Monday, January 3, 2011

The 2011 To Do List: New Year Resolutions

I love writing lists, and since this obsession began during my childhood the New Year Resolution list has been a favorite of mine until recent years. Don’t get me wrong, I still love list making, but these days making a list containing such ambitious content is enough to make me light-headed and queasy. At some point several years ago the New Year Resolutions list, which really is supposed to be a list of goals or things to aspire to accomplish in the new year, became one more “to do” list that I saw as an inevitable list of failures. As a Project Manager I deal with to do lists in a daily basis. I LIVE by to do lists, and I can have as many as five going at any one time. The problem, however, is that which makes me a good Project Manager (the ability to bring all tasks to fruition on or ahead of time) makes me a neurotic and miserable human being.

When we’re young we’re taught that life and its components are linear – there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end to just about everything. We’re also taught to finish what we started. This type of conditioning has really fucked with my head as an adult, because I become extremely disappointed in myself when I can’t finish something I’ve started or when I don’t have closure to something. It’s just now, at age 32, that I’m beginning to suspect that life and its components are NOT linear, and most things do not ever get resolved, which is a pretty big pill to swallow for a person like me with a Type A, perfectionist personality. It’s only in light of this new revelation that I’ve decided to once again revisit the New Year Resolution list, but this time it’s being taken with a huge grain of salt (that can be contained in those large buildings managed by the department of transportation in areas of colder climate).  So, without further adieu:

Get new website up and running.
I’ve got two blogs out there and I constantly have ideas for additional topics I’d like to write about, but I need a formal location in which to organize the chaos, hence: new website. When I got married last year two friends offered to build the site for me as a wedding present – one would write the code behind the components I wanted and the other would create the actual design. As much as I hate creating extra work for people, this is the year I need to get this done, and I suspect once it’s finished I’ll feel a lot less scattered and chaotic – at least as a writer/blogger/whateverer.

Begin to write fun book.
Hey, look! Another writing goal! Last year I silently lamented over a completely nonsensical personal need to get more “professional” writing out there before I could do anything “fun”. Then several months ago I had an epiphany: this is my god damn hobby, I might as well do the fun shit first (or, hell, how bout JUST the fun shit?!). I have a topic in mind that I’ve had for a while. It’s even come together quite organically and coincidentally over the last year, so my first official move in accomplishing this goal will be in the form of scheduling some formal interviews with people to whom I’ve already talked. I’m actually really excited about this goal, because the process itself of writing the book should actually be a lot of fun. Stay tuned, and god so help me if I’m truly known for this topic after it’s all said and done!

Do fun things with food.
I love to eat, but perhaps even more than I love to eat I love to cook. I’ve had the daydreams of owning a restaurant, but I know how difficult a business that is run and make profitable, and when it comes down to it I really just want to cook, so I have another goal this year to do fun things with food. Fun things with food? What does that mean? I’m not quite sure yet, but I read an article last year in Bust magazine about underground dinner parties with strangers and I’ve been intrigued ever since. It works like this: you finalize a menu, calculate a price per person, somehow put out a call for dinner guests, and then everyone shows up to eat that day and you cook them dinner. I need to figure out if there’s already a scene like this around Baltimore, and if there is I need to figure out how to become a part of it. Tips on this one are appreciated…

Figure out this piriformis muscle bullshit.
I almost didn’t include this on here, because it’s kind of along the lines of “keep breathing”, which is a given. It’s a tough medical nut to crack. It becomes inflamed and tight because it’s not a strong muscle, so to prevent that you have to strengthen it. Yet, when it’s inflamed, I’ve been told I have to do nothing (just gentle stretching). Then, inevitably, I reinjure it doing just about anything on my first try back at some sort of cardio or strengthening program (even cardio that is ultra-low impact and doesn’t even make me sweat), and I’m back at resting and gentle stretching. I’m beyond frustrated that this has semi-permanently sidelined me from skating, but I’m also not doing everything I can to make the process go any faster. I need to get my ass up an extra hour early to do my PT stretches and exercises, and then I need to dedicate another hour each night to doing the same thing, and I need to just suck up the fact that I can’t do cardio right now and have needed to purchase larger pants because of it. Oh fucking well. At this point, I don’t see any other way around it.

Learn to knit.
I almost didn’t include this one either, because I actually solidified plans this morning to be taught to knit in two weeks. I suppose, instead, my goal should be to learn and continue to practice knitting on the regular. I’m hoping I can learn to make some cool shit, but more importantly I’m hoping that having something to do with my hands while watching TV will keep me from feeding my face full of junk. Then maybe I can ditch the larger pants!

