I’m of the opinion that having one, solitary new year’s resolution is a bit of a cop-out. A single resolution, while admirable, is invariably too simple to fail (eat more salad) or too massive to be measurable (be a better person). Better to aim for that overlapping sweet spot of the Venn diagram, maximizing both quality and quantity.
That being said, here are my goals for 2019.
As a kid, I read constantly. From dinosaur books in grade school to the horrors of Stephen King in my early teens, it was rare for me not to have a stack of books in my room, waiting to be read. The geeky, strange Far Side and pun-strewn Xanth series by Piers Anthony probably shaped me most, resulting in my love of Dad jokes even before I became a biological father.
While I have read Dragons Love Tacos and Mostly Monsterly to my 2-1/2 yr old countless times, my own literary intake has ground to a veritable halt. It’s not to say I haven’t been reading per se, but most of what I consume now are online think pieces, essays, professional articles, and white papers. This is all well and good, but I would much rather my son’s first long-term memory of me (he’ll be three this year) isn’t of me staring at a screen. We use our devices a lot and even when we’re doing so for work or mentally-rewarding reading, it just doesn’t hold the same worth as holding a book or a newspaper or something tactile.
While our local library’s online book lending service is convenient, I will strive to wait the extra day or two for a book swap within the library system than to grab an e-book immediately.
Share more (professionally)#
In 2019, I plan to write more and speak at some conferences. I haven’t spoken at a conference since WordCamp Asheville 2017 and this article is one of merely two I have written in 2018. It’s depressing.
Professionally, 2017 and 2018 have been hugely transformative. My understanding of agile project management and the role of a scrum master within a development team is thousands of miles ahead of where I was a few years ago. I’d be working against one of the main purposes of scrum but not educating broadly (and often).
It’s not about “thought leadership” though. The older I get, the more that term reeks of self-importance and pompous bluster. The world needs less thought leaders and more thought sharers and I hope to be a positive part of the movement in 2019.
I have a lot of energy - nervous energy. I am an unrepentant leg-bouncer. I fidget, I pace, I tend to dance to an unheard techno song on most video calls.
That being said, my exercise regiment took a severe nosedive in my 30s. I used to hike mountains, sprint up and down the ultimate field for hours, and distance-run barefoot regularly. After topping out at a 10-mi run in the early ’10s, I haven’t run more than 10 miles a year since 2014.
For my body, for my mind, and for my family, I need to get active once more.
Eat less crap#
You don’t lose weight with exercise alone. Alongside an increased activity level, I really need to eat less garbage. We do eat veggies and whatnot, but we also partake in delicious desserts and joyous junk food. Pizza, wings, nachos, ice cream, and takeout Chinese have been constant companions, but they really need to hit the road now that I am 40.
I don’t put much stock in online BMI calculators, but as a 5’11” male who is not a professional athlete, I really don’t have any excuse weighing more than 200lbs. If I can reach (and maintain) a weight in the 180s this year, I’ll be very, very happy.
Be less of a cynical grump#
Speaking of being happy, I need to keep myself emotionally honest.
It’s not about being happy all the time. If something sad happens, I have every right to be sad—it would be troublesome if I weren’t. But, day-to-day, I find it very easy to be angry, annoyed, and bitingly sardonic. When my shoot-from-the-hip reaction to most anything is to be mocking, that’s an issue.
Make no mistake, there is a lot of bullshit in the world right now. If some craphead is being a bigoted ass, said craphead deserves derision. But I am pretty much over needless sarcasm, even if I only honor it in thought.
I remember being a freshman in college. As an English major, I took great strides to evoke a bohemian inscrutability. Woe is me! God is dead! Nothing matters! After a while, I realized I was a drag to be around; even I didn’t much like myself. So I dropped the baleful poetry and mottled sweaters and celebrated my quirky sense of humor instead.
But that was a long time ago. A whole lot of life has taken place since then—some of it magically marvelous while other parts were downright disastrous. Slowly, year after year, my edge sharpened again. Life is good for me now and I need to take strides to sheathe my punk-rock attitude unless needed.
My resolutions this year are less about erasing bad habits and more about taking control. I have accepted a lot about myself; not all of it is saintly or heroic, and that’s ok. I’m working to turn the volume down on the parts of me that harm or lack utility while cranking the good and the beneficial up to 11.