A couple of years ago, on a BBC Magazine article about New Year's resolutions, one commenter opined that New Year is the absolute worst time to make resolutions. He's right - it's an arbitrary date, it's all dark and cold, and it's time better spent hibernating (or skiing). He asserted that Spring is a much more humane time to try and improve your behaviour. The increasing light and warmth, the budding leaves and flowers, put you into a much more positive and proactive frame of mind.
I couldn't have agreed more, and instantly adopted the new tradition of Spring Equinox Resolutions. Here are this year's.
i) do everything I can to make sure I get to stay on in my job after my original two year contract expires in November.
My tracking system seemed to do its job at a couple of recent performance reviews, and people keep telling me that they're sure there's the will to keep me. The next step is to get an actual decision maker to say this, and then put it in writing. Clear and effective communication is in rather short supply around here sometimes.
The means to keep me is, however, a different story... the first successful grant to include a fraction of my salary (as project manager) in the budget just came in, but the budget was cut by 20% across the board, so my plan to cover as much of my salary as possible through grants is not quite on track. This salary compensation is a relatively recent innovation, suggested by my primary supervisor, and is included in another couple of pending grants, so we'll see. Success in this department will help convince the powers that be (not my primary supervisor) that the two year experiment was financially successful.
This resolution is somewhat out of my hands, but I'm doing my best to be proactive.
ii) stop procrastinating and develop my freelance writing
Ideally this would entail making some money - not including the royalties for the still-unbloggable group project I completed at the beginning of 2008. Any month now, apparently. But if that's not possible, I'd be happy with just getting something published. Admittedly I haven't actually submitted anything yet (again, any month now), although I have lots of ideas scribbled in a notebook, and a couple of half-written articles. The problem is that I haven't yet discovered the best way to integrate any serious writing into my daily schedule. At the moment I feel too burned out at the end of a work day, and tend to be very easily side-tracked into the instant gratification and feedback of blogging. I've bought a few books on this topic and will procrastinate a bit more by reading them instead of writing anything.
I have had a couple of phone interviews for a volunteer freelance writing position (one article per month) with a local charity who want to improve their coverage of research projects that they help to finance. They're going to send me a couple of their most recent articles, and I'm going to re-write them in a couple of different ways to see what works.
i) Exercise more
Very original, eh?!
The exercise log and arse-kicking posts in the right sidebar have really helped, but I need to step it up a notch. After the successful implementation of the slightly-too-small-wedding-dress in 2007, I'm using the slightly-too-small-suit as an incentive this year. I want to rock that outfit, instead of just barely fitting into it, for my Canadian citizenship ceremony. Unfortunately, I have no idea when that will be. The timeline they gave me at the test last month means that I have a decent shot of making the Canada Day (July 1st) event, but honestly, who knows.
The new plan is one weights/circuit session, one swim, and at least one other cardio session per week (all this on top of my 60 hilly kilometers per week bicycle commuting). Sessions will also hopefully be longer than the current ones.
I am also planning to try - gasp! - running. Even though I hate it. Multiple people have told me that a) it's the best way to lose weight, and b) even people who start out hating it end up loving it. Well, liking it. OK, tolerating it. Following advice from Ironman triathlete Mermaid, I've downloaded an interval running application on my iPhone. It has four Easy, two Medium, and two Heavy programmes, which play over the top of your music: "Start running now... start to walk... start to run... you are going too fast". I'm aiming to complete each one twice, and if I still hate running, I'll stop and try something else. I refuse to run in the rain though - cycling in the rain twice a day, and putting on my still-damp clothes for the ride home, is bad enough - so it might be a few weeks before I gain any momentum.
ii) stretch more
I'm a bugger for not stretching. I feel so much better when I stretch. But it's been harder with two cats trying to sit on my head.
iii) improve my diet
It's basically OK, but I need to reinstate the weekly vegetarian evening meal, and do better at making lunches at home rather than buying a sandwich. This week I made a rice, asparagus, cashew nut, red pepper, banana pepper, and pineapple concoction that was quite delicious and lasted three days.
Those are the biggies... I'm sure I've forgotten a few of the smaller ones, but hey, I'll put "be less forgetful" into next year's resolutions. If I remember.
ETA: "Play my guitar more" and "don't neglect the garden as much as last year" are on the list too.