Many years ago, I made a New Year's resolution that I wasn't going to rely on spurious points in the endless cycle of the seasons to make new resolves concerning changes in my life. (Yes, I was a facetious little object.)
In some ways, though, I think I had the right idea -- I shouldn't have to wait for New Year to come around before I can change my life in any way. On the other hand, the human mind is a funny old thing, and sometimes the force of the "new beginning" aspect of the New Year is enough to kickstart it into actually making the changes it keeps idly contemplating.
I spent most of the last year drifting. I've decided that this year I have to make some changes to my life. In a way, it doesn't really matter if they're the "right" changes -- whatever that may mean -- I just need to prevent myself sinking any lower into this godawful rut. That's not to say that I'm making change solely for change's sake, but I'm perhaps bothering to try to change things that I might not otherwise worry about, just to see if I can take control of any aspects of my life.
So, this year I have made some New Year's resolutions; they're an odd mixture of trivialities and more serious stuff, but even the trivialities have a point to them.
At least one person has told me that they don't like to reveal their New Year's resolutions, because they feel that this will somehow jinx them. Perhaps there's also a feeling that if they don't tell anybody, nobody will hold them accountable if they fail to keep the resolutions. However, the reason I'm posting them here rather than just keeping them to myself is that I want to feel that I'm accountable for them -- even if nobody reads this list, I know it's here, I know it's publicly available, and that might just be enough to give me the extra willpower I need.
I know that if you read these you'll think I'm making mountains out of molehills, but as I say, this is all really about the wider issues of control, agency, willpower and change.
(BTW, apologies if the formatting of the list is screwed -- it seems to have acres of unnecessary whitespace inbetween the two tables, and I can't work out why, but I haven't got time to fix it if I want to post this before I go home. Any suggestions welcomed.)
[Update: should now be fixed! Thanks to the people who explained LJ's auto-formatting to me...]
|Resolution||Reason||Progress so far|
|Read more non-fiction (one book every two weeks?)||I buy far too many interesting non-fiction books which I never get round to reading, and I spend far too much time reading "comfort fiction" -- like re-reading all my Chalet School books, and re-reading the same few Stephen King novels again and again.||Bad. Haven't read a single new non-fiction book this year, though I've read bits of books here and there.|
|Update personal website.||My website is rubbish. It doesn't have anything interesting on it, and the information it has is out-of-date. My website is the top hit for my name (without quotes) on google -- I want it to be something at least vaguely worth finding.||None. Haven't had any inspirations yet for a unifying theme for the site, and without that I don't feel there's much I can do with it.|
|Stop drinking Coke.||Rots and stains my teeth, provides unnecessary sugar intake, too much caffeine, and wastes my money.||Good -- haven't had a single drink of the stuff so far this year!|
|Stop buying snacks from the chocolate machine at work.||If I want to snack at work, I can bring stuff in from home -- it's cheaper and it means I have to think about how much I'm going to eat, rather than just buying more chocolate because I'm hungry (or bored).||Good -- haven't bought anything so far this year (although I've only been back at work for two weeks...)|
|Drive at least once a week.||Now I've passed my test, I need to start actually learning to drive myself around from A to B (rather than learning to pass the test). In order to do that, I need to practise.||Not too bad -- but I've only driven on my own once so far, and that's the bit I'm most shaky about. I'm slowly getting used to driving sion_a's car, but I don't think I'll ever like it.|
|Practice karate and piano at least once a week.||(These do seem like a weird pair of things to be practising, don't they?) I'm not going to get any better at karate if I don't practise, and I'm steadily getting worse at piano because I play so little these days.||Bad. Have played piano a couple of times (but I wouldn't really call it practising); haven't practised karate once.|
