New Year’s Resolutions for 2016
As I mentioned yesterday in my review of last year, I’m a big fan of new year’s resolutions. I like the yearly opportunity to sit down and assess my year on New Year’s Eve and then tweak my lifestyle plan on New Year’s Day, even if I failed with every resolution the opportunity to do a bit of reflection and soul searching makes it worth the effort. Last year was a time of significant change for me and my resolutions reflected that, this year is more about fine tuning, working on things that have annoyed me for years, or taking advantage of new opportunities. I did a few challenges last year as well, to force me out of my comfort zone for a month, and I might do a few more of those to complement these year long resolutions.
- Integrate exercise into my day, over the years I’ve made many attempts at sticking with a gym habit and failed every time, but I love exercise and movement is vital to managing my Still’s Disease, so what to do? Well this year, inspired by Katy Bowman, I’m going to work on integrating exercise into my daily activities. Putting a bit more energy (jumps, climbs, runs, scrambles) into my walking; using my arms more (lifting, carrying, hanging, swinging) around the house, gardening and walking; sprinting more when I’m walking, swimming and biking etc. Hopefully these more natural, lower intensity, but more frequent micro-exercises integrated through the day will be less likely to trigger flares but still build flexibility, strength and resilience, and be more fun. I’m still planning on swimming a few times a week and considering working up to doing two 30 minute strength workouts a week. Where possible though I’d like to swim in open water and do the strength exercises outdoors.
- Read a book a week, I’ve become increasingly worried about my declining ability to concentrate and ,my resulting focus on short web articles for all of my reading. Where I used to be able to sit and read for a couple of hours, I now consider 15 minutes to be worthy of ‘celebration’. I want to fix this, to go deeper into a subject and to focus more. Reading books will be one of the ways that I achieve this and reading a book a week seems achievable, if Mark Zuckerberg can do it while running Facebook, I should be able to find time being a man of leisure! I’m not keen to spend hours a day sitting though so I will be ‘reading’ quite a lot of books in audio form, i.e. listening to them, and that means I’ve had to cut back significantly on the number of podcasts I subscribe to. To achieve this objective I will be leaving my iPad and Laptop at home more and travelling light, with just my iPhone and Kindle, which is an additional plus.
- Improve my home environment, since I’ve retired I’ve spent a bit more time at home than I used to and this presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Being at home more I notice all those little jobs that need doing, the chipped paint work on the skirting boards, the sticking windows, the flaking paint on the eaves, the untidy flower beds, the trees that needs pruning, the gate that doesn’t open properly, the water stain where we had a leak a decade ago. I also notice all those little opportunities to delight, more flowers to enjoy on the patio, growing more of my own food, a bowling green lawn to admire. While I intensely dislike long running major DIY jobs, all of these little jobs can be worked on a little each day/week and small steps over a whole year can take me a long way towards a house and garden that feels well under control, where I can be happy, relaxed and content.
- Enrich my life with Debbie, having four children Debbie and I have developed the habit of cooking for the family every night and staying home to look after them in the evenings and watching TV. We used to take the kids out a lot at the weekends, but now they go out on their own (or stay in bed) so Debbie and I often stay home too. This year we expect all the kids to leave home, Tess and Ann to university, Steph and Jen to setup home. Debbie and I will be rattling around a big house on our own feeling a bit lost and watching a lot of TV if we don’t do something proactive about it. I’m keen for us to work together to figure out a new richer life together, one that provides Debbie with a real break from her work as a teacher, get’s her moving and provides us with much more quality time together. I’ve got plenty of ideas along the lines of adding more structure to our weeks. Designated movie nights, inviting friends over for dinner, film nights at home, evening adventures, picnics, evening strolls to watch the sunset, visits to the theatre and gentle cycle rides. More weekends away and Saturday day trips, and joint decorating and garden projects where we work together, visiting family ‘back east’. I’m particularly keen to see if we can meet up on her way home from work since she works in such an area of natural beauty, I can go for a hike/cycle during the day and we can meet for a picnic for example.
- Quality time with my children, I’m hoping to get into the habit of spending some real quality time with each of my children and their boyfriends now that they are all leaving home, either on day trips, evenings out, visits to their new homes, or holidays. I’ve been doing this with Steph (my eldest) for the last couple of years and I’m keen to extend this to the younger kids this year.
- Travelling with my bike, when I travel I don’t like using my car that much, I prefer to walk, but this year I want to take my bike too. I’ve tried this with a Brompton, but it’s not the same as a real bike so I’ve sold it and will be investing in a tow bar and bike rack. I’m planning to take my bike with me a lot this year and grow to enjoy cycling as much as I enjoy walking.
To complement these resolutions I’m also working on developing systems that encourage me to live a full/good life on a daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal basis. Systems are basically sets of habits that nudge me in the right direction. rather than set specific goals, the systems, when working well, naturally move me in the direction of my goals. With the huge variation I have in my health, goals can sometimes be hard to achieve, systems seem to be a better fit.