New Year's Resolutions 2004
Joe Clark ~~ Dec 31, 2003

Over the past month, I've been mulling over what's good and what's not so good in my life. I've come up with a short list of things that I want to try to work on more in the upcoming year to improve my quality of life. I'm trying to focus here on simple, manageable goals that do not require major lifestyle changes -- in other words, goals that might actually be met.

1) Spend at least 3 hours per week "communing with the outdoors." Looking back over the past year, I notice that I have spent tons and tons of time inside on work projects and personal projects and class projects. Some of that is necessary, but sometimes I'm just reading another set of 500 comments on Slashdot or something. So, to counter this sedentary boring lifestyle, I want to challenge myself to spend at least three hours each week doing something outside. I want to leave this very open-ended. I don't have to spend the time exercising. I don't have to spend the time alone. I don't have to spend the time in a group. I don't even have to be directly outdoors (ie, I can be in a car or on a porch). The only rule is that I have to not be focused more on some other "normal" task than on the task of communing outside. Notice too that I did not make this goal only for the summer months...there are ways to spend time outdoors even during the cold winter months, too. Some guidelines for appropriate and inappropriate outdoor activities to meet this goal: Outdoor church services or Bible studies don't count, but outdoor church social gatherings probably do. Attending or participating in outdoor sporting events counts (partly because I value the outside part more than the sporting event part usually). Going for a ride (as long as "the ride" is a primary focus) counts. Taking the laptop outside probably doesn't count. Outdoor engineering work doesn't count, unless it is a focused break period.

Test Method: In order to keep track of my progress in this area, I will create a chart or calendar on which I can record the time spent doing my "outdoor-centric" activities.

2) I want to marginalize my life. That sounds a little unusual so let me explain. This past year especially, I have become quite good at getting up at 7:25 to get to work by 8am. That leaves just exactly enough time to do the daily routine and drive to work. This example and other similar ones in my life may be efficient and all, but they leave life too hectic, I think. They do not leave enough room for the "marginal" activities -- listening to a song, reading a chapter in a book, responding to a friendly email or a phone call -- those things tend to get lost in a life that has no margins. So I want to work on increasing the margin of time I allow myself between my pursuits of busy-ness.

Test Method: Keep track of when I go to sleep and when I get up (in efforts to get enough sleep but yet get up earlier). Perhaps keep a daily or weekly journal of my thoughts on the amount of margin I have been able to uphold for that day or that week.

3) Lose 20 pounds by the end of the year. My weight has been fairly steady the last couple of years, but "there is more of me to love" than there should be, so for the sake of health and appearance, I'd like to lose some weight. Note that this is a year-long goal; I'm not intending to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks or even two months. I just hope to see a gradual decline over time based on smart(er) eating and exercising habits.

Test Method: Test progress on the scales about once a week, record results, and generate a graph.