supervenes and I were discussing our New Year’s resolutions. He said he partitions people into those who:
- already work on their goals without NYE resolution or "wipe the slate clean" dreams — they don’t need a New Year to follow through on their goals
- set goals they won’t actually follow through on (like a perpetual weight-loss goal).
I feel I fall into a third category, which is not knowing what would be worth setting a goal to achieve.
I do think that
- setting achievable goals,
- organising your time so you make sure you do the things you want to (including have fun),
- personal accountability,
- writing down long-term aspirations,
- balancing the short-term versus the long-term 1 2 3,
- nudging yourself,
- cutting out crap,
- and so on
can be really effective. I’ve done those things before and I’ve felt the thrill of looking over past to-do lists and thinking “Yeah, I really did that! Score one for me!”
I tried to learn to do a flip last summer. Didn’t get there. I guess I will try again this summer and try to remember to do stretchy back-bends in the winter to prepare. It would be nice to be fast again, or faster than I ever have been. I’m not sure if I care enough to really do what it takes to be fast. I’d like to learn a lot of things. I’m not sure that’s really worth committing to either. I know if I really made it a priority, cut out I could accomplish ≥1 of those.
But what’s really worth doing? What would make me truly, deeply happy and what’s my Engel curve on the way to there? Who would I become if I actually achieved my goals and do I want to “feed” or be that person? Those questions are beyond my ken.
I couldn’t even answer simple ones, like:
- Should I buy an iPad? They look cool so in a sense I “want” one. But from observing how I react to other computing opportunities (addictively), I think buying it would lessen my self-control and I would just end up reading a bunch more news instead of doing what I want to.
- Should I read Steve Awodey’s book? It looks good and I could find a copy in a nearby university library. But are those 300 pages worth all the other time I would have to give up? (And how much time might that be?)
- You never know until you try. Let’s take a longer-term goal to add even more uncertainty. "Grad school is a gamble"—if I set the goal to get a Ph.D., I barely know what I am in for, much less what I will turn into at the end, what kinds of new opportunities it would present for me, whether I would use it later, or whether that sum-total package is "worth it" to me or not. Without knowing what will result how could I say whether I want it or not?
- Will I keep blogging? It has been a huge timesink. However it’s also very flattering to have so many people listening to my various opinions. It has felt good to get certain things out of my brain-soup. And I have met some cool people here and on twitter. Still it is a huge timecost. I’m not really sure where the balance lies. So for lack of a confident reason to choose one thing or the other, and with my natural risk-seeking personality wondering what “might” happen at 100,000 followers or what “might” happen if I finish writing down all the ideas I wanted to since before I decided to try writing—inertia will probably win and I will continue as is.
If I decided some concrete, measurable, not-too-large goal like “Run 300 miles over the year”, it could be easy to achieve. But start from a real goal like: “I want to be happier”. Well what will make me happier? I don’t know, it could be a raft of things. A complex of big & small and once-off & daily changes. I could try some and maybe they wouldn’t or would work. Maybe I would be able to tell and maybe not. Maybe I should continue what I’m doing and it will just take longer to work.
So I’m going into 2013 without any measurable goals or definitive plans to achieve them. Yet hoping 2013 isn’t a repeat of 2012.