A new year’s resolution postcard from 1915

Posting my 2019 Resolutions has become a bit of a tradition. I first posted my New Year’s Resolutions in 2015, and I’ve done it every year since.

My 2019 Resolutions

Here’s the executive summary. I’ve unpacked my 2019 resolutions and made them measurable in the sections below.

  • Look after myself physically (exercise more & eat well)
  • Be aware of my mental well-being and take steps to improve it (re-charge time, and reflection)
  • Finish building the barbecue by the end of April
  • Keep writing (blogs, stories and other things)
  • Keep reading

Setting 2019 Resolutions

I posted how I’d got on with my 2018 Resolutions a few days ago. I always find it easier to do the end of year analysis than it is to set my new 2019 resolutions. Looking back on the resolutions they are more aspirations than realistic predictions of my behaviour. That’s probably fairly normal, I suspect most folk that set resolutions and then follow up don’t deliver on everything. I certainly haven’t. However I have tried.

One of the things I always bear in mind when setting performance measures is the behaviours that I want to drive. My personal 2019 resolutions are no different. There needs to be some sort of measure so that I can hold myself to account.

What I want is to be a good husband and father, and to be in good health, both mentally and physically, so that I can be that. My 2019 resolutions reflect that, especially the mental health side of things. In particular, one of the 2019 resolutions is more direct, specifically the one about finishing off the barbecue.

Physical Health

There are a few ways of looking at this. Mostly though I can measure my activity levels with my fitbit tracker. In 2018 I managed:

  • 3,353,135 steps (average 9,187 daily)
  • 7023 floors (average 19 daily)
  • 1,909.36 miles (average 5.23 per day)
  • 1,020,050 calories (average 2,795 burnt per day)

It also told me that I had an average weight over the year of 13stone 5lbs. So I can use this to compare my performance in exercising and eating healthily over 2019. I’m going to look to do more on each of the categories mentioned above. Specifically I’m hoping to:

  • Increase my average daily step count to above 10,000 steps
  • Lower average weight over the year to under 13st 2lbs in 2019.

Mental Health

I mentioned in my first blog post in December (on not blogging) that I’d had the mental health equivalent of a cold. I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, but hindsight tells me that I’ve passed through something. Part of the Project Leadership Programme that I’ve been doing is about being more self-aware. Only with that self-awareness can you diagnose what isn’t working and then work out what to do about it.

There’s a correlation between my off period and when I got unwell in the summer. It’s maybe just a side effect. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. What I do think helps is taking time to reflect on a regular basis. I’ve found doing my weeknotes at work helps with that. I write those mostly for myself, but it also helps show the rest of my team what I’m up to. What I’m thinking about. So I’m going to carry on with that and try to write 40 of those (one for each full week that I expect to work).

I also need some re-charge space. So I need to do things that aren’t doing things. That seems somewhat cryptic, but it just means having time when the point is relaxation, or having fun. It’s OK sometimes just to stop and think. Not quite sure how to measure that.

  • Take time to reflect at the end of every work week, and write a weeknote
  • Consciously make re-charge time as often as possible, to keep me on an even keel

Barbecue

brick barbecue being built seventh course complete
Seven courses complete on my self-built brick barbecue (photo: James Kemp)

I started a project in the early summer to build a brick barbecue. I hadn’t ever laid bricks before, but we had a load of them down the back of the garden as well as some spare concrete paving slabs. So I thought it would be a good thing to try. I got a bit unwell when I intended to do this, and by the time I started laying bricks (mid-September) the weather was starting to turn, and I also had less time overall to get it done. According to the instructions on the mortar you can’t lay bricks when it’s raining or when the temperature is below 5 degrees centigrade.

It’s mostly done but needs another two and a half courses before I can use it to cook things. I’ve laid the shelf for the cooking pan (i.e. where the charcoal will burn). Above that there’s half the next course, and then it needs another shelf for the grill. This then needs topped off with another course to stop the grill moving around. After that it can be used. Possibly there could be a third shelf added to help keep stuff warm.

There’s a blog post drafted, with a fair few pictures, showing how I got on with the build. I’ll post it when the barbecue is complete. Hopefully in late April, when the weather is more reliable and I get some days off when it isn’t raining. The measure for this is that

  • ¬†we’ve successfully used the brick barbecue for a family meal.
  • post about the build with pictures of the finished barbecue.

Writing

I enjoy writing, it’s perhaps the one measurable thing that counts towards positive mental health (see above). I’m not going to set goals for publishing anything. I’d quite like to, but writing is a hobby for me. So that means it’s one of the first things that gets dropped when other things happen.

That said I do intend to average one blog post a week (in addition to the weeknotes). I’ve got five part-drafted or scheduled, and I’ll keep on writing reviews of things I’ve read. I’m also going to keep on doing short stories, poems and anything else that pops into my head. I might even do NaNoWriMo in November, but I’m not committing to that until November comes along.

  • Write 50 blog posts (on Themself, one of my other blogs or as a guest post for someone else).
  • Write other things, stories, poetry, non-fiction (no numbers here, just a qualitative measure).

Reading

You can follow my reading progress on Goodreads. I narrowly missed the 2018 target of 40 books (I finished 39 books, but read parts of about another dozen). I’m going to track 2019 success by whether I manage to read the same number of pages than whether I finish books. In 2018 I read 10,658 pages in the books I logged via Goodreads. That was 1,600 more than in 2017 but still well short of the 15,613 I read in 2013 (when I was also studying Creative Writing with the OU).

The other factor here is that I’ve got things I read that don’t count towards this. I’ve got a subscription to The Economist which keeps me up to date on what is going on in the world. There are a bunch of other magazines that come through the door, or that I pick up from time to time, like Private Eye and New Scientist.

  • Complete all the books I’ve started before I start anything new in 2019.
  • Read a higher page count (according to Goodreads) than in 2018.
  • Finish 40 books in 2019 (starting with the 19 I’m currently reading).