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Counting down to a new year. Doing it alone this time. House to myself. No invitations to go anywhere else. A bit disappointed, but not unhappy; I'm enjoying a quiet evening alone. It's a good time to reflect upon the past year and look toward the future.

My big new year's resolution for 2015 was to stop using Facebook. I decided that it was too much of a distraction in my personal and professional life. I was not completing projects or doing things I enjoy. I thought I'd cave after a month, but I disabled my account a year ago and have not logged in since.

The hard part was losing my connection to other people. Of my 100+ Facebook friends, fewer than 10 people requested a way to contact me, and only a handful of people have invited me to do anything in the past year. At least I know who my real friends are.

Later in 2015, I broke my addiction to another productivity sapping internet vice: GameFAQs - an internet discussion forum about video games. I signed out sometime this summer, and only had one relapse that lasted for a day.

Since I was no longer spending hours sifting through clickbait posts, arguing about the prize structures of local gaming events, or explaining why Zelda is not considered an RPG, I had a lot of free time to pursue other interests. What did I do?

I read books. I used to read a lot of books, but I only read 5 books in 2013 and 3 in 2014. In 2015, I read 32 books. Granted, all but 10 were graphic novels, but I also didn't really get back into reading until spring/summer.

I did chores. Lame as it sounds, I managed to keep up on mowing the lawn this year, and I made significant gains toward getting the house in order following the move. There is still a long way to go and a never-ending list of things that need doing, but I am quite pleased with the progress made in 2015.

I got out. In addition to my weekly Magic: the Gathering booster draft, I joined a graphic novel book club and attended numerous cooking classes. I meet great people at all of these events, and the social interaction keeps me in reality.

I learned. I got myself to sit down outside of work and teach myself a new skill for the first time in perhaps a decade. That skill being M68000 assembly language. I'm only planning to use it for tinkering with Sega Genesis development as a hobby, but every new skill opens doors.

I wrote. I updated here and on Red Grenade, my video game blog, and I've also written some long emails. Writing with sentences and paragraphs is far more mentally stimulating than social media updates, but I'm still trying to shake off the rust.

I gave back. I became the staff advisor for Push Button, Receive Combo, a student group dedicated to fighting games. I am also in the process of becoming the staff advisor for Dreamscapes, a student group for role-playing games. Both groups are pretty self-sufficient, but I am glad to help out however I can. I am especially excited about Dreamscapes because that group meant a lot to me when I was a student.

2015 also saw some sensible improvements in how I spend my money. In years past, I've paid full price for several video games that I still haven't played and which can now be purchased in bargain bins. This year, I skipped several games I'd normally have pre-ordered. Likewise, I've reduced my involvement with Magic: the Gathering to limited events. A booster draft is $15 per week, but it's a great social activity and I end up playing with more than 50% of the cards I buy. Much more sensible than spending hundreds to open packs and stuff the cards into binders where maybe 1% of them get used in constructed decks. Can't be spending money on toys I don't have time to play with.

I'm pretty happy with 2015. I feel like it was a huge step in the right direction after many years going the wrong way or standing still. Likewise, instead of approaching the coming year with a resigned sigh, I'm excited about where I am and how I can further improve in 2016.

Goals for 2016:

Get personal finances in order. The changes I made in 2015 only prevented my money problems from getting worse. My goal is to get out of a hole I dug by April and stay out.

Get family finances in order. 2015 was a standstill. That is not good enough. There will be major expenses in the future that we must prepare for.

Read more books. My goal for 2016 is to read 30 books including 12 that are not graphic novels.

Finish unpacking. We can't afford to fill each room with furniture, but I'd like to get away from having boxes on the floor.

Stay in touch with friends. Now that I know who my friends are, I don't want to lose them. Maybe I can even make some new ones.

Continue avoiding the things I cut from my life in 2015. Time is all I have, I can't afford to waste it.

2016 New Year's Resolution: Write My Game

I've got an idea for a video game that I think is quite unique. I won't know if it's actually fun until I write it, but I intend to find out.

This is a major challenge I've given myself, but, honestly, it might not be as difficult as breaking my addictions to Facebook and GameFAQs. It also wouldn't be possible if I hadn't freed myself of those addictions.

Hopefully I can tell you all about it a year from now!



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