Saturday, January 2, 2021

2021 Resolutions!


      I used to do one of these types of posts every year as a way of keeping myself accountable. However back in the winter of 2017 I started having health issues which culminated in an open heart surgery. As you can imagine this caused quite a disruption in my life and for the last 3 years I hardly had any time to focus my mind on End of Year resolutions, when the only End of Year resolution that mattered for me and my family was "Get better".

    Enter COVID 19. Because I'm considered  "high risk" (Due to my heart problems) I have had to sit in my home for the last 10 months, which gave me a lot of time to return to activities I had neglected since before my surgery. So this year, as 2020 ends I decided to return to my resolution tradition. After much meditation I realized that this year I only care for 1 resolution.

    "I will be more present in the real world."

   You might be wondering what I mean. Well, I noticed that because of my long recuperation during  2017-2018 and the COVID 19 quarantine I  have developed the habit of spending a considerable share of my time viewing online content. Time that I was robbing away from my family and activities that throughout my life have given me great pleasure, like playing classical guitar, reading, blogging and podcasting.  My only online presence during the last three years has been basically emails and Facebook posts. I have decided that in 2021 this is going to change. By "being more present" I mean that I will stare less at screens and will use my time in a most productive way in "The real world" by continuing projects that have more significance to my life and ministry and that will leave a better digital footprint of myself for my friends and family, than just a bunch of funny Facebook posts.  

Now, I understand that "being more in the real world" is quite a general statement, so I need to refine the idea a bit more so that it could be applied to my day to day life. So I figure that I could translate this into 4 more specific activities that will help me focus better during this year. They are:

        A. Lurk less.

  Again, I spend an in ordinate amount of time staring at different social media, just to publish a few funny Facebook posts a week. In order to be more present in the real world I will focus on  being less and consumer of pre-processed content. 

        B.  Leave more permanent traces of myself.

  This might sound silly to some (perhaps it was my close brush with death) but for a while I've been thinking, "If  100 years from now one of my great-great-children decides they would like to get to know me better and went to the internet to find any digital traces I have left behind, what kind of picture would they get of me if the only content they can find are just my Facebook posts?". To leave better permanent traces of myself, this year, I will copy and paste less and endeavor to create more. I will focus on leaving a permanent record of my thoughts and significant events in my life. 

        C. Stay honest with myself.

 One of the reasons I have achieved both personal and professional goals throughout my life has been my ability for self reflection and self discipline. I have always thought  that I owe this to my Catholic upbringing, that always calls me to reflect on the consequences of my actions on others lives and to sacrifice comfort and personal pleasure for the greater good. (Fasting and penance are a great way to develop self discipline!) This year I will endeavor to reflect more on how I'm using my time and be willing to adjust my path when moving away from my goals. In short: I will try to be less on "automatic" mode and more on giving my complete attention to every task at hand. After all my goal is to leave a better picture of myself, so I need to pay attention to make sure I leave the best of me.

        D. Improve my skills.

   As I was recuperating from my surgery (2017-2018), I spent a lot of time just sitting on the sofa watching reruns of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or just sitting quietly and reflecting about the meaning of  my situation. (Back then my prayer to God was "I can't wait to see what good are you going to squeeze out of this mess in which you have put me")  Looking back I realize that this was the only thing I could do while the hole in the middle of my chest healed. Which drove me crazy!  But the situation required me to completely focus on healing my body as well as my spirit. 

   As 2019 ended I was feeling pretty good. I was in the best shape of my life (Or at least since my college years) and was beginning to think of what challenges I could take for the new year. And then the pandemic quarantine happened. During my time at home I was able involve myself in projects that improve my skills professionally as well as personally. I have completed a couple of construction projects around the house and honed my programing skills on Python and R programming. I have began to take a look at the new computer science field of Data Science.  All of my life I had been a student in one field or another, but was forced to neglect this side of myself for two years. In 2021 I will continue to focus my efforts on learning and growing.

   Now that I have broken down my year's resolution in 4 areas,  I can create a list of real life activities that will make me more present to the world.

Here is my list:

A: Lurk Less

Limit my social media use to 1 hour a day (Ideally 30 ins in the morning and 30 in the evening)

Do not carry the phone around with me when I'm at home. 

Use YouTube for educational purposes not entertainment. 

I will share my entertainment time with my family.

I will only buy a book when I have finished reading 5 al ready in my reading list

I will read 25 a minimum of pages every day

B: Leave more permanent traces of myself 

Resurrect my blog

Resurrect the "Hidden Bible Podcast"

Work on a few writing ideas I have.

Use Facebook exclusively as a way to communicate with friends and family about my life, not as a way to entertain the world.

C: Stay Honest

Post every month how I am doing in my efforts

Develop a schedule allowing a fair time to each activity (Experience has shown me that it is easy to give all your time to things you like to do and very little time to things you NEED to do)

Check with family once a month to see how am I doing.

D: Improve my skills

Exercise 3-4 times a week. (I was doing this before the pandemic; once we were in lock down I have done very little of this. For 2021 I will find ways to replace gym time with other activities like walking the dogs or hiking).

Limit my classical guitar playing to 30-60 minutes a day tops.

Continue improving my programing and data science skills by taking online training and finding ways to apply these skill to my telework.

So there you have it, my resolutions for 2021!