Saturday, January 2, 2016

Resolutions for 2016

Though I basically ditched my 2015 resolutions, I do believe in the resolution model so long as the resolutions have the following qualities:
  • Realistic - Goals I can reasonably achieve in the given time frame and given my schedule.
  • Concrete/Measurable - Goals I can work towards, producing results I can demonstrate.
  • Personal Improvement - Goals that enhance my knowledge or abilities.
  • Habit-Changing - Goals that I wasn't already going to reach without making them goals.
Through resolutions like this, I've played and finished more games, finished more books, gone on more hikes, watched more movies, and wrote more than I otherwise would have. These resolutions kept me active, kept me thinking, and generally gave me a greater appreciation for the arts than I had before.

At their core, though, resolutions are a commitment of time, and time is a problem of economics. Basically, we only have a finite amount of time, and new time commitments mean sacrificing time we were otherwise going to spend doing something else. Since we definitely can't sacrifice work and sleep time without facing some significant consequences, resolutions are necessarily a redefinition of "free" time. So, let's calculate that a bit.

On weekdays, I would commit 9 hours to sleep (winding down, sleeping, and waking up), 10 hours to work (8 hours of work, 1 hour for lunch, 1 hour discretionary/travel/etc), and 1 hour to other daily activities (eating, hygiene, housework, etc).

That leaves 4 hours of free time left over each weekday, which is not much. I'll generally want to spend at least some of that as quality time with Laura, but the rest of that time is spent playing games, catching up on the Internet, and so on. It's enough time to spend at least an hour per day doing something else, such as writing blog posts. For now, though, we'll say I've got 4 hours of free time per day Monday through Friday, so 20 hours of free time total. That's not so bad.

The weekends are more open, with only 10 hours per day dedicated to sleep and other daily activities. That leaves potentially 14 hours per day open to free time on Saturday and Sunday, totaling 28 hours. Combined with the free time from the weekdays, I've got 48 hours of free time each week--two whole days' worth of free time per week, or 2,496 hours of free time to spend throughout the year. If I were to spend all of that time on a new skill, I'd (in theory) be a quarter of the way toward mastering that skill.

That said, I do have other commitments in the coming year. I have trips to take, time I'll be spending with friends, and myriad other spontaneous activities to take up that time, not to mention the overtime I can always count on at work, especially once the holidays come around again. I'd like to get back to weekly tabletop games if possible, which takes up maybe 4 hours per week for playing, and at least 2 hours of preparation. I've also got classes and homework to do throughout the spring, which will eat up 12 hours each week at least. If I decide to do daily blogs again, that's at least another 7 hours each week.

That leaves me with 23 hours each week for a significant portion of the year, or ~3 hours per day on average. That time all seemed to disappear pretty quickly. And I still haven't factored in time I'd like to spend hiking, and time I'd like to spend playing video games.

Given all of that, I think I'm going to need to figure out resolutions that will fit into my schedule without disrupting it too much. I honestly didn't know what those resolutions would be when I started this post, but I think I've got a pretty good idea now.
  1. I will listen to 52 music albums I've never listened to before (1/week on average).
    Last year I attempted to find 12 new music albums I enjoyed, but that "enjoyed" qualifier really made that resolution difficult. I'm very picky about music to begin with, but mostly I think the fact that I was looking for something specific prevented me from just experiencing the music on its own merits, which detracted from the overall experience. This time, there's no qualifier--I'll just be listening to a lot of new music this year. Hopefully some of it will stick with me.
  2. I will read 12 new books this year (1/month on average)
    Identical to a resolution I had in 2013, which went really well. I haven't read much since the end of 2013, though, so I think it's time I remedy that problem.
  3. I will attempt 12 new recipes this year (1/month on average)
    I enjoy cooking, but there are only a few things I know how to make well. Hopefully by trying something new once per month perhaps I'll be able to add a few new items to my menu.
The lovely thing about all of these resolutions is that they kind of fit into my existing schedule. I can listen to music while doing most anything. I can read books before bed, during lunch, or on the toilet. I already spend time cooking every few days, so I'll just be changing what I'm cooking.

I'm also going to try to get back into the habit of blogging every day, but I'm not going to make that a resolution. I'd prefer to simply make it a habit that will last beyond the end of 2016. Let's see how that works out.

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