Old Year's Resolutions

in Musings

Awhile back I broke up with my hosting company and moved to A Small Orange, which has been lovely so far. In the move I broke my blog, and rather than deal with it I just ignored it for awhile. But I have now unbroken my blog, and it’s sort of still the time for posting things like year-end lists and new year’s resolutions, so I thought I’d write something to mark the occasion.

My own preference for goals and resolutions is to make plans as I go, when I identify a problem that I want to change, rather than write up a big list all at once. But this is a nice time to stop and reflect on the goals that I’ve set over the last year, and how well I’ve accomplished them.

Feel confident about my professional appearance

This is not particularly new goal, it started basically as soon as I finished grad school and stopped feeling like wearing jeans + a t-shirt/sweater and one of two pairs of shoes every single day of my life was a reasonable standard of dress. In 2012 I started making concrete plans for building a wardrobe and also my personal confidence in wearing it, and in 2013 I finally feel like I’m in a good place re: accomplishing this goal. The list of everything I did to work on it is rather long. And kind of embarrassing! Let’s just say I invested a lot of time and money and mental energy into clothes in the past year. But the whole point was to put in upfront, big-picture effort in order to reduce the day-to-day effort and anxiety I was devoting to clothes, and I have made a real difference there. It feels good.

Deal better with stress

I went through several periods of major work-related stress in 2013, which were especially bad for me because they involved factors way out of my control and my primary methods of coping with stress in the past have involved anxious pacing and making lots and lots of detailed lists of possible things to do. The anxious pacing was not enough, the lists were too short, and the issues were too short-term to justify something as drastic as quitting. But I still needed to be able to do things like sleep, and eat dinner, and not cry at work. So I started doing two things: drink more booze, and exercise more.

I suppose most people would not consider drinking more to be a successful stress coping mechanism, but I went from one drink at a time once or twice a month, to one drink two or three times a week. On one particularly bad day I ordered a double at happy hour with my coworkers. Basically I’m up from “people think I’m abnormal” levels of drinking to “studies say moderate drinking helps you live longer” levels of drinking and I am not concerned it’s unhealthy. Sometimes a little bit of self-medicating is the simplest and fastest way for me to give less of a shit about problems that are firmly out of my control, and the stress was definitely unhealthy.

For the exercise portion, we bought an elliptical machine early in 2013 and I was ok about using regularly, but not great. And then I discovered that if I came home from work pissed off and when straight to an intense session of interval training I felt way better than if I just stewed and complained all evening, and it was great.

Buy more music from black musicians.

This one is pretty similar to the resolution I made about books a few years ago. I’m not avoiding listening to music by white people, just trying to prioritize what I spend my money on. And, since I hardly ever listen to music that I’m not choosing myself, spending the time to seek out musicians of color that I like has been the most important part of this goal, and the activity I got most serious about this year. As opposed to all the other years where I sometimes felt self-conscious about how stereotypically white my music collection was but went on listening to it. The purchases were from a mix of new-to-me artists, old friends, and acts I knew I liked when I heard them but never before made the effort to track down and buy. Here are some of my favorites:

Sleep better

This one isn’t so much a goal as a lifelong dream. I have some mix of classic insomnia and, I think, a circadian rhythm disorder. The best and most well-rested I ever felt in my life was during one winter break in college when I tried keeping 27-hour days. All the rest, from my parents’ stories about trying to get me to sleep as a toddler on up, has been a struggle. The first best thing I ever did for my sleeping was get out of academia, and since then I’ve been slowly accumulating more helpful strategies. The new ones I’ve come up with in 2013 are to set an evening alarm reminding me to start my bedtime routine, and using a sleep cycle app to track how things like caffeine, exercise and taking melatonin affect my sleep quality.

Make to-do lists again

This is more of a meta-goal, a habit I wanted to get back into so I could get shit done on a daily basis. In grad school I had one sketchbook per semester, and my life basically revolved around that sketchbook. And every evening I’d write out a to-do list for the next day on a post-it note and keep it in the inside cover. When I got a smartphone I tried to use various to-do apps instead and they never stuck. So a couple months ago I bought a wee sketchbook to carry in my purse all the time, and started keeping post-it note to-do lists in it. It feels good.