Doing This Backwards

When it comes to the new year, there are typically two camps: those who relish the opportunity for a fresh start (Starting tomorrow, I'm going to be a better person than I was last year!) and those who roll their eyes at the arbitrary delineation between two years (Why should a calendar dictate my self-improvement?).

I fall somewhere in the middle, though I lean slightly towards the former. I'll admit I'm a sucker for a clean slate. I've always loved that first-day-of-school, page-one-of-a-new-journal, beginning-of-a-new-month sheen, and nothing embodies that feeling more than New Year's Day. 

And while I am a huge fan of making improvements the moment the need for them arises (last year, I made both new- and mid-year's resolutions), there are few things more motivating for me personally than a symbolic fresh start--those mistakes I made? That was 2018 Erin. 2019 Erin would never do that!

And while I often fall short of keeping ALL of my New Year's Resolutions, I'm usually pretty good at keeping some of them--and the ones I keep, I'll usually stick with for good, which means I end each year a slightly better person than the one I was before.

Logic would dictate my New Year's Eve post would be about how I fared with last year's resolutions and my New Year's Day post would outline next year's resolutions, but because I'm traveling and have switched journals since I wrote last year's resolutions down, I don't remember what all of last year's resolutions were. So I'm doing this backwards. Today, I'll write about my resolutions for this year and tomorrow, after I've returned home, I'll talk about how I did in 2018. 

This would have really bugged 2018 Erin, but seeing as one of my resolutions is to let go of anxiety about things that don't actually matter, I feel this is a fitting start.

The rest, in no particular order:

  • Run 10K without stopping: 
It is an understatement to say this is a stretch goal for me. I spent much of the last six months trying to get back up to 5K without stopping (I was there for a while about four years ago, but fell off). I did not succeed. Well, you know what they say: If at first you don't succeed, try something twice as hard instead. That's a thing people say, right? I mean, I just said it. 

I use an app called 5K runner, which I can't recommend highly enough. It takes you through an interval training course, where you work your way up from alternating one minute of running with one minute of walking for 30 minutes straight to eventually running for 30 minutes straight (about 5K for most people). 

This app worked really well for me about four years ago, when I stuck to a schedule and ran consistently. I have not been doing that this time, and have currently plateaued at alternating run-5/walk-3/run-8/walk-3, which is ... pretty damn far from where I'd like to be. 

To be fair to myself, I most frequently ran a flat track the first time I did this program, and have been running almost exclusively on hilly terrain this time around.

But also, I've sucked at keeping it up. Every time I start to get into a good three-runs-per-week rhythm, I get a cold, tweak my knee, or just plain don't feel like it, and fall off. Then when I come back two or three weeks later, I've lost all of my progress. 

The problem is I hate running. I get awful side stitches, earaches, headaches. I can't breathe. I am a fucking mess of a runner. But here I am, deciding that I will do a thing I hate doing two times more than I tried and failed to do last year.

(In running's defense, I typically stop hating it and start sincerely enjoying it once I've been doing it consistently for about three months, and it really is the only way to get that elusive "runners high" endorphin rush. I also think it's probably good for my personal development to push myself to do at least one thing I don't particularly enjoy doing.)

  • Procrastinate less!
Pretty self-explanatory. I procrastinate. A lot. Always have. I always get my work done well and on time, but I tend to do a pretty good job of torturing myself along the way. I know goals are supposed to be specific, measurable, etc., but I don't know how to put this one in that format, so there you go.

Part of this means developing more discipline, which ties into the running-even-though-I-hate-it thing. 

  • Read 50 books:
This was one of the resolutions from last year that I do remember making. I fell short last year and read 38, which I am still happy with, but I'd like to give 50 another go this year.

(I'm sure you're wondering why I don't follow my own lead and be like "Hey, I failed at reading 50 books last year, so I'm going to read 100 books this year!" but I actually enjoy reading, and I'm obviously only doubling down on things that make me absolutely miserable.) 

I'll post some time next week about the 38 books I read and what I thought of them. 

  • Write more non-work stuff. Publish at least one short story:
I write for a living, which makes it really hard to write in my free time. I'd like to change that, and I started this blog to exercise that muscle. But like I mentioned earlier, goals are supposed to be specific and measurable, so I changed my resolution of "write more non-work stuff" to "publish at least one short story" by 2019's end. 

The type of writing I do for work is non-fiction, so getting a work of fiction published is far enough out of my comfort zone to push me, but since I'm only challenging myself to do it once, it still feels pretty attainable. 

  • Meditate every day:
Like running, I get a huge benefit from meditation, but ONLY when I do it consistently. I plan to meditate every single day in 2019. Previously, my longest meditation streak was 45 days, so 365 seems ... totally realistic?

  • Pay off credit card debt:
A series of medical, veterinary, and auto mechanic bills, our wedding, other people's weddings, and a 19% interest rate combined forces to build up a decent (but hardly insurmountable) amount of credit card debt over the last few years. 

I am already on track to finish paying it off by November, so all I have to do is stay on track, but I also wouldn't mind saving myself some interest and paying it off a little sooner. 

  • No new clothes (thrift and clothing swaps okay):
I don't buy new clothes often, but every once in a while, I'll get a shopping bug. It's almost always for the wrong reasons (to take the edge off a bad day or to get that "clean slate" feeling I talked about earlier in this post), and it's almost always at fast-fashion places like Target or Uniqlo. 

I've always kind of known about the human and environmental toll of the fast fashion industry, but I knew it in that back of my mind kind of way that most of us know those inconvenient things that would require a lifestyle switch we're not willing to make. Recently, I watched the documentary The True Cost (still on Netflix AFAIK, and definitely worth a watch), and it not only brought that previous nagging back-of-my-mind knowledge to the forefront of my mind, it taught me that the cost of cheap clothes is far higher than I could have imagined. 

So this year, I'm buying nothing new, but will happily divert cheap clothing from landfills through thrift stores and clothing swaps.

(Incidentally, this should also help accelerate my credit card payoff goal.)

  • Hike the dogs or take them to the dog park at least once a week:
They deserve it. They're cute as hell and pretty much the best. 


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