Ethan Hampton

Theme a Little Theme With Me

I recently watched a CGP Grey video that talked about what people should do instead of setting New Years Resolutions. He suggested instead to set a theme of some sort for the year (or quarter). I decided that college is a great place to try something new and “get my life together”. This is the intro post to this mission and will go over some of the things that I have tried to start doing this term.

Long(ish) Term

First off, I needed to get my long term life together so I actually know where I am going. I love spreadsheets for all types of things so obviously I created one. It actually should work pretty well and I look forward to using it. I divided this initial plan up into quarters of the year. There is a two-fold benefit to this, OSU is on the quarter system and it also lines up with CGP Grey's recommendation. It is as follows:

Basic Header Information This is all the “header” stuff that is important to have at the top.

College classes and credits I also decided to track my college classes and how many credits each class is. This plan is only for about 5 years so I won't continue this on all my plans, but for this time frame it should work okay.

Misc. Items that I want to track This section is all the other random stuff that I want to track. This includes things like my theme for the quarter, my net worth (not going to talk about that for now), where I am living for most of the time, as well as my mile time and the two books I want to read for the quarter (I am about 3/4 through Educated by Tara Westover right now and I love it).

This spreadsheet will also include things like study abroad and internships and is not limited to just the school year. I plan to come back to it at least every quarter to update and maintain it until I graduate from college. Long term plans don't work if you don't remember them or maintain them.

Choosing a Theme

I think that picking a theme for each quarter is a great idea but I don't really know what my current theme should be. There are a couple of things I want do accomplish this quarter:

  • (Re)learn French
    • This was something I lost after my two years in the beginning of high school. It never really clicked back then but I believe there is high value in having a mind that can understand two or more languages. Technically programming languages kind of count but I want to learn a language that isn't perfect. Culture is beyond cool.
    • Duolingo is my program of choice for this. It helps to be able to gamify these sorts of goals because if I don't do it then I feel some sort of penalty.
  • Work out more
    • This is always on my list but I think this term might be the one to make it happen. My dorm cohort started an intramural Pickleball team and we have been practicing so I am already kind of there. Definitely wearing workout clothes more (so that's a start right?).
  • READ
    • I really missed this first term and I have been making good progress already but I want to blow this mission out of the water.
  • Get a minimum viable product for “Perman” launched
    • Without going into too much detail, I have been developing a “better” to do list app that will be able to do some prediction of what you need to work on and when. This is an idea I have had for a long time and only now am starting to get the technical knowledge to execute.
    • This easily could be a product I could sell which is why I am trying not to give too much away. It will probably be open-sourced at some point but I like secrecy a bit too much.
    • This both is the cause of some of my procrastination and will also be the solution. Yip
  • Write more
    • I am doing this right now and it feels really good.

So I have a big list. What should my theme be? CGP Grey has some suggestions:

  • Novelty
  • Fun
  • Health
  • Family
  • Finances

and my own:

  • Positivity
  • Truth
  • Justice
  • Work and Play
  • Picturesque
  • Change
  • Nature
  • Mastery
  • Music
  • Etc.

All of those are great but I think I will probably end up going with “positive progress” for a variety of reasons.

Positive Progress

I think this is a great theme for this term because it accurately reflects what I want to do. By making a long term plan and outlining all my goals I am definitely making progress towards a positive life. I think that all of the things that I have outlined also help me towards this theme and are also things that generally leave me with a positive emotion. I believe that before you can make an impact on other people you need to get yourself in order. College is set up as the perfect time to do this and although I would love to say that I in fact am in order right now, I know that is not the case. I have done a poor job of analyzing the way my words impact others and again this is an area where I desperately need positive progress. I owe it to myself to improve my own life in a way that allows me to be positive and be myself without feeling too constricted.


This whole essay took about an hour and a half from conception to publishing. This is a new record for me especially considering that this is over 1,000 words. My (own and personal) website is a platform that I want to explore more. There is little reason to continue to maintain it if I am saying something. I will be very curious to see how long I am able to keep these habits up but talking about them (or at least recording them). Ideally, I will continue to update as time goes on and because the Internet saves everything forever, there will always be a record. The sun today among other things was a welcome push to publish this and I am glad that I did.

“You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.” - Mr. Fred Rogers

Ethan Hampton is a Oregon State Honors College student studying Computer Science. Ethan loves simple but effective ideas that work at a large scale to help make the world a better place

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