The trick to New Year Resolutions.

People are often discouraged from making New Years Resolutions – having the thought that they’re doomed to fail.

And if their resolution is to lose weight, quit smoking, or go for a run everyday, then they’re probably right.

If, by the end of January you haven’t started that diet, or you’ve missed a few running days, or you’re still smoking, it’s easy to see how someone would give up at the point, and ‘try again next year’.

The trick to New Year Resolutions – is to not make them these large lifestyle decisions that involve ongoing maintenance.

Instead – make your New Year Resolutions things you can do once, tick them off, and then they’re done.

For example, last year I had resolutions like:

  • Watch The Revenant 
  • Watch Batman vs Superman (See my review here).
  • Watch Independence Day: Resurgence (I missed this one at the theatre, but watched it later at home. See my review here).
  • Cook a recipe from a recipe book 1.
  • Cook a recipe from a recipe book 2.
  • Make trifle.
  • Jump in a lake/sea naked. (See the video here).
  • Read a book written by a woman (The only book I read all year, see my review here).
  • Go to the Te Papa Gallipoli exhibit (I missed this one).

People laugh when I mention that I have seeing movies as a New Year Resolution. But the point is – these are movies that I want to see, and I get a sense of satisfaction from achieving things I set out to do. We shouldn’t sell ourselves short in deciding what we do and don’t want to do with our lives.

Cooking a recipe from a recipe book sounds easy enough – but I don’t usually use recipe books, so this forced me to get out of my comfort zone. I made meatballs once, they were nice and I’d make them again, and chilli con carne – but that didn’t really turn out.

This year – my resolutions are a little more ambitious.

I still have some easy ones, like:

  • Watch Wonder Woman
  • Watch Dunkirk

But overall they’re more ambitious. I have some sensible ones

  • Buy insurance
  • Go to the dentist (Make your yearly checkup a New Year Resolution)
  • Create an emergency kit.

And some big ones

  • Make a board game (Definition of Done: Prototype is created, rules written, not necessarily fully balanced, but is playable).
  • Save $2000 for a holiday.

But, you say,  what about those big things – losing weight, going to bed on time, quitting smoking – where are they being prioritised?

My answer to this, you don’t need New Year Resolutions to do these things. These are things that you should be doing anyway,  not just because it’s a New Year.

You can find ways to incorporate achievable New Year Resolutions into your wider lifestyle goals. For example, you could put ‘participate in a half marathon’ on your resolutions. You wouldn’t have to run the half marathon, in order to achieve the resolution; you could walk it if you wanted, but this might provide incentive to start running regularly in preparation.

Similarly if you were wanting to quit smoking, you could put ‘Ring the quitline’ on your New Year Resolutions. That’s easily achievable goal you could complete in the first week – and would be a step toward quitting. You could add several more achievable goals to the same effect –  for example ‘buy nicotine gum’.

So there you have – the trick to New Years Resolutions – they’re actually pretty easy.

 

 

Computer games, productivity and ADHD.

Recently, I’ve been adopting a ‘it’s ok not be always doing something productive’ policy. The idea being – that’ll I’ll be productive and focused at work, and then outside of work, while it’s good to have some amount of extra-curricular productivity – the focus more being on enjoying one’s life, but more so, relaxing and being happy, so that I’m able to be relaxed and productive at work.

One basis for this attitude, in the list of common death regrets, one is ‘I wish I didn’t work so hard’.

We can break kinds of activities in to three groups. For example for me, they might be:

Necessary Life Maintainence Spare Time
Things that need to be done, or else drastic consequences Things that need to be done as part of a healthy lifestyle, but can be put off without drastic consequences Things that it’s up to you to decide what you do with that time.
  • Going to work
  • Tiding my room
  • Doing my washing
  • Doing exercise
  • Shopping for healthy food
Productive

  • Writing
  • Taking photos for Humans of Newtown
  • Programming

Non-productive

  • Playing computer games.
  • Playing board games
  • Playing pinball
  • Watching movies
  • Browsing the internet

The attitude I’ve generally found the most successful regarding producing creative work is to ‘do art when I’m enjoying it’. I typically find that creative work that is just bursting to getting out, particularly writing, 1) is easy to write. Five hundred to a thousand words in an hour is fairly common. 2) It tends to be my favorite work in retrospect.

On the other hand – while I really enjoy TV shows and movies – I like them better than books – I find often I’m not in a relaxed enough state to relax and be immersed in the film. In these states, I’m likely to only half watch the film, while I use my phone or browse the internet. I don’t want to ruin the experience of a good movie or TV show by only half watching, so I’d prefer to put off watching a TV show or movie until I’m sufficiently exhausted enough to be satisfied with just sitting back and being immersed.

Recently, due to better organisation, I’ve found myself having more free time – the chores done, it’s not a gym day, and I’m a bit bored and restless, but I really don’t feel like writing.

Doing something social is out, because that tends to be time consuming, and we’re really talking about killing a couple of hours in the evening.

This is where computer games can be good, but… the barrier for me for a lot of games, is that they seem to have a high upfront cost in the learning the game. You need to spend quite a lot of time learning the game.

The Civilization series is a game I’ve played since Civilization II. It has a great sweet spot of active engagement on my part, (ie. as opposed to a movie which doesn’t require my interaction), as well as being easy enough on the mind that if not really thinking, the game will still move ahead (unlike some writing or other productive work).

The problem with Civilization though – is that it’s a long running game. Completing a game requires more like ten hours, whereas I’m really looking for a game that I can complete in two.