I love lists. I am the kind of person who revels in writing down to do lists and relishes the bliss not only of crossing off accomplishments, but also adores the slightly skewed sense of satisfaction I get from looking at an impossibly long list. I use a digital calendar in my computer, a digital calendar on my phone that also synchs with my computer, I use Wunderlist, and I keep an analogue Moleskine day planner as well. I email lists. I write them on little pieces of paper. It isn’t just that I like writing lists, I suspect that writing down everything I have to do (or want to do…or feel I should be doing) allows me some modicum of control. I write lists that begin with something I have already crossed off in order to make them seem possible. Indeed I must admit that I have been known to write lists that look like this:
-go to yoga
-prep class a, b, and c for the month of January
-write article draft
-prep class d for month of January
-coffee with friend I should see more often
-plan manuscript project
-spend quality time with loved one
-start writing a journal again
Sure, some might call this delusional, I call it optimistic. Alright, I also call it delusional, but doesn’t it seem some days that these kind of lists that require time machines and clones are the only way that you’ll accomplish all your goals as well as everything that needs doing not to mention the Abstract But Looming Expectations of Others? Doesn’t it?
Last week as I sat down to write my New Year’s resolutions alongside my list for this term’s looming tasks I found myself unable to write either. I have been writing resolution lists that resemble my delusional to do lists for years now, and for some reason I couldn’t do it this year. Why? Part of the challenge, I suspect, is that I have been writing–and failing to complete–these impossible lists for many many years now. Another part of my challenge comes from an increasingly convoluted sense of what actually needs to be done. Sure, I know that papers need to be marked, and I have those upcoming conference papers scheduled, but after four years of teaching overloads and maintaining a relatively reasonable research profile, squeezing in service where I can, and yes, trying to cultivate a rich personal and social life I know that some things need to be jettisoned, but which ones?
So this year my resolutions are thus far just two: 1) be kinder to myself and 2) read more for pleasure
How do you do it, readers? Do you write resolutions? How do you keep your expectations of yourself both realistic and challenging?