Got Resolve? 2018 Goals Dissected

Minnesota, New Year's Resolutions, Goals, Winter, water
I stated in the post "Got Resolve? A New Year's Beginning" that I would be explaining the goals I outlined in more detail. If you want a little more background on my musing about goals, New Year's Resolutions, and the like, you can start with the post linked above. Or, you can start with a post I wrote in early 2017 entitled, "Not So New Resolutions For The New Year." I'm going to try and keep this post more focused and answer nonexistent questions, to explain my rationale for setting the goals up the way I did. This post, no doubt, will still be plenty long.

I've established some rules because having goals isn't enough, right? *Sarcasm* In this case, I felt rules were necessary to ultimately gain what I hope to get out of this project. It's more than saying, "I want to do this, and look, it's done." I'm not only trying to accomplish the particular item on the list, but also trying to change my brain and daily habits moving forward. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I've learned that I have to be smart about out-smarting my brain. I have to try and cover any gaps that I may find.

Rule #1
If I get behind, I can make up the time, but I can't work ahead.

If I'm busy or am just having a hard time accomplishing one of my goals on a particular day, I have the opportunity to make up for that time. Do I HAVE to make it up the next day? No. But, the more I delay making it up, the more behind I become and the more I can see myself getting behind. I'd rather be caught up, or always working towards being caught up, with the ultimate goal of just completing all of the goals daily. If I don't allow myself to develop a debt and catch up, then missing a day will have no consequence and would only reinforce the path of least resistance—doing nothing.

However, I DO NOT want to have the option of working ahead. If I have that option, I might tend to do things in batches and then coast until I need to start doing that activity again. The point is to make these DAILY habits, not weekly habits. I don't want to give myself an excuse to not do something when I have the time and capability to do it. This will help reinforce that I need to figure out how to change my habits to accomplish my goals.

Rule #2
No double dipping. Each item must be done separately.

Yes, technically playing drums or practicing karate is exercise. Yes, when writing, there's a fair amount of reading. But, one can't count for two or more or there's really no point in having separate goals. Why not then cut out reading or exercise? Each goal has to be done deliberately to satisfy that particular goal's purpose, and there is a purpose. No double dipping.

In certain cases, it is allowable to do two tasks together. If I'm stretching, why can't I also read? That makes sense. I'm getting the benefits of both activities. I'm doing two distinct activities, not counting one for two.

Rule #3
Do the goals daily. Track the goals daily. Evaluate progress. Repeat.

The only way this will work is if my daily goals are on my mind daily. Sure, they're important, but like you, I get tired and have other things to do. We are forgetful. We lose sight of things. Other than wanting to do these goals, I remind myself daily by tracking them. Every morning I add the time I need to spend that day, and as I accomplish the goal, I take time away. I start the morning in the negative, and the best I can do is get to zero, never ending in a positive. Hence, I can never work ahead. Reference Rule #1.

Evaluating my progress is more of a mental exercise. I'm figuring out how to solve the puzzle. I'm seeing road blocks and wondering if I should wait in traffic or go off the beaten path. Some of the time, as I already have, I will jot down notes. These notes and future thoughts will probably end up in another post that serves as an update on my year's goals. A "where is he now" VH1-type special. Dreadful, yes. The story writes itself... When that comes out is anyone's guess. I DO want to continue to keep THIS post more focused, so I'll try to avoid any current findings for now. But, expect a revisit down the line.

Why did I choose the targets I chose?

For starters, I have to give myself a minimum. Otherwise, I could do a push-up, for example, and count that as my exercise for the day. If I set some lofty goal of thirty minutes for exercise, then I will already be intimidated and start thinking about how I'm too busy to accomplish it that day. And, you should be able to see how fast the missed time would add up if and when I miss days. It seems to me a losing proposition in the long run.

When I set up the parameters for my goals, I went off of what I know I can reasonably accomplish each day. My past and present experience and habits served as a starting point. Another concept that works well with these parameters is the idea that I can convince myself to do something with a small time commitment. Five minutes for exercise is really doable, and it's also a long enough amount of time to actually make an impact. And, if I can convince myself to do five minutes, I'm actually more likely to do fifteen to twenty instead. Starting is always the hardest part. But, if I only do five minutes, I'm not going to beat myself up over it. Five minutes is the goal.

Without getting into what I want to write about for each goal, I will mention one more thing. The writing and reading goals are longer than five minutes, because I'm already doing these things often. I do read everyday, and I do write a little most days. The water is a category all its own, and I'll hold off on that.

So, let's break down those goals.

5 Minutes of Exercise
I get physical activity throughout my day. How much from day-to-day or season-to-season varies. Besides, not all physical activity is equal in the ways of health. Hammering a nail is better than sitting still on a couch but pales in comparison to using a push mower on a half acre of grass.  What this goal aims to do is to make sure I get a minimum amount of traditional exercise. It doesn't matter what form that it comes in. It could be using my treadmill or my (late 90's) Total Gym or taking a walk or going old school with some push-ups and sit-ups. The point is to push myself, to strengthen muscle, to get my heart pumping, and to make physical fitness a higher priority in my life. Oh, and burning some calories is a nice byproduct.

