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Ben Nadel at NCDevCon 2016 (Raleigh, NC) with: Masha Edelen
Ben Nadel at NCDevCon 2016 (Raleigh, NC) with: Masha Edelen ( @mashaedelen )

Thoughts And Goals For 2011

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Another year has come and gone and it is time once again to take a step back and make sure that my priorities are in proper alignment with my goals. This is something that I try to do more often; but, I love the ritual of the new year's resolution and the conscious effort that we can apply to making our lives better. I've got a good feeling about 2011!

Give More, Sacrifice Less

Growing up, I did things that I didn't want to do. Lots of things. And, I suffered in silence (and not so silently at times), believing that this was just the way that it had to be. When I read Ayn Rand, however, I started to get the sense that this made no sense. And, over the past year or so, I've really started to embrace the idea of saying No to things that would affect my life negatively.

At the same time, I've also been enjoying giving to people that I care about. Giving is really such a wonderful feeling; but, only when it comes from a meaningful place within you. What's crazy, however, is that giving makes me nervous! Whenever I am about to make a big gesture for someone that I care about, I get very tense.

In a weird way, I think both of these feelings - suffering in silence and being stressed about giving - come from the same place: low self-esteem. I think I used to suffer in silence because I didn't think that I was worth while enough. After all, who was I to think that my happiness was more important, or even as important, as anyone else's.

Stress over giving, I think, also comes from low self-esteem; but, I'm having trouble quite articulating why. I think the stress comes from doubt - doubt that what I'm doing is right, doubt that what I'm doing will be received positively, doubt that what I'm doing it a good idea; and, I think this doubt stems from some form of low self-esteem.

In 2011, I want to make it a priority to never inhibit a desire to give. I want to build my self-esteem to the point where I never second guess a desire to give. Giving feels good and I want in on that party more often. At the same time, I also want to value myself highly enough that I don't feel bad when I have no desire to sacrifice my time. I think both of these gestures are going to be difficult; but, I think both will be tremendously rewarding.

Project HUGE

Last year, Project HUGE saw some highs and some lows; some personal bests and some unfortunate injuries. This year, I want to start strong and stay in a positive mindset. I also want to make some body-image goals, which I don't do very often. I'd like to lose 10lbs this year. After watching my singlet-clad friends at their powerlifting meet, I am inspired to get both stronger and become leaner.

As part of this desire, I want to make it a real priority to get some piece of cardio equipment in my apartment. I'm not a runner; but, I like the idea of moving while I watch TV. If I'm going to be giving my mind a break, I might as well be giving my body a chance to improve, even if it's very low impact. Right now, I'm fantasizing about getting the NordicTrack Incline Trainer.... and that has nothing to do with Jillian Michaels.

I'm also toying around with the idea of getting some Personal Training. I think I could gain a lot from having a professional take me through workouts that push me way outside my comfort zone. PT is a bit pricey, however, so I'll probably take care of some other financial things first and then revisit this idea half way through the year.

Home Office

One of the first big goals that I want to accomplish this year is setting up a nice home office situation. I spend a lot of time in the office because using my computer at home is downright uncomfortable. I want to invest in a nice desk and a nice chair and really create an environment where I can get things done. I've been carrying a lot of stress for the last few months and I think a lot of that comes from not being effective at home. I can't know until I try; but, I think an increased efficiency at home will remove a lot of that stress.


Last year, I wanted to get my retirement plan back on track. I only made it half way - I set up my Vanguard Target Retirement account. This year, I want to actually start making deposits into it. Also, I'd like to get the 401k from my previous company (of 3 years ago) transfered over to my Vanguard account.

Computer Programming Skills

For the last few months, I've been having a tremendous amount of fun working my way through Seven Langauges in Seven Weeks by Bruce Tate. This year, I'd like to finish that book and continue to explore the world of computer science that exists outside of ColdFusion. ColdFusion will always be my bread and butter (it's a ridiculously awesome language); but, I've already seen the benefits that other languages and problem solving approaches can bring to my application development.

I'd also like to continue my push to learn more about rich-client / thick-client application architectures. There's an increasing trend in treating web servers like "web services" and offloading much of the work to the client. I think there is no doubt that this is the future and I want to make sure that I get my skills up to the necessary level.

What I'd really love to do is take my Dig Deep Fitness application and rebuild it to be a thick-client application that leverages some juicy HTML5 and AJAX functionality. I'm talking about a single-page, local database, offline synchronization kind of setup. I've always fantasized about combining my love of computer science with my love of working out; now, I not only can I combine the two, I can use it as a learning experience.

User Experience (UX) Skills

At work, I'm doing more and more user experience (UX) design and wire-framing. I'm pretty good at proactively learning about computer programming; I'm much less good at learning about UX design. This year, I really need to find the time and a desire to pump up my UX R&D effort.

