Monday, January 02, 2006

I Hereby Resolve...

...umm, actually, as I hinted at yesterday, I don't really do full-blown "New Year's resolutions" per se. It seems like people can put a lot of undue pressure on themselves, especially during a holiday season. After all, it's all well and good to make a bunch of grandiose plans for the year ahead, but it's also quite easy to fall off whatever wagon you've hitched yourself to for the new year within a few days...and then what? You feel guilty for the next 360 or so. No thanks.

But I'd be lying if I said I didn't in some way use the changing of a year to take stock of my life and figure out things that could be improved. Everyone knows the obvious topics--the ones that come up in year-end surveys like this one: Lose weight, exercise more, handle finances better, quit smoking, etc. I definitely don't smoke, and I think I'm way better with money than I was five years ago, but the first two are of interest to me. I would like for there to be a little less of me, and I feel better when I'm active (though the place-to-place demands of a job with ten different work sites never truly renders me "sedentary"). The gym at school is free, but it's sometimes a challenge to schedule, because it doubles as a classroom (which limits its availability) and I work long hours elsewhere. I'm also the first to admit that not every food item I eat is at the top of the "healthiest" list, and my work hours and locations pretty much require me to eat out a lot.

However, if I came on here and said "I'm going to lose ____ pounds by ____ (month)," my plan would be doomed to failure. So why set myself up like that? Instead, I'll just say that I plan to make incremental changes over a period of time which should pay off in the long run. Will I trade in my beloved Chipotle burritos for wild nuts and berries? No, but I'll eat the salad instead of the burrito more often, and have tea more often than Dr Pepper (for that matter, doing the refill as tea even on DP days). Will I resolve to go to the gym three times a week? Nah, that's not practical...but there is a great retail area in the shape of a small town not five minutes from home, and I walk the entire streetscape whenever I'm there for any reason (and sometimes will go just to do the walk). And I will wake up one snooze-alarm earlier each day to do a gradually increasing series of crunches and push-ups. Will I set a deadline? Nope, that adds too much anxiety to the mix. Will I count calories? No freaking way; I have no desire to be that anal again. And if I fall off the wagon on any of this, I will re-board said wagon the next day.

I think that's the secret to all this--rather than making grandiose plans that are almost certain to fail. it's better to give yourself a series of short, attainable goals that can be expanded once they're in plain sight. Also, this is probably the last time I'll mention any of this on the blog, unless and until something major is completed. Is this way for everybody? Probably not, but it works for me.

Oh, and to all my friends who live nearby: Pleeeeeeeeze come over and help me eat the barrels of candy and cookies that students and their parents gave me for Christmas. It's great stuff, but if I eat it all by myself, I'll need to walk to every school I visit just to maintain the status quo.

UPDATE: Lileks weighs in on the futility of resolutions.

You're gonna rain on my parade? Who cares--we'll go on anyway: I woke up to watch the Rose Parade this morning; it's been a personal tradition since I was four years old and actually attended the thing. It was raining for the first time in 51 years, but the parade went on as scheduled. Of local interest was the presence of the Allen Escadrille, the marching band and drill team (of more than 600 members!) from a few suburbs up the road. I have a student in that band, and he told me that, in order to get there, the band put 200 people on a charter flight and spread the rest among 7 or 8 other flights (!). They actually got some decent face time on NBC when they stopped for a moment in front of the cameras.

The floats were their usual amazing selves, and everything seemed to hold up pretty well despite the weather. I can imagine that dry cleaners and instrument repair technicians will get a lot of extra business from this parade, considering all the wet uniforms and horns that I saw (of course, I felt especially bad for the saxophonists in that weather).

There was also an interesting political angle to the bad weather: Today's grand marshal was soon-to-be-retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The last time it rained on the parade, in 1955, the grand marshal was Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren. Hey, organizers--let's leave the justices in Washington for a few more decades, OK?

A long read, but worth it: Dave Barry may not be writing regular columns anymore, but he still has his Year in Review.

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