The “winter break” where I often take off the days between Christmas and New Years flew by this year. So I’m actually writing my top music and resolutions post about a week late. Part of this is due to catching a nasty cold while we were in Hayward, Wisconsin. Despite that, it was actually a great trip and I’d like to go back in the future.
As always, we need to start by looking at last year’s objectives and grading ourselves against them:
2016 Goal #1: Less Sleep. In retrospect this sounds silly anyway, but I did not achieve this goal. I don’t know that I thought it through all that well. My initial take was to get more time for exercise and other activities in the morning by getting up at 5am every day. Truth be told, this idea faded quickly. Parenting and a general lack of time means that sleep is needed. I’d give myself an F on this one, mostly due to it being a poorly thought out idea in the first place.
2016 Goal #2: Less Poor Eating. I’d give myself an A- on this endeavor. Teresa, Juni and I all committed to purchasing only what we needed for meals and it worked really well. Every week (including this morning) we plan the dinners and to a lesser extent lunches and snacks, then purchase the food. This sounds like a simple thing, and it is, but the impact it has on what you eat and the making decisions is really big. There’s less food around the house to snack on, you save money on wasted food or buying things you don’t actually need or use, and you’re more organized. This is a resolution that will stick with us for decades, which is the whole point.
2016 Goal #3: Less Screen Time. What gets measured gets managed. That’s the rub with this. I feel as though we did a better job this last year in terms of not spending too much time on tablets and phones, but it’s tough to say. My consumption of media is relegated to Twitter on a tablet, sports or videogames while on the elliptical, and whatever I watch with Teresa and Juni–usually TV series on HBO, movies or kids television. I don’t think that’s too bad, but it’s not perfect. Teresa was doing this one as well, I think we both did about the same. Overall grade, B-.
2016 Goal #4: Less Long Term Thinking. This was more of a purposeful focus on enjoying today than anything else. I’d like to think this was a successful endeavor generally, but I’d be lying if I stated that my prerogative isn’t still always weighing the long term. My outlook is usually thinking 2-3 decades down the line at this point; I’ve no idea if this is “normal” for most folks, but it’s how I’m wired. Yet last year there was a lot of enjoyment in the there and then. We took a few trips (Iceland, Sweden, and exotic Wisconsin), spent a good deal of time out on the bike and walking in parks. Looking back, it’s pretty intense how quickly time goes now. Grade of B+.
Now, as to the coming year. Looking back at goals, they used to be focused on financial, health and intellectual pursuits. The financial goals are still there today, but I don’t really feel compelled to write about them as they are simply part of the way we live our lives. Save some money, pay off some bills, plan for the future. So many of those pursuits are dictated by the general economy that they become boring, despite being so important. I still read a lot of financial independence blogs, and respect them, but the minutia which some of these folks pursue saving money and building wealth is too much for me. We’re in the black, despite having many things to pay off and many capital expenditures on the homestead coming up.
Health wise, this last year was definitely the first year my age became apparent. A small shoveling incident opened up a potential area of weakness, most likely psychosomatic in nature however nonetheless concerning. My peak health was in the summer of business school where I dropped down to 160 Lb. and was bordering on a six pack. It was great, but it also required an incredible amount of working out. Those days aren’t far gone, but the time to do those things is. In short, health goals are still happening, but they have to be sustainable and built into the schedule. Pushups, pull ups, air squats in the AM. Lifting or running during the lunch breaks. Elliptical after Juni has gone to bed during videogames or watching TV. It works.
Intellectual goals are perhaps the most important out of all, given that the others have been the primary focus in the last ten years. Of course, all of these ideas meld together in uncertain terms as you live your life. Keeping track is the hardest part, which is why these posts are my favorite of the year. The question is what to focus on? What can make a difference for yourself, your family, your friends or the world in general? That’s the difficulty in choosing. Why not do it all? Well the return on invested time declines if you try to accomplish too much. Do something that sticks.
Goal #1: Become Educated On Climate Change. This is both a professional and personal goal, as it’s quite relevant to my vocation now. Most of my life I’ve always tried to figure out what’s the biggest thing I can do to help other people and the planet in general. It hasn’t been a driving force for myself, but a question–when I’ve achieved my personal goals, how can I help to give back? I think there are a number of things that could entail, but the biggest issue from my viewpoint for the next hundred years will be the drastic effects of climate change and how we can curb the inevitable issues that will stem from it. At this point it’s not a question of if, but the severity thereof. The first thing I need to do is get through the books on my night stand and dive into it. By the end of this year I should have read multiple books and viewpoints on the subject and built an internal prerogative on the most powerful ways to address and limit the changes coming.
Goal #2: More Family Time. This last year was a big transition for me in learning how to interact with my daughter, sounds odd, but I’ve never actually had any children and as they grow spending time with them is important but not necessarily visceral. They are learning all the time and don’t always want you around. It comes more natural to mothers, in my estimation, but it’s every bit as important to have your father there with you as you learn in order to build a relationship. This goal is about being diligent and speaking and playing with Juni as she grows, as well as finding time for Teresa and I to go out or just relax at home. With all my other goals for exercise, reading and writing, it actually gets somewhat difficult to find time. But it has to be a precedent.
Goal #3: Cut Down Vulgar Vocabulary. My childhood and adolescents were spent in a blue collar background with great friends of similar ilk. The vernacular of us kids growing up wasn’t always the cleanest, and although we were hardly sailors, many of those less appealing words and phrases have stuck. With a daughter that will undoubtedly soak in anything and everything she’s exposed to, it’s time to limit those words. There’s an interesting aside here in the professional environment; when and where is it acceptable to use such vocabulary? You’d be surprised that it’s actually a powerful tool in many scenarios, but also a humbling achilles heel in others. This is a post for another time. The four letter words need to go in the home for certain, and potentially other areas.
Goal #4: Get To Some New Places. Travel is getting harder with Juniper. We do have a few trips lined up, first off is San Diego over Spring break, then in the summer a week long vacation with Teresa’s side of the family. I’d like to get another trip or two in if possible where we go somewhere new, but again it’s a real challenge at this point in time. It may turn out that the new places are simply a few longer weekends in local areas, but that’d be enough. Travel is definitely one of my favorite things to do and it’s something that we’ll have to work at.
That’ll do it for this year. Best of luck to you and yours in the coming twelve months; we’ll check back in on my progress in 2018.