Before looking forward with resolutions, look back on accomplishments

It’s not just the big goals of the year that indicate success

My track record with achieving goals is not fantastic. Maybe it stems from the fact that I played keeper then centre-back in all my years player soccer, or that I was more the playmaker-type in lacrosse; regardless, I don’t hit a lot of them, particularly those lofty aspirations set at the beginning of the new year.

When I was seven or eight, I made a new year’s resolution to not eat peanut butter for a few months. But then mom bought a giant jar of the crunchy stuff from Costco and I was hooped.

A few years ago, I made the goal to read two books a month – not just brief novellas, but hefty books. If you want to be a writer, Stephen King says, you have to read lots. (I don’t know where exactly the prolific horror novelist finds the time, though, given his impressive output). So I stacked my bookshelf and began reading from right to left. I’d arranged them to rotate between non-fiction and fiction, science, Canadiana, law, Indigenous stories and writers. I hacked through for three months or so, devouring the words.

But then something – it might have been a move or the start of a new job – jolted my rhythm and all of a sudden I was back to watching old episodes of 30 Rock instead of learning about my world and appreciating quality writing. (Tina Fey, it has to be said, is a formidable writer and 30 Rock is rife with clever plot, themes and wordplay, but that wasn’t part of my goal).

Last year, my roommate and I made a pact to eat only a vegan diet. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had the chicken shawarma platter from Shawarma Palace in Ottawa after a night out and you’ve ordered it to arrive at your door the very same moment you do from the bus stop, but it’s a pretty darn pleasant experience. It’s also so tremendously enticing in mid-March when your thesis is due in a few weeks and really you just don’t want to deal with crowds at grocery stores, or, heaven forbid, actually take the time out of your day to cook something for yourself.

Needless to say, that effort faded in a couple months too (though I do pick it up for several weeks at a time, now and again).

So now, Jan. 1, 2020 is bearing down on me and I don’t know what to change in my life to feel like I’ve accomplished something. I have little things, like more hawkish editing of this newspaper to catch my hurried mistakes. (Thank you, dear attentive readers, for highlighting these. I do sincerely appreciate the feedback). I have slightly loftier things, like completing the Christina Lake Triathlon. (I haven’t swam lengths in a long while and this means I will need to find someone else to take the pictures).

I’m reading again, though the library called me a couple weeks ago and kindly reminded that yes Mr. Edwards your book is very much overdue and would you like us to renew it for you? Yes please. It’s a riveting book, I’ve just been running around to craft fairs and Christmas concerts a little too much to appreciate it. (Killers of the Flower Moon by New Yorker writer David Grann).

I’m also watching 30 Rock again, finding more jokes and more tremendously prescient moments for a late-aughts sitcom (Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump predictions).

But I think now is also a time, instead of looking forward to how we want to force ourselves to eat different, act different, be different next year, for us to look back on how we’ve grown more subtly, without that concerted effort of an annual resolution.

In 2019, I completed my master’s degree two years after I nearly forgot to submit my application, got a job that was never on my radar before I applied, relearned how to play ultimate with a fantastic bunch of new friends, and I also read a few books for fun.

Not bad, considering none of those were the thing I concentrated on most on Jan. 1, 2019.

What about yourself?

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