Three weeks ago, I celebrated my thirtieth birthday - hence, the title of this post, as I am now a thirty-year-old facing the oncoming year. I had also toyed with making a reference to Zero Dark Thirty (topical, but doesn't really make any sense) and 30 Rock (just not as strong of a connection) before settling on this title for my annual "new year/birthday goals/intentions" post. Despite all of the jokes about now being old, I actually really enjoyed turning thirty; besides, forty is the new thirty. It was kind of surreal, however, when I realized that I remember my dad's thirtieth birthday party: a lot of family and friends crammed into our little house. I, however, hope to have kids who could remember my fortieth birthday. It was also surreal to remember that when my dad turned thirty, he was physically healthy; it was only just over a year later that he injured his back and his life completely changed. I'm not worried about that happening to me - it was just a stark reminder of how life can change very quickly. I'm actually happy with where I'm at in life (mostly), despite December being one of the most challenging months for me emotionally in years, and it has been valuable to have had some time to reflect and to look forward to what lies ahead in my thirties. Part of that process, of course, has been thinking about goals for this year, as well as beyond, but I have decided for now to focus on the next twelve (eleven) months. To do that well, I needed to start by thinking about my recent history.
Last year was the first time I thought about having intentions rather than resolutions. I thought it might reduce some of the stress of having to accomplish goals, and it seemed like a good way to diffuse the societal expectations on making resolutions. Well, it's not entirely surprising that it didn't entirely work. Of my 12 intentions for 2012, I fully accomplished three, almost completely accomplished one, finished three partially, and left five untouched. Looking back on them, I realize that they were kind of a mishmash of ideas: some were deep, meaningful goals; some were silly ideas; and some were things that I had no agency in being able to accomplish. So I thought about how to revise my intentions for this year, and I realized that part of the problem last year was that I still had some resolutions mixed in with my intentions. Furthermore, I had aspirations that were mostly unattainable, or that were at least on the edge of believability, also as part of the equation. So I have decided that for this year, I would list resolutions, intentions, and aspirations as different goals with varying levels of intensity and agency in achievability. Resolutions are the things I can resolve to do, the specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, tangible goals of life. My intentions are changes in attitude or orientation; they might become resolutions in time, but for now they are things I want to change. Aspirations are my dreams, the things that I would love to see happen but that I will hold loosely if they do not, either through internal or external changes in circumstances. To further make this discussion accessible not only for myself, but for others, I settled on categorizing these resolutions, intentions, and aspirations into thirteen domains (see what I did there?), each of which represents a portion of my life right now.
Resolution: I need to get on track with the following professionals and services: doctor, dentist, optometrist, chiropractor, orthopedist. (I've been putting these things off for too long.)
Intention: Be more careful with the food that I eat, particularly in portion size and amount of junk food. Also, to exercise more.
Aspiration: I would love to get back to the gym and start losing weight. I realize this is a resolution for most people, but I feel that it will take me (us) some time to figure out how this is a part of our current life, so I'm putting it here instead.
Resolution: Celebrate our fifth anniversary in a special way.
Intention: Spend more quality time talking with my wife.
Aspiration: Be ready to have kids. (That doesn't mean I want kids yet - I just want to be ready.)
3. House, home, and everyday life
Resolution: I want to add an average of two new dishes to my cooking (or baking) repertoire each month. In the past few months, I've learned how to make pulled pork and beef stew, thanks to America's Test Kitchen, so I want to keep adding more dishes I can make with some of my extra time.
Intention: De-clutter and simplify, refine and reduce. I have a few things I've been keeping for later and a few tasks that have been on the to-do list for years that I would like to do, and I would like to generally refine our collections. That will mean, unfortunately, that I will probably have to cut down on the thrifting, which I probably should anyway.
Aspiration: I would love to have all but my big student loan debt paid off. It's a bit far off with work as it is, but I'm dreaming of what it would be like to have less debt.
Resolution: Spend 15 minutes each day with Jesus: praying, reading Bible, meditating.
Intention: Read more books that encourage me in my faith.
Aspiration: This one's hard to quantify. I guess I'd like to be more at peace with who I am and what God is doing in my life.
5. Professional (job/work)
Resolution: My resolution is to treat each day, whether I'm teaching or not, as a work day, with goals and outcomes, whether that's doing work related to job searching, improving skills, or personal development.
Intention: Get further training of some sort. I've looked at Montessori, IB, and Special Ed, but I'm open to a wide variety of options.
Aspiration: Get a full-time permanent teaching job in my subject areas. (I can dream, right?)
Resolution: Call or meaningfully connect with one person outside my regular circumstances each week.
Intention: Continue to improve my communication with friends and family who live far away, including responding to messages and e-mails more promptly.
Aspiration: Take another extended summer visit to Saskatchewan to reconnect with friends and family there.
7. The Forge (church leadership)
Resolution: Finish revising our bylaws and governance documents.
Intention: I look forward to continuing to speak on Sundays; I spoke three times this past year, so I'd like to try to speak five or six times this year.
Aspiration: Though I know I don't necessarily have any say in the matter, I would love to see our church's finances stabilize this year.
8. Living in Victoria
Resolution: Visit friends who live on the island at least once.
Intention: Explore new areas on the island (Tofino, Sooke)
Aspiration: I would love to take a trip to the Northwestern states and spend time in Seattle and Portland.
9. Writing and blogging
Resolution: I want to write 100 posts this year. This is only my fifth, so I have a few more to write.
Intention: I want to finally get my wordpress site up and running the way I want it to.
Aspiration: I still have that book that I'm trying to write, and I'd love to finish it this year.
10. Reading and learning
Resolution: I would like to hit my goal of reading fifty books in a year, including finally reading Moby Dick.
Intention: Finish the dozen or so books I've started reading in the past couple of years, as well as reading books that have been given to me as gifts.
Aspiration: Spend time (re-)learning Greek and Latin.
11. Art and creativity
Resolution: I want to finally have my old university newspaper articles scrapbooked and bound.
Intention: More Perler beads!
Aspiration: Maybe starting a small business selling Perler bead characters?
12. Media and entertainment
Resolution: I want to finish at least three of my TV projects, in addition to my regular watching. The three I have my sights on are Star Trek (I'm already 11 episodes in), Battlestar Galactica, and The Wire, but those might change.
Intention: I want to have watched all of my movies at least once (whether that happens in this calendar year or if it has already taken place).
Aspiration: I'm hoping to resume my project in watching through the AFI's Top 100 films, as well as to knock off at least one of my "I should do that sometime" goals (like watching The Pacific in a day).
Resolution: I want to play all of my board games at least once this year. (And if I don't, it's probably time to get rid of them.)
Intention: Finish the video games I've started in the past few years, including Majora's Mask.
Aspiration: Buy a WiiU.
So, there they are: my resolutions, intentions, and aspirations for the rest of 2013. I know that some areas are more "serious" than others, but I'm looking forward to seeing what happens over the next eleven months in all of these areas, as well as whether my new construct actually makes a difference to how I process each of these things. I know that if this year is like the last twelve that it won't start the way it finishes, and I won't know how it will change until it's happening, but I'm still glad to have some goals in my sights. I just have to trust that the things that should happen will happen, whether they are in my control or not, and that I can only take one step at a time toward making these things reality. I have already had a good start to thirty, and I'm looking forward to seeing how things look by the time I'm thirty-one.