One of the commenters at Lifehacker had a good idea I hadn’t heard before: instead of making a bunch of New Year’s Resolutions that you’ll either forget by the end of the year, or give up on because they all seem so daunting, make a series of New Month’s Resolutions. A month is usually a good chunk of time to see if a lifestyle change will “take” or not, and it’s easier not to get discouraged if you mess up, but just pledge to tackle it again the next month.
So here are the things I’d like to do in 2007, not necessarily in order. Mostly predictable ones. And realistically, they’re not all going to get accomplished, but it’s a good round set:
- Stop smoking. People are often surprised when I tell them (honestly) that I “only” smoke a half a pack a day. In addiction terms, that’s small potatoes, except for a) it’s 2007, well past the time to give such a stupid habit any slack at all; and 2) the fact it’s surprising I smoke so “little” is exactly the reason I need to quit. I’ve got such an overwhelming dependence on it; it’s become such a habit that I get really anxious when I break it.
I’m a little bit encouraged by the fact that I’m off caffeine now, something I never would’ve imagined possible a year ago — I used to think I’d never be able to go a day without a Coke, and now I don’t even like the taste of them.
- Lose weight. Even though I gave up Coke, I’ve still got a soda dependency, and the Spritegut to show for it. Weening myself off sugar water will take some time and effort, but it should be possible. The rest should just be a matter of paying attention to what I eat, instead of skipping meals and then over-doing it for dinner, along with eating less crap that’s quick-and-easy (whoever came up with Smores-flavored Pop Tarts deserves a severe ass-kicking from me and a bunch of other lazy chubby guys). I can’t remember the last time I weighed under 200 pounds, so that’s my basic goal; if I do better, great.
- Exercise more. Which is to say, some. I’ve always managed to rationalize putting this off by saying that I need to wait until I’ve quit smoking. I’m having a harder time convincing myself of that.
There’s realistically no way I’m going to be able to start jogging or riding a bike, without having to stop and lie down and wheeze for a few minutes. But I’ve got no excuse not to walk more. Especially since they opened up a new Best Buy within walking distance of my apartment, almost like God arranged a built-in exercise/reward system by working through retail.
- Take Japanese classes. Two times I started a class in Japantown, and had to drop it both times, because I didn’t have time for it. Now that I’m in the city and will most likely be working from home for at least a majority of the year, I don’t have any excuse not to try it again.
A while ago, I saw one of those before-the-movie trivia slides that said Edward Norton was fluent in Japanese. For some inexplicable reason, that bothered the hell out of me — I’ve got to be at least a smart as that guy, right? Also, twice in the past year, I’ve caught myself spouting off as if I were some kind of expert on the culture and language, to somebody who was far more fluent and knowledgeable than I am, but who didn’t make such a damn production out of it.
- Draw regularly. There’ve been dozens of projects I’ve abandoned before putting any effort into, because I knew they would be art-intensive and I don’t have the drawing talent to make it look as good as I’d like. I think this resolution I could handle, now that I’ve lowered my expectations — the point isn’t to create master-works, the point is to practice and build confidence. I’d feel better about keeping up with it if I had a quantifiable project to work on, though.
- Learn to play the banjo. I bought the damn thing, and it just stands there mocking me for giving up on another hobby. Again, I don’t want to aim for mastery, maybe just be able to play one song. Just for yuks, I’ll now claim my target goal is the difficulty selection screen of Monkey Island 3. If I enjoy it, I can decide to take it further.
- Finish NaNoWriMo. I didn’t even bother with it in 2006, which at least shows that I’m getting better at reining in the unfounded optimism. At this point, the goal isn’t even to come up with something I like, just to finish.
- Write a game. I’ve had at least four or five ideas bouncing around in my head for years now, but I never get any traction with them, either because of my work schedule, or my short attention span/laziness, or frustration at my lack of drawing skillz. But if I can just get something ugly working, there’s a slight chance one of the many obscenely talented artists I’ve been able to meet after working in games for 10 years would be able to come in and take up the slack. At the moment, all I’ve got is talk.
- Write an OS X app. This will probably get done first, since I’ve had the idea for a year now, and I actually really need to use the app I have in mind.
