Why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions (and my goal for 2015, and how that’s different than a resolution)
I spent the weeks right before and after the new year celebrations telling people I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Why? I’ve found that I’m better at sticking to short-term goals, and they give me a more realistic time frame and a way to measure my success at reaching those goals that I’m comfortable with.
However, I did something unusual last week: I realised I do have a goal that I’d like to work on for all of 2015. This goal is kind of like a way-of-life change, because it doesn’t have an end date, and I won’t stop doing it and start doing something else once I’ve reached this goal. In fact, it’s not even something to reach. That’s why I like it.
My goal: I commit to try and be deliberate in my actions.
What the heck does that mean? I’ve thought a lot about how I want to live my life, how best to approach the world and respond to it, and about my own personal character traits. I’d like to say that I deliberately choose to spend half the night staring into a small back-lit screen browsing photos and videos and articles instead of sleeping. I’d like to say that I don’t deliberately choose to spend my days off doing the perfect combination of relaxing and being productive. I’d like to say I do a lot of things differently than I do. But I don’t like that kind of negative, wistful “should have but didn’t” thinking. So instead, I’m making a change. Going forward, I will own my actions. Even the lazy, unproductive, boring ones. I’m making a choice to own my actions, and be deliberate about what I do. I know that I don’t have control over everything, and that sometimes I’ll spend my time doing one thing and then wish I had done it differently, so my commitment is to try. To make an effort. I’m not saying that I will do everything perfectly, or that I won’t make mistakes–I’m saying that I’ll take ownership of whatever it is that I say and do. And by making this commitment, I’ll also learn a lot about who I am, why I do what I do, and I’ll be more mindful of my actions and decisions.
I look forward to being able to post here a year from now that I have spent a year being deliberate.
I began 2014 with the best of intentions and started off the year well, reading several books in the first few months. Then it petered out, distractions overcame, and I didn’t fight them. I still read, but I didn’t give myself the dedicated time to read that I did the year before. Let’s see how my reading list looks for 2014:
–1biography or memoir or literary journalism
Brandon Stanton’s book Humans of New York
–1 educational nonfiction/how-to book
Change Your Thinking by Sarah Edelman
The One-Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Ken Blanchard
–1 historical novel
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
–2 books by authors I’ve never read
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Euginides
The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean
Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and
Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
–2 books by authors I’ve read and want more of
Odd One Out by Monica McInerney
Lola’s Secret by Monica McInerney
Light Shining in the Forrest by Paul Torday
–2 books by local authors
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
Dirt Music by Tim Winton
–1 children’s book
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
–6 books of poetry
See How We Almost Fly by Alison Luterman
Horoscopes for the Dead poetry by Billy Collins
–3 short story collections
–1 book in a new field of interest
–1 book on craft
–1 book of great heft
–2 literary journals
–1 travel writing
–1 humorous book
Actually, 20 books isn’t bad at all. I might revisit what this reading list looks like before I commit to it for 2015, to set a more realistic goal based on what I enjoy reading most.
Yes that’s right, ten days ago I started taking a photo each day. My goal is to complete a second year of daily photos, and to post the highlights on here. I just recently compiled my first photo-a-day project into a slideshow of all 365 photos and posted it on Facebook. This of course inspired me to do it all again!
This is one of my favourites from this past week. I discovered these two post-it notes on my bulletin board at work one morning, drawn by two of my teammates. Made my morning! I love that I am part of such a diverse, interesting, and engaging team of people. And I love that we value taking time out of our day to draw pictures for each other on post-its.
- began my rad new job (i.e. threw myself full-throttle into a hectic new full-time schedule after being unemployed for eight months)
- spent two weeks in Melbourne learning and playing with great people
- learned how to front sault from a trampoline into a massive cushy air pillow (called a “Big Bag”)
- enjoyed a handful of magnificent Fringe Festival shows, including the Magnets a capella band and Famous Sharron‘s comedy show
- hosted my aunt and uncle who visited from Minnesota as part of a cruise
- watched some movies under the starsspent a glorious 18 hours camping in the bush with a dear friend
- spent 12 of those hours entertaining ourselves by talking about anything and everything under the sun and moon
- played hard at a rock climbing gym with workmates
- won our softball team’s grand final
- visited Sculptures by Sea at Cottesloe Beach
- read these books: Odd One Out by Monica McInerney, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Euginides, Change Your Thinking by Sarah Edelman, and Light Shining in the Forrest by Paul Torday. I also finished the poems in See How We Almost Fly by Alison Luterman and received Brandon Stanton’s book Humans of New York so have been looking at a few pages a night of that. If you haven’t heard of Humans of New York, check it out. I love what this guy is doing.
I started my new year with a book that had been sitting sadly unread on my bookshelf since last Christmas. (As in, 2012 not one week ago.) I had read one of Billy Collins’ collections and asked for more of them. I’m glad I did! I read this new collection in one day–actually, in one hour. I took it with me this morning to my friend’s cafe and read it on the couch with a latte and a slice of Peanut Butter Oreo Pie (a.k.a. “Heaven”) and all of this made for a delightful hour in my day.
Billy Collins does with words and moments what I can only try to do and hope that somebody picks up on it. He has made beautiful, clever poems out of chairs that no one sits in, meatballs, and the feeling of a hangover. And if you’re reading this thinking, “Yeah, but it’s poetry. I don’t understand any of that stuff,” you’re wrong. Go read them all.
I have discovered that Paul Torday is a fantastic storyteller. I watched his movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen without reading the book, and now I wish I had read it first. His book More Than You Can Say was intriguing and very different than Salmon Fishing, and the rest of his books, as far as I can tell from the blurbs on the back, are similarly varied in topic/subject.
I also finished off the last of John Green’s published books, The Fault in Our Stars, and enjoyed it very much. But my favourite of the three has to be 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith. I have seen many of the books in Smith’s series about the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, but have never read those out of disinterest. When I found 44 Scotland Street on the shelf at my local library, I read the back blurb and it sucked me in right away. This is the first in a series as well — all about the jumble of characters living in one apartment building — and I definitely am excited to read the rest. What is especially interesting about this book is that it was first published as a serialised novel in a newspaper, with daily installments. I think this gave it an unusual momentum that many books lack.
It was 11:30 AM. I was hungry. I had all the ingredients for a delicious-looking salad I found on Pinterest. The preparation time for the salad said “eight minutes.” Eight minutes! I can handle that!
It said eight minutes because it called for already-chopped onion and already-cut strawberries. Whatever, I can handle that. Only takes a couple minutes to chop those.
It said eight minutes because it called for canned black beans. All I had to do was open the can, drain the beans, and pour them into the bowl. I knew this, and I had planned ahead with my dry beans. I had them soaking in the refrigerator overnight.
What I didn’t plan was the cooking time. Who knew that even with pre-soaked beans, it takes roughly one and a half hours to cook?!?!?!?!??? Not me. It’s now 1:14 PM, and I’m still waiting for my lunch. Here’s what it looks like now:
Here’s what it will look like when it’s done:
I hope mine tastes as good as this one looks. At least now I know to cook my beans ahead of time…