Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Y’know, I’m really not big into the whole New Years Resolutions thing. Mostly because, as many people have said before, I tend to make ‘big’ resolutions that are broken before the end of January ๐Ÿ˜‰ .ย  However, the last couple of years have been such a slog that I think this time New Years Resolutions may not be such a bad idea. So here are my five resolutions for this year.

1) Stay healthy.

Obviously I’ve not got total control over this one, though it’d be nice to keep off the weight that I managed to lose this year. I think I surprised myself by how much better I feel now that some of the weight has come off, so I will try to stay more active and look after myself a little better. No, I won’t be giving up the curry and the beer. I’ll just have to get up off my arse and do something about it afterwards, iz all ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

2) De-clutter

I seem to make this promise to myself every year, New Years Resolution or not, but I am *deadly serious* about it this year. Sure, part of the need for this is living in a flat: however capacious it is, relatively speaking, you have limited space and have to make the best of it. I’ve come to understand that whilst Stuff is cool, living among piles of Stuff just isn’t good for you. There just isn’t time to enjoy all the Stuff properly, for one thing; it’s sometimes really hard to lay your hands on what you’re looking for, for another. There’s a ton of stuff around the gaff that I never look at, listen to or even think about, so why hang onto it? Better to free up space for the stuff I *do* look at, listen to and think about whilst allowing someone else to enjoy the stuff that is surplus to requirements. A couple of coffee table-style photo books aside, I haven’t bought an actual physical book for myself in an age, much preferring to use my Kindle, where everything is in one place and weighs substantially less. So, time to get rid of the shelf of books in the bedroom, the last hold-outs from the post-Kindle purge a couple of years ago. I’m going lossless audio too, in anticipation of going down the audio server route, so time to cull those CDs that take up dozens of groaning shelves in the lounge. The technology is there, I do most of my listening via PC and portable devices anyway these days, so why cling to a means of delivery that is surplus to requirements? Obviously there are exceptions: there are some bands whose back catalogues I can’t imagine not having in physical formats, and there’ll be special editions etc with content that just can’t be downloaded… but those will be the exceptions rather than the rule.

3) Stay on course with my Uni work

I’m almost exactly halfway through my BSc now – definitely well past the event horizon, if you like. Whilst it’s certainly been hard work at times, specifically in terms of workload where units overlap and where assignments coincide with busy periods at work or socially, I’ve been delighted to discover that I’m still really *enjoying* it. Part of me wishes I’d done it years ago, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of regretting not getting my head down 20 years ago and getting it done, but… I clearly wasn’t *ready* back then. Having pretty much hated my time at high school, I made the mistake of staying in education rather than getting out of there and returning to it once my head was in the right place. Result? My heart just wasn’t in it, and although I came out of it all with qualifications and experience, I really didn’t much enjoy it, discovering that I much preferred going out to work and actually achieving stuff (and earning, of course, that helped too). Now things are very different: I don’t *have* to do it, so of course I’m doing it because I *want* to do it, and consequently I’m enjoying it a whole lot more. Last year I sat my first exam for nearly 20 years: nerve-wracking at the time, for sure, because I never enjoyed exams (does anyone?), but nowhere near as bad as I remembered from high school, and it was interesting to realise that because I was enjoying the course work, the exam was suddenly not such A Big Deal. I came out of that exam with a smile on my face, and even if I could probably have spent more time revising and got a better score, the feeling of having done something that you were interested in rather than something You Had To Do was unfamiliar and oddly exhilarating. So yeah: more of that, please. Having fun with it.

4) Saying “no”.

I’m useless at saying no. Although saying “yes” has led to life-changing experiences and a lot of stuff happening that I’d never change even if I could (even the less-good experiences served their purpose, so yeah, “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”), the older I get, the more I realise that sometimes I just don’t allow myself time to stop and smell the flowers enough. This isn’t just about more time spent with family and friends, though that’s a large part of it; it’s also about more time for me to sit back and *savour* things rather than rushing from one thing to the next. This even applies to stuff like gigs: I’ve always loved live music, and sometimes I’ve allowed that fact to overload my life, rushing from one gig to the next, just to be there, not thinking that so often, what makes such things special and more enjoyable is that they don’t happen every day. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret blowing my entire student grant on following Marillion around the UK and elsewhere in 1994, spending silly money seeing Pink Floyd multiple times on the same tour, or trekking around following All About Eve toย an insane numberย of their shows, to the point where the band probably felt I was stalking them. But seeing a band that often, whilst always enjoyable, cannot help but dampen the impact of what’s going on. If you see a band two or three days a week for months on end, you may be enjoying yourself but gig #27 is never going to have the same impact on you that gig #1 did. So: less gigs, I think, and more variety. It staggers me to think of how many bands I’ve never seen live, or have only seen once or twice, when there are bands that I’ve seen literally over a hundred times. One of those times where its best to find a certain balance, I think. Consequently, this year I’ve already signed up to go and see Within Temptation, a band I’ve never seen live but whose albums I’ve been buying for years. Here’s hoping there’ll be a few more ‘firsts’ like that to enjoy along the way ๐Ÿ™‚ .

It’s not just gigs, though – although knowing me, that will be quite a large consideration ๐Ÿ˜‰ . With my Uni work taking up more time as it gets more demanding, I want to be able to spend time just kicking back and savouring things – so I’m going to make a conscious effort to say “no” a bit more often. It’s always nice to be approached and offered/asked to do things, but there has to be time for me to spend by myself, and with the people who matter.

