Blank slates increase my endorphin levels and give me adrenaline rushes. I don’t know how the physiology of it works, but there is definitely something I find addictive about fresh starts. Perhaps it’s part of the reason I’m hooked in the student cycle… so far I have 12 undergrad trimesters and six graduate semesters under my belt. That means seven years (eight, if you count my one-year venture outside of school between undergrad and grad school) punctuated by new notebooks, casual resolutions to stay on top of my reading, and a couple early weeks in each term where I feel like I’m conquering the course (well, my role in it, at least). While the end is in sight for me as a full-time student—hallelujah!—you certainly won’t find me complaining that my professional career as a high school teacher will come complete with semesters!
I guess having so many chances to decide (well, redecide) that “thiswillbethetermistopprocrastinatingandreallychangemyways” sort of satisfied me in the resolutions department. Rather than using new years as opportunities to implement changes or reassess my goals, then, I used each January 1st as an opportunity to compose a list of things and experiences I hoped to add to my life. I would jot down a long list, sometimes as long as forty items, of things I’d love to tackle in the upcoming year. “Go to an official wine tasting,” “cook something with yucca root in it,” and “find a go-to hostess gift” have each made the list. Most of the bullet points focused on moments and singular events. Occasionally items that applied to the everyday would make the list, but they were few and far between. Heck, a few times they were even proposed by my boyfriend (e.g., “Stay as far away from WebMD as possible.”), so I shouldn’t even really get credit for the bits that displayed big-picture/long-range thinking.
What I’m craving now is change more foundational than any yucca root recipe can satiate. I want to shift my focus toward doing a better job with the basics. For 2011, my goals are about structuring my daily activities in ways that reduce stress, improve efficiency, and free my energy, time, and space so that I can reallocate those to things I really care about.
The hope is that by ditching the Bingo-card-style of resolutions I once used, I can create habits that enhance my life. If I’m successful, 2012 should reap the benefits of my efforts in 2011, via my newly developed habits, without having to see any repeats on the resolutions list.