Tag Archives: Resolutions

Happy New Year: Midyear Check-In

At the beginning of 2014, I wrote a short piece on New Year’s Resolutions. I picked 6 goals that I thought were measurable, valuable and attainable and attempted to keep them. Here’s a quick recap of the first half of the year.

  • Journal for 31 consecutive days

I did this in for the entire month of January. As I wrote in my original post, the Art Of Manliness posited this challenge to its readers and actually had a day-by-day writing roadmap. Each day had a new prompt to jog the writing muscle, and it worked great. I wrote my 6-word memoir, picked out a DIY project I wanted to tackle*, picked out my Cabinet of Invisible Counselors, did some free association, figured out what I’d do with loads of money, and determined my current place in the Hero’s Journey. And that was just a week’s worth of journal prompts. It was awesome, and I’ve kept up journaling at least three times a week each week.

  • Listen to a new album for 2 weeks straight, write about it

This is the resolution I’ve probably kept the best. I made a list of 26 albums from before 2013, none of which I’d ever listened to before. It was a mix of R&B, funk, rock, pop, jazz, country, folk, and ranging from the ’50s to the ’00s. I tried my best to keep the variety relatively even, with no one decade or genre being favored. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Sure, there have been a few albums I haven’t fallen in love with, but there have been far more gems I’ve stumbled across. It’s also been a new way to uncover just a few of the infinite connections within pop music.

For example, a few weeks ago I listened to Funkadelic’s Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On. After getting to know the album and really digesting it for two weeks, I randomly started making a playlist of my favorite tunes from the Native Tongues Collective, which caused me to go back through De La Soul’s De La Soul Is Dead. As “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa” began, I realized I had heard the intro phrase directly from a Funkadelic record. This was quickly followed up by the riff from “I’ll Stay,” a tune from the Funkadelic record I had just finished writing about. I had listened to this De La Soul record many times, but had never made this connection before.

If that wasn’t a cool enough connection, that exact same week on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the Red Hot Chili Peppers played a song with The Roots. They played “Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On.” Had they done this two weeks prior, I wouldn’t have had a clue what this song was. And it was so awesome.

  • Read a book every 2 weeks, write about it

I’ve been less consistent with this one. While I started off the year strong, the last month has been so insanely hectic that I haven’t kept up well. I’ll explain why in a minute, but continue as best as I can for the back half of the year.

  • Drink less alcohol

Definitely succeeded in this. Haven’t completely stopped drinking, but having a pregnant wife helps.

  • Complete Insanity again (twice, or once and run a marathon)

It’s a shame that the one physical goal on my list was completely abandoned, but I feel like I have a legit excuse. I actually started Insanity in the beginning of January, and on like the 4th day, I went down to the basement to do the day’s workout, and found about an inch and a half of water on the basement floor. Turns out our neighbor’s irrigation system hadn’t been turned off, and the brutally cold days we had in January caused some pipes to burst between our houses, and the result was water. No joke, it seriously was two full months before we had the entire place cleaned up and back to normal.

So I haven’t completely given up on this goal, although my expectations are a little different.

  • New blog post once a week (average)

Definitely kept up with this one too. Some weeks have been a challenge to come up with something and other weeks I’ve had more than one post with no problem.

So hopefully I can keep these goals up as the year keeps going. The biggest change in our life is that I’m writing this post with a 6-day old baby sleeping on my chest. The last two months has been wall-to-wall getting prepared for our family becoming three. Trips to Babies ‘R’ Us, rearranging nursery furniture, playing go-for for my increasingly pregnant wife, going to prenatal classes at the hospital, etc. My usual lunch breaks where I’ve been able to get an hour of reading in has been replaced with baby-related errands.

So I’m not being overly hard on myself for not completing Insanity twice, or keeping up with the reading. I’ve got high hopes for the back half of the year, like getting back into running (a marathon is a pretty lofty goal, I might scale it back to shorter race) or getting some other books read. If nothing else, I’m absolutely going to keep writing. Aside from that and caring for a newborn, everything else is gravy.

*Homemade ladder ball set, completed two weeks ago with tools and moral support provided by my pal Eli. We’ve since used it and it is an awesome and gorgeous addition to my yard.

