New Year's Resolutions

I don’t traditionally do New Year’s Resolutions.

Usually there’s at least one person a year who asks me what mine are, and most of the time I haven’t thought about it.  This is not because I don’t think I have plenty of room to improve myself and my ways of doing things – au contraire.  The fact is, I am constantly resolving.

My daily to-do list is kind of like a bunch of resolutions I’m always hoping to achieve.  It’s always way longer than it should be if I were to be realistic about what I can get done in a day, especially now that I have a baby who takes up the bulk of my time.  Sometimes I look at to-do lists I made weeks or months ago, and see that there are things on them I still haven’t done.  Nevertheless, I patiently transfer them to the next list – except for the rare occasions I decide to let something drop off altogether.

Some items on my list are things I mean to do every day – which is somewhat frustrating because you can’t really cross them off; they’ll just pop up again the next day.  (This undermines the true joy of a list – to cross things off.  So satisfying.)  These are things like get exercise, or perhaps clean the kitchen.  The corresponding resolution would be Get the dishes done every evening, or perhaps Keep a cleaner kitchen.  However, neither of these seems like a good resolution to me: the former is designed to fail the first evening you miss, and the latter is so vague that, well – how do you know if you’ve succeeded?

Some resolutions would be in direct conflict with each other.  For example, something like Limit time spent on email, which I’d love to do, would pretty much thwart Clean out inbox, which would also be a great thing.  (Really, I shouldn’t get started on my love/hate relationship with email.)  What to do?

Of course there’s stuff I have to get done, like pay the bills and make dinner and do the laundry.  If I made all my resolutions like that, I’d bat a hundred percent.  (Does one bat percents?  I have no clue about baseball.)  Still, these things are also perennials, so they don’t feel much like accomplishments.

So, no recurring tasks, not even less frequent ones like organize closet and clean up junk drawer.  They will just haunt me again later (unless they’re something like Give E dozens of kisses every single day – that’s simply inevitable).  Nothing non-baby-related that requires absolute consistency, because that’s just impossible, especially these days.  Nothing too unspecific that includes “less” or “more” or “as much as possible” – I need to be precise so I know when I’m done.

A perfect resolution would be something like Finish my symphony, of which at this point I have one movement basically done, and part of two others.  I can envision being finished.  The problem with this resolution is, life gets in the way.  I don’t know for sure if I will get to my symphony, passionate though I am about it, because frankly, it falls to the bottom of the list every time.  Before I had a baby, I could bump it up sometimes, but now I have to be very selective about what I do on the occasions when I have time “to myself” – and even then I always get interrupted.  It’s just not conducive to producing brilliant or even mediocre orchestral music.

I guess I’ll just give it some more thought.  Let’s just say I have goals, renewable at any time, that involve being healthy, saving money, getting organized, doing lots of writing… and maybe one day, finishing a to-do list.

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