Every year, I set New Years Resolutions. I know that it’s tacky, and that New Years Resolution stands as a reminder of our general inability to make attainable goals and maintain sustained effort over long periods of time, but I think that even though I fail as much as I succeed in keeping my resolutions, I still think it’s a valuable exercise.
It’s important to make goals, and it’s important to make those goals written, concrete and measurable. It’s vital to the experience of life to work toward knowing oneself and toward making constructive changes. I use this time of year for self examination, for the opportunity to carve out the worst parts of my self, or at the very least to recognize and name my most harmful habits.
I would invite you to take part in this exercise as well.
Resolution 1: I want to weigh 190 pounds by June 1st.
Today, I weigh 210 pounds. I carry my weight well. I’ve lifted weights and exercised for most of my life, so I tolerate weight gain better than most. Many people wouldn’t guess that I weigh as much as I do. I do over eat. My relationship with food is a complex one. I don’t eat mindfully. I tend to eat in front of a screen, and watching videos while I’m eating, and that means that I eat more than I otherwise would. I’m looking at 30 this year, and I need to stop eating like I’m in my 20’s and begin making healthy changes for my middle years.
I’m going to try the Paleo diet. Basically, I won’t eat grains, and my diet will skew more toward healthy fats. I like the Paleo diet. In most cases it aligns with what I’m already eating, but it’ll introduce a little bit more color into my diet by way of vegetables and limited fruit. Most of what I eat now is meat and dairy. That’s precisely what I need to start avoiding. I’m also going to change my exercise plan to include more cardio. I’m going to set a reminder on my phone for June 1st. I’ll check back in with this goal at that time.
Resolution 2: Finish rough draft of A Stranger Among Us
I’ve been working on a novel for the last two years. I’m about 60,000 words into it, and I think that this year I will finally be able to finish my rough draft. I’ve been writing 500 words a day for the last few years (not all of it on the novel), and I think that I may need to step up my production a bit to push the whole book over the finish line. This year will be used to finish the rough draft, then I will probably have a year of editing and rewriting to get the entire thing together. But it’s been a goal of mine for many years to write a full length novel. Even if the thing doesn’t get published, I’ll still be thankful that I can cross “write a novel” off of my bucket list.
Resolution 3: Use My Cellphone Less, Meditate and Read More
This is something else that I’ve been really struggling with. It seems like I always have my phone on me, and it’s always interrupting the rhythms of my everyday life. It’s impossible to get into a flow state with the constant interruptions. The phone makes it far too easy for people to reach into my life and interrupt it. People place demands on me and then this leads to time crunch, which stresses me out and makes me less useful to my family. The whole thing compounds until I am a person that I no longer like.
The question then becomes, what do I do in my quiet moments? How do I replace what is expedient with what is truly good for me? What does good for me even mean?
So my plan is to replace my constant buggering with my cellphone on Reddit and Youtube with meditation (in the form of deep breathing) and reading (paper books at first, and then Kindle books using the Kindle app once I successfully break the cell phone’s spell).
Practically, I’m going to take the phone out of my pocket. I’m going to leave it on the kitchen counter when I’m home for the evening, and in my desk drawer during the work day. I’ve tried experiments like this and failed, but if at first you don’t succeed…
Resolution 4: Set a New Professional Goal
OK, so resolution 4 is kind of a cop out. I’ve made a goal out of setting a goal. But it’s necessary for me to do so. I’m at a very comfortable place in my career. I’m just gaining experience and doing the job right now. I’m doing it the best I can, but I don’t feel like I’m growing. I’m wearing new hats, (I’m the faculty president this year) but I’m not professionally advancing by gaining new certifications and skillsets. I’m at a crossroads. I can either enter a doctoral program and get a further degree, or I can get my special education certification. I have a free online school program that I have access to through the labor union. I could go back to school and get an associates degree in something completely crazy. I could make further education my hobby. I like to learn, and doing it in a formal setting would lead to a pay increase on the teacher pay scale.
But I have no clue what I actually want to accomplish. I’m floating along rudderless now. One of the most pieces of advice I was ever given was “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there.” An old boss of mine told me that. My fear is that I don’t know where I’m going, so my goal is to explore and pick a destination.
Those are my resolutions for the coming year. I think that each of them are easily within my grasp.