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Happy New Year (Now Do Everything Better)

With a new year comes the inevitable barrage of articles about the new year. 10 Life Hacks for 2014!, 5 Goals for Healthier Living 2014!, 3 Challenges You Should Take On In 2014! And like many New Years Resolutions, they are often quickly abandoned. That’s why I’ve never been a big resolutions person. I tend to dislike fads, and I’ve always viewed resolutions as fads. However, in the last few months I’ve been thinking a lot about goals, especially long term goals, and I wanted to see if I could find some short-term goals or resolutions that I wouldn’t quickly give up this year. I picked 6 goals that I really like because they are valuable and achievable.

  • Journal for 31 consecutive days

This challenge is courtesy of Art of Manliness (fantastic site if you’ve never checked them out). The goal of this challenge is to simply journal something for an entire month straight. What’s great about AoM’s take on this challenge is that they’ve put constraints around the concept of journaling, making it easier to begin and easier to continue for a lot of people. It can be incredibly daunting to look at a blank piece of paper (or blank blog post in this case) and start writing. It’s taken me 8 years of writing to get pretty good at it, and I’m still pretty bad at it. AoM has provided a way around this by giving a short template for each day. Something to spark your creativity. I have actually only looked at the few days’ entries because I want each day to be a new surprise. I want to go into each day of the journaling challenge blind and journal my gut response to each day’s assignment. If you’ve tried journaling before and given it up, or never tried but wanted to, this is a great way to kickstart a new habit. If nothing else, you will get to the end of the 31 days and realize journaling isn’t for you and that’s just as productive as solidifying a new habit.

  • Listen to a new album for _ days straight, write about it

I’m leaving this one pretty open-ended for now because I’m not sure how functional it is for me to put in hard numbers at this point. I could choose random albums that I’ve had in my collection for years, or I could go with new albums I’ve added in the last 6 months-year and not listened to yet. I could also go for an album review a week or every two weeks or each month. I’m going to play with this one a little and see what takes.

  • Read a book every two weeks (average), write about it

This is a pretty lofty goal and I’ll be OK if I don’t hit it. I think the key here is to mix up the kind of books I read. Biographies, autobiographies, fiction, sci-fi, classics, new stuff. Can’t have all 1000-page old books. I’d like to finish Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, read at least one presidential biography, a few musician biographies, a few classics I didn’t read in high school (e.g. Lord Of The Flies, etc.), and maybe a few books to be published yet this year.

  • Drink less alcohol

First off, I’d like to qualify this goal by saying that I am not a lush. I enjoy drinking alcohol, but I can abstain if I choose. And with the advent of Baby, I have definitely decreased my alcohol intake in the last 4 months. It helps that my wife doesn’t drink at all, but it would save even more money and health if I cut it out completely as well. And while “drink less” is not a good goal to have (good goals need to be measurable), I’m going to start by shooting for a month of no drinking. Where it goes after that, we shall see.

  • Complete Insanity again (twice, or once and run a marathon)

Like how I sneaked that marathon goal in? After the last year, what was once the quintessential unreachable goal in my head (running a marathon) has now become something completely doable. The main problem I foresee is that the bulk of training would occur during the first few months of Baby’s arrival, which I have been told (by every freaking adult who finds out we’re having a baby. Hey adults, do me a favor and rather than tell me how miserable the few months of baby-raising are, tell me how much long-term satisfaction you get from being a parent. I already know I’m not going to sleep for two months.) are some of the toughest months for new parents. The fact that we will be adjusting to a new person, new sleep schedule, and basically new everything makes me less inclined to commit to full-blown marathon training. A good alternative to this would be to complete Insanity again, preferably twice. I’m definitely going to start it in the next week, which puts me in the middle of March when I finish, and then I could immediately start it again and it would be done around the time Baby shows up. A marathon is definitely in my sights though. Just possibly not this year.

  • New blog post once a week (average)

This has actually been a goal of mine for about the last six months, and I’ve kept it up. I went from posting something every few weeks or months to on average, once a week. I’m insanely pleased with my output, and I want to increase it slightly in 2014. I’m shooting for 5 posts a month. It shouldn’t be too difficult either, if I actually keep up with as much media as I plan on digesting.

6 goals for 2014. What goals are you setting for this year? What goals have you set in the past and completed, or not completed? (Secret 7th goal: increase readership through reader engagement.)

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