New Year’s Goals Are Nice, So I Made Them Thrice…

Four champagne glasses etched with 2,0,1,3 for New Year's Eve 2013

There was a time when I partied every New Year’s Eve, like it was 1999.  Living in New York City after college, I’d buy a new dress, splurge on an overpriced prix fixe meal with friends, drink bad champagne and wake up with a fistful of ATM receipts I couldn’t explain, a hangover, and a lingering disappointment because the previous night hadn’t met my overblown expectations.

Ironically, by the time December 31, 1999 actually rolled around, I had moved to California and abandoned such revelries in favor of a quiet night in – and I’ve never looked back.

I used to worry I was a nerdy recluse for boycotting most New Years’ Eves, but now most of my 40-something contemporaries have also embraced ringing in the new year like a bunch of almost-Amish. Today my Facebook news feed was dominated by friends’ predictions that they would be sound asleep before the ball dropped. It’s as if my entire Facebook network is scheduled to milk cows at daybreak.

My forbearance doesn’t mean I lack New Year’s Eve traditions, though. I always kick things off with the practical; I take down my Christmas tree and drag it to the curb, so that San Francisco can mulch it for some eco-friendly use. I then spend several hours cleaning up pine needles (this will continue until at least March) and washing tree sap off my hands.

Next, it’s time for the aspirational; I jot down my resolutions. Well, not really resolutions – just goals for the year. I’m not much of a planner. I’ve traditionally been more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants girl. But it’s important to have goals, and I usually set one each related to health, career and personal/social.

To make sure my New Year’s goals are at least somewhat attainable, I also map out high-level steps to reach each one. So if I aim to read more for fun, as I did several years ago, I may target reading two books per month, plus the Sunday New York Times each week.

This year, I’m delighted to NOT count stepping up my job search among my goals. For the first time in years, there is no need to overhaul my resume (did it in the fall), rewrite my LinkedIn profile (ditto) or submit X job applications per week. I’m only just entering my third month in a job I’m very excited about, so I still have plenty to learn by staying put. That said, I’ll need a goal around professional networking, which is a year-round necessity these days. Otherwise I won’t do it, because I enjoy networking about as much as I enjoy breaking large rocks in the hot sun, with a small hammer.

For better health, I’ll try a new tack in 2014. Instead of setting a goal to lose a specific amount of weight, I will continue my strict no-carb regimen until June. (I’ve been following it on-and-off since May, and the results when I’m disciplined have been impressive.) I will put forth 100% effort, but won’t focus on a number. Whatever I weigh in June… I will work to maintain afterwards. Done.

In other words, in 2014 I hope to make peace with myself, so that my 2015 health goal can be completely unrelated to dress size. Now, that would be bliss!

Personally?  I’m still mulling that one. My sports photography class kicks off in a few weeks. Once that’s done maybe I’ll find a book club? Or a volunteer gig? Thankfully, there’s no LAW that says I must decide by midnight. Perhaps I’ll just set a goal today… to choose a goal by March.

Oh, and blogging! I nearly forgot about a blogging goal!  Friends, you’ll hopefully be hearing more from me in the new year. Ideally three times per week, if I’m being precise.


And, Happy New Year!

Fireworks as London rings in 2013.
Photo: London Times

You Say You Want a Resolution…

New Year's resolutions listLet me start with this: If you read my headline and thought I’d be writing about a resolution to the fiscal cliff crisis, you can stop reading now.  This is my last day of vacation and – despite having plenty to say on this subject — I refuse to harsh my holiday buzz by venting about our politicians’ complete inability to collaborate or make tough decisions.

Nope, I was referring to New Year’s resolutions.  I’m a big advocate of them, if approached correctly.  Like many Americans, I take quite a bit of time off from work at year-end, so January 1 is a great day to take stock, and set goals for the next 12 months.  Tomorrow it’s back to work, but hopefully with a few altered routines that could lead to a healthier and more prosperous 2013.

Sadly, I heard on ABC News tonight that one-third of us become decidedly less resolute over time, and fall off whatever wagon we choose to hitch a ride on by the end of January. I certainly see this at my downtown San Francisco gym.  Every January, the ladies’ locker room feels like something out of Lord of the Flies.  It is almost unbearable… but by March 1, it’s sane again.

I believe that the key to success with resolutions is specificity, and measurability.  I keep most resolutions to myself.  (I’ll share if I’m successful, because I too am not always successful.)  Others are public domain.  For example, I have a goal of two blog posts per week in 2013, because despite blogging exactly 100 times last year, I was sporadic – blogging more frequently during baseball season and slacking off in the fall.

Another good, measurable resolution?  My blogger friend Kate put out a challenge of 10 Days of Real Food.   It’s a reasonable goal, and it’ll be easy to gauge my success.  Did I eliminate refined grains, refined and artificial sweeteners, and any food item that has more than five ingredients on the label for 10 days?  We’ll see.  Wish me luck!

This week I’ve heard some crazy proposed resolutions, my favorite from a woman interviewed on the local news.

 “I’m going to try not to get so upset about things, and let them roll off me like water off a duck’s back.”

It’s a laudable goal.  Who among us couldn’t stand to improve our ability to manage stress?  But it’ll be tough to accomplish, just by saying it out loud.  No vow to count to ten, or take up yoga or meditation?  And how will she know if she succeeds?  If she flies of the handle once, will she have failed?  Not surprisingly, this is a resolution she makes every year.

Party of extrovertsI’m struggling to come up with a have-more-fun sort of resolution.  As my friends know, I am an introvert.   Not a hermit or a shut-in.  I am merely someone who values solitude, especially when I’m worn out. That said, in a nutshell… I need to get out more.

The challenge is, a resolution around being more social can’t be just a take-your-medicine kind of thing.  It needs to be fun (as well as measurable and realistic) to fit the bill.  It’s not about a destination (e.g. lose 10 pounds), it’s about the journey (e.g. take up spinning three days per week).  So I may need to mull over my socializing resolution until February.

Any suggestions from you extroverts out there?