Saturday, January 2, 2016

Re-dream: 2016 Resolutions

I am listening to an audio book in which a fortune teller tells the main character, "When your dreams all come true, you must re-dream."  She went on to say that you can't live in the past or settle for being content.  You need something to work towards, a new dream of what your life can be.  I can't think of a more appropriate way for me to look forward to the new year and 4 - 5 year outlook than that. 

I sometimes have anxiety over setting goals and making resolutions, because I am so ambitious that I want to set lofty goals, and then I am hard on myself when I fail to achieve those goals in the given amount of time.  But coming out of 2015, I have a renewed energy, because perhaps for the first time in my life, I kept all of my New Year's Resolutions.  In 2014 I accomplished most of my resolutions, with the exception of leaving the country, and getting down to a size 10.  In 2013, my resolutions were pretty much just whack-a-doodle, and in 2012 I had far too many and clearly lost focus.  I set 8 resolutions in 2011 and accomplished none of them.  From this trend, I suppose one could deduce that I have either gotten better about keeping my resolutions, or setting better ones. 
The weight goal is always tricky; its the most common resolution and perhaps the hardest one to keep.  Many of my resolutions are fairly finite: do this one thing and it's complete.  But getting down to a certain size or weight takes continued, renewed effort, and can be un-checked faster than it can be checked.  I didn't set one last year, and if I had, I most certainly would have failed it as I am about the same size and shape as I was a year ago.  So, I am very cautious to set such a goal, but part of me wants to.  Hey, if I was able to commit and accomplish the 8 goals I set in 2015, why not? 

Well, there's the catch.  I didn't do a great job of accomplishing all of my New Year's resolutions last year.  Some of them were barely checking the box.  Part of me wants to believe that if I set goals and resolutions that encourage me to be healthier, like working out every day or make good choices in food, that the weight loss will come.  Part of me thinks that I will get to a point where I've decided it can't be done, and will give up and feel defeated.  Part of me thinks that my other goals run contrary to weight loss - like learning programming. 

The truth is that, despite my success (or maybe just luck) in 2015, I am not really sure how to set goals that I will commit to and achieve.  Sure, we've all heard of the SMART goals, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, blah blah blah.  But I am not convinced those work.  Same with vision boards, where you are supposed to choose images that inspire you and hang them where you will see them every day.  I've had inspirational quotes around my house for years, and they've done nothing to stir my energy.  Accountability partners have failed me too.  And more importantly, I think we should be able to keep ourselves accountable.  We should be able to set out to achieve something, and then achieve it.  A year is a long time.  In fact, we have a little more time in 2016, with it being Leap Year.  I should be able to accomplish just about anything in a year.  But, losing weight won't happen on its own just by setting a goal or sitting down one night to knock it out.  I think to lose weight, you have to set smaller goals.  Eat a salad twice a week.  Work out four times per week.  Walk 10,000 steps a day.  Something that you can strive for in a much shorter term. 

My other problem is that I like variety.  I thrive on it.  Sometimes it bothers me that I lack focus; I don't have that one burning passion in my soul that I would quit my job for and work at day and night.  But I think I've just about decided that that's just me, and that's okay.  So, I'm not going to say that I'm going to write every day of 2016.  Hell, I didn't write at all yesterday, so that boat has already sunk anyways.  In September, I wrote a blog about "A Kinda Really Sorta Perfect Day," in which things didn't really go my way and I wasn't perfect, but I persevered and got things done.  Since then, I've been tinkering with the idea of what makes a "good" day or a "perfect" day.  What I've come up with in the last several weeks is a better formula for success for people like me.  Rather than a strict checklist of things to do every day or every week, I have developed a buffet of sorts.  Here's how it works: I've grouped activities into 6 areas of life.  Each area is something we can all probably improve on.  A good day is completing 3 of those activities, covering at least 2 of the areas.  A perfect day is completing 6 or more of those activities, with at least one in every area. 

