Tag Archives: New Year’s Resolutions

Light Resolve

LightResolve

Okay, so I’ll come clean: I haven’t been loads brilliant at keeping up with my New Year’s resolutions nor my own, unwritten, plans for the beginning of 2014. Stuff has just kind of not happened the way I thought it would, and I’m a little bit behind with all of my goals.

After maybe a few weeks of feeling pretty darned rubbish and moping around like a sad panda, I’m determined not to let my stupid ambitions get in the way of feeling good with myself and resolve to use my hands to punch through the Wall of Awesomeness rather than to wipe the Tears of Inadequacy from my eyes. So, maybe it’s time to evaluate a little better what I want to get out of my (near-) future and where I want to be in life.

Perhaps I’m not so good at setting my own goals; and even less good at dealing with the disappointment when I inevitably don’t get along as far as I thought I would. Doing so usually leads to a whole bunch of internal disappointment, where I attempt to assess myself against some invisible barometer which marks my { contribution to society / likeability amongst my peers / perceived ‘success’ by people I don’t know } and inevitably come up short. A considerable problem I have is that I try to do too much – I try to live up to this unachievable role as someone who has a broad range of interests and talents, and who must maintain a grasp on all of these things at all time. I feel a compulsion to be ‘that guy’ who

[ plays all the video games ] / [ watches all the films ] / [ does all the music ] / [ makes video game costumes ] / [ does in-line skating ] / [ watches all the motorsport ] / [watches all the ice hockey ] / [ knows all the space stuff ] / [ does blogging and reviews and stuff ] / [ plays all the board games ] / [ does the whole ‘research’ thing ]

that I often appear to put a whole ton of unnecessary pressure on myself to keep active in all areas all  of the time; and if I’m not (or I just have a lazy day not moving forward or practicing any particular aspect) I tend to feel like I’ve wasted a day, a week, a year or however long. I feel an urge to see myself merely as a catalogue of statistics: someone who has +6 in Obscure Star Wars Facts and +4 in Playing Adventure Games – so much so, that if I feel like I’m doing something that I feel isn’t “improving” me in some way (or helping to benefit someone else), then I tend to get frustrated and anxious; as if the time could be better spent on something that is helping myself or others.

Now, this is pretty irrational, since Life inevitably must be filled with things that must be done irrespective of whether you want to or not (like, ‘doing the washing up’ or ‘burying the body of a deceased family pet that was accidentally put in the microwave by accident’). This can mean that I get frustrated quite quickly when I’m doing something that should be improving my Stats but – for whatever reason – isn’t delivering; maybe because I’m trying to overcome a particularly difficult task in my research or hitting a difficulty wall in a video game I want to complete/succeed at. In this respect, I don’t think I do so well with failure or rejection: I tend to reflect on the lost time more than on the lessons learned or the positive steps which were made along the way. For this reason, I’m quite sensitive to criticism or rejection, and I find it difficult to cope with situations that set me back in my goals; be it as cosmic-ly meaningless losing (unsaved) progress in a Word document or dying in a video game and having to go back to the beginning of the level. These clearly aren’t big things in the Grand Scheme, but they clearly trigger something in my brain that sparks anxiety and frustration beyond levels that are considered ‘normal’.

I also find myself worrying a lot that I’m not living up to the visions or expectations of the people I know (and the people I don’t): am I being everything I can be, that they want me to be, or that I deserve to be? What do I base this judgement upon?

I often tend to place unrealistic expectations on myself; usually based on some notion of what I expect people expect of me. Usually, these are far in excess of what people really expect; yet my brain thinks that, short of securing world peace or curing every disease know to man, everyone will have a persistent disappointment in me, everything I do an what I represent. I constantly find myself searching for what people want me to be rather than just being the best person that I can be (and not worrying if it’s not good enough for everyone else). In this respect, the Jimmy Eat World song ‘The Middle‘ (on their 2001 album Bleed American) is, perhaps, perfect for describing how I should approach the thoughts and opinions of the world around me:

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just try your best, try everything you can.
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away.

