January 3, 2014

2014 Resolutions

At the end of December, I told myself I wasn't going to make any resolutions for 2014--I always set goals that are either very specific or very broad, setting myself up for failure either way, and I tend to make the same resolutions year after year related to my health, my finances, my dislike of vacuuming...

But I've been giving some thought to resolutions over the past few days, and I think I've realized why I always fail to keep them: it's not because they're too broad or too specific, but because they're awful and feel like punishment. Go to the gym more, cut back on caffeine, plan a week's worth of meals every Saturday morning, keep up with the dusting, blah blah boring. These things are important, to be sure, and sticking to them would have benefits--but when I think about what changes I could make in my life that would bring me the most happiness, these aren't them.

So I've decided to set five resolutions for 2014, and all of them are going to be positive (and, I hope, painless):

  1. Read at least 24 books. I know this sounds like nothing--and it is nothing, compared to the amount of reading I used to do up until a few years ago--but an average of two books per month is more than I'm reading now and still doable. With a full-time job, side projects, tons of home-improvement projects that I'm devoted to, and all the other work that I create for myself, I don't have as much downtime for reading as I'd like. I also admit that after signing up for Netflix during K's last deployment, my default relaxing/vegging out activity has become watching movies or TV shows, whereas it used to be picking up a book. I'd like to start reading more again. (As soon as I'm done binge-watching One Tree Hill. Don't judge.)
  2. Schedule weekly downtime. Speaking of work I create for myself...I'm a slave to my to-do list--not just the physical written one that I'm constantly writing and rewriting, but also the mental one that starts forming in my head every time I see dirty dishes in the sink or my overgrown front lawn. I usually feel like my day has been wasted if I haven't done something "productive," which is silly. My dad likes to say that life is 90 percent maintenance, and he's right--it's amazing how much time I devote to my and K's chores and personal administrative tasks, time that I'd rather be spending reading a book or taking a hike or sewing a new dress out of some cool vintage fabric I recently picked up. But if I put off my sewing until tomorrow so that I can wash that pile of dishes right now, I'll just end up putting off the sewing again to wash tomorrow's pile of dirty dishes. The work will always be there. I'm not saying I'm going to skip filing my taxes or let my home fall into disrepair, but I do want to schedule time for myself each week to do some of the fun, creative things that I otherwise can't seem to find time for, and to make those things a priority.
  3. Complete at least 12 creative projects. Related to the last point, I always feel so much better--mentally, emotionally, and even physically--when I'm regularly finding creative outlets. I want to use some of my downtime I'm creating for myself to work on projects that are solely for my own enjoyment--sewing and writing, in particular.
  4. See a career counselor. I've been unhappy in my job for a long time, but have felt powerless to make changes because I'm at a complete loss about how and what to change: am I unhappy because of my work environment, or is it the job itself? If it's the job, what about it specifically is making me feel this way? If I want to change careers, what the heck should I be doing instead, and how do I figure that out? I'm overwhelmed by the questions and don't know how to come up with the answers, but I can take one step toward figuring it all out by getting some assistance and feedback from a professional.
  5. Take more photos. I used to be a camera junkie and my friends and I would take pictures all the time, but over the past few years I've somehow just stopped. My cell-phone camera is not high quality, and I rarely have my regular camera on me unless I'm on a trip. I love being able to scroll through digital albums online--and, even more, I love being able to flip through tangible photo albums IRL--but it's been years since I've been in the habit of taking photos of day-to-day life just because. By the end of 2014, I'd like to have another (recent) album full of fun memories of family and friends.

These are the things I really, truly want to work on in 2014. Losing weight, cutting back on coffee, saving more money--those are all good things I hope to do, too, but my priority will be improving my level of happiness and satisfaction by focusing on the above.

What positive changes do you want to make in 2014?