2012: A Year Of Change – Week 1: Resolutions
They say you know you’re getting old when people you went to high school with are having children intentionally. If that’s the major classifier, then I’ve been old for a few years now. There’s other things too, like hearing songs I remember on the “classic hits” station, and realizing this year’s high school graduates can’t remember a time when Jim Carey was still funny.
Maybe I’ve hit a quarter-life crisis, or maybe I’ve leveled up and gained a point in Wisdom, but recently I’ve really been realizing that a lot of things in my life need to change.
I want to be completely honest here. I am not happy. And I don’t mean just right now; I’m not talking about the momentary entertainment I get from playing video games or watching a midget break-dance. I’m talking about my overall contentment with the state of my life. When I look in the mirror, I don’t just see someone I’m a little disappointed with (I’m sure we all feel like that every now and then), I see someone I just can’t stand to be around. I see someone who pisses me off; someone who I’d be ashamed to be seen with. Someone who, were I not such a peaceful man, I would like to punch in the face.
Now, I know this can’t be healthy. I don’t know what it says about my psychological state that I hold myself in such contempt, but I know it can’t be good. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve even thought about suicide. Not to the extent of what method to use or anything like that, but just like, “Would the world really miss this guy if he were gone? Do his contributions to the world really matter?” And I think “Well, I know my girlfriend can do so much better than me, and I barely talk to my family anymore, and I don’t really have any friends, so… know at least Capital One and Sallie Mae will miss me.” I mean isn’t that just sick? That the only reason I have to live is that I still owe too much money to die?
Well, I think it’s time to change that. I am challenging myself to make 2012 a year of self improvement. And not just one or two little changes, I’m planning a complete overhaul of every aspect of my life. To help me with that I’ve done some research and according to various sources, there are basically 8 general aspects of life that everything fits into; and it’s those aspects which I’ll look at and attempt to change for the better. Those aspects are: Health, Education, Work, Finance, Home, Recreation, Relationships, and one’s Spiritual life.
Now some of these I may end up lumping together because they overlap a bit, but here’s how these aspects break down, and what I’d like to do to improve them.
Aspect 1) Health – This is all about fitness, medical issues, and overall physical well-being.
To be honest, physically, I’m a mess. I may not look that horrible, but the majority of the time, I feel like crap, and in the last year or so, I’ve really felt like I’ve gone downhill. I’d been right around 185 lbs., 34-36″ waist pants since high school. I’ve treated myself horribly, with way too much sugars and fats and caffeine, and very little physical activity to counteract that. Throughout college, my breakfasts consisted of candy bars and energy drinks, but even through all that I hadn’t really gained any weight. But here in this last year, I think my metabolism has started to slow a bit. This year was the first time since middle school that I’ve had to buy pants because I outgrew them. I’m now hovering around 215 lbs, and minimum 38″ waist pants.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not at all a vanity issue; I couldn’t care less what I look like. My bigger concern is that I’m really starting to feel it. I feel stiff and sore and physically tired most the time. I have so much less energy than I did even just a few years ago. It’s like I’m just stuck in first gear all the time and it takes a major effort just to get through the day.
This is the biggest issue I need to deal with, because it affects everything else in my life so much. I feel so lethargic that when I get home from work, all I want to do is sit and watch TV, instead of everything else I could (and should) be doing. My energy is way down, my initiative is way down, and yes, I’ll admit it, my libido is way down. I mean, if you don’t feel like doing anything, you don’t really feel like doing anyone either.
This will be the hardest yet most important part of my year-long challenge. I know what I need to do: A) Work on eating a better diet. No more dinners consisting of half a carton of E.L. Fudge cookies. B) Exercise. Running around the wasteland in Fallout doesn’t count. Once I cut back on the refined sugars and start doing some cardio, I’m sure I’ll be that much more energetic, and with that, much more likely to be successful in the rest of the challenge.
My Health goal for the year: Het healthier. To be a bit more quantitative, get back down to 185 lbs. Pending that success, aim for 170, plus a better body fat percentage.
Aspect 2) Education – This aspect is about study, school, learning, and personal development.
Regarding formal education, I’m actually fairly content with where I stand. In 2008, I graduated from the University of Findlay with a BA in graphic communication. I may not have been top of the class, but I got the diploma, and that’s what counts. What I’d really like to work on here is expanding my skills in various practical areas.
Tying back to the health part, I’d really like to learn how to cook properly. A big chunk of why I don’t eat right is I just don’t know how. My culinary expertise pretty much begins and ends with Hamburger Helper. Because of that I end up eating out far more than I should, and when I eat in it usually ends up being just whatever junk food I can find lying around the house.
