I don’t really have a habit of making New Year’s resolutions, but I do write a letter to myself one year from now each December. Those end up being much more about how I feel than anything else, but I see the value in actually thinking about what you want for the coming year. I take the approach of The Ship of Theseus, and thinking less of radical overhauls and more gradual incorporation of newer and newer pieces.
Here’s the 2020 list of shiny new ship parts, let’s see what sticks:
- Go (or rather, attempt) surfing. I’ve heard so much about the mindfulness surfing cultivates, and I’ve wanted to give it a proper try for years now. It seems like the most physical manifestation of being comfortable with uncertainty. Plus I read Barbarian Days; I see the appeal. I also secretly suspect that I won’t like it at all–I have little to no upper body strength, I’m not the best swimmer, I’m the palest person in Asia, etc. But I think part of the reason I’m so committed to doing it is to keep moving myself in the direction of trying/knowing > wondering.
- Run 15 miles per week. This is primarily to build consistency into my routine. I’ve trained for (and been unable to run) *two* goddamn half marathons in the past two years, once because of an injury and once because of a work scheduling conflict. I feel like I have to do this to prove to myself that I can at this point. I think making the time and space to improve at something, and prioritizing that goal enough to shift other things in my life (including something that sounds simple but isn’t to me–asking for vacation time!) is something I need to be better at. Also, there’s an annual race in Angkor Wat and if I’m going to run that far I want to pretend like it’s Tomb Raider the whole time.
- Improve my Japanese. This one is about the importance of making an effort, even when it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing. It’s about being comfortable with being a beginner at something that’s really difficult. Speaking is more important than reading/writing to me, though I do want to learn those as well, and my goal is to be able to have a substantial conversation (not introducing myself, asking the time/weather/directions) by the end of the year. This will be a lot easier (and faster) to accomplish if I can manage to get over my own ego.
- Blog regularly for you! I think I use busyness as an excuse to not do the work of reflection. I also clearly make time to consume a ton of media, but I want to tip the scales more towards the production part. And I feel like my life is a bit of a blur to the people I care about because of it. I don’t always do a good job of sharing my experiences. Related goal: make this space look better!
- Find a new job, even if that’s at my current job. I need a new approach to work, and my current role needs to shift. Whether that means finding a new opportunity or creating more opportunities to work on projects I’m interested in at my current job, I’m not sure, but something needs to change and I need to change it. As an analyst I realize the irony of this being my most ambiguous (not SMART) goal.
- Get my finances together. My personal finances are a lesson in avoidance. Here’s another aspect of my life where I’ve made the “I’m too busy to deal with this” excuse to my detriment.
- Publish a journal article as first author. This is something that’s been on my work to do list as important but not urgent for….over a year now. Honestly it feels like something I will say and never do, thus putting it here for public shaming and accountability. This involves a lot of work outside of work hours, putting myself out there and preparing to receive feedback on something I’ve spent so much time and energy on, and also advocating for recognition of my contribution to people who kind of intimidate me.
- Write an R package. This is about being useful to other people, learning a new skill, and also focusing on building better systems to resolve issues that repeatedly arise rather than reacting to them and getting annoyed.
- Put stuff on Github. Similarly to above, I miss the feeling that my work is useful to other people and hope this accomplishes that element. I’ve also felt the need to build something like a body or work, and this seems like the best start to compile what I can do, get feedback from others, and actually look at what progress I’m making.
- Keep my plant babies alive (currently alive: Pizza, Natto, jade plant, Greg, Parsley, Jellybean, Lucky, Salad, Robertito, and some butterfly pea/Burmese spinach climbing vine shoots. Okra is alive but kind of at death’s door)
- Volunteer at my CSA
- Make terrible art on a regular basis (examples to come!)
- Learn Burmese
What are yours?