Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Year-End Resolution Review - 2009

I always find that I make the most progress in my life when I set clearly delineated goals for myself. As such, at the beginning of this year, I decided to set a lot of goals for myself. In July, I took at a look at all my goals and identified how much progress I had made on each. Here was my mid-year summary:

To date, I have completed 3 resolutions, abandoned 2 goals, and am on track for completing the other 7 resolutions. The only one that I am technically behind on is number 7, which would be very easy to finish with a tiny bit of focused effort. Overall, I think that, with the exception of the abandoned 2 goals, all of the resolutions I set are very achievable, easily measurable, and well-aligned with my values and direction in life. I am quite happy with my progress and look forward to the remaining half of this amazing year!

Here is my final update on all twelve resolutions:

1 - Listen to the entire New Testament
This goal was completed during the first 40 days of the year.

2 - Read at least 15 new books
Reading is something that I tend to do in bursts. Often I'll race through several books and then not read much for a month. During the first six months of this year I read: Better Off, How to Get a Date Worth Keeping, The Case for a Creator, The Broker, Digital Fortress, Sway: The Irresitable Pull of Irrationl Thinking, The Appeal, The Power of Positive Thinking, and The 4-Hour Workweek. During the second half of the year I read: Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Mystery Method, Amusing Ourselves to Death, The God Who Is There, and The Paradox of Choice: Why Less Is More. Also, I re-read Orthodoxy, Out of the Silent Planet, Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality, Stick To Drawing Comics, Monkey Brains and He Is There and He Is Not Silent. That's a grand total of 17 new books read and 5 old books re-read.

3 - Deepen at least two close friendships
This goal has been slightly trickier than I originally expected, and I have made some interesting discoveries regarding friendships this year. I will probably write a blog about some of my thoughts on relationships in general and friendships in particular during the next month. Concerning my goal, I can definitely say that I have significantly deepened my friendship with my best friend, whom I love dearly, and with my sister, who is a thoroughly enjoyable person to be around. My life is much richer and fuller because of both friendships. Having my best friend gone for the first six months of the year definitely helped me realize how much difference it makes not just to have friends, but to have close friends who are present. Being able to go on spontaneous adventures, talk through various thoughts and dilemmas and having someone who you can completely be yourself around is a blessing of the highest order. Close friendships are of much more practical value than ordinary friendships, by several orders of magnitude.

4 - Connect with at least one person every day
As a naturally social person, this goal has been quite easy to complete. This year I have expanded my social circle significantly. I have made a lot of new friends, met a lot of interesting people, had a lot of fun adventures, and gone on a good number of dates. Mission accomplished!

5 - Exercise at least 2 times per week (except when sick)
Catching colds this month and last month definitely threw a bit of a monkey wrench in my exercise schedule. For most of the year I've been pretty consistent about exercising, although I also think that this goal is probably one that I haven't met as solidly as I could have. Though I didn't play quite as much tennis and basketball as I wanted to, I hit the gym a bit more than I expected. My arm strength, leg strength and endurance have improved by a small margin, and my abs are much stronger and more toned than they were earlier in the year. Also, I've increased my pull-up capacity somewhat. I really miss running, though...

6 - Record at least 12 music tracks
This year was an interesting year musically. During the late spring and early summer, some friends and I formed a jazz band and played a few shows. It was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the cohesiveness of the group. I have live recordings of twelve different charts that we played. Six of them are up on my website: F Minor Blues Jam, Anthropology, Cantaloupe Island, Chameleon, Bulletproof, and Girl From Ipanema. Anthropology is one of the charts that I'm the most proud of. Sadly (for us, not for him), our amazing trumpet player has moved to Texas, since he now plays for the Air Force Band, which is pretty much a musician's dream job. Apart from playing bass in the jazz band, I've done several complete pieces of music myself. I recorded remixes for two small music competitions and placed first in both of them. Also, I wrote and recorded three original compositions, one of which (Digit Game) was featured on Nevar Say Die, Volume 3 and will also be featured on my upcoming album, which should be finished sometime in the next two months. On top of all that, I am presently recording another remix for Dwelling of Duels, which typically gets between 30-50 entries in December's competition. Rather than going with my usual progressive metal/rock sort of sound, I'm throwing together a really smooth piece centering around bass and keyboards. All in all, that constitutes 18 new tracks of music recorded this year. This resolution is an unqualified success!

7 - Play bass in a band or orchestra (minimum 4 performances)
Though I didn't play a lot of shows this year, the ones that I did play were thoroughly enjoyable. I played bass with our jazz band in three different shows, and I played bass with a worship band twice. Also, I played guitar three times this year, which was a bit unexpected; twice was with the same worship band that I played bass for, and once was at a small Christmas dinner party. This next year I will probably be playing a lot more. Though the jazz band pretty much fell apart since our trumpet player left, we have reformed as a pop band with my best friend as the singer. Also, another worship leader at a nearby church is looking for a regular bass player and wants me to come play with them once or twice sometime in the next month, to see if we click musically. This next year should have plenty of musical opportunities for me. I'm excited!

8 - Graduate from college
In the spring I finally completed the last class that I needed to earn my degree. Now I have graduated from college with a BA in Humanities (emphases in music, literature and philosophy) from Thomas Edison State College. In the next month or so I will post a blog on the most important things I learned from earning a college degree.

9 - Move out of my parents' house
This one was accomplished immediately upon starting the year. I've now been living on my own for nearly a full year. It's been a very satisfying experience.

10 - Get rid of extraneous possessions
When I moved to my apartment in January, I pared down my possessions significantly and got rid of numerous extraneous things that I did not need.

11 - Establish and maintain a consistent bedtime and daily schedule
This resolution was abandoned halfway through the year. Arbitrary restrictions are things that I need less of. Someday it might be useful to change my schedule, but presently it's working quite well to be partially nocturnal.

12 - Keep a progress/goals journal and write in it weekly
This resolution was abandoned halfway through the year. I have no regrets about discarding such a timesink.

Now that the year is finished, I am quite proud of myself. I completed ten resolutions and abandoned two of them. Of the ten that I completed, only one of them was slightly below satisfactory, while three of my goals were surpassed by a sizable amount. While twelve goals initially seemed like a bit of a challenge, most of them happened fairly automatically, which means that the goals I set were attainable, measurable and fairly well aligned with the ways I wanted to grow personally this year. While continually sharpening the saw is a valuable thing, for my next year's resolutions I am thinking of setting only four goals total, two major ones and two minor ones. But, I still have 48 hours before I have to decide--which is more than enough time!

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