It may be halfway through January already (?!) but it’s never too late to set resolutions and intentions for the year! My most cumbersome but most personally valuable posts on this blog are my beginning- and end-of-year blogs, with the resolutions post kicking off the year with ways I can bring myself closer to the person I want to be.
Last year’s resolutions focused a lot around making concrete plans to do things that I’ve been making resolutions for over the past several years. I didn’t check all those boxes off, but I know that specific goals are easier for me to achieve than vague ones. By the end of 2017, I found myself formulating new concrete goals, some of which were not even considerations at the beginning of the year. Here are the ways I aim to improve myself in 2018…
Read 20 books. Last year’s goal was 15 books, which seemed doable until I hit book #15. It was a long, dense book (that I really enjoyed but spent a long time reading) and I thought I would never finish. After taking a break from that book and reading some easier reads, I actually managed to surpass my goal (and finish that long, dense book) so this year I am going to set my book goal a little higher than how many books I read last year. I hesitated because typically, if I exceed my book goal, I set my new goal to be within the number of books I read. However, because so many of the books I read last year were so very long (hello thousand-page ASoIaF books), I think I should be able to tackle more, especially if I dedicate my time to reading more and reading more books that I enjoy.
(Follow along on Goodreads to see what I’m reading and check in on my progress for reading 20 books! You can also set your own reading goal via Goodreads’s reading challenge feature.)
Watch more movies. I don’t have a specific number of movies in mind yet, but because I now have a MoviePass and am writing reviews for Punch Drunk Critics, I think I owe it to myself (and my blog team) to watch more movies this year. Every year, my year in film roundup seems to have fewer movies than I would like. When awards season comes, I lament that I haven’t gotten a chance to see many of the nominees yet. (Especially difficult because I tend to see fewer movies during that October-December holiday season.) Let’s hope 2018 sees a change in this!
(I’ll be tracking my progress on this goal on Letterboxd this year if you’d like to follow along.)
Order new things. I am the kind of person who orders the same thing every time I visit someplace. I get one flavor of bubble tea, I get the same lunch combo from the takeout place near my office, I go to the same 3 fitness classes. This year, I would like to push outside of my comfort zone and try different things, at least every other time. Order a different flavor of bubble tea! Order something new from a restaurant I eat at all the time! Try a different fitness class! At the very least, I will not order the same thing during consecutive visits.
Make concrete plans to do the things I’d like to do. Catching up with friends. Trying new restaurants. Watching that movie I’ve been meaning to see for years. Buying a bookshelf and shelving all my books. I have this ever-growing list of things I want to do (the lists for movies to see and restaurants to try almost warranted a separate resolution!) but while I don’t hesitate to add things, I don’t seem to really ever make a dent in it. I want 2018 to be the year that I say, “Let’s catch up sometime… are you free to Skype next Thursday?” or “I’ve been meaning to watch The Godfather. It’s on Netflix now so I’ll watch it this weekend.” (I know, I know.) Not following through on the things I say kills me inside. I want to be a person who follows through for myself. My hypothesis is that the key to this will be concrete plans and deadlines, so we’ll see if that’s true.
Send more snail mail. I love receiving snail mail and I used to really love sending it as well. I’ve always told myself I would send thank you cards in the post or write postcards from travel destinations, but somehow it’s never happened, partly because I don’t have mailing addresses for most of my friends! I’ve started collecting mailing addresses and will be striving to send more things in the mail: greeting cards, gifts, postcards, care packages? In this digital age, the gesture means a lot more and I want to do it to invest further in my friendships.
Increase my exercise frequency to 3-4x a week. I’ve been a ClassPass member for a year now and I love it. On the ~5 class a month plan that I am on, this means I usually go to the gym about once, maybe twice a week. I know that exercise is most effective at a minimum of 3 visits a week, so I am going to aim to hit that number this year. This means doing more things outside of ClassPass if I don’t upgrade to a larger class plan.
(If you’d like to try ClassPass, feel free to use my referral for $40 off OR take advantage of their current promotion code NEWYEAR to get 70% off the 5 or 10-class pack. The referral saves you more money on the 5-class pack, whereas their code saves you more for the 10.)
Eat/chew more slowly. This seems kind of random, especially given that I usually am the last to finish my meal, but as far as each bite that I’m eating, I tend to scarf down bites of food. (I then talk abundantly between those bites, usually, or get distracted watching something.) I have a suspicion that the speed at which I’m inhaling my food is causing me to ingest a lot of air, and I end a lot of meals with lots of burping, so I’m hoping that being more mindful of how quickly I eat my food will reduce that discomfort. (This didn’t really go away during Whole30,either.) Because there’s nothing like asking a significant other to “burp me like a baby please” to really make you question your lifestyle and choices.
