10 New Year’s Resolutions I wish I’d made

10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 that I didn’t make, but had 100% success meeting.

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Ah… the smell of New Years Resolutions!  The scent of goal-setting for 2015 is in the air.  Which is why I thought I’d take a minute and list the 10 New Years Resolutions I should have made in 2014 for ultimate successful achievement.

  1. Learn 90% of the countries in Africa.
  2. Volunteer over 100 hours.
  3. Make at least 3 new mom friends.
  4. Set aside money for Christmas gifts each month.
  5. Gain 5 pounds.
  6. Participate in a Craft Fair.
  7. Be the #1 NSCBC church softball fan.
  8. Take a business strategy MOOC (and pass).
  9. Read over 75 books and listen to at least one book on tape.
  10. (make my husband) Paint/Update the bedroom.

I’m getting sick of my New Years Resolutions practices, which have basically been the same the last 3-4 years.  This isn’t to say they haven’t been effective, or that I haven’t learned something.  Any time I’ve made a goal, and reflected on the process of achieving or discarding that goal, I’ve learned something about my habits, personality, motivation and abilities.  In fact, in most years, the practice of setting and attempting NYR has been most of the fun.

But… next year I’d like to try something different.  At the moment, I’m trying to decide between going with a word/phrase approach – like many bloggers who have set themes like “Simplify” or “Take Risks.” Approaching the daily business of life with a specific lens certainly appeals to me… and provides a specific way to reflect each month.

Or, there’s always simply filling out a chart, or other cute resolution template that I can search for via Pinterest.

Who knows, maybe I’ll abandon the idea of New Year’s Resolutions totally!

New Years Resolutions 2014 – 6 weeks In

You know that question people always ask you – and it’s awful because the standard response conveys nothing?

How’s it going?!

And you reply “Good.”

And things are, in fact, going “good.”  Because, generally, most of us have pretty good lives most of the time (except for those 2 or 3 nagging problems everyone hits once in a while that seem to linger around for months: unemployment, 5 pounds to lose, and depression.)

So, for the most part – answering “Good” feels pretty accurate.  Because no one asks you “How’s it Going” when someone in the family dies, or they know you’re having a hard time – they only ask you when their confident you’ll reply good or great.

But, well, good doesn’t really happen to express how you’re mind was blown recently by reading a cool book, or how you’re puzzling over whether or not to apply for consulting internships.

And frankly, you, like me, are sure that you’re spiel of “how its going” is uninteresting to anyone but you. After all, by and large my inner monologue these days is “How can I explain to potential employers what Industrial Organizational Psychology is and why that makes me a good fit for their job.  And how can I explain this in under 5 minutes?”  Which, I know is boring, because I can see eyes glazing over and really can’t seem to cut down the explanation to under 5 minutes despite rehearsing in most of my free time. (Which is also why you don’t see more interesting blog posts around here).

Anyway – aside from that inner monologue, I realized it had been 6 weeks since New Years Resolutions so I thought I’d poke around at them and see what progress I’ve made.

New Years Resolution Review:

Better family communication: I figured the best way to tackle this was to start the year out by focusing on quantity.  I’ve been calling one sister every 10 or so days, and fbook chatting the other every week or so.  I’ve been commenting on sister-in-laws fbook page every week.  I still should call my mom more, at least 2x a month. Which, I can hear gasps out there because you realize, if twice a month is improving quantity, things are pretty dismal. I usually email my dad about topics rather than newsy personal information – which from what I gather by reading women’s magazines aimed at people my age, is pretty standard.

To work on in the next 6 weeks: Emailing my dad every 10 days. Sharing more pictures with family.  Setting up a family dinner.

Networking – In order to get a job: I was pretty busy over the last couple weeks. I only attended one event,but reached out to 3 people I respect for regarding common interests and asking for advice about internships and career.  I also applied to 2 internships, and have plans to apply to another 3-4 this week.  Currently I’m balancing how much effort I devote to “stretch” internships (which are highly competitive and recruit from bigger name schools) and to those I think I have a more reasonable chance.  I have been considering offering my 2c on LinkedIn groups more frequently, in an attempt to enter the public forum… but haven’t quite worked a good strategy for this yet.