Hey, you know they’re all the same.
You know you’re doing better on your own, so don’t buy in.
Live right now.
Yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.

Just do your best, do everything you can.
And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say.

[Jim Adkins / Jimmy Eat World]

Much of the time, I tend to do the polar opposite of putting myself on a pedestal – I put everyone else on one, then feel them peering down at me like towering, relentless critics; even people I don’t know and who haven’t done anything spectacular to warrant an ivory tower. I feel like an underwhelming nobody; someone who tries hard and is always in the running, but who fails to deliver and achieve ultimate success when it really comes down to it. I need to know and respect the limits of my talents/skills; to be aware of where the extent of my skills is and not to punish myself for not being able to push beyond them or not being able to be as good as someone else at, say, Olympic sprinting or nuclear physics – some people are good at some things; others at other things. I can’t excel at literally everything I put my hand to, nor do I need to. If I did, I wouldn’t be imperfect and, more importantly, I wouldn’t be human. 

Light painting by Darren Pearson http://www.dariustwin.com/

Light painting by Darren Pearson
http://www.dariustwin.com/

Maybe I need to develop more of a thick skin to deflect perceptions that I’m a failure or a disappointment, or an anti-missile system that automatically takes down potential criticism (no matter how minor) before it begins to work its way under my skin to erode my self-confidence. Certainly for the sake of my health and sanity, I need to worry less. I need to live in the NOW and not concern whether it’s effective use of time in the grand scheme of things; just to do the things that make me happy, and to be comfortable with who I am and what I stand for. I need to take life more as it comes rather than trying to second-guess what it is I’m supposed to be.

To continue the proliferation of music lyrics in this post, there’s a fantastic quote from ‘The Hero Dies in this One‘ by The Ataris (on their 2003 album So Long, Astoria), which I reproduce here:

The hardest part isn’t finding who we need to be; it’s being content with who we are.

[Kris Roe, The Ataris]

And yes, I think that’s my greatest challenge for this year: to not race and rush to live up to some unattainable vision of myself, but to be happy with who I am and where I fit in with everything. I may not be perfect, but I’m more than just a jumbled collection of matter; with all the faults, feelings and faculties that that entails. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all that matters.

[Zinar7]

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Sinister Sevens: Resolutions 2014

 

Sevens_1

Right, it’s that time of year; that time when people reflect on the past and vow to make positive changes for the future. A day late and a dollar short, I don’t usually go in for New Year’s resolutions; but since I managed to nudge The Thesis into touch at the end of 2013 and I’m keen to put in place a robust post-Thesis regime, I’m determined to make the start to 2014 a positive one and this means that it’s time for some challenges.

So, in the spirit of coming up with a bunch of things I’ve like to get done in 2014, here I’ve come up with a short, seven-heavy shortlist of the major challenges I’d like to overcome in the coming year. Let’s do this!

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1. Get Fit.

The importance of this first resolution cannot be underestimated. It’s not so much about getting fit per se, but at least getting my mis-shapen body back to something resembling slimness: I’ve got a ton of clothes that my tummy has grown too large to fit in properly (including an awesome assassin/pirate coat) that I would like to wear more often, which therefore means application of the following sub-resolutions:

1 (a). Go out inline skating more often.
1 (b). Do more skanking to ska-punk songs (skankercise).
1 (c). Eat less crap.

Of course, these remain fairly vague and without any particular time constraints or individual goals, so I will qualify my resolution by aiming to do each of them at least once a week, with a more permanent focus on maintaining resolution (c) at something approximating 100 % of the time. Looking at the wider picture, I’d like to be able to fit (and look good in, though that’s a far more ambitious/impossible task) my new assassin/pirate coat by, say, March, and to still be able to wear it on Xmas Day 2014 without it feeling very much like a whale that’s been squeezed into a corset. Game on.

