New Year’s Hopes: 2015 Edition

Welcome to 2015. Let’s avoid the cliches and get to the hopes. If you haven’t read previous ones, hopes are like New Year’s resolutions except named less strongly despite a similar intent. So, let’s review last year’s hopes.

Old 2014 Hopes

1. Make something creative and physical.

Julie and I did wall art! Well, we haven’t quite gotten it onto a wall, but I used acrylic paints on a small canvas to recreate an image of a roundabout. I figured I would start easy with something less organic. It wasn’t great, and it was only once, but we did it. I can’t really take full credit for this one because Julie, not the hope, was the driving force, but it was done.

2. Exercise twice a week.

I didn’t do it all year, but I am doing it now. I started waking up 15 minutes earlier to squeeze in a short bodyweight workout (roughly modeled on this) and a few strengthening and stretching exercises for my forearms because of typing-induced injuries. Again, I give myself half credit because it was the physical therapy that made this work, but done is done.

3. Speak another language conversationally.

I give myself a 50% on this. Well, maybe 25% because again, I did it not because of the hope but because of my sister’s wedding. I did a few weeks of German duolingo, but without a need for it and such a tough starting point, I didn’t see much of a point. With my family coming in for my sister’s wedding, however, I decided I should work on my Cantonese to be able to talk to them (specifically my grandpa) better. I listened to Cantonese podcasts and eventually picked up a textbook when the websites didn’t work out.

Short rant: I think the problem with learn a language websites is that most of them are largely focused on making it really approachable since they are profit-driven and have a bottom-line that doesn’t entirely align with making fluent speakers. Textbook writers, however, tend to be academics who care less about approachability and care more about their topic. And since I was pretty good at school, I bought a textbook and worked from that instead. It went way better.

Anyways, I’m definitely not fluent: my vocabulary still stinks, and I can’t really generate sentences quickly. However, I have put together enough building blocks so that I now consciously understand sentences and the words that go in them rather than my previous understanding, which tended to be less explicit and fuzzier. Oddly, I think I need to work hard to get back to that fuzzy space because that very instinctual understanding is probably what fluency really feels like rather than the implicit translation of conscious understanding, but I will keep working.

New 2015 Hopes

1. Get more sleep.

Currently, I get about 7 hours of sleep every night. I feel mostly awake during the day, but I think that’s because I stand at my desk. When I sit, I start to get drowsy, and as Dr. Dement would have us know, drowsiness is red alert.

In college, I could justify sleeping less. College is a temporary environment filled with experiences that must be seized or be lost forever. Now that I’m working and in a regular schedule, though, I’m in some ways setting my norm for the rest of my life. And for the rest of life, I think I would be more engaged day-to-day if I slept more.

2. Spend my time better.

Coming out of the Christmas season of gift-giving, I have come to realize that I basically have all of the stuff and means that I need. My wish list is more constrained by “Do I really need that?” rather than “I wish I could afford that,” and I don’t often turn down events or opportunities for financial reasons.

The biggest constraint I have right now is time. I look forward to my vacations and evenings not because I don’t enjoy work but because they are an opportunity to do other things I want to, like blogging, reading, playing sports, spending time with Julie, and more. My asana is a constant reminder of the things I should do but haven’t gotten around to.

The unfortunate truth is that time is a fixed resource, and I can’t get more of it. I can, however, spend the time I have better. There’s the procrastination on reddit I could cut out. There are the activities and projects I do out of habit that don’t contribute much. I think I just need to re-evaluate and reorganize to work towards a stable state.

3. Put together a digital family tree.

Due to a variety of events and circumstances, I have had more opportunities to connect with my extended family over the past year or so, and it has been great. To be honest, family has not always been a high priority for me, and I think that’s worth changing.

Seeing and talking to them more often is a given. I also want to try making a digital family tree so I am less uncertain how who is related to me. My day job is building things. Hopefully I can use that here as well. I have some ideas on how to do it, but I’ll keep those in my head until I fully commit and put a GitHub project up. For any family (or friends) who care to contribute, I’m always happy to have collaborators.

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