It’s that time again! That’s right, folks! We’re going to look back on the past year’s resolutions to see how we did. Who is “we”, you ask? You clearly ask too many questions. Anyway, on to the reflection.
Last Year’s Resolutions
1. Stay Active - Mixed Bag
This definitely didn’t happen with regularity. I’d say I was as active in 2015 as I was in 2014. I was in the gym a lot in the first couple of months all the way through March. Once Meat got sick, I stopped going with regularity like I had been. Then he passed, and I really didn’t have much desire to work out for a while. I picked it back up in July and was really good about working out at home for several months. Then I got sick, and I never really got back to it. Now I’m back in a sword / fencing group, but that’s only once a week. So I could use some improvement.
2. Eat Better – Fail
This is continually a problem. I don’t cook for myself often enough. I’m eating a lot of frozen pizzas, pot pies, and other really not great foods. Sometimes I come home and have a bowl of cereal. I know other adults do this same thing, but that doesn’t make it good. I just tell myself that to make myself feel better about it. What I really need to do is plan ahead for my meals rather than figuring them out on the fly.
3. Spend Less time on Social Media – Fail
Another ongoing problem… I read the Nerdist book last year, and Chris Hardwick talked about how social media can just soak up time with no valuable product on the other side. He created a way to manage that time, and I should follow in his footsteps in that regard. There’s so much I could be doing with my time that would be better than what I have been doing.
4. Follow through on personal projects – Fail
I think my biggest problem here is that personal projects have been code related. In order for me to do anything code related at home means I have to not do code related things at work. Since that’s not going to change, my personal projects will. In August, I decided to start a new hobby: building an R2-D2. I’ve already made some progress on it. So hopefully 2016 will be more successful in this arena.
5. Less Frivolous Spending – Success
While I think there’s still a bit of frivolity in my spending habits, this year forced me to spend less. The house going on the market was a big part of that. The cost of rent AND half of a mortgage really forced me in to spending on things I need rather than want. I cut my expenses to the bare minimum, ate bag lunches, and still managed to save money each month. I’m really proud of that. I came out the other side better than I ever expected to. Here’s hoping I keep it up. There’s already good signs of that. I’ve cancelled unnecessary or unused services, switched to less expensive providers for others, and thoroughly researched anything else I needed to spend money on. Here’s to a good financial future.
6. Less screen time overall – Fail
Considering my work is screen time, and I’m a technology fanatic, this was probably a bad resolution to make. Now I have a smart watch too. So screens are not going away for me. I honestly think that better management of #3 would make this a moot issue. So I think if I focus on that, things will be just fine.
7. Read More – Mixed Bag
I definitely have acquired more books in my Audible account. I started off the year pretty well. That continued through the middle of the summer. Every time I mowed the lawn, I was listening to a book. Same went with driving out to D&D on Sundays. Unfortunately the Sunday gaming ended. A few of the books I was listening to were not keeping my attention OR were giving me anxiety. So I switched over to Nerdist podcasts, which was great. Still, I should get back to reading.
8. Have Fun – Success
While there have been down times for me this year, I’ve had a lot of fun. I went to two comic cons. I spent a lot of time with friends. I’m in a Pathfinder and Star Wars RPG group. I started fencing again. I saw Star Wars. I started dating again. I let myself have fun with photography all summer long. I had a lot of good times this year, and I’m quite happy about that.
9. Learn a New Skill – Success
This wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I created this resolution, but I think it fits. I have joined a fencing group, and now I’m learning a new weapon: German long sword. It’s so much fun, and I’m so excited to keep learning. With my R2-D2 project, I had hoped it would be something related to making stuff, but that project is a bit more slow to get started than I had hoped. So, that new skill set will be learned in the next year.
10. Stay Happy – Mixed Bag
Between Meat passing in the Spring and the struggle of selling the house, I had a really rough down patch in the middle of the year. The rest of the year wasn’t so bad. Keeping active really helps with staying happy, and I think each time I’ve gotten down, working out has helped pick me back up. I do feel like depression will be something I flirt with for the rest of my life, but at least I have all the tools I need to combat it and keep it at bay.
Overall Verdict for 2015
Doing the math, there were 3 successes, 4 fails, and 3 mixed. I’d say with that, it’s about a 50/50 year for me. There were two big hurdles that really hit me hard, and now that I’m through those, there’s nothing in my way. I’m sure 2016 will bring some new ones, but hopefully they won’t be as huge as a house in Texas was. Let’s shoot for 60/40 next year.
For 2016, I’m going to do something slightly different. I’m going to make each goal measurable. That way it’s not just a nebulous thing that can be fudged. Measurable also means easier to work towards and achieve. So here goes:
1. Write at least 6 blog posts / videos
I wrote 2 posts last year and made no videos. I really got lazy with video production, and that needs to change. I do enjoy it and people have been asking on my YouTube channel when I’ll make more. So I really should. Plus, I need to post when I’m not just down, which seems to be what my blog has become. I’d like to change that, and concrete number goals are better than just “post more”. So 6 is a good goal.
