As a rule, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions were made to be broken, or worse, completely abandoned. Do you know anyone who has ever actually kept a New Year’s resolution throughout an entire year? I don’t. The problem is that in order to carry out a resolution, there needs to be a certain urgent and necessary motivation to sustain it. Most of us create a resolution at New Year’s because it’s often a time of reflecting on our successes and trials over the past year, and so wanting to become better we say we are going to improve ourselves this year through “x”. It all seems well and good, but if you really felt a need to alter your life in some form, would you have waited all the way until New Year’s to make that happen?
I think most of us are best at making resolutions when we truly feel most compelled to do so, and that likely isn’t going to fall on a specific calendar day. Oftentimes they are driven by other circumstances or incidents in our lives, which serve as a wake up to the need for change. I don’t know about you, but on New Year’s I am often trying more to sleep to recover from the holidays than anything else – sometimes I feel I need a vacation to recover from vacation, and while spending the holidays in Austria was much fun, by the time we came back we were exhausted! Afterwards, during the transition back into the usual routine of daily life, I still am not able to be introspective enough to think about how I, as a person, have progressed over the past year or that I should change my life. New Year’s and the holidays are just not a good time for that sort of self-reflection.
So instead, I’ve decided it’s far more productive (and realistic) to come up with goals. Goals have a concrete end. A plan to get to that end. Goals are attainable, and progress towards them can be measured. Rather than resolving to eat better – a very broad, vague, and thus likely unattainable end – I set myself goals. My goal this year is to learn how to cook root vegetables. To not be afraid of new ones I haven’t tried (black salsify, anyone?). To find ways to make them taste great without turning them into soup or drowning them in cheese. I can track my progress – which root veggies have I tried? what methods have I learned? what dishes did I enjoy? And thus by working on my goal, I may find myself not resorting to pasta so often for dinner (not that there is anything wrong with carbs and grains, but we’ve been a bit excessive with the pastas lately). A goal is not about avoiding an action, but embracing one. To say I was going to give up something is also to invite failure. So rather than say no more pasta, I instead want to learn to appreciate and enjoy something new. To me, this seems much more doable.
So what are my goals?
1. Explore root vegetables – learn how to cook them and bring out their flavors in tasty ways – parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, celeriac, jerusalem artichokes, salsify, beets, radishes, daikon, sweet potatoes. Some I have more experience with than others. And yes, even the dreaded carrot, I want to conquer. All my life I’ve only been able to eat carrots raw, despising this terrible aftertaste that appears only once they have been cooked. And I think that single food aversion, one that has existed ever since I can remember (and I can remember specifically disliking cooked carrots as early as the age of 4), has thwarted much of my root vegetable exploration in my life.
2. Learn how to cook leafy greens – There are other greens in the world besides spinach, and a little variety might help keep spinach from seeming so boring. My husband detests any leafy salad (mainly from having to eat so many over the years at establishments where few gluten free options were found), so if I find tasty ways to cook greens, we will likely end up incorporating more of them into our diet. I’d like to find flavorful ways to prepare chard, kale, collards, mustard greens, cabbages, arugula, bok choy, and others that both my husband and I will enjoy.
3. Take fewer photos – this may seem a bit counterintuitive given my love for photography, but it has a purpose. The more I can think and plan a shot, the fewer clicks of the shutter I need to actually achieve what I envision. Taking several photos without much consideration to composition, lighting or mood results in several blah images taking up space as well as a feeling of disappointment when I go through them later and am sad to not find anything I loved. So by setting a goal to take less photos, I don’t mean cutting back on my favorite hobby (in fact, it may be on my mind more as I teach myself to better analyze a scene before grabbing the camera), but rather making sure I can see the shot before just clicking and hoping something comes out. I think this will really help me to improve the quality of my work.
4. Develop a consistent backup system for my photos – my backup process for my images is rather haphazard, and I need to develop a streamlined method – some form of automated backup to an external hard drive as well as an online cloud backup system would be ideal I think. It means reorganizing my file system, researching systems and services, and spending a little money. But my computer is only so big and having my images in only one place is not cool.
5. Go for more walks and hikes – Rather than just saying “I need to be in better shape”, I’d like to focus on some activities I enjoy that are also good for me. I live in a gorgeous area with beautiful scenery, I need to enjoy it more every day. Walking is exercise, would get me outside more, and I’m sure hiking would also provide some wonderful inspiration for that photography hobby of mine. I know this is hard to do in the Wintertime when skies are gray and weather is not stellar, but if there is a decent day, I need to take advantage of it. Even if it’s just a short brisk walk around town (or going to the market or prop shopping), I think it will be good for both my husband and I to do rather than always relying on public transportation methods.
So here rings in 2012, resolution free, but filled with goals – measurable, achievable goals. Wishing you all an exciting year ahead.