To work on in the next 6 weeks: Join a professional association/ Attend a professional event.  Identify and apply to the rest of my “stretch” internships, then devote more time to achievable ones.  Reach out to 2 industry leaders I respect with targeting questions. Continue to work on cutting back that 5 minute speech to 3 minutes or less.

North Shore Trail Series – Dates are up for this year!  The first race is both earlier than I thought and longer than I expected – 10 Miler on April 12 – so about 8 weeks away.  Right now I’ve been at “maintenance” physical levels – which I consider exercising 3x per week for 40 minutes. I can easily run 3-4 miles, but much beyond 5 would by physically exhausting.  I downloaded Hal Higdon’s 15 Intermediate training plan and intend to follow it for the next 9 weeks as much as possible.

30 before 30 list: It’s shaping up – I’ve got about 26 items on the list.  You might recall I’m trying to make most free/cheap – because money’s an issue – otherwise visiting my sister in France would be on the list. Some are silly, most involve learning something new.  I’m excited to check off a bunch of stuff – serious shot of serotonin coming up.

By the way – What would you put on a list of things to do before you turned 30? Links appreciated.

2014 Resolutions

In 2012 I resolved [among other things] to lose 15 pounds, be a better friend, and become a better blogger.

In 2013 I resolved [among other things] to pay off 1/3 of our student loans, teach Sunday School, and make more collages.

I had WAY more success with my resolutions in 2012 than 2013.  Which is the number one reason I’m sitting hesitantly poised over my keyboard, slightly ashamed at revealing that I’ve made more resolutions for 2014.

Although I confidently announced to friends last year that I usually attain what I resolve, well, one lesson I learned the hard way in 2013 is that you have to resolve to do realistic things.  I really truly wanted to pay off an extra part of those loans.  But I also really truly wanted to continue going to grad school.  Those two desires weren’t able to coexist, so I picked one over the other. And so the New Years Resolution didn’t occur.   End of story.  Was it failure? Was it just poor planning? Depends on how you call it, but at the end of the year, I feel good about the choices we made.

This year, I’ve got 2 BIG resolutions, and 3 small ones.

BIG:

1. Network Network Network!  The end goal of which is to find a job, or at the very least find some clarification on defining the ideal job for me, and my skills and getting it put into place.

2. Foster better communication among my family members.  There’s some seriously silly stuff going on because we’re not being good communicators.

small:

1. Plan and start a 30 before 30 list.  On my birthday in April, I’ll be 29, and I’m so excited about doing this traditional blogger checklist of completing a list of 30 items before you hit 30 years old.  I’ve been thinking about it for the last two months, but I want to look over some of my old journals and figure out what my younger self would have wanted to do too.

2. Reduce my ecological footprint by practicing more pre-cyling at the grocery store.  That means (so far) – making more snacks at home, buying in bulk, and remembering the produce bags during the non-CSA part of the year!

3. Run the 2014 North Shore Trail Series (except for that marathon – no interest in that whatsoever).

This year, as in 2012, I hope to check up a little bit on my progress throughout the year.  You manage what you measure, as all these business books I keep reading tell me.

2013 – As Usual the year started with a List of “To-Dos”

2012 – You were good to us.

Overall, the road was slow and steady, a plodding foot followed by another month after month.  There was joy and beauty in the small things, and for that, I was very grateful.  After all –  in 2011 we were homeless, jobless, changing directions, and sleepless.  So, in 2012 it was a great good thing to welcome all of those items (homes, jobs, purpose, and sleep) back into our life in abundance, mostly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I settled into this new role as a parent, started grad school, got more involved in my church, started a new blog with friends, and took up running again just to mention a few highlights.

DSC_0568
There were a lot of things to list on our Thanksgiving Tree this year.

As I already said in this post – I don’t intend to post as much at All Growing Up this year as I did last year (102 posts!).  I can’t speak for other bloggers – but I am always baffled by how much time it takes to craft and create a post I’m really proud of.  It’s days of ruminating on an idea, then a rough draft, and several others.  Then the frustrating detail work of formatting the whole thing – which I usually half-ass my way through.  (Which is why there aren’t that many pictures on this thing.) I’m completely in awe of those who present such polished work week after week like Domestocrat, Streets of Salem, Relishments – and I know these you are people with full time jobs.  I can only assume that you all have much better time-management skills than I do, and who knows, I might get there one day too.

