As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I don’t buy into the idea of New Year’s resolutions. I find January a completely arbitrary time to change behaviors; after all, if you feel strongly enough about a habit or behavior to want to change it, why wait til January 1?
BUT, despite my
obnoxious killjoy contrarian leanings, I’m not entirely immune to popular sentiment and I can acknowledge that a calendar year is a perfectly serviceable frame of reference for goal-setting (certainly no more or less arbitrary than school years, no?). While you won’t find me resolving to exercise regularly (I already lift weights 3-5x/week and run 2x/week, without fail, barring illness or injury) or read more (I read 67 books in 2017; more on these in an upcoming post), I did decide to set some concrete goals in those areas for the coming year.
At Runkeeper‘s insistence, I set a goal of running 300 miles in 2018. I set similar goals in 2012 (as I recuperated from hip surgery) and 2013 (read about that here). I readily acknowledge that 300 miles in a year is really not a huge milestone (it averages out to a little under 6 miles a week for 52 weeks), but as I mentioned above, my fitness priority is on weightlifting. With only so many evenings in a week, if I’m lifting 3-5x/week, that leaves only so much time for running.
Goodreads issued its 8th annual Reading Challenge today, and, like Marty McFly being called a chicken, I had to take the bait. I upped the ante a bit for 2018, my third year participating in the challenge. I committed to reading 30 books this year, twice my 2017 commitment but still well within my reach.
So if I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, why did I commit to these two goals on New Year’s Day? Because it’s not about New Year’s. It’s about setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable (oh, you know the rest) in order to stimulate growth or progress. I enjoy both reading and running and would likely engage in both activities with or without a specific goal, but it’s also an added bit of extrinsic motivation for when the intrinsic motivation is lacking a bit.
Along these lines, one of the 30 books I will read this year will be done along with my friends and colleagues at work. A small group of high school assistant principals and instructional supervisors are reading The New American High School, the last book written by Ted Sizer and published posthumously. Starting next week, we’ll be meeting weekly to discuss, and if it’s half as valuable as the last professional book club in which I participated, it’ll be time very well spent.