There are many more things that I could aim to get done this year; but, I think this list constitutes a fairly large effort. Once again, the idea of a romantic relationship gets put on the back burner. But who knows, maybe that will make Ben smarter? Right now, however, I'm feeling really excited for 2011 and the good things that it will bring!

I hope everyone had a wondeful new year!

Reader Comments



Ha ha, well, I'm not what you'd call a "high bandwidth" person. I'm working on getting more efficient so that I can make room for the ladies :)


Very true. I've watched enough romantic comedies to know that's true :)


Awesome goals. can't wait to see the Ben in Tights video ;). PTs are expensive but what I found when I was training was a good PT will get you setup with some good regimes then you just go on your own and every couple of weeks meet with the PT to evaluate, update and move forward. Since you know a few PTs who compete, those may be your best bet to maximize dollar to results ratio.

on the UX front check out and see about a local IA org (DC's is )

Look forward to you postings in the New Year.



We'll see about the tights :)

Yeah, I would definitely go with one of the trainers that I know at the gym. If anything, I am sure I would go with Troy as he's A) my business partner's brother and B) the guy who really got everyone else doing the power lifting. Since he works at a gym, I could probably pay him on the sly and get a better deal than the enormous markup the gym charges.

As for the UX, we have a IA group in the city. Sadly, I've only been to it once. I really need to pump up the motivation for that kind of stuff. It's great, but it doesn't have the same kind of emotional reward that programming had for me. It's probably because you can't see the effects immediately, like you can in programming. Moving a button and hitting refresh doesn't tell you if the page is "better."


In regards to your Project Huge goal of weight loss, don't forget about your diet. When I changed my diet that is when I saw the greatest improvements in muscle development and fat loss. Diet + Cardio + Weight lifting (Free weights). It takes a balance of all three.



On the UX front would look at wiring heatmap analysis into it. That way you get coding, pretty colors, and a new blog post all in one :)

Personally wanna give the heatmap stuff a go this year, want to validate some projects.



100% agreed. I'll definitely be making some changes to my diet. The first thing I wan to try is just not eating later at night. Specifically, I want to pick a time like 6PM after which, if I am hungry, I'll only have a protein shake... ie. no cookies at night :) I think this mindset, though perhaps slightly misguided, will help me eat big in the morning and then less so later in the day.


Heatmap stuff is interesting. I certainly love seeing those graphics, though I don't always know what to do with them.



makes those button moves have more intent.

Yeah diet a big deal. The eating at night not a problem - recent studies show no effect on weight gain - though impact on breakfast is huge. When we are asleep our body does the most growing, so breaking the fast with a nice high protein and vitamin shake or well balanced meal (personally loved oatmeal with added protein, Cinnamon and apple or strawberry (Myoplex) was satisfying in winter, shakes in summer)

sigh, I need someone to motivate me to get back to exercising and lifting.


If you or anyone reading this response is not making the max contribution to an IRA (ROTH or regular) - start now!

You have to pay yourself first and foremost. A yearly contribution to your IRA will make your life a lot easier when you retire. I have 15 more years until retirement and I have been paying myself for the past 25+ years and when I retire, I won't have to work at Walmart to make ends meet. I might not be able to take an annual European vacation, but I will live comfortably.

A little bit each year adds up thanks to compound interest.


There is no question that the retirement account is a big issue. I'm about 20 years nearer to retirement age than you and will tell you that it sneaks up on you so fast while you are busy with life and career. If you wake up one day and realize that you are ten years from retirement and haven't saved any money, your last years in your career are going to be sparse. A applaud you for your wisdom on this issue and wish more young geeks would consider that they won't be young forever. It is especially important for those who are contractors or move between jobs a lot.

If you would excuse more advice from the old guy: a healthy life includes relationships. They are more important than careers (or at least on par with career.) A relationship will come when you least expect it, but you also have to be receptive and aware of the opportunity. A partner in life doesn't just make life twice as good, it makes it infinitely better and is well worth the effort expended. You should consider meetups or other things that are outside of your comfort zone for dating opportunities.

I agree 100% with the idea of reducing negativity in your life. It is hard to say no or move away from toxic people. They tend to seek out positive people and you have to reduce that influence and develop coping skills.



I definitely know people who eat big at night and are very lean. I think the issue for me is less about eating at night than about stopping myself from eating "poorly" at night. Like I joked about before, if I am restricted to protein shakes after a certain time, that allows for intake but prevents things like PB&J, cookies, or anything high-carb that I would probably be better of not having before bed.

Trying to not let "best" be the enemy of "good."


I couldn't agree with you more!! I was maxing out my Roth IRA for years; but, after I started the company 3 years ago, I wasn't as able to make paying myself a priority. I should be able to do it now, though, and I need to get back in that ASAP!! When you see how much difference a year here and there makes (in long term projections), it's mind-boggling what the outcome is.