- Manage my time better. Obviously, that’s essential for all the other ones, and it’s too nebulous to cover in a month. But clearly something has to change if I’m going to get anything done this year.
So if I’ve counted right, that’s ten. Which gives me two months to goof off and procrastinate. And presumably: get a job, do good work at said job, get out of the apartment and socialize more, read more books and less blogs, meet somebody, fall in love, and start a family, come up with a way to make this blog more interesting and less long-winded diary entries, etc…
Happy New Year, everybody!
These seem like too many resolutions to tackle in one year. If you knocked off three of them, that would be more than most folks accomplish, but you’ll still feel bad because you’ll only be batting 30%. Well, maybe. Maybe this “New Month” resolution is the answer. If you lose weight two months in a row, can you count it twice? What if you quit smoking two months in a row? (Or better yet, quit one month, and then next month remain enquittified.) Do you get to count that twice?
Or maybe you could play “resolution survivor”. Each month in which you accomplish one resolution, you’re allowed to discard one of the others. If you learn to play the banjo, I think you’re allowed to declare “Upon close consideration, I have discovered that Nanowrimo is a crime against humanity. As such, it has been disqualified from my list of resolutions.”
Well, the “new month resolution” is the whole key, at least in theory. For me, anyway, a month is long enough to see if a lifestyle change is going to “take.” Especially if I can keep the mindset that it doesn’t HAVE to be for the rest of my life, just this one month. When it works, by the end of the month I’m done with the bad habit or have gotten used to the good one. The only thing that hasn’t been the case for is smoking, which I quit for three months one time but then started right back.
Ideally, I can throw in a new experiment each month and see if it works. And then by the end of the year, I can be sitting in my apartment starving, writing a novel in Japanese about how much I want a cigarette.
I can’t do much to help you with any of your resolutions, but maybe the one that didn’t actually make your list: socialize more. With both of us working from home, we’ve gotten awfully hermitish ourselves. We’v done a lot of talking about busting out of it a bit, and not a lot of actual doing. We get out to Forbidden Island every Wednesday, but nobody like a one-note song. Well, except I’m kind of partial to the One Note Samba. So, maybe nobody likes to be stuck with only one one-note song. Because I’d get bored of the One Note Samba eventually. Which I guess is the point. What was I talking about? See, this is what happens to hermits. It’s not pretty.
We especially want to do more exploring up in the city — a friend introduced us to Specs a week or so ago, which we liked quite a bit. We need more of that sort of thing. Give us a ping if you want to grab dinner or drinks or something.
I definitely will, Humu! I don’t know who/what Specs is, but that’s not much of a surprise since I haven’t explored much of the city at all.
I’d love to tag along with you guys, especially if it’s a tiki-related adventure. I’ve been to Trader Joe’s once, and I’m pretty sure I was in the Tonga Room one time. Other than that, it’s all a mystery to me.
Specs is pretty neat — it’s an old bar that’s been there forever, and looks like a more appropriately lit, but less well-furnished, Adventurer’s Club. Kinda. If you’ve been drinking. In addition to beer & liquor, they serve cheese & saltines, to which I say, yesthankyou. It gets a more diverse crowd of folks than I’ve seen anywhere else in the city — a good number of crazy old coots, which I take as a good sign. We’ve only been there the one time, so we’d like to try it again and see if we still like it.
For tiki adventures, aside from the aforementioned Forbidden Island on Wednesdays (you should definitely come join us for that sometime, btw — one of Hanford’s friends bus/barts out from the city about every other week), we do make it into the city now & then. We’re supposed to meet up with some folks at the Tonga Room (6pm) & Trader Vic’s (8pm) next Tuesday, come join us!
A friend once saw a bunny eating pizza on the bar at Spec’s. And no, she wasn’t on any major hallucinogens.
Speaking of hallucinogens, Chuck, if you go to Trader Joe’s for your tiki drinking, I wonder where you go to get your reasonably priced frozen dinners and individually-packed vegetables?
Same place. It’s really convenient. Pull up a chair near the shopping carts, stick an umbrella in a bottle of 2-buck chuck, and you’d swear you were in the islands.