I've always liked the idea that being Better was an option, but it's taken me a long time to even begin to figure out techniques that might actually help me to get there. Years ago I went through a phase of making resolutions that (in retrospect) were bound to make me unhappy, either too vague or too strict for me to ever live up to. Perhaps understandably, I then went through a phase of not making them at all. Then I had an experimental period of making strict resolutions that lasted for January only, which was more manageable and helped me to figure out how to make more long-term change viable. Then, finally, last year, after all this thought and experimentation, I figured it out: I need goals that were specific, measurable, aspirational, realistic and time-specific. Yes, I had reinvented the SMART criteria. Here's hoping that the process of figuring this shit out was worthwhile, because otherwise I could have saved myself an awful lot of time just by reading a decent book about setting goals.
So, last January I set myself the ambitious task of writing morning pages every day, and succeeded. In May, I invented and adopted my Teepartial scheme, and have successfully kept that up as well. So apparently I do, in fact, have some capacity for self-directed self-improvement, though I have doubted this for most of my life. Having discovered this, I may have gone a little overboard with this year's resolutions. They are as follows:
- Continue writing morning pages
I had hoped that it would make me better at writing public stuff (e.g. blogging) without so much agonising and procrastinating, but this doesn't seem to have been the case. Nor does it seem to have noticeably improved my general willpower. Nevertheless, it's sometimes useful and sometimes fun, and it would be a shame to break my streak now...
- Start reviewing morning pages at the end of each week
Last year I was basically treating morning pages as a write-only exercise. That's all very well, but I wonder if rereading the entries on a weekly basis might help me to spot patterns which could be encouraged or discouraged, and to see if there are any lessons to be learned, things left undone or similar.
- Continue Teepartial
This seems to work really well for me. I've reduced my alcohol consumption by at least a third without having much impact on my lifestyle, and I feel much happier about my drinking habits in general.
- Adopt 'Playtime'
This is basically to apply the principles of Teepartial to computer games, including phone games. I would often find myself spending an evening listlessly playing computer games that I didn't really enjoy much because I couldn't think of anything better to do, then feeling like I'd wasted my time. It took me a while to realise that this was very similar to my attitude towards drinking, so perhaps the same approach will work.
- Read (and log) one book per week
I love reading, but I don't always remember that fact. I hope that this will combine nicely with cutting down on computer games and nudge me towards tackling my 'to read' pile.
- Watch (and log) one film per month
I also love films, but watch very few these days. Partially it's because tinyjo isn't a big fan of film, so we rarely go out to watch them together, and she watches a lot of TV when we're at home. However, I do have some lovely friends who are film fans, so I hope this will encourage me to join them in their cinema visits more often. Also, I know that tinyjo would be perfectly happy to cede the TV to me for an evening if I asked, so perhaps this will encourage me to do so.
- Attend (and log) one gig per month
I like live music and Oxford's got loads of decent venues and bands, but sometimes I find it hard to track down promising-looking gigs and then summon up the will to head out into the cold and dark to attend them. Still, I don't feel like I need much of a push, so again this is a resolution that I'm hoping will serve as a reminder and encouragement to do stuff that I want to do anyway.
- Blog once a week
Well, this was always the most ambitious and optimistic of my resolutions, but I'm a bit disappointed by how immediately I fell far behind my schedule. I know that I can write this much, as my successful NaBloPoMo attempts have more than demonstrated. I was hoping that a less punishing but still regular schedule might do the trick, but I never really managed to start the habit.
That's actually quite a lot now I come to write it all down, and I also have a couple of semi-resolutions which I'm trying out to see if they work but that are too vague or odd for me to want to commit to them here. Still, now that I'm already a month and a half in, I can say that they all seem to be going well except the blogging, and at least I've finally made a start towards that now. Let's see how SMART this turns out to be...