Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Contemplate New Year's Resolutions

I’ve been contemplating my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions. Last night T.R. and I were talking about them, in a general sense, and that conversation has been slowly spinning around inside of my mind, as such conversations tend to do.

At work we have some basic motivational tools – we use Mission Statements and Value Statements and Imperatives (and half a dozen other named things) to keep resolutions foremost in our thoughts. Like the New Year’s Resolution process it meets with greater or lesser degrees of success, depending on the perceived value and the ability to translate such general statements into specific actions.

I think the same challenge is present with any sort of New Year’s Resolution – it must be broad enough to allow for flexibility (given our general inability to predict the future) and yet at the same time specific enough to be useable. I had a pretty good resolution last year – Walk Simply (Write, Act, Learn, and Keep Healthy) and do it all simply. I was more successful than not, through I would have liked to have done all of them more, it was a good motivational set of resolutions that stayed with me through the year.

I would like to have something similar for 2011. My thoughts are running along a bit more complex of a resolution. First, at the high level, I would like to have a general reminder/directive to help me make decisions, especially when I am trying to decide which course of action to take. I am learning toward making 2011 the year of “Go, Do” as a general motivational directive.

I am also thinking about nestling underneath it a set of smaller, more focused objectives. One of the things I’ve been wrestling around with in a “general direction of life” sort of way has been the nature the life we live. I’ve spent a good portion of the year in an observation mode, watching the world around me, watching myself – my actions and reactions, my joys and sorrows, my interests and disinterests. I’ve been powerfully influenced by the overall trend toward simplicity, a journey which I plan to continue.

In general terms, we can divide our lives into “time spent doing things we have to do” and “the things we want to do”. Nestled between the two is “time between”. It seems to me that th e greater joy I have in this life arises, as I would expect it to, from the balance of “things I have to do” and “things I want to do”. As long as the balance is healthy and leans toward “the things I want to do” my happiness increases, my content rises.

There are a couple of factors that influence that balance.

First, there is the “time between”. We spend a significant amount of time between things. Finishing one, waiting to begin the next. That is a significant pool of time that we can tip toward “the things I want to do” – for example, we can fill it with socializing, writing, reading, music, game playing, walking, conscious observation, meditation – whatever it is we value, we can slip a lot of that into the time between. Having o bserved myself for the last year carefully, I really have a lot of space spent “between” – sometimes somewhere up above two hours a day – that is a lot of time. That is hundreds of hours a year. That is an enormous amount of unused potential.

Second, there is “half time”. Half-time is that region of our lives where we are doing one thing (or experiencing one thing) but thinking of something else, or perhaps even doing something else that detracts from the value of the time spent – it is time when you are only half-way there.

So, in terms of a New Year’s Resolution, I would like to capture a couple of things – first, using the “Go, Do” mantra, I would simply like to recapture a portion of the time between, and second, I would like to convert a portion of “half-time” to full time by working on focusing on the thing I am doing in that moment and not thinking about things I am not doing in that moment. That is what the “Go, Do” mantra is aimed squarely at.

So, the other areas where I was thinking about New Year’s Resolutions is a simply question – what is it I enjoy doing? When I “Go, Do” what am I going to “Go, Do”. I jotted down a handful of ideas of the other day, just the general areas I would like to focus more time in.

Relationships – quality time nurturing my relationships.

Poetry – both reading and writing.

Music – both listening and playing.

Exploration – both internal and external.

Exercise – both incidental and focused (as in a class or classes).

Movies – especially quality films.

Reading – good, quality reading, either fiction or non-fiction.

All in all, that is a pretty broad sweep for a New Year’s Resolution, so I may elect to narrow it down, or lay a theme into it or under it or around it. But it is a good start. The process of writing thing ent ry has allowed me to contemplate it even more and I can see the gems of the Resolutions of 2011 starting to shine.

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