Screw new year’s resolutions; have a three-quarters-of-the-way-through-the-year resolution instead.

In the next three weeks – that’s 21 days – I have to:

  • Write and hand in a 5k-word and 6k-word research essay (that’s two essays total)
  • Edit and hand in a compilation of the ten blog posts I’ve made for my ubiquitous media paper
  • Write and deliver an oral presentation for my feminist film theory paper
  • Keep up with readings and film-viewing
  • Do independent research

On top of that, I also want to progress with my novel:

  • Plan chapter revisions
  • Write chapter revisions
  • Jam them into a Word document together, print it out and read it as though it’s a continuous narrative instead of a haphazard collection of events from different realities violently colliding
  • Proceed with clarity of purpose

And start up the get-healthy train again:

  • Keep a food diary
  • Do the exercise

Today is 1/10/2014. I have, including today, 92 days to do all of this.

I have lamented before the lack of a progress-tracking strategy in my revision phase that is comparably transparent to the one I had in my drafting stage. During the drafting stage I could measure my progress in words written per day, but with revision, because you don’t know what you need to revise until you make a definite decision about it, the measurement process has to be not only different, but used for a different reason. Otherwise you become a fish judging yourself for not being able to climb trees.

Thus I have 92 days to get all of this stuff done, and rather than a quantitative measurement, I think a binary is going to be the way to go, in two stages:

  • Assign days during which X is supposed to be done, and days during which I can take a break
  • Record the completion and non-completion of X per day

This means I need to find or make a calendar, put tasks on each assigned task-doing day (or symbols for each task or whatever), and then start checking it.

Yay for stuff to do.

I am also finally acknowledging that I spend so much time doing passive activities every day that could instead be active activities (hence the word “activity” I guess), and if I start tipping the balance that way, I might well feel better about myself. Gotta spend time to make time, as I learnt a while ago and then promptly acted like I hadn’t.

The point I’m getting at here is that time matters; days matter, weeks matter, months and years and decades matter. Once upon a time I lambasted the arbitrary nature of new year’s resolutions, the ritual of making vows of what you’d do on the new year for the sake of upholding a ritual, rather than because you had some actual commitment you were going to follow through with. And indeed, plenty of people (including myself) fall off the wagon with their new year’s resolutions, because they’re not so much resolutions as proclamations of wishful intent, and an act of collective effervescence. But on the other hand, having some way to measure your progress is so incredibly vital; and since we have calendar-measured years already set in place, why not make new year’s resolutions?

For me, it’s about working with the finite rather than the infinite. New Year is a concept, and is therefore infinite. But each day is 24 hours, each week 7 days, each month around 4 weeks – these are all concrete, finite measurements. And because there are limits, they are easier to use as measurements of achievable goals and progress, something tangible that you can record as evidence of your commitment. And recording your progress helps motivate you to continue making progress. So embrace the finite. That is my advice for you all today – and to myself.


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