New Year’s Eve has always been an uncomfortable holiday for me. While for many, it’s used as a time of renewal and looking forward with hope to the future, I’ve always spent the time reflecting on what did and did not get accomplished the previous year. There is less hope and more cold accounting involved. It’s not an overly positive approach, and not one I’m particularly proud of holding.
Reflections on the Last Year
2013 was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I failed to meet a lot of goals for my personal projects. For example, I’ve had to put Writers Ledger on hold, as well as a few smaller code projects, and I made little to no progress on my primary manuscript, much less any of my secondary writing projects. Of course, there are good reasons for this. I am a new father, who also holds a demanding job, and I had to make hard choices about where to focus my attention. Essentially, any project that did not have other persons tied to it was put on the back burner. I struggled with trying to balance everything during the first part of last year, before I eventually realized I had to cut stuff out of my life, at least temporarily, in order to focus on family. One of my biggest regrets that it took me that long to recognize I was trying to juggle too many things, in what I now see was a selfish attempt to have everything I wanted all at once.
On the other hand, this was a great year for personal development, maturation, and my relationships. Cutting those things out allowed me to grow a great deal professionaly, and being a parent has taught me more about myself than any other experience I’ve had. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot more time with my wife, who is an incredible companion, co-parent, and life partner. I’ve also been able to spend that time with my little girl, who continues to be the most delightful person I’ve ever known. So while I have some regrets about my personal projects, there has also been a lot of joy.
Resolutions for the New Year
Regrets often beget resolutions, unless you are the kind of person that is inclined to wallow in them.1 This is the time of resolutions, after all. While I agree with the common criticisms of New Year’s resolutions, specifically that they tend to be half-hearted promises that no one keeps, there’s something inherently hopeful in them that’s quite grand. Being of a somewhat cynical nature, I’ve never made any true New Year’s resolutions in the past, arguing that using an arbitrary date to set goals is a ridiculous exercise. This year, I want to do something different, and so I’m ignoring that nagging, cynical voice in my head in order to set some personal goals for 2014.
I think that an important thing for any project, be it a resolution, random to-do, or otherwise, is measurable goals. So, I’m leaving out items like “being more positive” and “being a better husband/father”, as those are things that I’m constantly striving for, and while they are far more important than anything else, they are difficult to objectively measure. In addition to having measurable goals, I think regular accounting regarding those targets is necessary in order to keep them front and center in my mind. To that end, I’ll be posting a monthly update on my progress for each of those goals on this site. That means a new post at the beginning of each month, to either cheer my successes or to commiserate on my failures.
This year, I’m committing to two resolutions, one related to my health, and another related to my creative projects. I think each is totally reasonable, so I’m going to go ahead and define an additional stretch goal for each one. The stretch goal does not come into play until the primary goal is reached, and I reserve the right to add additional stretch goals as the year proceeds if I make good progress. However, the stretch goals are optional targets, and while I want to push towards them, the primary goal for each resolution is what matters. The intent is to stay focused on rational goals, ones that can be accomplished while effectively balancing the other important aspects of my life.
Primary Goal: Lose 25 lbs and maintain my weight at that level.
One thing I’ve struggled with for much of my adult life is my weight. I’ve made attempts at getting my weight down in the past, with limited success. I’ve come down quite a ways from where I was two years ago, but try as I might I keep falling off the horse, and ending up back around 245 lbs. It’s better than where I started, but I’m a six foot tall male, and this weight is far from ideal for me. Especially with my daughter here, I’d like to lose some weight in order to avoid health complications, and also to ensure that I can keep up my energy level when playing with her.
I think 25 lbs is a reasonable goal, and I think it’s the minimum I need to lose in order to make sure I’m in alignment with my surrounding motivations. Since maintenance of this weight is a component, I’ll keep reporting on this even after I reach the primary goal.
Stretch Goal: Lose a total of 45 lbs and maintain my weight at that level.
If I can meet the primary goal, I’d like to push further towards getting closer to my goal weight, which is really anything under 200 lbs.
Primary Goal: Finish first draft of my book.
This is the primary manuscript that I referenced above. I started this book before my daughter was born, and am actually quite a ways into it. I’ve written the first 61,102 words,2 and judging by the current pace of the narrative, I probably have another 70,000 - 80,000 words to go. I tend to err on the verbose side when writing, as I’m sure you have noticed, so I imagine I’ll be cutting quite a bit in the revision process. I’m already fairly sure that I’ll be doing quite a bit to restructure the first act, but I’m going to wait to do that until the revision process, so that I have a clear vision of whole before I go back to do any surgery.
Over the course of a year, this should be easily achieveable, and it’s something I really need to do. I’m sure many could do it faster, but at least right now, I need to make sure I’m still devoting the time I need to my family and work, without doing something that will also jeopardize my health goal, by burning both ends of the candle.
Stretch Goal: Finish at least two short stories in addition to the primary goal.
I love writing short stories, but I want to keep these as a stretch goal so that I stay focused on the book. Doing these after that is completed, would also provide a nice change of pace for me, before I circle back to start revising the first draft.
Come At Me, 2014
So, those are my resolutions this year. I think they are fair targets, and I’m looking forward to pushing forward with them. As mentioned above, I’ll be posting monthly updates on my progress, and if I miss a month, you all are free to call me out on it here.
How about you? What promises are you making to yourself and others this year?