Posts Tagged resolutions

#23: Talk the Talk

One of the things I really enjoyed doing last year (that is, 2009) was taking some classes with Bill to learn Italian prior to traveling to Rome.  Granted, I didn’t put a ton into it – I enjoy learning, and did it relatively well, but I was/am far from fluent and I was barely able to hold conversations with folk in Rome about food.  It did teach me something valuable, though (well, more than Italian itself), which is that I am much more motivated to learn when there’s a goal for the use of the newly-gained knowledge in sight.  That goal was the trip to Italy Bill and I took in December, and when I set travel plans for next year, I could get a similar learn-test track going with a different language (or even Italian again).

So, I’d like to learn a language.  But more important than learning the language is being comfortable speaking it.  I made it all the through the Spanish series in high school, even passing the Spanish AP exam, but I could never really speak it (just read, write and understand).  It’s really important to me to be able to hold my own in a conversation with a native, so that’s my target.  I haven’t decided what language yet (that will probably be influenced by my travel plans), but I’ve got a good feeling about shooting to learn one next year.

23. I resolve to learn a language to the point where I could hold a reasonable conversation with a native speaker, and then apply my skills on a trip to a destination where that language is primary.

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#22: Yes Man

So, I may have mentioned this previously, but two of my friends – Lee and Michelle – mentioned how much success they’ve been having with saying “yes” to going out / doing things pretty much all the time.  Both have also had an excellent year, by the sounds of it, so I am intrigued.  I tend to be a bit conservative with my time – I don’t go to every event I can, due to a variety of excuses, some of which are reasonable (need to get home to feed Max) and some of which are less so (I don’t feel like socializing that day).  I could definitely see a lot of benefit to “letting go” of my inhibitions in this way and just going with the flow, at least for some period of time – I don’t think I could do it indefinitely because I am genuinely afraid of losing that much control over my life.  (Maybe that’s crazy, but oh well!)

Anyway, I think a wonderful experiment would be to take a week and just show up for everything I get invited to, go out with any friend who asks, and say “yes” (within reason) to everything asked of me.  I am posting this publicly, so I’m putting some trust in my friends (*cough* you know who you are) who might take advantage of me during this period, but I guess I’m not saying when I will do it, so that point may be moot!  As I am well aware, you can’t meet new people unless you put yourself in a position to meet new people, and you can’t have new experiences unless you are out, well, experiencing.

22. I resolve to designate a week where I will reply in the affirmative to every (reasonable) request to go out, hang out and otherwise get out (of my comfort zone).

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#21: Fashionable

This is kind of an odd subject, but I feel like I could use more style in my life.  I understand the backwardness of trying to plan out a hip look, rather than let it flow more naturally from who I am.  I have never really had any “lessons” in how to dress or how to look good in any normal sense.  I am a pretty good mimic, so I can copy friends and how they look a little bit, but most everything else has just been my personal opinion about what looks good on me.  Fashion sense seems like it’s both about how other people perceive you, and how you perceive yourself.  I am not too worried about the self-perception thing; in fact, if anything, a change in my wardrobe or general style might be well suited to making me more comfortable with myself. (That construction was a little awkward… but you get the picture!)

One thing I considered was ties – I already wear collared shirts to work most of the time, and wearing a tie is an interesting in-between to suited up and my normal “work clothes.”  I do wonder whether being more formal than I already am (basically button-down shirt and jeans, nothing too fancy) will have a negative impact on people I hang out with.  Only one way to find out, I guess!  Other possibilities: wacky hat, more color coordination/variation (I have no real sense about this; I just like the color blue), a better overall plan for stuff to wear across multiple days (as opposed to “whatever is clean and handy and I feel like that day).

Then again, maybe this just isn’t worth worrying about?

21. I resolve to take a closer look at how I dress and my general “style,” possibly with consultation with friends, and spend at least a week doing something different with my overall look.

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#20: Snail Mail

I kind of loathe receiving mail in the mailbox.  Like, we are in the future now – why waste all that paper?  I appreciate the occasional postcard and envelope from friends, and I definitely enjoy packages that are shipped to me, but there’s a ton more junk in my mailbox than those things… what the heck?  All of the notices that I am receiving because they are important would be better served by being in my email inbox (which I check compulsively) and all of the ads and credit card offers would be better served by being on fire.

So, I want to take on a small mission to eliminate the junk in my mailbox.  It should theoretically be possible to contact and pester the various places that are sending me things and tell me to either (a) send it electronically (where my “spam” filter is much better!) or (b) discontinue sending it at all.  I realize that this will likely be an uphill battle, where even being on the phone with various marketers is likely digging me into a pit, but maybe I can trick them into dropping me from their mailing lists or something.  It may take some thought, but oh how nice it would be to receive only useful mail.

20. I resolve to reduce the waste in my mailbox to as close to zero as possible, while still receiving important mail from friends &c.

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#19: Cleanliness

It’s no secret that I don’t keep my place spotless.  But a lesser known fact is that I don’t clean much (vacuum, sweep, dust, etc.) at home unless I know I have company coming.  Scandalous!  In the past I have made a good effort to get things reasonable before friends arrive (most of the time) but I feel I could do a lot better if I get myself into a new routine of cleaning up a bit each day.  A lot of these resolutions are about routines, actually – I have never really formed a good habit for habit-forming.  Repetition will have to be my guide.

