Welcome, New Year.

It’s a new year, in case you’ve been sleeping or, say, time travelling these past few days.

The whole New Year thing has lost its magic for me in recent years. Nobody is ever transformed instantly with the stroke of 12 and the dawn of a new day, but as you grow up, you wait for that click-over and think “now things will be DIFFERENT”. They never are, and as you grow older, you begin to come to terms with that. So we have stopped with the hoopla of New Years Eve and just get on with it.

That’s not to say we don’t do anything to mark the beginning of a new year. It’s just that we’re no longer about dressing up and going out and drinking and partying and all that. We prefer to spend our New Year’s Eve/Day much more quietly. Some years we watch a movie and eat tasty noms. Some years we go to bed early but make a big meal for New Year’s Day. This year, we spent a very relaxed evening with Janna and Andrew, with way more food than should be allowed by law. And that was nice. So much so, we’re already all WE SHOULD DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR.

I’m also finding, as I grow older, that I no longer feel compelled to make New Year’s Resolutions. Mostly this is because they almost always set you up to fail. Like I said, nobody can change overnight, and I think people make these grand resolutions in the hazy light of a dying year with the hope that some magic will make things different come the dawn. And it never works that way.

Instead, I find myself using the new year as a first step on a road to making some changes in my life, but changes that usually take much more planning or much more deliberately slow progress than a grand pronouncement will allow. I set myself off on the path to making something different. Usually, the path has a number of steps. The change is incremental.  And I find that makes it much, much easier to succeed.

That’s the thing about goals: they need to measurable and achievable.

When I was a teacher, I learned to set people up to succeed, even if it was simply in small ways to begin with. People like to succeed, and it’s good for your progress if you do every now and again. So I try now to build that “need to succeed” into these goals for myself. I try to set myself smaller goals, sometimes as a way to make larger goals happen, but sometimes not. Sometimes the smaller goals are enough. I set myself some challenges, usually incremental things that I can do maybe weekly or monthly, so that each increment competed is a success.

So, what am I going to do this year to make some changes in my life, or in the lives of others, or both?

  • Photos: In 2010, I did a Project 365, taking a photo each day for a year. That was a really challenging one, and I kind of failed at it. I probably managed a photo on, say, 325 days of the 365. More than A photo, more like 10 or 50 or 100 photos each day I managed to get a camera out. So while I failed at the 365 challenge, where I succeeded was to have an enormous treasure trove of photos of the year and, more specifically, photos of Stinkerbelle. And this past year, 2011, I really noticed the lack of photos to mark her growth and change. So this year, I’m kind of modifying my challenge to myself. I’m going to aim for taking a picture for as many days as I can, but my actual goal is to make sure I have photos for each week. 52 storage folders on our hard drive, each one filled with as many photos as I can manage that week.
  • Exercise: This one is hard. Lifestyle change goals are almost impossible to meet unless you make them realistic. I know I need more exercise in my life, but I also know that whatever I do, it has to be adaptable. A couple of years ago, BDH and I used to do 100-Day Exercise Challenges and the like, to push each other to exercise on a regular basis. And we’re competitive, so there was someone to push you to get ‘er done. But with a Stinkerbelle and our busy lives, something that long and hard is not always that easy, nor are we always able to do things at the same time. So I am going to set myself monthly challenges of things to do, and re-evaluate every month how it’s going. Maybe I will try to do yoga every day one month. Maybe I’ll get up early each workday and ride the recumbent bike in another month. Maybe I’ll get out and walk every day once the weather is fine. But in small, interesting, motivating blocks of time, I can fit in exercise AND make it a change that is easy to continue with.
  • 12 knitting projects in 2012: Last year I did an “11 in 2011” knitting challenge in my online knitting community, and had to get 11 projects done over the course of the year. And I did it, which was a great feeling of accomplishment. I’m doing another one this year, but this time it’s “12 in 2012”. Dog help me. But I learned that not all projects have to be OMG GIANT PROJECTS  like blankets and such, and that it was good to push myself to get some things done. I got two blankets, a scarf, and a bunch of little things done, as well as some charity squares and things that didn’t even go into the challenge. This year, I have a blanket for Stinkerbelle to finish, some charity squares I want to get done and sent, as well as some small household projects, and some new things I’d like to try. There’s no shortage of things to knit, certainly.
  • 12 knitted hats in 2012: This one is similar to the knitting challenge above. Signing up for the challenge keeps me on track and accountable, and after finding a 12 in 12 challenge specific to hats, I knew exactly what I would do. After reading on her blog about herd boys in Lesotho and the deplorable conditions that they live in, I promised Melissa that I would make 15 hats for her to take when she travels to contribute to improving the lots of these boys.

We’ve also got some Very Important Life Stuff to get done, and some other little changes we’d like to make around here, so we need to set out some goals and plans and get them done.

OMG YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS??? MORE LISTS! ::happy clap!::

I am sure there are other things to try to do, things I have forgotten. But that’s a good start. A good start and a good plan for what I hope will be a good year.

3 thoughts on “Welcome, New Year.

  1. Squeee! I am famous on the interwebs now! I want to say again how much we enjoyed our food-filled, low-key NYE – we had a blast! And I LOVE what is known around our house as “the noodle blanket”. Pippin gave it a thorough sniffing when I brought it in that night, like, “it smell like different kitteh, but I not sure which kitteh – is not same kitteh that live here despite my protestations….”

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