For almost two months now I have gone back and forth on whether or not this will be a year with resolutions. Yeah, right. You know better. There has only been one year in my adult life without formalized resolutions (here’s looking at you 2016), and that year confirmed for me that I’m better with a few annual goals. Call me ‘Corporate.’ Call me ‘Mr. Rut.’ Call me ‘Nerd.’ You wouldn’t be lying with any of those descriptions. You’d just be missing some of the picture. You see, to me, resolutions aren’t cliche but rather more like a compass. Something that allows me to see a bit more clearly without fully defining the path to be taken. Directional. Guideposts. Things I aim for because such aim makes me better. Or possibly makes me feel better. As an aside, our beautiful country might want to try defining, then measuring some key goals. There’s evidence that when an idea is born with a subsequent goal attached to it and furthermore, measurements are applied, progress is typically made against said idea. Even if the overall goal is missed, which occasionally they will be (see most of my past resolutions), there’s something good that results in simply taking action and trying. Falling child mortality rates, rising child vaccination rates and abject poverty are all strong examples of ideas in action with measurements making pretty amazing progress against their goals. See the Gates’ Annual Letter for more information or watch this awesome video by vlogger and Author John Green for more inspiration. See? Goals are good.
I’ve recently read a great book by Michael Singer, “The Untethered Soul” (thanks Oprah!) and Mr. Singer points out that we all live with this inner voice that largely needs to be addressed, sometimes needs to be ignored and almost always needs to be much quieter. My inner voice is often running on full blast. Even while writing this I hear it saying, “you know, this whole resolution thing is weird” or “No one cares about your silly yearly ritual.” This voice might even have something to do with how long it has taken me to write them down and publish them. At any rate this leads me to remind you that I’m not new at writing down my resolutions (here are last year’s resolutions) and that my first resolution needs to likely address this voice thing.
My 2018 Resolutions
- Keep my Balance – this means spend a few quite moments each day. Work consciously with presence. Read. Practice what I learned from “The Untethered Soul.” Quiet that voice in my head. Do things I love, because I love them and do them often.
- Continue to find ways to support our home more – This makes Cindy better. There’s zero doubt in my mind that when Cindy is good, our home is great. Keep her job an even equal or more to mine. Be proud that I married a woman who wants to work and is fortunate to work a job she loves. Be prouder that my kids, especially my boys, see this example. Her strength will make them better with important women in their lives. Her example will make it easier for them to apply equality both in their homes and in the places they work. My role here is simple: take down the gender role walls in our home. Do more laundry. Make more lunches. Prepare more dinners. Own more of the kid’s school event planning.
- Be a present father – make memories with small and consistent moments while carving out time to do something a little bigger with each of them. Charlie to Denver for a Broncos game. Take Stewart to another big city – she really enjoyed our trip to NYC. Get Will to Boston and see any sport available there.
- Be a better friend – Take the initiative to ask a friend to do something. Connect with friends. Ask good questions. Give them the good word of “Hamilton” – “Talk Less, smile more.”
- Be less guarded in communications at home and at work – Be who I am. Be human. Talk with, not at. Lose the defense mechanisms that keep communications from being honest and open. Communicate with joy and positivity.
- Bicycle! Do it often. Let the joy I feel while riding show. Enter 2-3 bike events.
- Practice vulnerability by learning one new thing formally – Take lessons. Join a class. Get out of my comfort zone. Cheesemaking? Beekeeping? Guitar playing?
- Get a running goal and achieve it – Trust my body enough to run for something again. Don’t set 5 goals. Just one and get after it.
- Write more – Doesn’t matter whether I do this publicly (like this) or privately in a notebook. Just write more. I love reading my old hiking journals, past blog posts even more than looking at old photos.
That’s the list. Not too many. Definitely do-able. Before I end, some of you may be wondering how I did on my resolutions last year. To help score the 9 resolutions I’m using the following scale:
0 points – a miserable failure. I basically ignored the resolution almost immediately following the post on my New Year’s resolutions.
.5 points – partial success. I can claim some credit but the implementation may have been short-lived, my timeline to implement may have a touch eager or I simply lost interest at some point along the way.
1 point – full success. I did it! Yea me! Feel good about it but don’t let it go to your head.
