I’m not really a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I find New Year’s resolutions to be a highly ineffective means of exacting change for the good in life. This time honored tradition is largely ineffective because implementation of the resolution is not so…shall we say “resolute”?
As much as I hate new years resolutions, I do use the start of the New Year to think about how I can consistently implement positive change in my life. So with that in mind, I’d like to take some time to first reflect on my last year.
This last year I broke my resolutions down into 3 categories:
Personal Growth, Personal Habits, and General Life Aims
While many of the resolutions were fairly open-ended and are not easily measured, some were actually fairly apparent whether or not I’ve achieved them.
So let’s review them now and give them grades. Drumroll motherluvers…
In the category of Personal Growth (I feel like I’m announcing the Oscar winners now) I had goals of:
1) Practicing mindfulness to a much greater extent A
2) Being a better listener (huh? what was that?) B
3) Being more compassionate A
4) Being more vulnerable A
5) Taking risks, conquering fears, being more decisive C
6) Loving more A
Average = (A-/B+)
I was fairly good at being more mindful this last year. I meditated more, did yoga more, journaled, and cultivated more equanimity. This led to my year generally being much more peaceful.
I attempted to be a better listener for the most part, but I have to be honest and say I still don’t have much patience when it comes to marathon small talk. After a while, my ADHD kicks in without my consent, or my meditative training takes me to a happy place (usually that of the Brazilian beach variety). Either way I still find myself missing chunks of conversation and only realizing it after returning upon being asked a question by the other party. Yikes!
I’ve been much more compassionate this last year and have found myself helping those in need much more than before. I’ve made friends with the local homeless on the way to work, and I’ve tried to make those with a rougher life than myself a little more comfortable. After all we’re all one right?
Before the beginning of last year I had read Brene Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection” along with watching her TED talk – which if you haven’t watched, well you should. In a nutshell – she posits by being more vulnerable in relationships you open yourself up to a deeper and more real connection. I’ve found this to be incredibly true, incredibly scary, and incredibly worth it. It’s definitely a practice worth implementing. The relationships that I have allowed myself to be more vulnerable have flourished this last year.
In terms of taking risks, conquering fears, and being more decisive…well let’s just say that’s a work in progress. But hey the good thing is I have my entire life to improve in this arena. Yes quickly improving would be optimal, but I can’t be pushy with my personal growth and it’s not worth beating myself up over.
Lastly, I’ve loved more than I even could imagine this last year…and it’s been worth everything to me.
In the category of Habitual Change I had goals of:
1) Waking up early consistently (Beep beep..Zzz..Beep beep..Zzz) D
2) Quitting Smoking A
3) Maintaining an active workout schedule C
4) Cutting back Internet usage/social media B
5) Eating healthier B
6) Walking the dog more C
I’m not going to spend much time reviewing the habitual changes other than to note that I’m proud that I quit smoking and have cut back on social media. Moreover, I’ve eaten better than I have in the past as well…no moar cheezeborgers. A will admit that my poor dog and myself could use a little moar exercise though.
In the category of General Life Aims I had goals of:
1) Taking current employment more seriously B
2) Actively determining next career step B
3) Travelling more A
4) Learning a foreign language B
5) Learning a programming language A
6) Taking an art course for creative outlet D
I’ve made tremendous efforts within the last two months to get my professional life in order. I’ve been actively applying to jobs and have applied myself at work to learn bioinformatics and R computer programming language. Given the fact that I had never worked in a Linux environment prior to this year- I’m actually kind of proud of myself, as I’ve actually became quite adept at programming over the course of about 6 months.
Moreover, I’ve passively learned a fair amount of French language this last year due to the help of a great friend of mine who happens to be…French. Thank Jebus for subtitles or I’d have no idea what was going in those quirky 1980’s French movies.
I’ve yet to take an art course…but I plan on implementing that this next year.
So was last year a success? I’d say hell yes it was a success!
Objectively, I would say I had really excelled in the personal growth department, struggled with habitual changes, and did above average with regards achieving general life aims.
Which really means: “I’m excelling in theory, but lacking in application.”
I’ve done quite well at cleaning up my inner world but have yet to make huge changes externally. I’m okay with that though…these internal jumps are extremely important to me.
After all, it’s probably better to live in a clean house with a ragged lawn, then have a pristine garden and live in filth.
What about this year you ask?
In thinking about putting together a group of goals for this next year I’ve decided to break things into the 8 important areas of life that Jack Canfield speaks of in his book “The Success Principles”.
Spirituality, Physical, Financial, Relationships, Environmental, Fun and Personal Growth, Professional, and Legacy.
This one is always a tough one for me. As a scientist and a person who puts a lot of weight on rational thought, for most of my life I’ve rejected any notion of there being an omnipotent, omniscient, all powerful being who is in control of the world.