As for what I want to do:

  • Mow the lawn myself (I had a service do it, but more than the money or time, I just need to get in the habit of stuff like that)
  • Keep all my working surfaces (desk, sink, kitchen counters) as clean as I can at all times
  • Schedule laundry and a more robust cleanup on a regular basis (bi-weekly?)

19. I resolve to keep a more rigorous and methodic cleaning schedule, including the tasks described above, for at least three months.

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#18: Media Blitz

I figured with all these resolutions that require a ton of work, I should consider ones that I might be almost already on the path to completion, that just need a little nudge in order to be useful self-improvements.  One such resolution is consuming media that I have intended to consume but haven’t – either because I have been lazy or I haven’t had time.  I figure I’ll make a list of all the movies and books I really feel I should watch or read, and then, you know, do that as opposed to reading/watching random other stuff.

Conservation of time is important here – right now, I read a ton and I also watch a considerable number of movies.  For this resolution to work, I need to not be shirking my other responsibilities (which I am sometimes wont to do) because I am absorbed by too much to read or watch.  In addition, I really like writing reviews that my friends can use to judge the merit of a work before they have to go out and purchase/borrow it, so I think I’ll include that in the resolution.  I don’t think adding in television shows or games is a good idea because (a) games and TV series take a huge amount of time and attention compared to books and movies, and (b) I don’t have as long or as relevant a list for those media.  (Although I am considering spending a portion of my winter break getting into video games I never played but should have!)

18. I resolve to make a list of books and movies I haven’t consumed but really should, and then I will read/watch them and write some number of reviews on those works.

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#17: Making Things

I think these days, with so much of my job going into computers and not much physical to show for pretty much anything I do (a few pieces of cardboard, or the rules of a game on a shelf), I am under where I’d like to be in terms of creating useful things in the physical world.  I’m been inspired by what my friends have made in the past – everything from fancy clothing to huge mechanical elephants – and I don’t think I do enough to hone the Macguyverish urge to put together something useful on my own, something that lasts and stands on its own, apart from other people’s systems.

I’m leaning more toward something of grand scope, like an arcade console (which I’ve made abortive efforts to do on my own in the past) or a fixture/piece of furniture.  A few random ideas I had:

  • Two-tier couch or seating area
  • Transportable hammock chair
  • Gaming table
  • Clock or wall-mounted “organizer” with digital components

Regardless of what idea I end up trying to execute on, I do think I should spend more time working with materials to make something that lasts.

17. I resolve to spend a month planning and then building something out of physical materials, like a piece of furniture.

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#15: Game On

I wrote previously about the creation of game systems, but I haven’t talked more about the running of game sessions – your classic GM role for role-playing games, although I could imagine other ways to do this, like Mafia Narrator (the classic game of finger-pointing and betrayal), or some sort of Hero Quest-esque run where I set up playthroughs that “basically” play themselves with the group.  In some senses this is like setting up a game day with friends, but I do enjoy putting together stories and worlds in the “shared storytelling” way and I haven’t done it in a while, specifically not from the angle of GM/Narrator.

I think the best way to do this, for people with very busy lives (like me!) is to plan a series of sessions (like three) in what many of us have called a “manyshot” (as opposed to “oneshot” for a single session).  In a 3-4 session game, you can do quite a bit of story development, and play a significant amount of “game” too, for RPGs.  It also ends up feeling episodic if people like it enough – you can always bring back a world/story again later.  This is kind of convincing me to consider what an episodic strategy board game might look like.

15. I resolve to run at least one “manyshot” game campaign of my own design (probably RPG), with an eye toward doing it episodically (so like three-four manyshots over the course of a year).

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#14: Get Smart

I feel like I used to know a ton more than I do now.  Well, not in terms of information (but some of that too) but in terms of expert knowledge, specifically in Physics.  I’ve tackled this problem before, and mused back and forth on whether I might return to school one day to finish a PhD.  I think now, upon reflection, that I am unlikely to do so in the near future, or maybe ever.  There’s a different place to start, however, in the manner of getting my groove back.  My Physics groove.

I think it’d be a good idea to sign up for a course or two, either online or at a “local” college (many in the area, up to and including the big UW), to re-familiarize myself with science and thinking scientifically about specific problems.  There was a post a ways back where I talked about relativity and Sam rightly pointed out I never even took general relativity – so maybe in addition to teaching myself old tricks again, I can learn some new ones.  I think dipping my toes back into Physics might be a good jump-start for further education, too, and I am just annoyed at myself for forgetting so much I learned.

14. I resolve to take one or two extension-type courses in Physics from a local college or university.

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#13: Dear Diary

I don’t really keep a personal journal, which is immediately identifiable as a false statement, since you are reading my blog right now.  But my blog is, in many ways, a product for public consumption, and it is as much about my thoughts and plans as it is about the immediate experience I am having (that day, week, etc.).  In the past, I’ve considered trying to start and keep a reasonable daily journal, one that might let me have a record of my emotional and experiential state each day.  I even tried to make it a month-theme on this blog (June) but couldn’t because it’s really hard for me to “find” an emotion to post about if I don’t have one in my head at the moment I want to write a post and/or I have a hard time translating what I feel into words on the page.

I heard or read a pretty simple and reasonable strategy for raw emotional state collection – take a book of blank pages, and each day mark on the left side of the page my emotional state in the morning (good at the top, bad at the bottom) and on the right side my emotional state in the evening.  I think if I did this consistently, I’d also be motivated to write a few words (maybe not in narrative form, but some words nonetheless) about why there was a difference from morning to evening.

13. I resolve to keep a simple emotional diary for a period of a month, to review and think about afterward.

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