Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Years Intentions

It's that time of year again. A new year. A time for new beginnings. Oh joy!

One thing about it, the days really got short this year as we tumbled toward the solstice. Unfortunately, with fog and clouds ever since, the days haven't seemed to have starting getting longer yet. That said, I guess the new year is upon us. And that usually means resolution time.

I read something useful the other day, though, a yoga newsletter about setting intentions instead of resolutions. And then, this morning, I hopped on the net and came across this Althouse post wondering how many people had already broken resolutions. And there's the problem. It's almost like resolutions were made to be broken. A new year comes, you vow to be a better person and after a month or two you say oh well. So this year, we're doing directional resolutions:

I set the intention to regularly use and rebuild my French toward regaining fluency.

I set the intention to regularly study Spanish and build toward conversational competence.

I set the intention to regularly study Italian and rebuild toward basic conversational competence.

I set the intention to rebuild and regain basic skills in spoken Mandarin.

This doesn't mean, of course, that I'm going to give up the language diary or other tools to keep me working on a regular basis toward incremental improvements. But it means that long term goals are to be reached toward through a series of short term goals. You can't do that by setting a resolution that makes sense January 1st but commits you to a program that may make no sense by January 31st.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But you'll only make it if you correct course from time to time and admit that sometimes you need to stop and rest. So don't vow to walk 2 miles a day and quit the first time you only go a mile and a half. Set a more general intention and plan to always be working on a short term goal that takes you in that direction or looking for the next short term goal.

Happy New Year!


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