But of course! I have Resolutions!  (the aforementioned list) And I want to share them desperately – and quite possibly check in on them throughout the year as I see fit. (You will see, there are no blogging resolutions for this space though.)

2013 New Years Resolutions.

  1. Decrease mile time to 9:20/mile – do 25 consecutive pushups, and Get a Running Buddy again! (Donald Miller says – if you want your resolutions to stick – do them with someone else.)
  2. Teach a Sunday School course (about Food! and Eating!) this Fall (also as part of my larger goal to Seek out Public Speaking opportunities.)
  3. Pay off 1/3rd of husband’s student loan.
  4. Eliminate the words “Always” and “Never” and “Should” from my vocabulary (particularly when preceded by the word “you.”)
  5. Memorize one Bible scripture passage per month.
  6. Write a short memoir.  (I’ve wanted to do this for three years now…)
  7. Create at least 52 collages in order to practice more artful living, and recycled art, on an ongoing basis.
First Collage of the Year
First Collage of the Year

And you? Did you resolve anything? (Or are you more of the Word-of-the-Year type person?)

ALSO: I am always charmed by Pinterest ideas – and then put about 5% into practice.  Here is one that I DO plan on doing this year.

Start the Year with an Empty Jar – fill with hopes, prayer, wishes, and blessings.

2012 New Years Resolutions in Review

There’s nothing like a sister to keep you in line.

While making delicious Sugar Cookies together I asked my sister Becca “What kind of New Years Resolutions will you be making next year?” and she said “My life is so awesome I don’t need to make it any better.”

But, I have already turned to thinking about my next years resolutions, and have decided it’s time to end this year’s, a few short weeks shy of the end of 2012.

Remember – This is what I wanted to do –

1.    Lose 15 Pounds.
2.    Be a good friend.
3.    Read 10 Important Books
4.    Family First
5.    Practice Better Blogging
6.    Be An Active part of my Communities
7.    Improve my Sustainable Living
8.    Grow Spiritually

I declare absolute success in three of them (1,5, and 8), failure in one (3) and shades of gray in all the rest.

I made fairly vague resolutions this year (other than the weight and the books), and that could (and did) turn into a little bit of unfocused trouble around summer time.  I focused on the theory behind life, rather than acquiring skills or achieving milestones. It also forced me to consider the meaning behind what type of life I want, and person I am (becoming). I needed to think hard about the direction I see my life heading in for the next 3-5 years, especially as I embarked on the process of changing career direction – but that wasn’t really the goal, was it?  So, it was nice to consider the overarching nature of life and sort through elements that kept recurring over and over.

Here’s a few things that really stuck out to me this year.

I contemplated the nature of being a good friend, and decided that any life that was too busy to involve a couple phone calls each week wasn’t a good life.   I thought about how having a group goal is a great way to cement friendships (like writing a blog.)  I even made a new friend (or two.)  I also realized my view of friendships has changed a lot since high school and college.  I’m unsure if it’s possible to have the types of friendships I valued back then as an adult with a family.  I’m concluding with a bit of truism – it’s hard to be a good friend, and it takes a lot of work.

Once you start looking for ways to be involved in your community, you’ll see dozens.  But, this can lead to decision paralysis on how to actually participate.  At the beginning of the year I thought I saw about five or six ways I could have stepped up to take leadership in different areas of my life – school, church, work, mom groups.  As the year is ending, I’m seeing, really, about two things that I want to continue investing in over and over and coming back to next year.

Something about book clubs and 2012 did not work for me (or my husband.)  We each separately tried to start one, and the one I joined at the beginning of the year fizzled out.  We could barely even commit to reading the same book together!  We love reading… but apparently books clubs weren’t in the pages for us this year.  Perhaps in the future.

I didn’t make any goals about being a more organized person this year, but more than anything I’d say that that has been what has shaped the second half of my year.   I think this was mainly a function of the fact that the more I committed to – the more I needed to balance work, play, and rest.

