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Lion in a what?

Digital Media, Organizational, and Personal Development

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Open-Sourcing My New Year's Resolutions

Every year, I make New Year's resolutions. I have done so for the past few years, but not until 2016 did I take them so seriously. In 2015, I used Trello to manage my projects by creating tasks in a to-do list format for things like working on this blog, side projects at work, and long-term bucket list goals, but after so many months of just appending tasks to a list, I became overwhelmed, under-motivated, and focused only on the things that were right in front of my eyes every day rather than the bigger picture of how I envision myself in 5-10 years. Granted, it's difficult to plan so far ahead, and in 2015, I did thoroughly analyze my long-term life goals, but at the end of what is now last year, I cleared all the tasks off my Trello board and organized them in Excel under some columns in categories that may appear familiar:

Dimensions of Wellness

These dimensions of wellness gave me a framework that answered a key question: "Why?"

As I ported my goals from Trello to Excel, I decided that if it wasn't benefitting me in some way, I would remove it from the list. I'll still read fiction because it satisfies me emotionally, but I no longer do hip hop dancing. It's kinesthetically confusing and I go to the club too infrequently to warrant such a time investment. All paralysis by analysis aside, I felt - once again - overwhelmed by my options and needed this blueprint as a guide. I felt compelled to simplify my resolutions and goals more, so I came up with four resolutions that served as a set of themes for 2016:

  • Do well at work.
  • Do work that contributes to your future.
  • Be more mentally healthy.
  • Do awesome things.

These seemingly vague ambitions served as the four concrete pillars upon which I decided to construct my 2016 goals. Over many days, I removed goals/resolutions I had defined under their wellness categories and placed them in my weekly calendar: morning/evening routines, additions to my workout regimen, and day-to-day life. However, as I said in another blog post, there's a difference between goals and resolutions.

While a goal is something that is specific, measurable, and time-bound, resolutions are behavioral changes - and changing a single habit takes a long time. My morning routine has thus morphed from being a series of tasks - journaling daily, eating breakfast, etc. - to a list of daily reminders about how I want to change my behavior and the way I interact with friends and acquaintances in my day-to-day life. Is this reasonable? To me, yes. But why am I opening up my life so readily? Well, it goes back to a story I heard:

Thirty people are assembled in a room and each person is instructed to write his/her name on a red balloon. These balloons are then scattered around the room and the people are told to find the balloon with their respective names on it. Chaos ensues, and balloons are popped in a scattered frenzy. In an adjacent room, 30 other people are instructed to write on 30 other balloons but are told to help each other find their respective balloons. After the balloons are scattered, each person picks up the balloon closest to him/her and shouts out the name written on the balloon. After a series of complex but peaceful trades, everybody gets their balloons back.

Drawing upon the analogy in the story: I figure that if I share my goals and collaborate with my peers, they might help me achieve what I want to do, and maybe we can work together to do good things.

2016 Q1 Goals/Resolutions:

- Get a dog. Master dog behavior.

I have been very excited about getting a dog for a while now, and I'm talking to a foster coordinator at KC Pet Project over e-mail about my availability. I plan on taking some trips near the end of February, but I would be open to taking care of a dog-in-transit for a few weeks until then.

- Learn Hindi.

For the past few days, I have been learning Hindi using Rosetta Stone's listening and speaking program, and it uses associative and rote learning very effectively to reinforce vocabulary and sentences.

- Make a cookbook out of Groceries.rtf with macros, cals, and portions.

Over the past two months, I've been tracking my food intake, usually (but not always) down to the macro content and calories per serving. I used an Excel spreadsheet to do the math on serving calculations, but I would like to reduce the amount of effort it would take for me to decide on a healthy meal, so I'm making a long-term project out of creating a personal recipe book. I imagine it'll make my meal prep Sundays more dynamic than they currently are.

- Dinner of Interesting People

I want to host networking events where people bond over fine food, drink, and maybe some Cards Against Humanity to cross-pollenate ideas and ambitions every quarter of this year.

- Start 1BB.

I want to start a non-profit. 1BB is short for "1 Billion Bees," a nod to Kansas City's own 1 Million Cups . I want to learn about community gardens, as I said in a previous blog post, and I would also like to form an organization around the idea of people getting together and helping the environment. Since September, I've been working on a business plan on and off, but harvest season is right around the corner.

How can I accomplish so much in only three short months? I have given myself working days (in green) and weekends:

Weekly routine

This seems like a pipe dream, doesn't it? Although I try to stick to a regular routine, I sometimes fail in the pursuit of efficiency. However, having a framework and scheduling even spontaneity are, in my opinion, better courses of action than just going with the flow. I have faithfully written in my daily journal every morning - or if I don't wake up early enough - in the afternoon. This empties my mind and helps me wield some creativity during the day amid the ups and downs of my routine. While work turns me up during the day, I like to use my gym time to wind down, and by the time I get home, I'm ready to get down to business on my working nights. During these nights, I want to hanker down and set my mind to do something. Given the diversity of my goals, I allow myself creative freedom to pursue what I want to in the moment while remaining focused on my long-term goals. Although I don't always follow this schedule precisely, I like having a plan to resort to instead of being left to my own devices without a guide.

At the end of March, I want to stop, collaborate internally, and listen to what my heart tells me to do moving forward. Although I have the rest of my 2016 goals mapped, I know I need to do a gut check to see if I'm headed in the right direction.

Poem by Nayyirah Waheed