Sunday, December 30, 2007

Resolutions and Retrospectives

I thought that since I came across Running River Latin School's reminder "It's that time of year again," that I would try to think about some of the resolutions I've made -- last year and this year -- and some resolutions made by other folk as well, gathered by Leonie in 2007 in this carnival.

Here is the short list form of my resolutions for this year:

  • Make it the rest of the way to Rivendell. Then find another journey to go on.
  • Stay in my target weight range.
  • Eat properly and make decent food for my family.
  • Continue our family story society (which means continue my story, which means getting past writer's block).
  • Keep the under-structure of our house organized (that means, though the floor might get messy, we have a cleaning and organization system that works so we can find things we want and avoid things we don't want, like super-bacteria.)
  • Same with time management.
  • Cycle back through the 2007 Learning Goals, on a more practical level this time.
  • Study 5 encyclicals, 4 GBWW, and the Bible in English with a regular habit of reference to the Greek and Latin (There! That's concrete!)
  • Spend time with my family -- reading, games, conversations, travels and traditions. Schedule this in and plan accountability checks.
  • Look over my goals at regular times -- once a month -- and see how I'm doing on them.

Now for the long and rambling retrospective bit:

One of the things I like about blogging is the easy accountability. All my other New Years' resolutions have been buried in a notebook somewhere with a bunch of other notebooks in a back closet. I never see them again. But with blogging, all you have to do is type in the search box and you can see what you did and failed to do. Clarity.

I see that last year I did fair to middling on most of my resolutions.

For the household goal -- last year it was Celebrating Abundance. This year I'd like to come to terms with my household economy. The etymology of "economics" is "household management" -- oikos, house, and numein, manage, according to this site. I am feeling like I have been on a bit of a false track on the management bit. I don't think I can put it into words yet but I hope to be able to eventually. But as far as a specific goal -- last year I got quite a bit better at organizing my time and space under the surface. The house and time management still has surface glitches but I can find things and remember things better than I could last year. My Heart of Home blog helped me with this so I will continue that.

For the "holos" -- sound mind in sound body -- goal:

  • I didn't make it all the way to Rivendell, but I am two thirds of the way there. Acquiring Shadowfax, or at least Bill the Pony, in the form of a Schwinn exercise bike, helped quite a bit .
  • I lost some weight and then gained some of it back again, but I know quite a bit more about how to do it than I did last year, at least.
  • I really did progress in respecting my health. You will have to take my word for it since it is difficult to quantify.

For the learning goals:

  • I did pretty well on the Learning Goals for 2007. I'd give that a 2/3rds too. I am going to cycle back through them this year, hopefully on a more practical level. The idea of devoting each month to pondering a method was very useful.
  • I think I shall extend it by pondering on a different "habit" or virtue every month. Making a list of those will have to wait though.
  • My academic self education goals are listed in the "this year" link above. I wanted to read the whole Bible in Greek and Latin, peruse every encyclical written in history, and go through the Great Books of the Western World. But I will settle for less than that (see list above).

For the big picture:

Once again I have a new take on Age quod Agis -- well, it is an old take, but I am thinking about it in a new way. This year I'm focusing on another motto of St Maximilian Kolbe's:

Simple, but rich. I would particularly like to focus on the Preparation part of this because it's very often where I fall down. Oddly, my developmentally delayed 8 year old Aidan is a bit of a mentor for me in this. For instance, when I started kneading pizza dough, he immediately gets out the pizza pans and oil. When I am frying bacon, he grabs some paper towels and arranges them on the counter beside me so that I can put them on there. When we are at Mass, he knows exactly at what point in the service to look for the offering envelope (he is the one who puts the gift into the basket). I could give more examples. He falls down on conclusion (always forgets to put his shoes away so there are some epic hunts for where he decided to leave them each time) but he is quite gifted at anticipation. Why can't I do that? So that's my vague "theme" for this year -- to try to think ahead. Astonishing how difficult it is for me.

The tips I quoted last year said to make specific resolutions and goals that could be easily quantified. That is no doubt good advice. But I notice the ones that really make a difference in my life are the Quadrant II ones. ... the first things first ones. I think from what I understand about Covey's system, the Quadrant II focus is supposed to keep you from always having to put out fires -- or trying to grab for the paper towels when the bacon is already on the point of being too crisp and you don't remember exactly where you put the paper towel roll anyway. Thank you, Aidan. But those preparation activities are meant, in turn, to be informed by big-picture life decisions. So it's good to get those straight because that prevents you from dashing wildly off in all directions. There is a good post here on goal setting that makes the point that goal setting, as opposed to scheduling, is a good way to build motivation and manage time, rather than be managed by it. It is a useful skill to teach your children -- or be taught by them.

ETA: Food for Thought for the New Year by Et Tu? (Hat Tip: The Genial Hearth)

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