Another year has come and gone and it is time once again to take a step back and make sure that my priorities are in proper alignment with my goals. This is something that I try to do more often; but, I love the ritual of the new year's resolution and the conscious effort that we can apply to making our lives better. I've got a good feeling about 2011!
Give More, Sacrifice Less
Growing up, I did things that I didn't want to do. Lots of things. And, I suffered in silence (and not so silently at times), believing that this was just the way that it had to be. When I read Ayn Rand, however, I started to get the sense that this made no sense. And, over the past year or so, I've really started to embrace the idea of saying No to things that would affect my life negatively.
At the same time, I've also been enjoying giving to people that I care about. Giving is really such a wonderful feeling; but, only when it comes from a meaningful place within you. What's crazy, however, is that giving makes me nervous! Whenever I am about to make a big gesture for someone that I care about, I get very tense.
In a weird way, I think both of these feelings - suffering in silence and being stressed about giving - come from the same place: low self-esteem. I think I used to suffer in silence because I didn't think that I was worth while enough. After all, who was I to think that my happiness was more important, or even as important, as anyone else's.
Stress over giving, I think, also comes from low self-esteem; but, I'm having trouble quite articulating why. I think the stress comes from doubt - doubt that what I'm doing is right, doubt that what I'm doing will be received positively, doubt that what I'm doing it a good idea; and, I think this doubt stems from some form of low self-esteem.
In 2011, I want to make it a priority to never inhibit a desire to give. I want to build my self-esteem to the point where I never second guess a desire to give. Giving feels good and I want in on that party more often. At the same time, I also want to value myself highly enough that I don't feel bad when I have no desire to sacrifice my time. I think both of these gestures are going to be difficult; but, I think both will be tremendously rewarding.
Last year, Project HUGE saw some highs and some lows; some personal bests and some unfortunate injuries. This year, I want to start strong and stay in a positive mindset. I also want to make some body-image goals, which I don't do very often. I'd like to lose 10lbs this year. After watching my singlet-clad friends at their powerlifting meet, I am inspired to get both stronger and become leaner.
As part of this desire, I want to make it a real priority to get some piece of cardio equipment in my apartment. I'm not a runner; but, I like the idea of moving while I watch TV. If I'm going to be giving my mind a break, I might as well be giving my body a chance to improve, even if it's very low impact. Right now, I'm fantasizing about getting the NordicTrack Incline Trainer.... and that has nothing to do with Jillian Michaels.
I'm also toying around with the idea of getting some Personal Training. I think I could gain a lot from having a professional take me through workouts that push me way outside my comfort zone. PT is a bit pricey, however, so I'll probably take care of some other financial things first and then revisit this idea half way through the year.
One of the first big goals that I want to accomplish this year is setting up a nice home office situation. I spend a lot of time in the office because using my computer at home is downright uncomfortable. I want to invest in a nice desk and a nice chair and really create an environment where I can get things done. I've been carrying a lot of stress for the last few months and I think a lot of that comes from not being effective at home. I can't know until I try; but, I think an increased efficiency at home will remove a lot of that stress.
Last year, I wanted to get my retirement plan back on track. I only made it half way - I set up my Vanguard Target Retirement account. This year, I want to actually start making deposits into it. Also, I'd like to get the 401k from my previous company (of 3 years ago) transfered over to my Vanguard account.
Computer Programming Skills
For the last few months, I've been having a tremendous amount of fun working my way through Seven Langauges in Seven Weeks by Bruce Tate. This year, I'd like to finish that book and continue to explore the world of computer science that exists outside of ColdFusion. ColdFusion will always be my bread and butter (it's a ridiculously awesome language); but, I've already seen the benefits that other languages and problem solving approaches can bring to my application development.
I'd also like to continue my push to learn more about rich-client / thick-client application architectures. There's an increasing trend in treating web servers like "web services" and offloading much of the work to the client. I think there is no doubt that this is the future and I want to make sure that I get my skills up to the necessary level.
What I'd really love to do is take my Dig Deep Fitness application and rebuild it to be a thick-client application that leverages some juicy HTML5 and AJAX functionality. I'm talking about a single-page, local database, offline synchronization kind of setup. I've always fantasized about combining my love of computer science with my love of working out; now, I not only can I combine the two, I can use it as a learning experience.
User Experience (UX) Skills
At work, I'm doing more and more user experience (UX) design and wire-framing. I'm pretty good at proactively learning about computer programming; I'm much less good at learning about UX design. This year, I really need to find the time and a desire to pump up my UX R&D effort.
There are many more things that I could aim to get done this year; but, I think this list constitutes a fairly large effort. Once again, the idea of a romantic relationship gets put on the back burner. But who knows, maybe that will make Ben smarter? Right now, however, I'm feeling really excited for 2011 and the good things that it will bring!
I hope everyone had a wondeful new year!