Image via Falling Fifth.
I am an inveterate resolution maker. I can't even remember a time when I wasn't--every year, I have a list of resolutions. Most of them don't make it out of January. Some years ago, I started making lists of goals instead, but it really amounted to the same thing. Then I started with vision boards, which are slightly different, in that they include dreams and things that aren't within my control, but it all comes from the same place.
I've been thinking a lot these first few days of 2013 about whether the spate of new year's resolutions I always make, and the ones I see around me, are healthy. On the surface, what's not to like about committing oneself to eat better, exercise more, save more money, keep a cleaner house, and so on? These are all good things, right? But they're not completely good, because so many of us bite off far more than we can chew and end up discouraged, disappointed in ourselves, and right back in the same place we started. Or, we make resolutions that are so vague as to be meaningless, and then never come back to address whether or not we met our goals, which is its own kind of problem. I thought, for the first few days of this year, that this year I'd give it up--I'd resolve NOT to make any resolutions. But after a few more days, I decided that just isn't me. I may not be perfect, and in fact, my progress at any given goal may be at a snail's pace, but it's worth it just to be trying. I feel better about trying and failing than about not trying at all, I guess? Anyway, my days of thought put me right back where I started--making a list of 13 resolutions for 2013, with the intention of making them as quantifiable and achievable as possible. So here we go:
13 Resolutions for 2013
1. Read 40 books. I've really got out of the habit of reading over the past couple of years, and I want that to change. I figure that if I keep three books going at any one time--one electronic on the iPad, one audiobook on the iPhone, and one paper book, I should be able to meet this goal. As I have in past years, I am tracking on GoodReads.
2. Send birthday cards to my friends/family. This is something I've been inconsistent with in the past, and I really want it to be something I just do. I have a cousin who sends everybody perfectly chosen cards, always on time, and I admire the heck out of it. I'm setting up calendar reminders for birthdays and plan to make myself some sort of card file to organize cards in advance, in hopes that will keep me on this one when things get busier. As a means of tracking, I'll tally up cards sent at the end of every month and see how I do.
3. Use the 52 Week Savings Plan. Being unemployed, saving money is not exactly my strong suite right now. However, when I came across the 52 Week Savings Plan online, it seemed like it would work out. The idea is that you save $1 on the first week of the year and $52 on the last week of the year, with savings corresponding to each week in between. The total saved for the year, if you follow the plan, is $1,378. Ideally, I'd like to save a lot more than that this year, but it all depends on when I get a job and what it pays, and this at least keeps me committed to a bare minimum savings. I already set up direct transfers for every week, so it should all happen automatically, and I'll hopefully be working well before the weekly withdrawals get large enough to make much difference to my checking account balance.
4. Prioritize visits with friends (at least 4). Having a new baby makes socializing more difficult, and I was never that great at it to begin with. So, I really want to make sure not to let my friendships fall by the wayside this year. One way to do that is to prioritize visits with my friends, almost all of whom are far away. I am aiming for at least four overnight or weekend visits over the course of year, either convincing folks to come and visit us here, or going to visit other places.
5. Complete the Couch to 5K, then re-assess. I was in good shape before I got pregnant, and that is all gone now. I want to get back to where I was, but I recognize that it's unlikely I am going to commit the kind of time (1.5 hour gym visits 4-5 days/week) that I was committing before I had a baby, at least not right now. So, I need to start smaller. The plan is to begin with the 30-minute 3 days/week Couch-to-5K program, with the goal of adding in a day of weight training every week as well, and then reassess in eight weeks after that is finished. My major concerns right now are regaining cardio conditioning and core strengthening, and this seems like the most reasonable and time efficient way to start. I would like, at some point, to run an actual 5K, but I am not making that a goal for this year, as I don't know how possible it's going to be (I have a lot of allergy-related trouble running outside, and am already having some joint-related trouble with running at all).
6. Blog at least three times a week. I really, really miss consistent blogging. For much of my pregnancy and the first few months after Buzzy was born, I didn't even have ideas to blog about, much less the time and energy to actually write. That is changing now, so I need to work on the discipline side of things and get back into the blogging groove. I haven't quite figured out how that is going to work yet, schedule-wise, but I am going to start with attempting three posts a week and go from there.
7. Do something to improve my space every month. Mark and I have been talking a lot lately about how we kind of failed ourselves when we moved into this house, as we never thought of it as permanent or long-term, and thus never put much effort into making it a nice place to live. After being here for three and a half years, it's clear what a mistake that attitude was and is. So, even though our time here may wrap up within the next year, we both agree that it's important to do what we can to improve our space, ideally in ways that are transferable. This could be decorating, a big cleaning/reorganizing project, whatever. I'm on a big kick right now and have made several improvements, but the trick is really going to be keeping them going throughout the year.
8. Volunteer. I'm pretty disgusted with myself lately when it comes to how much I am giving back to my community (pretty much nothing). The unemployment financial squeeze has cut my charitable giving down to almost nothing, and I haven't done any real volunteer work in ages. That needs to change in 2013. I'm not sure how or where, yet, but I need to set myself up with some ongoing volunteer work.
9. Institute a gratitude practice. For several years, I've read online about people's gratitude practices, from Karen Walrond's gratitude.2012 visual gratitude journals to Miss Britt's Happiness Highlights, there are a million ways to do this. I'm not sure, yet, what the best way will be for me, but I need to figure out something and make it a habit, because I have so very much to appreciate, and I need to make sure I am aware of my gratitude.
10. Re-engage in social media. This is a funny one, since so many people are resolving to spend more time with their computers and other various screens off, but I am resolving to get back into social media. In particular, I want to start reading and commenting on blogs again. I got out of the habit when the baby was born, and it's a world in which I really miss participating. I'm not going to set a specific goal for this one at this point, but I cleaned out my feed reader and am starting fresh, so hopefully I'll be able to keep on top of it from now on.
11. Get a new job. I saved this one until the end of the list as not to be a downer, but I have got to get a new job, and it needs to happen soon. I am not suited to not working, even if we didn't need the money, which we do. The time I've spent at home has been great, but I really need to go back to work. At this point, I am pretty satisfied with my resume and the logistics of my job search, it's just a matter of keeping at it until the right thing comes along.
12. Play with the baby. This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it's really not. It is too easy, I think, to get caught up in the baby's needs, and the ideas I have about what is best for him, and forget to enjoy him. I'm only going to do this once, and he changes every single day, so probably the single best thing I could do for myself this year is to slow down and enjoy being with him. It's something I try to remind myself every day.
So there you have it. Another year, another resolution list. I feel good about it, though. I think everything on the list is accomplishable, and working towards these goals, even if I don't meet every single one of them, will improve my life. What more can there be?