Something for the mind:

  • Practice a language
  • Read / listen to an audiobook
  • Take a lesson in programming
  • Do coursework
  • Take a quiet, hot bath; breathe and let your mind rest

Something for the body:

  • Stretch
  • Dance
  • Go for a run / walk
  • Hike
  • Ab workout
  • Lift weights
  • Thighmaster
  • Other form of exercise

Something for the soul:

  • Write
  • Cook a new or tricky dish
  • Build a Lego model or Lego sculpture
  • Design something
  • Paint
  • Craft
  • Create something else

Something for the heart:
  • Pay a colleague a sincere compliment
  • Have a real conversation with someone
  • Call a friend or family member on the phone
  • Have lunch, dinner or drinks with someone
  • Send a card or letter (via real snail mail)
  • Volunteer or do charity work
  • Help a stranger with something

Something for the wallet:
  • Apply for a job
  • Schedule / post on social media for business
  • Eat in
  • Create a graphic, blog or tool for business

Something practical:
  • Empty dishwasher / load and start dishwasher
  • Take trash out / take recycling out
  • Do laundry
  • Clean the bathroom / kitchen
  • Get oil change / tire rotation
  • Pull weeds
  • Other chore

So now, I've made one of my resolutions to have 366 "good" days. In theory, this means that most days I will be doing something good for my body, and the days I'm not doing good for my body, I am doing good for my mind, heart and soul, which are ultimately good holistically anyways.  Also, I believe firmly in making good habits by doing something consistently for a number of days.  I've heard both 21 and 90 days, so I like how this graphic puts it: It takes 21 days to create a habit, it takes 90 days to create a lifestyle.  Imagine what would happen if you succeed in being "good" for 366 days! 

The first resolution I made was around learning programming.  I know a bit of HTML, and I regularly program in VB for work.  But I do not consider myself a good programmer, or really a programmer at all.  It's like how most people know how to write, but that doesn't make them writers; I know how to program, but I am not a programmer.  I have a lot of entrepreneurial ambition that is wasted week after week and month after month because my lack of programming skill prevents me from doing the things that require programming.  I dream of collaborating with a talented, brilliant programmer and partnering with him or her to create this massively successful company.  The problem with that dream is that most programmers are in so high demand they are not really willing to work with a business person like me on my idea, and if they were willing to work on such an idea, they would just as soon start their own company without said business person.  I preach that programming is such a powerful tool that I believe everyone should learn it to a degree, so I've had to swallow the pill that I, too, could use some work developing my skills.  

I have an idea for a better social media management tool that I've been toying
with, and of all my brilliant ideas, this is the one I'm most sold on at the moment.  Of course, a competitor could sweep in and build it before I even learn to program, but that's the risk I suppose I have to take.  And, learning programming will only help me with my next brilliant idea, if that happens.  So after a bit of research, I've settled on HTML, CSS and the Twitter API as my focus for this year, and I'm going to use Codecademy.  It shouldn't take a year to get pretty good at those things, especially because I already know some HTML and CSS, but I want to keep my scope small and get really good at them.  If I am successful, I can then start programming my dreams, and can learn new languages as needed in the coming years.

I won't go into detail now about my motivation for the rest of my resolutions.  I am excited, though, that if I am as successful in 2016 at checking off these boxes as I was in 2015, that great things will happen.  So, with that, here they are.

New Year's Resolutions for 2016

  • Learn HTML & CSS & Twitter API
  • Spend a Weekend Disconnected
  • Design & 3D print something
  • Make a video with Jaiman - performing music, dancing, audition for a reality show or something silly
  • Improve my home in some way
  • Learn Thriller choreography
  • Have 366 "Good" Days

These aren't terribly ambitious for a 366-day year (except making a video with Jaiman, that will take some effort since he is SO camera shy).  They are vague enough that if something specific doesn't happen, I can still check off the boxes, but they are specific enough that I will know when I've accomplished them.  Maybe that is the trick to setting goals, being just specific enough. 

If I've inspired you to make your own New Year's Resolutions, please comment below and let me know!  Also, check out my post from last year, where I provide ideas for tangible, achievable resolutions ideas

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