Aside from that, I want to improve my artistic skills in photography and digital art. I never had any formal class work in 3D studio, and despite the quality of some of the stuff I’ve made, I’m essentially self-taught and don’t really have a complete grasp on proper technique. I recently bought a textbook on 3DS, and I’ve been tackling it like a self-paced course, though I’ve probably not been as studious as I could be.
My Education goal for the year: Learn to cook. Continue to improve my artistic skills.
Aspect 3) Work - Obviously, this is about your career or job.
As far as jobs go, I can honestly say the job I currently hold is the best job I’ve ever had. That said, I still feel like it’s just a job, and not a career. This isn’t the Webster’s definition, but I’ve always defined a job as “something one can’t or doesn’t want to do themselves, so they pay someone else who wouldn’t do it for free to do it for them”. In short, I don’t want to do what I’m doing the rest of my life. Granted, I have no room to complain in this economic climate, but I’d really like to be doing something a little more self-directed and with self-set hours. Something creative, like photography, comicking, or writing (as I’ll detail in a bit), or start picking up some freelance graphic design jobs. I’m not quitting my job anytime soon, but I want to work toward a point where I could.
My Work goal for the year: Gain recognition for my creative works, to the point where I could profit from them.
Aspect 4) Financial - Also self explanatory. Income, investment, budget.
I’m not in dire straits, but I definitely have room for improvement. I make enough to live on and pay my bills (Usually on time), but that’s about it. I have literally no savings, and my credit lines are about tapped. Just one auto accident or major illness would quite effectively ruin me.
There’s a few things I need to do here. First is more effective money management. Eating out less (as mentioned earlier) will help a lot; that’s one of the biggest unnecessary leeches I have on my wallet. Other than that, commonsense things like conserving gas and electricity, and cutting entertainment expenses will help. Second is setting more money back for emergencies and such. My investment portfolio consists of a box full of baseball cards, and a complete set of Star Wars PEZ machines which I’m sure will be worth a lot on eBay some day. If I would just start putting a bit of each paycheck in my savings account it’s be a great start. And third, tying into the previous aspect, I’d like to work on getting some supplementary income from other sources, such as my creative ventures.
My Financial goal for the year: Manage my money better, build my savings, supplement my income with other sources.
Aspect 5) Home – Your living situation. house, location, property, renovations, building, etc.
Here’s one of the few areas I actually made some progress this year. Having previously only lived with my parents, or in tiny 1-bedroom apartments, I bought my own house this year. And that’s about it. Obviously I couldn’t afford much, so it’s a smallish two-bedroom on the somewhat ghetto side of town. It needed a bit of work, and due to my laziness very little of it has been done. The attic needs insulated, the garage needs re-sided, the foundation needs repainted, the porch is practically falling off… What I’d like to do here is fix up my house; do all the little things I told myself I’d do when I moved in. Pending that, continue improvements to aesthetic and comfort items. Add a closet to the bathroom, replace dining room carpet with hardwood, new kitchen counters…. New windows and central air would also be great.
Additionally, I’ve never been the best housekeeper, even when I was a professional housekeeper. Not that it’s a health hazard to enter my house without haz-mat gear or anything, I just have a bad habit of letting things pile up… Papers, books, dishes… That’s a habit I’d like to break.
My Home goal for the year: Repair critical house issues, optionally improve house. Keep it cleaner.
Aspect 6) Recreation - stuff like hobbies, sports, activities, travel, and other interests
Ok, so sports and travel I’ll just throw out now, but there’s a lot that I need to do with my other hobbies and activities. As I mentioned in my previous points, I want to improve my skills and get some more recognition for my creative ventures. but here’s my problem: I NEVER STICK WITH ANYTHING. If I want any of my works to be taken seriously, I NEED TO FINISH THEM.
For this aspect, what I need to do is clear: Get back to work on my unfinished projects.
For a point of reference, here’s an abbreviated list of unfinished projects I need to get back to:
- The two D&D modules I was writing, Fearless Quest and The Grey Fortress
- Empire Bloodlines, which would be a novel-length book of shorter stories, including The Gardner File which I still only have half done
- About a dozen other stories I started and never finished
- Photography – I really do enjoy photography, but like everything else, my combination of apathy and lethargy has kept me from pursuing it seriously. The last time I did any serious photography was when I went to the Zoo back in June, and honestly, that’s pretty pathetic for someone who considers himself a “semi-professional” photographer.
- Miscellaneous arts and crafts – I’ve done some pretty cool digital art in the past, and would love to get back to working on it on a regular basis. There’s also all kinds of varied craft stuff like sewing, woodworking, bookbinding, making chain maile armor… I used to be so in to chain maile. But like everything else, I just don’t feel like doing anything so it all gets set aside.
