When it comes to resolutions, I’m dreaming big and vague

In my New Year’s resolutions, I am taking my cue from MIT friend/colleague Jessie, who frames hers this way:

I try to look at what I have wanted, but allowed myself to be distracted from; what I have enjoyed, but not prioritized; what I need, but haven’t chosen.

I’m good on tasks and short-term goals, and I get them done. In the next few days I want to finish a full draft of a project I’m collaborating on, and I will do it. In the next three months I am taking a skating test (February 3rd) and going to AWP in Boston (March 6 – 9), and I will be ready for them. I have formulated a plan for getting the tasks done that help meet the goals.

Resolutions_550But thinking and dreaming aspirationally? Perhaps I could dream bigger, and less specifically, for my resolutions. I know I can get stuff done — can I focus, enjoy, and get what I need?

In that spirit, here are my three resolutions for 2013.

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Look beyond the self on New Year’s Day

My resolutions are usually about aiming for personal goals or eliminating personal deficits.

What if our resolutions were more focused on our interactions with others, not as a way to get but to give?

The writer David Rakoff (b. 1964) died in 2012 from cancer. In its year-end feature on notable deaths of the year, “The Lives They Lived,” the New York Times Sunday Magazine published a letter that Rakoff’s friend Ariel Kaminer had written, thanking him for important lessons. They are ones to live by:

  1. Don’t trade up.
  2. It’s better in the long run to be kind.
  3. Be grateful and humble and mean it.

Read the full version of the letter, and a fuller description of each axiom, here: link.

P.S. Of course I still have a personal resolution or two and will publish them later.

Out of the spent blossoms of the old year rise our resolutions

Lydia and I were a week into our new running habit and halfway around the reservoir when she asked me, “What are your New Year’s resolutions?”

I had been thinking about my plans for 2012, although I was not sure at that point if they had firmed up enough to be classified as resolutions. But, what the heck — why not put them out there into the universe, starting with my audience of one, and see if making a declaration has an effect?

I went looking for birds to photograph, but found dried hydrangea, tap tap tapping against the porch windows, instead. Jan 3 @ 2pm

“The first one is inspired by yours,” I said to Lydia, who aims for better time management in the new year. Both of us manage to get a lot done, and yet can fritter away our free time mindlessly. “I’m going to waste time in more meaningful ways. Instead of checking up on my friends’ and siblings’ status messages several times a day, for example, I’ll skip that and take a nap or watch a tv show with my family.

“Number two: write fiction. I told Eli about an idea I have for a young adult novel, and he liked it. Also, I want to do more than nonfiction is allowing me to do.” I described my start-up plan, which Eli and I worked out as we sat in the Publick House one night having dinner. During my January break and before classes begin, I’m going to write two pages a day and explore this novel idea. It’s an experiment, and yet I’m totally serious about it.

“The third one I already told you about. This year I’m going to compete in a skating event.” A week before Christmas, Fred (skating coach) had raised the question, and I said I’d do it. I want to. Performing or competing makes you better in a way that skating (or writing or singing or painting) only for yourself does not. It’ll be an entry-level competition for, er, seniors, and a powerful motivator.

Dried ornamental grass, roots in shade and seed heads in sun. Jan 3 @ 2pm

That was it for resolutions articulated between huffs and puffs around Brookline Reservoir. Shortly after, I had dinner with my friends, and Sue told us about her last year’s resolution, which she managed to keep 9 times out of 12: to see her mother, who lives beyond Albany, once a month.  Yesterday I told my mother my fourth resolution: to see my parents once a month this year, alone or with the whole clan, for a long visit for just the afternoon. That’s at most 1/30th of a month. Surely I have the time. We all do.