Keep in regular touch with my family. My ailing grandfather asked if I could post in WeChat at least once a month for him so that he knew I was doing well and thought of him. I realized that this request was really simple and I could do this, not just for him but for the rest of my extended family and my nuclear family too. My parents and my brother and I are all in different places doing different things, and I definitely can do better to stay in touch with them, in addition to staying in touch with my aunts and cousins and grandparents back in China. So I’m going to do that. The monthly WeChat check-ins and a more frequent check-in with my nuclear family.
Spend less time on my phone. Sometime between having no smart phone and now, I found myself spending a lot of spare time checking my phone. I’m on it way, way too much and it is endlessly annoying to me, because I can’t stand when people can’t tear themselves away from their phones. I want to only have my phone when I’m communicating with someone, of course, and during times that I’ve decided to dedicate to checking phone things. Walking somewhere, waiting for something, when I want a distraction from work or a boring meeting… these are no longer acceptable times for me to be pulling out my phone.
Plan my wedding. This is more of a firm to-do task than a resolution but I got engaged last year and need to start — and then finish — planning my wedding! Right now, I’m working on getting a rough guest list and starting the search for venues. Everything else will hopefully? fall into place after that is done. I can’t imagine trying to get anything else done without knowing where or when my wedding will be.
What would one of Starr’s resolutions posts be without the more vague, abstract intentions I set for myself? While these are harder for me to check off in a binary done/not-done way by December 31st, I always value these because these goals are a higher-level nudging towards the person I want to be, defined not only by my actions but by my thoughts and attitudes as well.
Be less pedantic. This is a weird one to start the list with but I literally had this sentence in my head for most of the month of December and knew that I had to keep thinking it to myself for 2018 and beyond. When I was young, I rightfully earned a reputation as a know-it-all and a teacher’s pet, but I am realizing that I never really outgrew that. What I have grown into is the ability to now hear myself prattling on about details that no one particularly cares about or that do not contribute in any way to the conversation. Whether I’m trying to sound smart or just fill time???, this is unnecessary and I really want to stop hearing it because I’m sure if I’m tired of hearing it, others must be beyond exhausted by it.
Enthusiastically meet new people. I used to really thrive in social situations where I didn’t know anyone, but lately I’ve found myself not getting into that mindset and retreating to either friends or, worse, solitude. I am so grateful when I go to networking events or meetups and a friendly stranger introduces him/herself to me, and I want to be that person to others. I also just don’t want to be that standoffish and/or lonely person at a group outing anymore. It may be that I am simply not as extroverted as I used to be, so we’ll see what it looks like when I more consciously try to get in the headspace of making new friends like I used to do easily and frequently.
Practice patience. This one may sound familiar but it bears repeating. I think my temper has improved as I’ve gotten older and more mature, but I still find myself losing patience very easily and losing my temper more easily than I’d like. It doesn’t take much for me to feel myself getting worked up, to hear my voice rising in pitch as I get agitated, to have tears welling up in my eyes as I struggle to make peace with whatever is going on. Patience is difficult for me, even though delay of gratification isn’t, and I am looking into ways I can get better at this skill.
(Currently looking into meditation and other techniques. Let me know if you have any other suggestions!)
Be a better ally and nurture better allies. Some people may find it odd that I have been relatively quiet about current events and social issues on social media, especially given my boisterous nature, my strong opinions, and my past usage of social media. This isn’t because I don’t have any strong opinions about currents events or social issues. Rather, I have been spending time trying to think before I speak (so bold, I know) and cultivating my thoughts. I recognize that, given my network and my clout, shouting my opinions at the people I know is not a particularly effective way to effect a change in attitude or approach, which is my ultimate end goal. I need to have productive conversations, whether that is helping people who agree with me channel their energy into productivity or helping people who disagree with me understand where I’m coming from. This has been a long and frustrating process that often feels like inaction. But I think this year I am ready to start taking some small actions, having conversations that I previously did not feel equipped to have, and making a bigger impact than I would have one or two years ago by shouting and then acting alone. I’ll write a blog post about this someday (hopefully someday soon) but my current approach to effecting positive change is increasing my personal impact by increasing the impact of others.
Would it be valuable to you for me to check in about how I do on specific resolutions at the end of the year? I know which ones I succeeded at keeping and which ones I don’t, but I want to know if that helps you at all or gives you context that you want.
What resolutions and goals are you making for 2018?