Agreed on the retirement and on the relationships :) I read a book years ago called the "Automatic Millionaire". It echoed basically what Jon said - you have to pay *yourself* first. Actually, I think that's the book where I really saw the huge difference in savings a few years would make.

And, I am open to the idea of a relationship; I suppose that part of me being so adamant about it being optional is simply a defense mechanism. I can feel that such an attitude is not sustainable over time. I guess I'll just have to see where the road takes me.


@Ben -

I hope the road will lead you right into my arms, because you are truly amazing :)

Good luck with your resolutions!


I would wonder about this new 'eat at night' research.
For me at least my experience aligns with the earlier studies showing biorhythmic slowdown and inefficiency in the evening.
I have a system that measures the energics and outcomes and a cutoff time of about the biological average of 18:00 when complied with is the single most significant factor in weight management by far.
Could just be me and my friends but the anecdotal evidence is supportive.
Definitely worth a try.
On the low esteem hypothesis both issues could arise from an intrinsic small target strategy of social risk taking.
Hopefully moving behind you this year.
Thanks for all the help in 1010 intend to exploit you even more in the new decade ;0



I wouldn't say the 6PM concept is really based on anything that I've looked up. And realize, also, that I'm not stopping eating altogether (ie. I'm not fasting after 6PM). All I'm doing it limiting myself to protein after 6PM. The 6PM cut-off, more than anything else, is the most cut-and-dry barrier that I can think of to prevent myself from eating crap at night. I could open the experience up to other kinds of food; but, to be unguarded, my resolve is not that strong. I have great purchasing power (ie. i don't buy things I don't want).... but once something is in front of me, I don't have all that much will power. As such, the 6PM cut-off is just an easy way for me to have a rule I can stick to.

Will see if it makes any difference on my weight or my energy or sleeping or whatever. Only a few days in, so far.


Well you've lucked onto a solution that in (apparently old ) nutritional research fits with standard advice. Because we were biologically entrained thousands of years ago (genetic time) we still are more efficient in the day and our bodies go into quiet mode after dark (as our non electricized ancestors had to) - thus our BMI/R slows and digestion is less efficient etc.
This implies anything we eat after biological dark is more like to be stored also if you eat before bed your body is still either still digesting or can have had an energy boost which may keep you awake, lighten your sleep or cause
you to have disturbing dreams or not (dependent on your existing biological and psychological state obviously) . I had a girlfriend whom used to eat a cookie before bed to put her off - which makes sense and the body would
have to change state for digestion (why we feel inert after meals and athletes dont eat before races). But it is possible she had lower quality sleep.
Another tradeoff here is if you have bad sleep as you are more concious your BMR is up and you may lose weight but at the cost of rest (and the patience of any bedmates).
Then again my ex used to have a coffee before sleep to put her off which I will not even try and rationalize ....

But you could win in avoiding storing instead of using nutrition and deeper sleep but probably it will take a while as you say to adjust to the new regime.

I should have also said like you my major factor is simply avoidance of temptation - dont have junk I am too lazy to go get and we dont have the optomized
evil home delivery systems you yanks are cursed with,

Avoidance is my No 1 not eating late No2 in the Mini-me program ('Huge' sounds like the reverse to me - an Arnie program) - hey maybe he could be your
trainer - I know he's unemployed right now !

On individualistic philosophy without the slightly fascist edge of some of Rand - try Krishnamurti - he is way more radical in a very studied polite way . His works
are all free on the web in digital form.




Yeah, I definitely know a number of people who could drink coffee right before bed. Blows my mind. I drink a lot of caffeine during the day; but, so far, I seem to be sensitive to it. I try not to drink caffeine after like 4PM otherwise I'll definitely be laying in bed with my eyes open.

Here's what I put above my kitchen sink:

I just read Tim Ferris' new book - The Four Hour Body - which I'll try to get to review shortly. In the book, he hates hard on calorie counting; but, he does concede that keeping tracking of poor "marker" is better than not keeping track of anything.

To me, I feel like my 6PM move is my "poor marker". It just allows me to keep track of *something* so as to have some structure.

But, come to think of it, I had a very disturbing dream the other night (I was threatening to be killed). For now, I'm gonna chalk that up to stress and not to any dietary changes :D

I don't know of Krishnamurti, I'll check him out.


Oh baby! Just installed a desk and chair last night from A.I. Friedman. Install some ColdFusion on that beast and my "Home Office" resolution is done? What is it? DONE!


@Ben, yayyyy! Need to work up my resolutions list for this year. Well, more like, big ticket items to get done this year. One of these will be updating my home server to a newer Ubuntu version as well other applications. Just need to find time to go through my notes from when I had someone else walking me through this process. A bit nervous about this, since I'm used to GUI interfaces . . .


