Out with 2007, in with 2008
Joe Clark ~~ Jan 5, 2008

I wanted to take some time to write down my thoughts about the year gone by in my life and to think about what I can do to change and improve my life in the new year to come.

For my review of 2007 I'm going to be brief, but here are some topics that seemed to be recurring themes throughout the year:

There were a few lines that seemed to be important in my thinking throughout the year:

And now looking to the future...

I think I've run across a lot of songs lately that have to do with the future. "New Year" the Raphael J song which I've enjoyed at this new year's time now for several years. More recently, I discovered "The Clock Ticks On" and "Where Are We Going From Here" by the group Blackmore's Night -- those songs seem to have set my mood this year for evaluating the past and anticipating the future year. I think the mood worked pretty well... here's what I've come up with...

First off, I think I like the word goals better than the more usual word "resolutions." If you ask 10 people about resolutions for the new year, I bet 8 of them will say something on the order of "Eh, resolutions are stupid because nobody keeps them." And so (at least from that line) because of rampant and expected failure people don't set resolutions and (arguably) they miss out on a chance to improve themselves or the world. Realizing this, I choose to call my statements here "goals." I'm sure that I won't meet the mark every day. While missing the mark is not ideal, it's realistic to accept the fact and say, "Even if I fail, that doesn't change my goal for the day(s) to come."

As I've been thinking the last week or so about this, I've come to view 2007 as sort of a year of "productivity" and of trying to organize groups to share information or to combine efforts toward a common task. Productivity is still something that drives me, and organizing people around causes is still important. But I think perhaps I went overboard on it, at the expense of developing actual relationships with people. You think? In any case, I think one of my main goals in this coming year will be to develop stronger relationships with individuals.

One of the things that always holds me back from developing individual relationships is the fact that there are so many individuals that I know. And with that I have to balance my time, meaning that some people don't get as much attention as others. I suppose this has always kept me from "focused friendships," because I'm trying to play fair.

I think I see this phenomenon leading me in a couple different directions this year (or maybe both). First, I may accept a little more seeming unfairness so that I can concentrate on friendship development. I don't mean shutting anyone out, just making day-by-day decisions more carefully. We'll see how that works. (And feel free to tell me that's a selfish goal if you think it is.) Second, if I get convinced that playing favorites is selfish, then this goal will morph into a "be all there" goal, meaning that I want to focus more on the people around me.. more than I do now. This doesn't mean I focus more on any specific people, but just.. if I'm talking to someone, I should really listen and not be preoccupied by some other random thing. FOCUS. That's the word.

Another aspect of this goal will be to not be afraid of my phone. Okay, I'm not really afraid of it, but I don't like talking on the phone all the time. And I still don't expect to call people all the time to chat about nothing. But I also realize that there are a lot of occasions for building friendships that I miss out on because I'm too lazy to call people. I spend my life typing on xanga or reading slashdot or whatever, and I could use that time more wisely, investing it with people (real life people). So, I want to try and refocus my attention on real people in real time. I want to be less annoyed by driving somewhere at night to spend time with people, and more quick to realize that time spent with people will probably improve my life more than sitting around at home. -- Those thoughts may be inspired by my current week of vacation, and when I get back to work I'll have less time available, but... I think there's still some truth to my thinking.

That being said, I think I just exhausted my store of "I must say this" goals. I do have some other goals, but they're more typical. Actually I think the reason I hesitate to mention them is because they are the goals that I have, in my own estimation at least, repeatedly underperformed on. But, here's to a new year and a renewed hope for meeting goals:

I want a renewed spirituality. I guess there are a lot of facets to that, and in some sense I just want to observe God do amazing thing in my life and the lives of my friends. But I have to keep up my end of things too, and I don't always do that. Hence the goal: to put more effort into doing the daily things I should do to renew my mind in God. This goal seems so simple, being something like taking 10 minutes a day to read the Bible and taking time to pray and perhaps some time to be silent and reflect. Surely I have that much time in my supposedly busy schedule. The raw fact is that I don't always want to put the time in. And that is what really needs to change. So, in some sense I need God's help to start the process of meeting this goal. Sound familiar to anyone?

Along with these goals, the other day I was thinking about "recapture the moment" or "recapture the magic." I think those sayings resonate with me right now. I want to enjoy and really "savor" the moments of my life more than I do now. I want to have a sense of "magic" working in my life -- not in a weird way, but in some transcendent way, some ability to see that life is about more than just the stuff I do and think on the surface, and that people are about more than who I see them to be on the surface. If it makes sense, this hard-to-state goal really has ties to both more focus on people and more focus on my commitments to God. Or, more correctly, the recapturing is part of what I hope to gain by meeting my goals.

I also want a renewed commitment to "wellness" in its several meanings. I have a sort of bipolar nature about wellness. I weigh myself every day. I cook vegetable soup and eat it sometimes because it's good for me (even when it's burned, ick). But, I also eat pizza too readily and generally over-portion my meals. I am serious about wellness -- except when I'm not. And that's not really the place where I want to be. In a big way that amounts to strengthening my discipline: to avoid temptations now to realize a brighter future later. Although people may not realize it, I see that my ability to stand up under some temptations is really not that strong, and so that's something I want to focus on and improve in this coming year.

So, there you have it. You might sum it up as "focus on individual people, live a disciplined life."