2. Make measurable progress on R2-D2
This one should be a fairly easy goal, but it still is worth writing down. For those that don’t know, I decided in August of 2015 that I needed a new hobby that wasn’t coding and involved creating something with my hands. After having seen home built droids at Planet Comic Con, I though that would be super fun. So I’ve joined the R2-D2 builders club. I’m on a waiting list for a frame right now, and while that’s progress, I want appreciably more progress. I want to end the year with the build looking more R2-like and less “pile-o-parts” like. So for measurability, let’s say frame, dome, and legs need to be present. Some of the skin finishings would be added bonuses, and anything beyond that is extra credit.
3. Do something physically active at least twice a week
This is easily one of the hardest one of all of them. I’m going to fencing again, which is about once a week. However it skips a week every month. So, that will require some monitoring. I’ll need to add something else to the regimen too. I’ve ended my expensive gym membership, and I may start something like DailyBurn or similar.
4. Take at least 2 trips somewhere for myself
I’ve been out of college for 10 years now, and I’ve never treated myself to a real vacation involving traveling somewhere. No, Wisconsin doesn’t count. Neither does the Twin Cities. It can’t be traveling for a conference either. I need to go somewhere just for me. I’d love to go to Europe, but I don’t know if that will happen this year. I’m thinking NYC and then I’m not sure where else. Suggestions are appreciated.
5. Create a healthier food plan and follow it
This is another of the more difficult resolutions, especially since “Eat Better” was last year’s, and I failed that one. Still, this is important. I need some sort of system for planning for meals that doesn’t involve frozen meals or a lot of pizza. It would be great if there was a website for this kind of thing. I need a schedule with an ingredient list and prep instructions for my week. Basically something that would create my shopping list and have everything mapped out. I’ll have to look to see if that exists. Either way, that’s what I want, and hopefully if it doesn’t exist, I can create it myself. The biggest challenge is combating my own laziness, though. I get home from work and don’t want to do anything. Hopefully the plan can help fight that. Measurable goals: cook a decent meal at home at least 3 times a week. Stretch goal: 5 times a week.
6. Drink more water
I’ve been making inroads with this goal at work already. I have a water bottle, and I’ve largely swapped soda for water there on most days. I do allow a cheat day, which is fine. However at home I don’t drink as much water as I should. I have too many options. I really just need to remove soda from the house again. That will help a lot. Measurable goals: 32 oz a day of water.
7. Pick up new hobbies / re-learn old ones: aka sewing
Yes, I know that everyone sits and watches Netflix a lot or possibly plays video games. However, I’d like more productive time as well where I’m doing something I enjoy and get something tangible out of it at the end. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching TV or gaming. It just means I’d like to swap some of that time for hobby time. Sewing would be good, which means I need a sewing machine. Other hobbies may pop in as well. Measurable goals: finish my Jedi costume.
8. Improve my makeup skills
I have taken steps with this already by replacing all my crap makeup with decent stuff. I still feel like I barely know what I’m doing though. I got a cool urban decay eye shadow palette for Christmas, and I know enough to make a mess of things. I’ve been largely successful so far, but I’d like to get to the point that I feel like I’m somewhat competent in my skills. I guess this means practice. Sorry friends, you might see Raccoon Jess sometime soon. Measurable goals: Hmm, not really sure. Maybe post some selfies and get people’s opinions? I’m open to suggestions.
9. Do something creative for myself
Photography doesn’t count in this case. Yes, it’s creative, but I want to do something other than that for this resolution. Plus, I don’t think I’d describe my photography as creative. It’s more just capturing nature in a moment I enjoyed. Maybe it’s writing something. Maybe it’s creating a video that’s not just a talking head. Maybe it’s doing something with animation. All of these things interest me. It’s high time I get these ideas out of my head and on to some sort of medium. Measurable goal: at least one uniquely creative thing put out there for the world to see.
10. Stay Emotionally Healthy
I feel like this will always be in my resolution list because it’s so important and so difficult. It’s not exactly measurable, but it’s still something worth writing down. As I wrote earlier, I feel like I’ll flirt with depression for the rest of my life. There will always be up and down parts of my year, but the goal is that the up parts of the year far outweigh the down parts of the year. Another important facet is to not let my anxiety control my life. Here’s to a healthy emotional 2016.
2015 was a transitional year for me. The house is gone now. There’s no more anchor keeping me in the past. Here’s to making 2016 and beyond one of the best years on record. Happy 2016, everyone!
P.S. I thought it helpful to add that this year I have a friend that wants to help keep me honest on my resolutions. We’ll be checking in quarterly to see how things are going and hold each other accountable. So there’s that. I’m also strongly considering moving my blog to Tumblr since…why not. I really don’t use this website for anything else, and well…tumblr seems pretty awesome. I’m sure I’ll keep everyone posted.