5) Blog more often

Look, I *know*, OK? I’ve made this promise to myself and to others pretty much every year since I opened my LiveJournal account, and – largely because of #4 above ๐Ÿ˜‰ – I find myself blogging less and less. Which is a pity, because I then fall into the trap that so many people fall into: the instant gratification of Facebook status updates and Tweeting becoming a substitute for more considered and in-depth feedback to the world, and more importantly to ourselves. Without getting all psychological on you all, I do find it quite illuminating and cathartic getting stuff down on a blog entry (this entry being a particularly good example really, I suppose). It’s almost like the kind of internal dialogue we all have on a daily basis in that it fixes ideas and feelings very much in the forebrain, solidifying them so that they don’t slip away and evaporate, with the additional advantage that those who are interested in what you’re up to for whatever reason can then read all about what’s happening with you without having to engage in the increasingly ridiculous social media circus. I can’t tell you how many times my finger has hovered over the button that would suspend my Facebook account. And then I think of the people who I just wouldn’t have any contact with whatsoever if I *wasn’t* on Facebook and I just can’t do it. But that said, whilst I still love Twitter (which I find more anarchic and hugely different to Facebook in just about every way), I think it’s time for me to retreat from other social media, Facebook especially, and use it more to connect with those people who I otherwise wouldn’t get to interact with rather than as a replacement, or substitute,ย for blogging.

So there you have it. Five reasonably achievable goals, I think, and ones that I feel will do me the world of good.

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3 Responses to Happy New Year

  1. Mike Rengel says:

    All five are great goals to set and all are reasonable and possible to achieve. That’s the key – people always set these grandiose New Years Resolution plans, they turn out to be too ambitious in scope and they get abandoned. If you focus on incremental, realistic pods of self-improvement, they become things you can slot into your daily life, turn into new routines/behaviors, and internalize.

    And yes to Saying No! Wicked tough, I know, since I’m the same sort of person, who wants to Do All Of The Things! And who’s also a hard worker, and someone who tries to go the extra mile for family and friends. But sometimes less truly = more. You can do so much you don’t truly process or enjoy it. Pick your battles, and you’ll relish them tenfold. At least that’s been my experience the last few years as I’ve attempted to do the exact same thing you’re talking about here. I’m not always successful, but more often than not, yes… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Otherwise, keep plugging away at your degree! Mad props to you for keeping at it. Continuing education as an adult when you also have a day job, a spouse, gigs/other social obligations, and more? It’s tough. But doing it now, at a pace you can handle and at a place in your life where you’re set to embrace the work and actually get some enjoyment and satisfaction from it? That’s brilliant. I often feel like school is wasted on the young. Ha!

    Same with the health improvements. That’s another thing that’s tough to stick with, but if you make it more of a lifestyle, then it’s far easier to adhere to. And for real, a life sans ale and curry? That’s a life I don’t want to live! But it’s all about moderation. Regular exercise, reasonable diet, occasional beery / takeaway type treats. Bam. You’re golden. And it seems to be working brilliantly for you. Cheers to that.

    • HippyDave says:

      Cheers, mate. It’s the regular exercise thing that I find hard: mostly because I’ve got a fairly sedentary job, and by the time I get home during the week I am *drained*. Add that to not being the gym-going type and I’m at an immediate disadvantage, albeit largely of my own making ;-). I’m making an effort to walk to/from work more regularly, though, and I’ve been taking time out to walk with Steen as she prepares for her Moonwalk in May. My theory is that if we get into the habit of doing it, we’ll keep doing it once we don’t really *have* to. So far, so good – but I’d be the first to admit that I really could/should be doing more. We’ll see if I can’t cajole myself into taking firmer action in due course!

      Meanwhile: amen to everything you’ve said, especially the remark about small, incremental changes. That’s definitely the trap I’ve fallen into before – going straight to the sweeping changes and not being able to maintain them. I’m learning that slow but steady wins the race, and other homespun truths ;-).

      • Mike Rengel says:

        Dude, it’s *so* hard to get yourself moving after sitting at a desk all damn day long. So hard! The human body was not meant to sit behind a screen for 40-50 hours (or more) a week. I make a point to go to the gym almost every day, but by the time quitting time rolls around? I’m beat! Going for a run, doing some sit-ups, etc. — often sounds like the very last thing I want to do when my brain is feeling like an egg in a frying pan. Admission? I kinda hate the gym. But I crave regularity. So it’s a necessary evil in my world. But really it’s all about just doing something active that you want to do. Be it a daily walk, a bike ride, swimming, a sport, you name it. Get the body moving, do it on a regular basis. And after a while? It does become something that not only does it become habit, it becomes something you *want* to do. Anyway, my point is — you’re spot on, and I know it’s not easy to affect the change and stick with it, when the alternatives are so tempting! Loads of respect and support to both you and Steen in this regard!

        And I wasn’t trying to sound accusatory when it comes to big, grand changes — I’ve been there/done that, too. Trying to focus on the smaller, doable things is something I had to discover the hard way. So I try to reinforce it / share the “lessons learned” with others if I can. But I think you’ve already got it figured out, so… ๐Ÿ™‚

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