The bummer about New Year’s resolutions (I mean the first bummer, the one that comes before mid-February when you look up and realize you’ve already blown all the new ones you made a month and a half ago) is that they always make you think, “Hey, didn’t I make some of these about this time last year? How’d that work out?”
So, like always,before I make any new resolutions, I’m forced to look back and check my batting average for the previous year. What were my fondest hopes and aspirations for 2015? Well…
– Resolution 1: Finish the book – I did make a lot of progress, and part of the progress was learning that, hey, novels are really hard to write. I do have a first draft that I can start revising, and that’s a pretty big step, so I’m not going to be too hard on myself. However, is it finished? Um, no, not even close.
– Resolution 2: Don’t forget how to play golf – I’ve made a conscious effort to practice more, and I think it’s paying some dividends. But it’s been a couple of months since I’ve played a round. I can only know for sure when I step up to that first tee and either hit the ball straight or miss the ball completely, let the club slip out of my hands, and kill the starter.
– Resolution 3: Cultivate focus in my son – Well, my son is four years old, so what do you think? If he did suddenly change from flighty, rambunctious toddler to tightrope-walker focused, I’d be worried that he had contracted some kind of brain parasite. The good news is that he likes to play with Legos and with Kindle apps that require problem-solving thoughtfulness. We’re headed in the right direction, just very, very gradually.
– Resolution 4: Cultivate joy in my daughter – I’m going to consider this my biggest success, although, like most of my big successes, I probably had very little to do with it. She started the year as a blissfully happy little girl and she’s ending the year just the same. All I can do is try to create an environment that she can be happy in, and get out of the way.
– Resolution 5: Love my wife better – Uhhh, heh heh, heh heh, heh heh! No, stop it. What I mean is I wanted to purposefully take steps to make sure my wife knows she is important to me. Ultimately she’s the final judge of my success, but at least I did make this a priority.
– Resolution 6: Kill anger, or at least viciously beat it into submission – Oh, heavens, no. I still had a lot of trouble with world events this year, because there were a lot of world events that were troubling. But I’ve come to realize that my frustration is a function of how much time I spend consuming media about crazy events and commentary on those crazy events from people who are absolutely outhouse-rat crazy. I have an answer to this that I’ll address below. I think it’ll help me, and maybe it can help you too.
Something Different for 2016: Not Resolutions, but Commitments
This year, I’m going to do the resolution thing a little different. Usually, my resolutions are big, broad goals that are short on specifics. Big goals are nice, but it’s specifics that actually put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop-shoo-bop.
So, instead of starting with big goals and ending with failure, this year I’m going to start with the specifics that I hope will lead to success. Starting with this:
Commitment 1: Run 3 times a week
I like sports, but I hate, hate, hate running for the sake of running. But my sister has challenged me to join her in a half marathon in 2017. Hopefully that’s the motivation I need to roll my sorry behind out of bed and start running.
The difference between a resolution and a commitment is that I didn’t say, “Get healthier,” or “Exercise more,” or even “Train for a half marathon.” I’m dealing in specifics, so I’m going to commit to running 3 times a week and hope it gives me all those other things.
Commitment 2: Buy time to waste time
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al. are millstones around the neck of my productivity. They are giant advertising banners being towed behind the high-performance fighter jet that is my brain (ahem).
But it’s hard for me to stay away from them, because they’re also how I keep up with friends and family and keep track of current events. I thought about trying to quit them cold turkey but then almost laughed out loud when I thought it. Once you’ve had Zuckerberg’s sweet, sweet candy it’s almost impossible to turn it down.
So I came up with this solution: I’m going to create a bank of time that I can spend on social media. I can add time to that bank by being productive — by writing, either on the blog or other projects. I can only spend as much time on social media as I have accumulated in the bank. So, one hour spent writing = one hour I can spend diddling around on Twitter or whatever.
If you find yourself in the same situation as I am, and you can fix it by just quitting social media, well you’re a better person than I am and you may just be the best person ever. However, if you need some extra help to loosen the grip of that stupid tweet-bird’s talons from around your throat, I encourage you to try this “time bank” experiment with me. Add time by doing the things you need to do, then you can feel good about just blowing that time online. Between the two of us, maybe we’ll get something accomplished.
Happy New Year!