New Year's Goals

New Year’s Hopes: 2011 Edition

One week into the new year, and I have already written down the year as 2010 by accident several times. But this year is an exciting year, at least for me, as ’11 has been all around me for the past few years. If you’re a long time reader, you’re probably familiar with my list of Hopes. They’re like Resolutions, except that they don’t have the same association with failure. Even better, if I don’t succeed, there was never really any serious commitment to making it happen, so failure isn’t really possible.

Even so, let’s see how last year’s turned out:

1) Watch more than 50 movies.

At final count, I watched 28 (previously unseen) movies last year, so just over half what I had intended. Movie nights never really panned out, and the movie watching that did happen happened in spurts. I think that the list still shrunk, so I succeeded in part of the motivation.

2) Have less stuff than I did last year.

Although I haven’t measured the total volume of my possessions, I’m fairly certain that there’s less of it in total than before. Between the moves around the summer, I managed to dump much of my stuff, mostly donated or given away. I still have a lot more than I think I should, but I’m headed in the right direction. It was good to realize the many things I don’t actually need, but on the other hand, I realized that a minimalist life isn’t intrinsically a good thing, either. I come from a family of packrats, and it actually is often randomly helpful to have things, especially in a dorm where needs are varied and strange. Being responsible for “Tom’s Room” now, I see that things are fun. So this hope went pretty well.

Okay, so here’s what’s hoped for this year:

1) Be more informed and open-minded.

When I was voting here in California elections, I had no idea what was going on. On the propositions I had strong opinions about, my opinions were largely ungrounded in fact. On most propositions, I had no strong opinions and was very much convinced by most of both arguments while I was reading them. On public office, I voted a straight ticket. I have no idea what’s going on.

Moreover, the opinions I get are very one-sided. There’s research that shows that people prefer media that supports their own opinions and also judge others to be experts more often if they agree with their own views. I myself vigorously reinforce my beliefs by reading pretty much only The New York Times. A few interesting meal-time discussions around election time reminded me that people do have good reasons for beliefs other than my own. I feel like it would be good to understand that, too.

2) Stay in touch.

As graduation nears, I have had a startling question in my mind: after college, how do people make friends? If I’m not constantly surrounded by similar-aged people in a daily context, how do I meet people? People I have talked to have pointed out to consider my own parents for comparison. Most of my mom’s friends are the parents of my or my sisters’ friends. That my mom still helps the Band Boosters of my high school marching band make mums is a reminder of that. Since I have no plan to have kids to use as friend-finders in the near future, that doesn’t work. Most of my dad’s friends are his co-workers. Although I’m certain that I’ll meet lots of cool people that way, I also think I don’t want to be reminded about work outside of work as well. My sister Nicole also pointed out how anti-social my family is. I think that the odds are against me having a real social life.

If we run the numbers and project that I will make 0 friends in the future, it seems my only hope is the friends I have now, so I better not neglect them. I have lost touch with many of them, and cold-calling is momentarily awkward, but ultimately a good thing. So we’ll see what I can do about that.

If you do hopes as well (as I hope you do; make that #3: to spread the idea of New Year’s Hopes), good luck with that, and don’t stress about them. We’ll compare notes in another year.

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