Sunday, 6 August 2017

Goals Roundup: One Year Later

I had a bad summer in 2016, one I spent largely in bed moping after being exhausted by the Leaving Cert and not having any holidays or programmes planned. By the end of July, I was sick of it, and at the start of August I wrote a list of 14 goals that I would aim to complete by the end of July 2017. That time, amazingly, has come, so it's time to see how I fared on the goals. 

The options are:

  • Completed goal (10 points)
  • Made significant progress with goal (5 points)
  • Made no significant progress with goal (0 points)
  • Decided goal wasn't actually a priority for me/Dropped - remove from total

Here they are: 

1. Complete Nobel Project for Physics and Chemistry 
This was to write a paragraph on all of the Nobel-winning projects in the Physics and Chemistry categories since the prize began, to try and understand some of the history of the subjects. 

I completed this for Physics ahead of schedule and realised I didn't actually like Chemistry and that this was just a busywork project so decided not to start the Chemistry half. I'm going to strike off Chemistry and count this as completed.

You can read the Physics project entries here

Verdict: Completed 

2. Get Syndicalab running in 3 locations
This was to open citizen labs in three locations and have them running. While myself and friends did do some work on it, including market research and a bunch of meetings, this did not happen. 

Verdict: No significant progress

3. Organise college science fair
This didn't happen, although I did become Physoc secretary and I think we are organising an undergraduate physics conference which may have posters. Still, a no on this one. Definitely a symptom of making the goal before I actually entered college.

Verdict: No significant progress

4. Read 15+ popular science books

Completed! I read 

  1. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  2. Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  3. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
  4. Neurotribes by Steve Silberman
  5. Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre
  6. Superintellgence by Nick Bostrom
  7. The Social Animal by David Brooks
  8. The Meaning of Science by Tim Lewens
  9. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out by Richard Feynman
  10. Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold
  11. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanathi
  12. Do No Harm by Henry Marsh
  13. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks 
  14. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  15. The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

So that's 15, and just before the time started I read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and just after the deadline I'm reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. 

Verdict: Complete!

5. Do a research project

I didn't do this at all, which I'm quite disappointed by. College was really busy and I barely even thought about it. I'd like to do it soon, though I don't know when, and in general I'd really like to make more use of college facilities. 

Verdict: No significant progress

6. Reach 1000+ students with antibiotic resistance campaign

I got just over 400 in person plus some more online, but I did mean in person. Again, time management and getting swamped by college. That said, the project has made a lot of progress and has now become an organisation called Lablinn with an awesome team. We have a collaboration running with the Stemettes to get our material into schools across the UK, I've come up with a much improved and much more hands-on workshop, and we're working on schools events, library events and a UK & Ireland public health competition as well as providing information online. So that's progress. 

Verdict: Significant progress

7. Challenge assumptions 

This was about trying to think more deliberately and investigate my beliefs but I deprioritised it so this was dropped. 

Verdict: Dropped

8. Perform music for a decent audience 3 times

Just didn't really prioritise it. 

Verdict: Dropped

9. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise 90%+ of days

I didn't always count it but I'd say I got this most days, bearing in mind that I was counting walking as exercise. That's because I wrote this goal after spending a month basically in my room and this forced me to get outside even if it was just to walk the dog. It probably happened 80% of the time, maybe 90%, so it's difficult to know where to count it, but it achieved its purpose so I'll count it as done.

Verdict: Completed

10. Speak at 6+ events 


  1. TEDxDrogheda
  2. TY Expo
  3. Zeminar
  4. European Talent Support Network in Budapest 
  5. Dublin Tech Summit
  6. European Youth Summit Budapest
  7. Probably other things I forget? And also if you count each antibiotic resistance talk that's like, triple the amount? Already 6 anyway. I also spoke at Inspirefest in July.
Verdict: Complete

11. Get a First in College

This one is sad. Did not anticipate how hard college would be/how much work it would require and did nowhere near enough study. Got a 2.1. At least I know what I need to do for next year. 

Verdict: Significant progress

12. Blog (on average) at least weekly

This meant 52 blog posts over the year. I did (each month) 9 + 2 + 2 + 4 + 6 + 6 + 1 + 3 + 6 + 2 + 7 + 6 = 54. It definitely could've been more even, and you can really see that I was more active outside college term, but I did it. 

Verdict: Complete!

13. Publish 20+ paid freelance articles

I got paid for 12 freelance articles. I think this is because at the time I wrote this I didn't know I'd get the Naughton scholarship so I thought I'd have to support myself with freelance writing, then in the end didn't have to rely on it. Still, more than half done.

Verdict: Significant progress

14. Do 2 YP-ETSN projects

YP-ETSN = Youth Platform of the European Talent Support Network, the council of which I am on. I was a main organiser of the European Youth Summit in Budapest in March, so that's one, and we worked on a related EU charter there so I could count that as #2, or could count the survey I helped develop. Either way, done.

Verdict: Complete

So if I cross out the dropped projects and mark the complete ones green, the "significant progress" ones blue and the "no progress" ones red, let's see what it looks like.

1. Complete Nobel Project for Physics and Chemistry 
2. Get Syndicalab running in 3 locations
3. Organise college science fair
4. Read 15 popular science books
5. Do a research project
6. Reach 1000 students with antibiotic resistance campaign
7. Challenge assumptions
8. Perform music 3 times
9. Exercise
10. Speak at 6 events
11. Get a first in College
12. 52 blog posts
13. Publish 20 paid freelance articles
14. Do 2 YP-ETSN projects

So if I give each completed task 10 points, each "significant progress" 5 and each "no progress" 0, I got 60 + 15 = 75/120 possible points. Which, considering they were all fairly ambitious goals, is okay.

I have a better idea what college is like and what demands it puts on my time now, and I'm going to try to focus my efforts much more on Lablinn and less on busywork things like the Nobel project that I did just to be working and the freelance writing, and perhaps less on specifically looking for opportunities to speak at things, though I'll be open to those that come my way. My priorities now are college and Lablinn. When I write this year's goals, I'll have to be careful not to put in random things like the assumptions and music ones there, and to think more and make sure they're goals I really want. 

I'm glad I set the goals. Even though I only achieved 63% of them, they still took my aims pretty far and I'm proud of the ones I made progress on. 

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