Lately however, I’m entertaining the notion of a collective conscious, non-dualistic approach to spiritualism. Maybe it’s all the eastern philosophy I’ve been reading lately passively making it into my life. Maybe it’s the yoga. Maybe it’s the meditation. Maybe it’s my growing appreciation for creative outlets and increasing use of the right side of my brain. Whatever it may be – I’m finding the idea that doing good things for people and sending good thoughts and love to others makes my life better. Hell maybe I believe in karma. I don’t know anymore.
What I do know is that I want to be in a place of contentment, a place where I enjoy the moment, and a place where I appreciate the little things in life, while sharing love, beauty, and truth with others.
In order to bring my spiritual life closer to what I envision, I resolve to practice meditation daily for the next year.
It’ll be tough…I’m sure there will be days I want to say, “eff it!” but I’ll give it my best effort.
The self-actualized version of myself includes being in the best shape of my life. Maybe that’s a bit of a hyperbole (the likelihood of myself being in better shape than I was while playing basketball in college is low), but I’d like to really push myself this year. I don’t want to be one of those people who accept that as they go through their 30’s they should become out of shape. That’s just not who I am. I love living a healthy and active life. Plus I’m still single – I need to stay in shape if I hope to entice the interest of any self-respecting ladies.
In order to bring my physical life closer to what I envision, I resolve work out at least three times a week.
Like everyone else I want to have abundance in my life, but I’m about as far removed from a materialistic mindset as one can be (aside from those nutso minimalists who limit their wardrobe to only include one pair of socks). I just want find security so that my worries in life are not contained to the arena of finance.
In order to bring my financial life closer to what I envision, I resolve to save 10% of my earnings to put towards future investments.
This’ll be the bitch of all my resolutions as anyone who has ever lived the grandiose life of a post-doc can attest…we ain’t making it rain.
I’m kind of hesitant with people and relationships overall, but realize the importance of a strong social circle. I like a smaller group of friends who I have a deeper connection with. I’d like to find myself surrounded by a group of friends that are active, adventurous, outgoing, caring, creative, and intelligent. Friends that I can call on at anytime…for any reason.
In order to bring my life relationships closer to what I envision, I resolve to love more, to open myself up, and to be more daring. I resolve to try new and different things so that I can meet new and amazing people.
I’m an outdoors loving, liberal minded, arts and entertainment loving, philosophically inclined guy. I’m stuck in a plains state that is flatter than a pancake and a state that contests the idea of teaching evolution every other election cycle. I live within a bastion of conservative culture.
You might ask, “What the hell are you doing there?” Don’t you worry, like the movie “Groundhog Day” I ask myself that very question every morning when I wake up. I want to live in an aesthetically pleasing locale with a bustling art and entertainment scene. Like San Francisco. Or Portland. Or Seattle. Hell I’d even settle for Colorado. That’s all I have to say about that.
In order to bring my life environment closer to what I envision, I resolve to move within the year to a locale more fitting with my life design.
Fun and Personal Growth
I love living an adventurous life and particularly love experiencing new cultures. I love traveling. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve traveled internationally. I miss it immensely. That’s going to change this next year.
In order to bring my life a little more joy I plan on traveling more extensively this year.
I’m blessed that through a lot of hard work, a little luck, and a little smarts I’ve been able to land myself a career in basic biomedical research. It’s a grueling career at times and a career that you have to be somewhat of a masochist to enjoy, but it’s incredibly flexible, creative, and intellectually stimulating.
Plus I get the chance to work with some of the brightest people from all over the world. I mean really, who doesn’t want to have close colleagues from Japan, Russia, India, China, Greece, France, Latin America, the UK, and Ghana. It’s the best…and I know that whenever the time comes that I want to travel I will have friends willing to put me up all over the world. It’s part of the reason for me getting up every day.
But, like all things in this life impermanence rules the day. I need to move on from this job. I need to leave the realm of post-doc-dom and advance my career in another direction. I need change and it needs to happen.
In order to bring my life a little professional growth I plan on applying myself to finding a new and fulfilling career.
This area of life is perhaps the least thought about for most people. After all, we’re all going to live forever aren’t we? What do I want to be remembered for? What do I want to leave behind when that fateful day arrives?
I want to be remembered as someone who was one of the most generous, kind, and selfless people around. Someone who loved uninhibited and someone who’s ideals made the world a better place. I want to touch people’s lives and help them realize a better world. I want to help raise the human spirit to it’s full potential.
In order to leave a legacy worthy of my life I plan on helping those who are less fortunate than myself. I plan on volunteering more for the cause of the weak, sick, poor, and marginalized.
I’d like to end this post by suggesting you join me in the quest to make your life the best it can be. You and I deserve to make the universe how we see fit. Think about bettering yourself daily and consistently exact small changes in your life so that over the whole it evolves into something beautiful.
Remember – “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Zhu