Now, perhaps you’ve noticed the decreasing frequency of posts over the last several weeks. Part of the implications of becoming more involved in my communities has been more time spent doing things, and less time spent writing about them.

In fact, I’m only expecting an increase in involvement over the upcoming months. I love writing this blog, but I love participating and writing at Connect Shore, studying for my classes, learning about environmental psychology, and being involved in Salem. I also love activities that don’t involve being on the computer – crafting, running, and who knows, maybe learning to take better picture with my camera.  There’s a tension there I don’t want to resolve by sacrificing sleep, so I’ll be blogging a lot less.

Also, as my friend Marta wrote in response to my latest Secret of Adulthood – “I love how your example of adulthood off the rails is… eating too many muffins.”

Maybe I don’t need to blog quite to frequently about how I’m becoming an adult… because, if eating too many muffins is the most serious thing I can come up with (and I’m dispensing advice about time management) then I’ve definitely reaching adulthood.

I’ve got a great idea for a series of posts going forward in December (particularly after classes end in two weeks) and into January. And I might talk about New Years Resolutions 2013… But for the most part, I’m planning on existing outside this space more in the future, especially after spring semester starts the third week of January and I throw myself into three classes and a graduate assistantship. (Yikes.)

As always, you can catch me over at Connect Shore, and I’ll update here whenever I feel the need to really get up on my soapbox.

Checking In with New Years Resolutions

Here is what I’ve accomplished nine months after I first made my Resolutions –
This is a smooshed-up review of August and September

1.    Lose 15 Pounds – Success! I have a few races (4 Miles in October, a Turkey Trot in November) planned for the rest of the year and a hope to maintain the success I’ve had through the now impending Holidays.  I might possibly achieve my pre-pregnancy weight (a 6 pound loss still) by the end of the year.  However – I feel satisfied with what I’ve completed so far and look forward to increasing the amount of weight i can lift and decreasing my mile time. (both goals for next year I think…)

2.    Be a good friend – With the solidification of my new organizational method (I mentioned it briefly in this post) I’ve been able to gain more of a sense of accomplishment with this goal.  Now I’m able to look to at least 7 or 8 concrete, measurable steps I take toward meeting it each week.  This was a good instance where re-framing the issue came in handy.  I also wrote this post determining what I thought being a good friend was in adulthood anyway.

I only somewhat think this is true…

3.    Read 10 Important Books – I read 2 important books for my career, one each in August and September.  Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, and The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge.  At this point I’ve lowered the bar quite a number of times on this goal, so much so that I’m not sure it’s as meaningful as I intended in January.  I’ve got three more books I’m planning to try to read for the rest of the year, but I will have to think more carefully about making a similar goal next year.  I want to strive to avoid tunnel vision academically but also don’t always find the impetus to read difficult primary documents in my free moments.

Not an “important book” but certainly an enjoyable book!

  4.    Family First – Again, the organizational method to the rescue.  Its easy to see what steps to take to put my family first and to see that I’m celebrating them as integral and necessary to my own development and happiness.  Also, our family vacation in August was simply amazing!

Family Vacation at Cape Cod

   5.    Practice Better Blogging – Stuck to my schedule here, made a “Posts for the Rest of the Year” spreadsheet in order to copy Relishments (haha… but really, yes.) and working on the “better title” thing for Connect Shore.

6.    Be An Active part of my Communities – Over the course of this year I’ve been surprised how much this goal snowballed.  By that I mean, the more I reached out, the more I was drawn in.  The more time I spent searching for facebook events to join, groups I could increase my participation in, and saying “Yes!” the happier I felt.  Sometimes as a stay at home mom I question whether I’m an extrovert, but then I remember the charge I get from volunteering, conversing, and being a part of groups.  I am a very active part of my communities – and will enjoy even further participation in the future.  Most notable in September – I signed up (finally!) to volunteer with Green Salem and really did make it to an Art Throb launch!  I also was able to propose leading a book club at my church.