Finish kitchen.
I’m financially irresponsible. There, I said it. Money burns a hole in my pocket, and my struggle to save has precluded us from finishing our kitchen for the last seven years. This year, however, I want things to be different. I want to be able to save some money each month that will go toward finishing moving our kitchen out of a room the size of a closet and into a room the size of an actual kitchen. We started this fall and have already redone the walls, floor, and ceiling. Next step is to hire a plumber to move the water and gas lines, then shorten the existing window, then purchase and build cabinets, and finally, purchase and install new appliances. This is a project that will evolve over time, and I’m fine with that – as long as it keeps evolving and doesn’t sit stagnant. My goal, really, is to save money to finish the kitchen and keep things moving. I can do this!

And now for the conceptual part of the show… These next few goals are things that I know, due to their very essence, cannot be checked off a list, because they can’t ever truly be accomplished. Instead, they are things that I should continue to strive for each day as life plays out, expectedly and unexpectedly.

Go with, and not against, the flow.
I have a tendency to be really passionate and work really hard to accomplish my goals, so much in fact that in my drive to reach the end goal I often become blind to changing circumstances and annoyed with any proposed change of plans. This is especially true at work. I’m no stranger to shit happening, but I would like to learn to tolerate it happening better than I have in the past. When I sit back and really examine the things in life that upset me, they’re all little nit-picky self-imposed bullshit things that boil down to “I’m upset that X didn’t happen exactly the way I wanted it to”. Indeed, I spend way too much time trying to shove square pegs into round holes instead just going to find the round pegs. I want to relax more and not stress out over the dumb shit. I want to learn to go with the flow more than I currently do, because I highly suspect I’ll save myself a lot of grief and be a happier person in general.

Seek discipline to find balance.
Wow, this seems like a contradiction to the previous resolution, but really it’s not. On a daily basis, discipline in certain activities provides the structure you need to achieve comfort. Going to bed on time, not drinking like a louse during the week, and showing restraint in eating whatever the fuck you want when you want will certainly make me less neurotic and upset at the consequences of my lack of discipline: perpetually being late to work, feeling like a lazy bum who never does anything, and having to buy new pants.

I realized the other day that one reason I loved actively skating so much was because of the level of discipline it introduced into my life that I otherwise don’t have. Yeah I hated having to make X number of practices a month and not drinking on a Saturday night so I’d be good for All Stars practice on Sunday morning, but these things made me a better person who, despite the mild discomfort associated with having to show discipline at certain times, was generally happier than I am when I can do whatever the fuck I want to do (or not do) at any given time. This is a resolution I’m going to have to remind myself about a bunch, I bet .I’m kind of embarrassed that I’m 32 and just now learning this, but better late then never, eh?

9.      Talk it out.
I talk a lot. On here, on Twitter, on Facebook, and to friends, family, neighbors, and cashiers everywhere, but I struggle to talk to anyone in depth about my problems. In my efforts to not be a buzz kill, I hold all these toxic problems inside and then I get sick or I just shut down emotionally because they haven’t been dealt with. I want to learn to talk my problems out instead of holding them in. It works swimmingly when I remember to do it, but I don’t remember to actually do it so much. Hopefully listing it here will help it stay in the forefront of my mind.

Look for opportune opportunity, and don’t be afraid to turn down inopportune opportunity.
I’m the type of person who’s generally willing to give anything a go, meaning I take on things that both enrich my life and suck the life out of it. Moving forward, I need to assess opportunities that are presented to me better, and just because I’m asked to do something doesn’t mean I should say yes to everything. I should, however, say yes to truly opportune opportunities, and I shouldn’t be afraid to sever ties with opportunities I took that have turned out to be inopportune. Time is of the essence in life, and while I shouldn’t beat myself up for those things that I thought were opportune but were not, I should just move forward with the best of intentions.

Do something each day that makes me happy.
I’m quite predictable, really. It’s funny looking back on it, but it’s never funny when it happens. Naturally, I’m talking about that all too common occurrence that is me throwing a hissy fit before bed that I hadn’t done a single thing that I wanted to do that day. It makes me angry to go an entire day without doing something that makes me happy, yet it does absolutely no good to throw a tantrum in a seeming attempt to get time to stop and give me a “bonus” hour not otherwise included in the standard 24-hour day. What I want to do is MAKE TIME for myself each day before bedtime arrives. Again, not easy, but if it were it probably wouldn’t be on here.

Well, that’s my list. I probably could have come up with more resolutions, but I think this list is manageable, if not a bit ambitious. While I’m partially inclined to print this out and keep it someplace easily accessible in order to hold myself accountable, another part of me wants to do with it what I did with all those other childhood lists: set it down and forever forget about it. I think I’ll take the middle ground here. Getting it down on paper was good, but printing it out may be a bit too anti-number seven ;)  

What resolutions do you have for the coming year? I’d love to hear them!