In direct contrast to yesterday’s literary installment, Promises We Must Keep, I offer the following words of wisdom regarding goals and objectives that may or may not be of paramount importance in the upcoming year.
Where are my story-telling manners? I nearly forgot a riveting introduction for today’s narrative.
While playing a character—within my own on-going homeowner saga, titled Revenge of the Frozen Furnace Pipes (Amid the Coldest Days of the Year)—I awoke earlier than usual, at 5:30am. Before my alarm clock blasted music from WYEP, the local radio station, I was already roused from sleep by the concern for heating my home. I rolled back the blankets, trekked to the garage, and plugged in all of the electric heaters, to begin an initial warming of my house.
Hot shower, packed work bag, first day back to work after the Christmas break, and I’m off to an earlier commute than usual, at 6:15am. News channels are reporting the bone-chilling temperature as 5° F, however the windchill has reduced that number to a numbing -5° F—oh boy, does it ever feel that cold, and then some.
Train ride, bus connection, back doors open to deposit my two frozen feet on the familiar University sidewalk. The chilly air is nipping at my nose—wasn’t that from a song? Anyway, considering my earlier awake and departure times, I am extremely early for work. I walk past the coffee shop and, at 7:15am, they must have just opened, although I can see no customers sipping steaming lattes. During this first week of the year, students have not yet arrived, and as I crack open the coffee shop door, I am delighted to be the only person within the shop—with the obvious exception of the owner.
It was one year ago, during this exact week, that Redhawk Coffee opened in Oakland, and I’ve been periodically enjoying my time as a consumer (in the most literal sense of the word)—additionally, the occasional pensive writer: Art of Coffee Shop Conversation, Wanderlust, For Love of Latte, and Chai Ninjas and Memories of Nana—throughout the last twelve months.
The owner is probably one of the friendliest people on Planet Earth, and the sole reason for returning to his storefront each week. I haven’t seen him in a few months, and he is sporting a full beard. Regarding the weather conditions, I ask if he has received any business this morning.
“You are the first customer of 2018, my friend,” he states.
In my delighted reaction, I offer a solid fist bump, followed by my order for one drip coffee to go. And just like that, I’m the first customer. As I leave the shop, another man walks in—the gentleman pictured in today’s image—and I click a quick exposure with my iPhone. That’s the official second customer of 2018.
With coffee in hand, I walk up the hill to my office building, positioned at the intersection of I Wish I Were Still in Bed and This Windchill is Seriously Sucking the Life from My Body. If I could slightly exaggerate, well grossly exaggerate, it seemed like I was walking up the street at a 45° angle, to off-set the blasting frigid wind.
In my office, I arrange my workspace, position my coffee for immediate consumption, power on my computer and display, and begin working on my first New Year’s resolution: read a daily faith-based devotional each morning, with my morning cup of coffee.
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton
I’ve already written about the importance of setting new goals for yourself, but I also believe that there is a sliding scale of priority that needs to be considered. For example, given two goals in a year—1) daily devotional reading, and 2) riding on a motorcycle—it should be easy to determine the weight and seriousness given to a specific resolution; both are actual goals in my 2018 list.
And this is where today’s title, Promises We May or May Not Keep, comes into play. Based on my 2017 experiment, of which you are reading the tail-end of, I’ve determined that setting goals for yourself is indeed important; however—in the same exact breath, I will say this—the process of completing items on your own wishlist should not morph into a full-time job, competition, or gotta-do-it-this-week and/or abandon-all-adult-responsibilities-in-the-process mentality.
Additionally, when reviewing the goals that I set in 2017, I noticed that my personal interests changed over the course of twelve months, and that experiences that seemed so important in the beginning, were of lesser concern to me in the end: #58 Learn five songs on the ukulele and/or Telecaster, dropped in importance; #45 Learn to hula hoop, was personally deemed impossible; while #84 Catch, kill, cook, and eat a fish, just never quite felt right, nor did I possess the skills to complete that task.
But does that mean that I failed at those goals? Not in the least amount. We should afford ourselves the right to simply bypass a goal that we’ve set for ourselves. In all reality, aren’t we the only ones who are keeping score anyway? Or are we completing this process for someone else’s enjoyment or approval?
Beyond establishing a core set of goals for the year—think really big and important objectives—feel free to dream little dreams along the way. If you have to walk away from pursuing them over the year, you have not failed on a personal level, you have just changed.
These little things in life are the promises we may or may not keep. And isn’t change the eventual, desired end result in setting goals to begin with? Indeed it is. So don’t fret about the little things that change along the way.
As for me, some of the 2017-ers will be migrated to the new year, and established at 2018 goals. The bucket list items that I didn’t complete, or add to next year’s list, will be parked in the I’m-gonna-get-to-it-someday Lifetime Bucket List. At the conclusion of this Project 365, I will begin on the next round of adventures in my own life, with a newly formed list of 52 items for 2018. But more on that, another day.