> What is it? DONE!

Rats! Foiled again. And I would've procrastinated and gotten away with it had it not been for that meddling goody two shoes that is my alter-ego, Ben Nadel



Yeah, the whole command-line world is something I have only dipped my toe into. Slowly, its starting to make some sense.


@Ben, really? Wow. I'm only four years older, but I suppose that was enough time between DOS5+Win3.0 to Windows 95. I got my first computer in '91 and learned the hard way.

I still use .BAT files and EDIT. Kinda funny how frequently it helps to know some of that old, old stuff.

GUI's are nice, but CLI's are often times faster and much more batch-process friendly.



When I was on my Windows machine, the only thing I knew to do was basically CD and DIR. On Mac, I'm learning more because there are certain things that seem to only work with SUDO commands.


@Give More, Sacrifice Less,

Just had a convo w/ a friend who grew up with parents telling their three daughters, "You can change the world." I consider her to be quite successful and one of her sister's interned at the White House.

My parents subconsciously told us, "We're too poor to..." so I have a hard time letting go of a penny. I'm /NOT/ cheap, doggonit!

@Ben, what "looping tapes" did your parents pass on to you?

Food for thought.



Hmmm, what did my parents pass onto me as far as "the way"? I remember that my dad used to say things like:

"Things are damaged more by disuse than by overuse."

"It's important to make a difference - to leave your mark on the world."

My mom has several times told me:

"Don't change your life to accommodate your situation - change your situation to accommodate your life."

All in all, I pretty outstanding role models. My parents were/are awesome people - very inspirational. If I could have a fraction of my father's success I would be thrilled; if I was as loving and free-spirited as my mom, it would make my life better.


@Ben...this is a nice resolution list. I would never have figured you for a guy with low self-esteem. Not at all. I battled it when I was younger, but seem to have won the battle over-all. But, with most people, self esteem issues are something that will always be there, it's just that when you win the battle with them finally, they don't spring up all the time anymore. But, every now and then, you will feel a little hint of low self-esteem, sometimes tied to life events that cause them or provoke them.

But the fact that you recognize and have a desire to change is good. And it is also good to put on hold an actual search for a significant other while you are working to change your self-esteem. It's fine to be open to the idea of a romantic relationship, but they are best once you have a good hold on your self-esteem as opposed to dating while your working on it.

Another reason it's good to put the search on hold is because you are so busy already, and it'll be good for your significant other when you have more time to devote to her. Otherwise, life could get overwhelming. I would say your current priorities are in the right order. :-) Also, the best girls for you, I have a feeling, would be girls that you may run into during your walk through your normal life. This often happens. Often, the best relationships come out of these, because you already have something in common with that person. It's good that you are open to this. The scenario I described above where there is a shortage of time would not have as big of an impact here, because you two would be able to just do things together that you would normally do anyway. Plus, the search can be time consuming, so if you just let it happen naturally, that's just one less thing you would have to worry about. Not to mention, the way you are now is probably a lot more attractive to a girl than the way a lot of guys are. I have known guys reaking of desperation, going to the extreme to get a girl, and basically just any girl. That is so unattractive, at least to me.

@ your cardio solution...good idea! I am wanting to get one of those kooky ab circle pros to put in my room. I should probably get my total gym out of the box and use it first. :-) I think I am addicted to those workout machines lol. When I see a commercial/infomercial on t.v. about it, I almost automatically want it and every one I see, too.

As far as reading goes, I mentioned in a previous comment the book "7 Habits of Highly Successful People", which I was made to read for my engineer writing class. You may have already heard about it, and may have read it as well, but it has some good things about relationships in it that really got me to thinking and contemplating on my relationships.

And finally, about dieting, this isn't advice, just an experience to be shared: I love grapefruit. I have found that eating a piece of it (a half) in the morning has made at least me feel very energetic. Of course, it does interfere with certain medicines, but if you don't take them, it'd be possible to eat this. Of course, I often would eat bacon and eggs with that, and that seemed to up my energy as well. In addition, I also lost quite a bit of weight AND fat percentage during the time I was eating like this, so just a little something I wanted to share. Most people don't seem to think eating bacon in the morning is a very good idea, but I was raised on a country breakfast, so I have to return to my roots every now and then. :-)


"Give More, Sacrifice Less"
That's my goal, too. When I get selfish I forget about how much better I feel when I give. It's the most rewarding thing to do!

I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in human rights. I believe that we can afford to give more of these gifts to the world around us because it costs us nothing to be decent and kind and understanding. And, I want you to know that when you land on this site, you are accepted for who you are, no matter how you identify, what truths you live, or whatever kind of goofy shit makes you feel alive! Rock on with your bad self!
Ben Nadel