7.    Improve my Sustainable Living – Farmer Dave’s farm share is winding down, but we’ve found a winter share through the end of the year. I’ve been trying to get more careful about writing down what I want several weeks before I need it to give myself time to look for used items without pressure, which has somewhat been working.  I’ve been improving my theoretical understanding lately of sustainable development by working slowly through this primer (its a pdf) by Robert Kates.  As I read along I’m careful to search for other sources of material.  I’m hoping that this study will translate into career opportunities in the future – but it’s very open ended right now.  Also, I signed up to hear Bill McKibben (and others) speak in November in Boston – I’m excited!

http://www.350.org/

8.    Grow Spiritually.  It’s totally subjective of course, but over the course of the year I’ve been trying to be more grateful and to mutter under my breath “people succeed in groups” whenever I feel a twinge of jealousy over others opportunities.  Yet, coupled with prayer, I think I have found myself more content, joyful, and satisfied with my life. (Even though I’m still not famous, like a riffed on as my number 2 lie I’ve believed in this post at Connect Shore)

Beginning the process of co-leading a devotional book club at my church (see the above poster) has also increased my ears to hear spiritual leading from God, and caused me to love Him more.  And again on the organizational method – breaking the day into segments has provided natural times to pray, and weekly reminders to reflect – both potent reinforcers.

How are your New Years Resolutions Going?

New Years Resolutions – July Edition

It’s been about two months since I reviewed my New Year’s Resolutions so I feel like we’re due for a re-cap here.

 Lose 15 Pounds – total pounds lost so far this year – 13! – I am so close to meeting my goal, and I’m pretty dang proud of myself. I’ve been running three or more times a week and lifting weights at least twice a week.  I’ve also got a lot of clothes to go through by the end of the month and decide whether to discard or keep them or give them away.

Be a good friend – I honestly thought summer would be a time of non-stop hanging out with people all the time… and that hasn’t quite been true. But I have been spending more time with a few new friends of mine, and of course, my lovely co-bloggers at Connect Shore. I’ve been trying to teach Ethan how to be a good friend – which for him mostly means, not hitting people in the face, or on the head, or at all. And suddenly, I found myself asking – what does friendship look like in adulthood? I think I should probably spend a little more time defining “friendship” instead of just meandering through life trying to do it better. Yeah, That’s probably a blog post that’ll show up in August.

Read 15 Important Books– I can’t say that I read any of the books I marked as important in July. But I caught up on a great deal of fiction books that I had wanted to read – Gilead, Game of Thrones, Little Women and Me, That Hideous Strength for a few. And reading fiction after quite a bit of statistics readings in June was a welcome change.

Family First – I’m proud to announce that we managed a rough draft of our family mission statement. It’s scribbled into a corner of my notebook, the one that I use as a planner, idea jotter, and list holder. Hopefully as we ease into what will probably be the most relaxing month of the year, I will be able to approximate an appropriately beautiful representation of these idealistic thoughts.

Practice Better Blogging – Ha. Honestly, I thought it was too hot to blog in July. I sat on my couch reading said fiction books and felt only a small bit of guilt about my lack of posts. Hey, it’s the summer, right? Now that it’s been back in the 70’s I find the ideas are coming back, and I’ve been toying with looking into attending a blogging conference sometime in the next six months.  (Looking back on last year, the same thing happened.  July really IS too hot for blogging.)

Be An Active part of my Communities – What are my communities again? Oh yeah, Church, Blogging, Salem, Moms. Hmm… I think I’m gathering dust here… not sure that’s a good thing.

Improve my Sustainable Living – Got the compost bin. Finally. Eating my weight (well, at least my left leg’s weight) in vegetables from Farmer Dave’s CSA every week. Learning to check Craigslist before buying anything is my goal for august. Also,I’m going to have to sort out my thoughts on Amazon offering used options for almost everything. Is this a good/sustainable thing, even if it’s still shipped from six states away?

Grow Spiritually – I was reminded this month how important journalling is to my spiritual growth. If I can get myself to take a moment to pause and pen some words, I’m well on the way to appreciating God’s hand in my life. I realized I’d never make a good missionary because I have a hard time seeing God’s work when it’s happening and therefore giving credit where credit is due. It’s only in retrospect that I’m able to definitively say “That was an answer to prayer.” Certainly something to ponder and improve upon in the future.

Other Great July Things: Got the assistantship for Salem State, learned to crochet, and saw a beautiful friend get married in Pennsylvania.