Two Things in 2018
With an exhausting but productive 2017 behind us, I’m pretty excited for some of the things that 2018 might hold. The last quarter of 2017 brought major life change for both Jennifer and I, with both of us starting new part time jobs as well as moving. It revealed a lot of our misplaced priorities so I’m grateful for the growth that the stress brought about.
I’ve spent the last few weeks really thinking about what I wanted 2018 to look like for myself and our family. I know its cliche and almost everyone fails, but I always want to get some resolutions down into words and attempt growth every year.
So this year I wanted to simplify my goals and focus on some keystone habits and skills that I’m hoping will make other smaller goals easier. For the sake of simplicity and increase the chance of success, I cut it down to just two things I want to start doing and two things I want to stop doing.
Two Things I Want to Start Doing
The past few years as I’ve transitioned from guitar to keys as my primary instrument when playing live, my playing has steadily improved, but lately I’ve been feeling like my playing has been ‘just good enough.’ I’ve been learning parts to what I need for each worship service or gig, but I haven’t felt like I’ve grown beyond that. Since I learned piano by playing by ear, I haven’t really tried to build a solid technical foundation through scales, deliberately playing pieces outside of my comfort zone, and developing the skills to read music for piano at a useable level. I think back to when I was playing clarinet in the top band in my high school and I was able to sightread almost anything nearly flawlessly and I miss being at that high technical and expressive level on an instrument. I'm hoping as I push myself in my piano playing, it will give me new energy to push myself even further in all creative endeavors.
Go Analog After 9 PM
When I was thinking about this second habit I wanted to cultivate, I had a lot of options. Make sure I exercise everyday, read my bible every morning, start working earlier, wake up before my kids do so they don’t destroy the house, etc. But everything came back to waking up at around 5 am, which felt impossible to do everyday. But my difficulty with waking up at such an early hour on a regular basis had its roots in staying up until 11 o clock, and not truly falling asleep until around 11:30-midnight. So I figured I’d start at the source of the problem. Smartphones are notoriously terrible to use at night. The blue light from the screen suppresses melatonin production and reading about everything that is terrible on Twitter right before you attempt to fall asleep is probably not the best for a good, solid night’s sleep. Once the kids are fully in bed, there is no real reason I can’t disconnect, finish up chores, and sit down with a real book (or my Kindle with the backlight off) until I doze off. By attacking this habit from a positive angle by essentially giving myself permission to read for an hour or more every night, this is one I’m really looking forward to.
Two Things I Want to Stop Doing
Procrastinating on the Mundane
There is nothing worse than hitting next week on Todoist over and over and over on something as basic as mail IRA transfer form. As our life gets more complicated with mortgages, multiple jobs, and kids in public school, I’ve found myself putting off the mundane things that need doing until the very last second. I’ve always justified it to myself by saying that there are more important things on my plate and I’ll get to it when I have to, but the eventual stress (or missing of deadlines) is never worth it. This is the year I want to stop throwing all my opened mail into a pile and say “I’ll let future Andy figure that out a day before a deadline.”
Wasting Time on Unfocused Learning
I read Wikipedia. A lot. I’m a naturally curious person, so Wikipedia has slowly become a time waster for me over the years. Add in countless blogs and I spend too many hours every week reading surface level content for countless subjects (many that have no bearing on my life, they are just interesting). While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with learning about random things, its not a wise use of my time. For example, I spent about 8 hours last year reading a book on eugenics in the early 20th century and while it was a fascinating read, those are essentially 8 hours wasted when I look back on it. This year I want to cut back on the fluff knowledge and take more time honing in on a few subjects that interest me and dig deeper in those areas. I’m not sure what that will look like this year, but I’m trying to keep it in mind as I go about my internet use and book selections. I recently started using the app Pocket to focus my blog reading and its helped that aspect immensely.
I'm excited about tackling these goals and the domino effect that this will have on other areas of my life. If you have any ideas for apps or other tools you think would help with these goals, let me know in the comments!