5 Minutes of Stretching
I get tight muscles. Sometimes, this causes discomfort and headaches. Stretching helps out a lot. Getting enough sleep daily would help a lot, but we won't go there right now. If I'm going to exercise, drum, do karate, or be alive, my muscles will tighten from those activities. In addition, I want to increase my flexibility, not just counter the physical activity. Stretching is simple and has a big impact on well-being. It's good stuff. I don't want to wait until I have discomfort to remember that.

5 Minutes of Karate
Why karate? Long story short, my elder son started a karate class at the end of September in 2017. He enjoys the class and looks forward to going, but practicing at home isn't something he's usually excited about doing. I always take him to class, and that has caused me to learn karate along the way. Someone has to make sure he's practicing and doing it correctly, and that someone has become me. It has turned into something we can do and learn together. His teacher expects all of the students to practice for five minutes every day. They learn something new every week, and they get tested on what they know periodically, which earns them ribbons. If he doesn't do it correctly, he doesn't earn a ribbon.

There are plenty of things for my son to learn from karate. For me, other than sharing in an activity with him, it's about learning something new that I would have never considered doing on my own. Karate also requires strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance, all of which I could stand to get better at. If my son chooses to quit karate at some point, I have no doubt that I'll stop doing it as well. Maybe not. Time will tell. For now, wax on/wax off.

5 Minutes of Drumming
More than listening to music, I love playing instruments and creating moods and manipulating sounds. Without going into too much detail of my musical life in this post, I want to become a better drummer than I am. The only way to become a better drummer is to drum. Rather than playing for one to three hours once every week or every other week or with gaps of months at a time over the summer, playing for at least five minutes every day will produce better results.

An unforeseen byproduct of playing every day has been my desire to branch out more with playing styles. When I play less often, the act of drumming serves as more of an outlet to get the urge to drum out of my system. Yes, I want to get better and I do enjoy drumming, but doing so daily makes doing the same things over and over less interesting. This has reinforced the reason why I want to commit to drumming at least five minutes daily.

15 Minutes of Writing
I wrote a post called "7 Reasons Why I Blog." I'll avoid getting into those reasons the best I'm able. You can read that post for an explanation. The title could have almost as easily been 7 Reasons Why I Write. In short, I've written for one reason or another for pretty much my whole life. Most people have, realistically, but I have also done so since my childhood for the simple reason of having the desire to.

I enjoy writing for my blog. I think about my blog often. It's something I do regularly and giving myself a daily goal will help me to incorporate it better into my daily routine. As much as I would have liked to write daily in the past, and not that I didn't at all, I would tend to get more done by waiting until I had larger pockets of time. While better than nothing, it only got me so far.

Now when I sit down (or stand) to write, I'm trying to put myself in the best situation I can with the hopes of writing for more than fifteen minutes. Making the attempt daily and achieving the goal of fifteen minutes is better than not writing at all, even if it's accomplished a few minutes or more at a time. My hope is that this habit will help me with my blog and song lyrics but also for other outlets of writing creatively that I'm curious about pursuing.

30 Minutes of Reading
I know I read daily. I know I read a fair amount from day-to-day, some days more and some days less. What I read changes little from day-to-day and some things prove to be more worth my time than others. I'm sure that describes a lot of people's experiences with reading.

This goal is meant to focus on certain things that I read but not necessarily to get me to read more of those. In those regards, it's more about gathering data to analyze what I spend my time reading. What I count towards this goal is reading articles (or article-like-things like blog posts), newsletters, and books. And, there are things I want to learn more about. I hope to start incorporating the learning of those things by reading about them.

I'm not going to count reading a menu at a restaurant. I'm not going to scroll through social media and count that. If I see an article that draws me in while scrolling, yes, I'll count it. I can see this goal evolving if I choose to do something like it again next year. Who knows, maybe I'll make it more strict by year's end.

48 Ounces of Water
A few years ago (or a tad less), I had heard from more than one source that the optimal amount of water for a person to drink daily was half of their body weight in ounces. My weight has been about 200 pounds for the last four years. What I would need to drink under these guidelines is 100 ounces per day. I actually did that for about a week or two and I felt great. I could really feel the difference in my legs.

I have a 24 ounce/750 milliliter water bottle. I needed to drink four of those everyday, which isn't the hardest thing to do. However, it was also not something I was used to doing and is also just as easy not to do. Since then, I have drank water more regularly. In the past, I strived to drink more than one water bottle a day, but one was usually all the further I would get, and some days, I'd forget and not even drink one. I've since been better and have drank 24 ounces/one water bottle every day for about the past year. When I decided on the goal of drinking 48 ounces of water per day, I knew that I could reasonably double my average and that would help me move even closer towards my larger goal.

I'm not sure if I'll ever drink four water bottles a day, but if I lose weight, I would adjust down the total ounces needed in the formula. However, if I'm being physically active regularly and stay my current weight because I've replaced fat with muscle, then 100 ounces isn't out of the question. The future will inform me.

Minnesota, New Year's Resolutions, Goals, Winter, goal tracking, daily habits, physical fitness
The Wrap Up

I'm curious to see how these goals shape my year and what I'll have to say about them at mid-year and year-end. I'm hopeful they will produce the results I'm looking for. I'm excited about the potential of this year and how it may influence next year.

To the right is a screen shot of my tracking at 2 pm on Wednesday, 01/24/18. As you can see, I've gotten a little behind. I've done a pretty good job of staying caught up, though, all-in-all. I've been using Google Keep for more things lately, including my Daily Goal tracking.

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