Saturday, January 1, 2011


The new year marks an opportunity for people to feel like they can start over. They promise to start eating healthy, lose weight, and be nicer to others. The unfortunate truth is that people hardly ever keep their promises. New Year's Resolutions are typically vague objectives with no real direction or well defined way to measure their progress. If you lose 1 pound in all of 2011, you lost weight, but is this really what the original intention was, to just lose 1 pound? While I see New Year's Resolutions as mostly unnecessary (if one really wants to change something about themselves, they should have the power to do it NOW, rather than some arbitrarily defined calendar date), they are traditional and I think it is sometimes worth respecting tradition. So, here are my 2001 New Year's Resolutions, although really, they are things I have been thinking about lately and want to change. regardless of what time of the year it is.

  1. Do not check Google or Yahoo email, Twitter, Facebook, Slickdeals, Amazon, and other time wasting and non-work related websites or use a chat client while at work. This is a big one for me as I am finally approaching the end of my graduate school career early this year. I need to finish up a scientific paper, prepare for a conference, and finish writing my thesis, as well as deal with other logistical issues with graduating. This goal will be assisted by using a Chrome plugin called StayFocusd which blocks certain sites for a specified period of time. Firefox has a similar one called LeechBLock.
  2. Do not waste time on small financial decisions. This is another big one for me. Once graduating I will have no regular income or benefits. While I do have some savings and the ability to do fairly well paid contract work anywhere in the world pretty reliability, it still is scary to not have a regular income. I think this fear has caused my spending habits to relapse a bit. I have been willing to buy a lot of stuff lately but I have wasted a ton of time doing research and trying to find the best deal. Often, my decision to purchase something was based on the deal alone. Does it really makes sense to worry about buying a book when it is $8 instead of $10?  I want to start only buying things that I actually want/need rather than a want that is inspired by a deal. To do this, I want to completely stop looking at, other than a search for an item that I decided I wanted independent of the deal. This will basically cause me to almost never look at the website. Also, should I decide I want something, as long as it is under $50 or so, I just want to buy it quickly with no more than 3 minutes of searching for the best deal. If it is much more expensive, I want to aim to spend less than 1 hour of researching the product and the deal. There is some psychological benefit I believe to knowing that you got a deal. My new iPod Touch is the "iPod Touch I spent $180 for instead of the retail price of $229" instead of just my "iPod Touch." Nonetheless, I see this as irrational behavior and I want to try to eliminate thinking in this manner.
  3. Do not criticize or generally make fun of others. One thing that I have noticed over the years is that people really like to gossip. I am not much of a gossiper myself, but I do sometimes criticize others behind their back to my close friends, whether it is some random person making a fool of themselves at a bar or a friend who annoyed me. This is something I want to eliminate completely.
  4. One blog post per week. This will be a tough one for me as I often find it difficult to think of things to write about. If I cannot think of anything interesting, at the very least, I want to write about what I did in the past week. There may be times when even then I do not feel like I have much to write about. Hopefully, this will push me to start engaging in more interesting activities and conversations to inspire my weekly blog posts.
So, these are my New Year's Resolutions. I also have some smaller goals like making sure my computer is off by 11 pm, not eating food past 10 pm, start learning Japanese (no specific goal at the moment, this is one where I am not convinced of it enough so I feel ok with making it vague. At the moment, my goal is to learn to read and write the Hiragana.), and take regular recordings of my weight, body fat percentage, and arm/leg/chest/etc measurements.

I want 2011 to be a big year for me. I will be undergoing huge changes as my life radically changes once I graduate. Rather than letting myself get complacent, I want to always be in a continual stage of improvement and learning. This will be tough to maintain as my life will be much less structured when I graduate unless I really work at it. If you notice me slipping on my goals, feel free to remind me of them with a link to this post. I hope by making this public, it will help me stick to them.

1 comment:

cspice said...

I agree with all your ideas here, except that I can't commit to making blog posts at any given rate. I tried before and it ended up stressing me out. Instead, I just try to increase my rate of posts through efficient scheduling and partitioning of my time. For example, putting caps on how much time I can spend on my "day-job" and other main-line work.