how things panned out, but Alex is a determined leader.

This goal was accomplished, but it makes me want to do more in the coming year. I have my eye on a couple of Python projects for contributing and that will most likely be a goal next year.

No Alcohol in February

This has become a yearly staple. February is the shortest month of the year and not much is going on. Therefore, it's a great month to step back and be sober.

This goal was completed successfully for the third year in a row.

Get Good at Making One Food Dish

I'm pretty worthless when it comes to preparing food for others. I went through a period in college where I got good at grilling steaks, but—living on my own—my skills had degraded over the year 2019.

Additionally, my fiance can make all kinds of food, and whenever people come over she always has to cook. I needed a dish that I could make when I invited people over, or when people came over, that I could prepare.

I chose ribs.

I started making ribs in the winter while the barbeque was in storage. That meant that I was going to cook them all in the oven. That was fine, but I didn't have a broiler pan so I finishing them would be difficult.

The first time I made them went pretty bad:

  • I couldn't get them hot enough
  • They were served an hour and a half late
  • I spilled fat all over my sweats

I needed the BBQ. I may have made them one more time only using the over, but was very excited when the temperature changed and we started grilling outside again.

The first time on the BBQ was close, I started with them in the oven then finished them on the grill. However, I still struggled with the temperature, but people agreed that they were better than just using the oven. To turn it up a notch, I consulted my dad. In hindsight, I should have done this from the beginning.

A few things changed:

  • I wrapped them in aluminum foil while in the over
  • I baked them longer and on a lower temperature
  • I let them rest longer (sometimes overnight)

These were game-changers. During the summer I made ribs when my brother's family and my future in-laws came over. I also made them when my fiance's brother had friends over. This was exactly why I needed to get good at making something.

I was so confident in the quality that I even took leftovers to the neighbors one time (no idea if they ate them). At that point, I considered this goal a success.

Write Blog Post on Calculating Variance Using ANOVA with Real Data

Sometimes, my goals are the victim of whatever I'm into during that given week. I think statistics are very interesting, but I had forgotten everything that I learned in school about stats.

This goal was pushed to the bottom of the list this year because it was never urgent. Regardless, I worked through a stats course using Python and found some data to perform the analysis. I published the data the week before my deadline.

Ordinary Least Squares Regression Analysis

This goal was a success and in the end, I was glad that I went through with it.


I have plenty of ammo for next year's goals and I'm excited to pursue them in 2020-2021. If you made it this far in the post, I hope you enjoyed the content, and thank you for reading. Best of luck in the next year!