2. Play More Point-and-Click Adventure Games (at least one per month) and Blog About Them.

and

3. Read More Books (at least one per month) and Blog About Them.

By no means a surprise, Resolutions Two and Three are a natural response to the sudden increase in free time (and motivation) that I anticipate will come my way now that I don’t spend every waking – and unwaking – moment either fretting about The Thesis or busily doing it. When I first realised that I couldn’t do all the leisure activities I wanted to do when I entered the world of academia, ‘books’ and ‘point-and-click adventure games’ were among the first things to be abandoned, much to my sadness. As such, the number of books I’ve not read, and adventure games I’ve not played, have been steadily increasing and the time to stop the tide is now.

To guarantee my commitment to both causes, I’m vowing to write reviews and thoughts about both here: an adventure game review once per month, and a bi-monthly post describing my thoughts on two books. Even if no-one reads them, I hope they’ll encourage me to look at storytelling media in a more academic light and to contribute my own thoughts to literature and video game criticism.

4. Make a Gordon Freeman Costume.

This. This is happening.

There’s no particular reason why; only that I’ve kept meaning to do it for years and years and years, and that I’ve got the right beard and the right glasses to justify cosplaying as video games’ most famous silent protagonist. Since there’s no better motivator for making a costume than needing a costume for a convention, I’m also resolving to have it ready and made by May in order to head to either to the London Film and Comic Con or the MCM London Comic Con dressed in Dr. Freeman’s HEV suit from Half-Life; made even more poignant given that (hopefully) I will also be a fully-qualified PhD scientist by that point as well. It’s ambitious and achievable, and my enthusiasm for getting this done is remarkably high right now. To the workshop!

5. Properly Give up Coffee and Alcohol.

I think most people now are aware that I don’t drink alcohol because of the bad effects it seems to have on my body (specifically bad effects meaning ‘having an intolerance to digesting/assimilating it’ bad effects, not ‘holy shit I drank so much last night’ bad effects) but, disappointingly, I appear to be developing similar problems with respect to drinking highly-caffeinated beverages as well. So, in the interests of trying to keep myself just about as healthy and not making myself really ill from just one cup of coffee or one pint of cider, I’m hitting the nail on the head and removing them from my diet (and conscience) altogether. I’d love to inbibe both, but it’s just a sad fact that my body won’t handle it anymore so I have to stop 😦

6. Watch at Least 52 Movies from my Project 500 list (one for each week of 2014).

A few of you may be aware of my ongoing Project 500 film challenge to watch every one of the five-hundred greatest movies as selected by Empire magazine in a special feature that they published a few years back. 2011 and 2012 were prolific years for film-watching, but 2013 was comparatively fruitless and little progress was made. For 2014, I’d like to kick that back into gear by watching at least as many ‘great’ movies as there are weeks in the year: I’m currently on 360/500, so I’m aiming for 52 more movies from the list which will take me to 412/500. Of course, I’m still not closing in my 500 target just yet, but hopefully the process will once again reveal more of cinema’s treasures that I’ve managed to miss in my film-watching career thus far; it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

7. Be Happy 100% of the Time, No Compromises.

This is an obvious one, really. Too often in 2013 was I feeling down, depressed or lonely; feeling adrift in the world and yet not making positive steps to change that. Well, I’m aiming for 2014 to be one of happiness, contentment and satisfaction, and not one of regret or self-pity: no dwelling on mistakes, no having regrets, no moping around; just a positive outlook and a willingness to make changes in areas I’m not happy. It sounds like a small thing, but to me it’s a big thing; probably the most challenging thing on this list altogether.

In many ways, Resolution Seven is just a commitment to Be Better At Stuff and Not Being Sad. It’s essentially the ultimate trump card, but also the easiest pitfall to fall down and the simplest resolution to dismiss or break. Hence, by writing it down here I therefore commit myself to keeping it through a written contract and through the rule of New Year’s resolutions that if other people know about them then it’s harder to just ignore them and pretend you never made them in the first place. So, with that in mind, I wish both you and I a happy, prosperous and glory-filled 2014; may we all be carried upon the backs of soaring dragons to a magical world of merriment, success and inexhaustable supplies of Toblerone. Godspeed!

[Zinar7]

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