|Play no more than 15 minutes' worth of minesweeper per day.||Minesweeper (on the Palm) wastes far, far too much of my time. The problem is, it sort of helps me to think -- if my hands are playing the game, and the fidgety bits of my brain are focussed on it, then the rest of my brain is free to think a bit more lucidly. But really, spending hours playing it is A Bad Thing. I need to find better ways to think clearly. And besides, I don't think I'm ever going to beat my current hi-score of 37 seconds for 50 mines.||Not too bad. Have played for more than 15 minutes on a couple of days but having the time-limit in mind does seem to be helping me to stop sooner.|
|Do timesheet every day at work.||I hate having to make up an entire month's timesheet at the end of a month.||Good -- I haven't actually been doing my timesheet proper every day, but I've been keeping a note of what I've done. It's a start.|
|Stop chewing my fingers.||Okay, so I may not bite my nails, but I chew the sides of my fingers instead. It's just as bad (if not worse) and my fingers look horrible.||Not too bad -- I do still catch myself doing it occasionally, but I usually stop when I catch myself.|
|Remember people's birthdays better.||I'm terrible with birthdays, really terrible. It's not that I don't care about people, it's just that I'm bad at getting round to doing things at a particular time, if I even manage to remember a day and date -- and I'm not very good at even that. I usually send something anyway sooner or later... But it does offend and upset people sometimes if they don't get something on their birthday.||I don't think I've missed anybody's birthday yet. Oh, hell, no, I have. Sorry Juliet... I was still subconsciously thinking "I'll see you soon anyway", and it's not quite so soon any more. :-(|
|Send Christmas cards before last posting date!||I know there's only one Christmas a year, but I'm hoping these habits will last longer than just this year. Basically it always makes me horribly stressed trying to send all my cards out at the last minute, and I end up forgetting people, and I want to avoid that stress from now on if possible.||You must be joking!|
|Try to control my temper.||I've left this one till last because it's the hardest. I know I have a tendency to snap at people far too quickly, particularly at Siôn who rarely if ever deserves it. I just instinctively seem to think of the nasty response, and I don't like that. I don't want to be that kind of person. I believe it must be possible for me to bite back the sarky responses; and in time I may even stop thinking of them. Worth a try, anyway.||Ask the people who have to spend time with me...|
Then I've got some "New Year's Goals" -- that is, they're resolutions to do specific, one-time-only things some time this year, rather than to change my habits in some way. As such, I haven't got very far with them yet, because it's only January...
|Goal||Reason||Progress so far|
|Sort out credit card bill.||I'm in more debt than I want to be. What I really need to do is transfer the balance to a new account where I'm not paying interest for the first 6 months, and then pay it all off, and then CUT UP MY CREDIT CARDS.||None. Haven't decided on a bank/account yet. But I do intend to do this soon.|
|Take "Pass Plus" driving lessons.||These are effectively a series of driver-awareness lessons for people who've passed their test; you learn to drive on motorways, in the dark, in bad weather, in towns, etc. They sound like a generally Good Idea(tm), and furthermore, some places do discounts on car insurance for people who've got the resulting certificate. (There's no test, just 6 lessons and an assessment from your instructor.)||None, but I'm waiting till I've got a bit more money before I do this.|
|Get my orange belt in karate.||I chickened out of the grading last year, and I don't want to end up doing the same this year.||Well, the grading's in February, so I'll let you know...|
|Sort paper at work into folders.||I have huge stacks of paper at work, and I can never find anything. I'm sure it'd only take me an hour or two to sort it all out, but it's sort of frowned on to spend work time doing that kind of thing, because (I assume) we're supposed to just Be Organised from the start. So I'd probably have to do it in my lunch hour or something; but it would save me lots of time and angst.||I've made a start -- I managed to throw away heaps of useless out-of-date stuff when we moved desks at the beginning of this week; and I've sorted some stuff into piles.|
|Buy a car!||Because I want one. Because I hate driving Siôn's car, but I do want to be able to drive occasionally, and sometimes I'll want to drive somewhere at a different time from him, e.g. being able to drive into work so I can do a decent-size supermarket shop at lunchtime ... stuff like that.||None -- I'm not even going to try until after my birthday, because once I'm 25 the insurance should be lower.|
I think that's about enough to be going on with.