- Black Flag Apparel – One of the most complete incomplete projects I’ve worked on. I’ve got a full business plan for a simple and potentially highly profitable online clothing store completely ready to go, but I stumbled at the funding phase and put it on the backburner.
- Most importantly, Comics – One of my biggest dreams was always to be a graphic novel author, but it’s also one of my biggest failures, because there’s so much there I’ve started but so little I’ve finished.
- Heroes Inc. – Probably my most successful attempt at comicking, by which I mean the one I’ve actually continually produced the longest. When I started it out back in 2004 I tried to keep a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, releasing three a week. I didn’t always keep to that exactly, but I did post relatively consistent updates. Now I’m lucky if I post one comic every 2 weeks. Not too long ago, I went a full two months without an update. I’m honestly surprised anyone still follows it. The 3D work I do for it now is quite a bit more complex than the early sprite-only comics in the series, so I doubt I’d be able to ever go back to M-W-F without some sort of extraordinary circumstances that would let me quit my job, but I’d like to get back to at least a weekly update schedule.
- Degrees of Freedom – I worked this up as a pitch for a comic contest a few years ago and never did much more than the first 10 strips, but I really liked the concept I came up with and think it has a lot of potential for expansion, so I’d like to get back to that some time.
- Project Overlord – Another great concept that went nowhere.
- Adrift – A little sci-fi comic I scripted out but never finished
- Department 13 – One of my biggest disappointments is the fact that I’ve never gotten anywhere with this. This would be my magnum opus if I ever got around to finishing it. I started this in high school. It’s literally a decade in the making. I have a complete world and character history for this spanning hundreds of years; pages and pages of notes filled with tons of minute details. I even wrote and submitted a project brief for this to Dark Horse, though I obviously never heard anything back. But do I have so much as one production-quality page done? Nope. Never got around to it. I have a placeholder website all ready to go, but no real progress to show for it.
My Recreation goal for the year: FINISH SOMETHING.
Aspect 7) Relationships – Anything involving family, friends, colleagues and such.
This is one area I’ve always had trouble with. I’m no good at making friends. Outside of my current romantic relationship, I really only have one friend. I mean sure, I’m “friends” with hundreds of people on facebook, but you if you throw out family I rarely see, former classmates I never see, fans of my comic, and people I added to help me in Mafia Wars, it’s down in the low single digits. I’m not entirely without human contact though, my girlfriend’s D&D group has accepted me, but I still feel like those are her friends and I’d be uncomfortable around them without her.
And while we’re on the subject of my girlfriend, I think we have a good relationship, but I’m still worried that it could be better if I, you know, had human emotions. Or at least knew how to fake them better.
My Relationships goal for the year: Make a friend or two. Improve the relationships I have. Work on being more emotionally open in my romantic relationship.
Aspect 8 ) Spiritual – Everything in the area of religion, culture, beliefs, meditation, and such.
Honestly, I’ve got nothing. I’ve always considered myself very Spock-like; my brain works primarily on the rational end of things, so this whole area of thought draws a blank for me. I’d love to be able to feel something spiritual, or at least understand what others feel a bit better, but that may be asking too much.
My Spiritual goal for the year: Um… Get spiritual?
Alright, to summarize, my goals for 2012 are:
- Get Healthier.
- Learn to cook, and improve my artistic skills.
- Gain recognition for my creative works.
- Manage money, build savings, supplement income.
- Repair and improve my house.
- FINISH SOMETHING.
- Make a friend, improve relationships.
- Dip a toe in the shallow end of spirituality.
Overall, make myself into someone I can stand to look at in the mirror.
When Christmas snuck up on my faster this year than it ever had before, I realized 2011 was a completely wasted year. I’ve done practically nothing at all of value in the last 12 months. I honestly want 2012 to be a year of total improvement, but without encouragement I’ll probably end up going right back to being the same unhealthy, lazy, and unproductive jerk I’ve been. That’s where I’m asking for your help. You cared enough to sit through this long-winded rant, so I’d hope you care enough to see me be successful in my goals. I’m planning on making this into a weekly self-improvement progress blog, documenting what I’ve done each week to make myself a better person. What I want you to do is subscribe to this video channel, or to the RSS feed on my blog, and watch and comment on my progress. If I’m late posting a blog, email me and ask why. I want you to constantly bug me, get on my case, and otherwise cattle-prod me into doing what I’ve said I’d do. For my friends and family in the real world, text, call, or tell me in person to get my act together.
In closing, thanks for taking the time to listen, and I wish you and yours a happy new year! Here’s hoping that next year I’ll be seeing you again, and when I do, it’ll be a better person you see.