No Resolutions 2013

Every year, it seems, I write a blog post about how I’m not making New Years Resolutions. It’s getting a bit old, a bit monotonous, and I feel like I’m repeating myself. I feel like I’m berating my readers with the same drivel over and over again… but I’m doing it again this year, so suck it up!

Month: January, Year: 2013, Resolutions: None. Not one. Let’s review. The main reasons I don’t do make New Year’s Resolutions are because 1) if I need to make changes in my life, I make them in “real time;” that is, as soon as I realize there is a problem. 2) I think people use New Year’s Resolutions as an excuse. How’s that? Most people don’t follow through with New Year’s Resolutions. Sure, they go to the gym for a few days, maybe even weeks, but eventually they stop. There are a variety of reasons for this, but for the purposes of this discussion, what’s important is that most people don’t follow through. I think people use that as an excuse. Stopped going to the gym? So did a bunch of other people. Stopped “eating healthy?” You’re not alone. Still drinking too much coffee? Next year…

This is not to say that I don’t believe in making lifestyle changes at certain intervals, it’s just that I don’t think the first day of the New Year is a good day to start, especially when there are so many other people to fail with. I set goals at the beginning of semesters, especially after the summer break. After the semester is over, I’m in a better place to sit back and think about what I want to do in the coming term. What do I want to improve on? How am I going to do it? How will I know I have improved? Then I implement, and hope for the best. If it doesn’t work, I try again next term, or later in the same term.

Those two bold questions are important. Motivation research (and common sense) shows that specific goals with specific measurements are more likely to lead to success, and that most people set fuzzy goals with no measurement of success. Many people, for example, set the goal of “eating better.” What does that mean? If you eat one less burger in 2013 than 2012, you have technically eaten “better” according to some arbitrary standard. If you fail to bring fork to mouth one less time in 2013 than in 2012, you have – by some standard – succeeded in eating more skilfully (i.e. “better”) than you did in 2012. Congratulations. A specific goal is this: “Eat meals comprised mostly of vegetables three times a week.” Even that’s a bit fuzzy. How about this: “Eat white carbohydrates less than two times a week.” That’s a great goal. That’s a goal you can monitor. That’s a goal you just might be able to stick to.

Now that I’ve done my pedantry bit, let’s talk about my goals for this term. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’ve been working on discipline. I’m pleased to say that I’ve done well. One of my specific goals last term was to get two A’s. I did not meet that goal. I did, however, boost my grades compared to previous terms. This semester, same goal: two A’s. Second goal: do all the assignments. My weak point in school is that at some point during the semester, I get frustrated and bored, and I stop doing assignments. I don’t just do them half way, I stop doing them altogether. That changed last semester, and in all but one of my classes, I turned in all or most of the assignments. This semester, ALL the assignments. Everything I am assigned, I will turn in. And not only will I turn it in, I will do it right. How will I do that? (Forming a plan of action for achieving your goal is also important.) I’ll do the assignments early, and I’ll check my answers. The details of this goal are still in the making, since I’m still fitting into my schedule, but that’s ok. Another goal was to brush and floss my teeth every single night. I used to brush most nights, and floss frequently, but I wanted to do it every night. Done. I think I’ve missed one day since a week before the start of last semester. This semester, I’m adding a morning brushing to that goal.

Those are a few goals I’m continuing to work on and I’ve added another: meditation. I want to be more disciplined, and more focussed. Meditation does just that sort of thing. There are lots of ways to meditate, but the one I’m going to focus on is the one found here. From what I’ve read, this type of meditation strengthens the pre-frontal cortex, which is the part of your brain that delivers willpower. So I’m going to meditate this way every night before I go to sleep. So far, I have meditated every night this semester, and I’m still going strong. I started out with 5 minutes, then 10, and I think I’m going to kick it up a notch and go for 20 tonight. It’s tough, but that’s what I’m looking for.

Finally, I do have some fuzzy goals. There are some things I want to do that I don’t really care to define properly, because they’re things that I want to work on, but that I don’t want to interfere with my other goals. If you pick too many goals, all of them suffer, and the three goals I’ve mentioned here are more important and concrete. I want to encourage my curiosity. Instead of just reading about a concept – mead making, say – and glossing over it, I want to immerse myself in it. I want to dig in, and learn some cool things about it. If someone were to come up to me after I read an article about mead, and ask me what I learned, I want to be able to tell them something cool, not just say, “Uh… well…” That’s just a waste of time. I also want to keep my room cleaner, do the dishes more frequently (which I’ve been doing,) and go to sleep earlier.

And yes, I want to blog more often. I’ve been neglecting my blog again, but some day I hope to get back to it. My life has been changing a lot lately, and blogging didn’t really fit in my mind. Now, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to focus on it a bit more. But who knows. One reader suggested that I add a donate button to my site, and I think I may well do that. I don’t want you to feel pressured to donate, and I won’t add it unless I start blogging more often, but it would certainly encourage me to blog more often (and contribute to the Help Me Pay My Rent And Things fund) if people threw some change my way every once in a while. If you have thoughts or opinions on this (or any) subject, please do leave them in the comments.

Also, if there are things you want me to talk about (or not talk about) in 2013, please let me know.

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