Starting today

I like making new goals. I like taking a look at my life, seeing what works and what doesn’t work, and then making plans to change the things that aren’t working. Waiting until New Year’s Day to make a resolution, though, just seems dumb and wasteful. If you know what you need to do, why not do it?

It’s one thing to “have one more for the road”. Believe me, I’ve done that. A lot. But putting something off for weeks or months just so it coincides with an arbitrary date of January 1st is a bit much.

OK, I lied. I just went back to check, and it turns out I have made New Year’s resolutions in the past, at least twice. First, here’s a list from 2007 that I started, but never actually published. Let’s see how I did:

  • Learn to trust myself
  • Work on trusting others
  • Own something “real” (condo, house, stocks… anything)
  • Run a 5K in under 26:24
  • Run a 10K in under 52:48
  • Run a half-marathon
  • Weigh under 165 for at least 6 months (hopefully permanently)
  • Write three more novels
  • Finish and publish my second novel

Leaving aside what some of those even mean – “MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC”? …the Hell? – I didn’t even come close to those, at least in 2007.

I did run a half-marathon, eventually, last year.

I haven’t written three new novels, I haven’t “finished” or published my second novel 1.

My fastest 5K time to date is the Race for the Roses 2007, at 27:12, and my fastest 10K time to date is the Cinco de Mayo 2007, at 58:40, so I was definitely working towards those goals that year.

My weight records for that year are lost to me now (note to self and others: don’t use tools that don’t allow me to extract my data in plain text) but I’m pretty sure I didn’t make it to 165 lb that year – or since.

Owning something “real” (in the financial/legal sense of “real property”)? Nope. Not yet. Except for my single, symbolic share of Apple common stock, which will never make me rich because I don’t intend to ever sell it.

In 2008, I posted a “goals” list that covers much the same territory as the previous list: run faster, weigh less, write more and get my writing out in front of the public, get out of debt, and work on my socializing skills. Those are definitely my long-term goals.

Are these goals too difficult? Are they too far off? For example, I weighed in this morning at 194 lbs; getting down to 165 would be 29 weeks away, at one pound per week. That’s late July. My strength of will varies on a much faster schedule than that. I have good days, and bad weeks, is what I’m saying.

I like what Penelope Trunk has to say about keeping resolutions: start with small steps, work in increments of three weeks at a time, set specific goals, and most importantly, start right now.

Starting today, here’s my goals for the next three weeks:

  • Wear my running clothes for an hour every other day – by simply making an effort to put on running clothes and wearing them for an hour, I’ll be inclined to go for a run. That’s why I have exercise-specific clothes in the first place. I never wear my running shoes for anything except running, so just the act of putting them on signals to my brain “I’m going running”.
  • Track every dollar I spend – simply by tracking my money, I’ll be more aware of what I spend, and hopefully by measuring it, I can make changes.
  • Weigh in every morning – again, what is measured, can be changed.
  • Write a blog post every day – easy-peasy, right? One post per day. If I’m really ambitious, I’ll start writing ahead. But for now, one post per day. I have to have something interesting to say every day, right?

The social skills are, to me, the hardest to visualize and set a daily, recurring goal. “Talk to someone new every day”? Too easy – if I buy coffee, does that count? Reply to someone on Twitter? Send out a response on Craigslist?

I’ve had, in my mind, a new blog idea, of documenting my thoughts and progress in becoming more social. In the meantime, though, I’ve put myself out there a lot more than I have in the past; especially in 2009. Dating, going to Tweetups, volunteering for 30 Hour Day, getting involved again in my union at work (AFSCME Local 88 represent!), interacting on Twitter, playing D&D and starting my own group that meets monthly, reconnecting with old friends… seriously, 2009 was a banner year for me, socially.

When I figure out how to make that a daily goal, I’ll post it.

1 If that “publish my second novel” confuses you, because I haven’t published my first novel yet, here’s my explanation: my first novel is not going to be published, at least in my lifetime. I’m glad I wrote it, I learned a lot about writing long form fiction, but it’s just not something I want to share. I may change my mind in the future, but don’t bank on it. But I’ll be happy to mine it for ideas I can turn into other stories.