- Invest Fully in Personal Relationships. Score: .5. At work I feel like I succeeded fully. I pride myself on connecting with my teammates and offering myself up for mentoring and out to be a mentor. At home this too was a success. I feel as close to Cindy and my family as ever and that’s a great thing. Friends, well, they fell behind. Truthfully, my middle ages, while having a few really close friendships that I’m grateful for, I’ve found that the quantity of close friendships seems to have dropped. At times, I brush it off as being a middle-aged thing. Kids take more time, work does too. Friends just get left to last. This needs to change for me. Life’s too short and friendships are too meaningful. The spirit of this resolution was to work this part of the equation harder and I still have work to do.
- Dedicate 40 hours to community service. Score: 0. Bleh. Disappointing as I remember thinking 40 hours will be a breeze. I can count 12 hours. Seriously, 3-4 hours a month shouldn’t be too much to ask. I’m thinking of focusing on mentoring. Formal mentoring a la Big Brothers Big Sisters or possibly mentoring via tutoring. The book “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance reminded me how out of balance the access to social capital is on our first world and how even the smallest amount of it can make the biggest difference. It does not go unnoticed that I might not be on this great planet today had my Great Uncle Arlin and Great Aunt Hilda not offered some to my dad during his formative teenage years.
- Activate in politics. Score: 1. I don’t necessarily like the way I did it and there’s room for improvement, but needless to say, my representatives likely know me by voice (or at least their aides do) as I easily made 50-75 calls to them over the course of 2017 and continue my pace in 2018. I also participated in a March in Rock Hill and attended several candidate events in our SC-5 special election race. Lots of space to keep this up ahead of the 2018 midterms. I am passionate that our democracy is at a crossroads (and not just because of the low self esteem, narcissistic, worst-role-model-ever we have in the executive branch) and good people causing “good trouble” (borrowed from Rep Lewis of Georgia) will be required now more than ever to ensure our democracy returns to its values.
- Fix my calves. Score: 1. I went after this as much as any ailment I’ve experienced. 10-12 dry needling sessions with 20-30 needles per visit. Ouch! Zero marathons in 2017, the first year I haven’t logged a marathon finish since maybe 1995. But, and yes, I’m knocking on wood while typing this, I think maybe I’m cured. I’ve been running ailment free since September and even ran an 11-mile race (longest distance in 8 months!) on New Year’s Day.
- Cycle more. Score: 1. Many more rides than I’ve ever ridden in 2017 including a 15-day ride from Maine to Fort Mill. I hope to keep this going strong in 2018 as rarely does a sport make me smile while doing it like cycling.
- Find Kid Solo Time. Score: .5. No solo weekend trips like I had intended but I did experience a great deal of joy spending 1×1 time with my kids in whatever way possible. Typically this could be a long ride to a soccer match, sharing our favorite reality TV show or lunch out while running errands. I’m starting to learn in my 15th year as a parent that the little things are where the memories are made. That being said, an occasional trip away with a kid would still be fun and plenty memorable for them.
- Make Torrent Cash Strong. Score .5. While Torrent is now a past employer, I do think bringing strong financial and delivery mechanics to the entire company put them on the path to achieve this goal. We did accumulate cash while I was there and this was through a deliberate focus but not to the level of “cash strong.” Striking the balance between putting clients in front of everything else, outcome-focused delivery, growth and cash strength is what makes business fun and challenging. This company will strike this balance and when they do I’ll read about it and be proud that I was a small part of their success.
- Support Cindy More. Score: 1. I continue to want to be much more integrated into our household running than I was in the years with younger kids. Call it an awakening. Call it common sense. Call it my responsibility. The reality is, we both work. We both enjoy it. The one with the more home responsibility gets the shaft. Being much more involved as an equal partner is something I should have been focused on long ago. Maintaining this focus for the rest of our years together on this spinning round ball will be my goal.
- Find More Zen. Score: 1. It never amazes me how fast I can lose my zen. I can be like the awful person in those Snicker’s commercials in a heartbeat. But, I also did things that help me stay centered, more present and relaxed. Meditation, consistent reading, exercise and surprisingly dog-walking have all helped me get maximum points on this resolution. I’m grateful for the lifelong goal of finding more zen.
6.5 out of 9.0 total points probably doesn’t land me in Harvard but likely gets me into a good state school. But there’s more to life than test scores, right?