06 January 2008

No new year's resolutions

I couldn’t precisely say why I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. I suspect that it has something to do with my preoccupation with notions such as: If it takes an artificial prime mover for you to achieve a goal, you probably can’t achieve it anyway. I make (or fail to make) changes once I figure out how to fix the thing I noticed was broken. I spent too much money on coffee for two years running. Part of that was priding myself on the superficial and genuine fact that I had never made a cup of coffee in my life. Until this week, that is¹. I don’t need a resolution for that. I just need resolve.

So no resolutions for me. But I do love my lists and guiding principles. So I have a set of guidelines inspired in part by Gretchen Rubin’s “Twelve Commandments” at The Happiness Project. My guidelines are broader in scope than happiness-promotion, but they are essentially the same in practice.
  • Relax, be sociable
  • Risk it
  • Indulge in healthy pleasures
  • Language or music, every day
  • Do what ought be done, do it now
The list used to be longer. But once a guideline becomes habit, I drop it. I’d like to think that by attending to this list I’m actually accomplishing more self-improvement than I otherwise would with standalone annual resolutions.

My casual [Okay, they’re not casual at all – I calculate, I consider and reconsider, and I measure.] personal goals have little to do with business. But they do inform how I move through my all of my life, so they necessary bump into my business life. In fact, I actually have a much easier time fulfilling my principles for growth at work.

Relax, be sociable. Though I have strict rules about conduct while on the clock, my job is unavoidably social and while it’s stressful, it’s usually an easy kind of stress for me to push through. Risk it. I get paid in no small part to identify, disarm, and take worthwhile risks. Indulge in healthy pleasures. I generally plan the pace of my work so that I take breaks, eat well on the job by prepping lunches in advance, and I bike commute whenever possible. Language or music, every day. Most of my hard drive at work is pressed into the service of storing music. And I have the delightful obligation of working with language. Do what ought be done, do it now. Unless it’s a make-work task [hello, hours reporting] I can find a way to dodge, I don’t generally get the luxury of waiting for long to accomplish any given task.

Actually, if I fail at those five points at work, I’m pretty well screwed.


¹ Geoff was kind enough to teach me how to use my French press and Jake was kind enough to pick me up excellent beans from Batdorf & Bronson.

1 comment:

Josiah said...

This post is pure gold and it mentions one of my favorite personal 'commandments':

Do what ought be done, do it now.

This rule is life-changing; I firmly believe that taking on this mentality has helped to shape my mind and abilities and point me toward a career. It isn't so much the antithesis of procrastination as it is the realization that things not only need to be taken care of, but they'd be better off taken care of now. Procrastination stops being a bad habit and becomes something far more negative.

Anyway, I agree with you about New Year's Resolutions and I think you've phrased it wonderfully. If you are searching for reasons outside of yourself, it is clear that you lack the inner resolve to carry out the change.

It's a little surprising to hear that you'd never made your own cup of coffee, but there's no time like the present; we should get together and have coffee sometime soon.