Fact: Over half the world’s population can speak a second language fluently
I have started to learn additional languages twice in the past three years including Swedish about five months ago. These projects quickly fall off the radar when I find a new short-term distraction such as Haxball or Instagram or find any reason to have a drink. If learning was fun, we’d all be spending our Saturday nights getting education-wasted.
However, the thought of going through my life without ever once having the opportunity to talk to someone else in their native language actually depresses me. For starters, it only plays into the anti-American stereotype that a Swede wouldn’t expect me to know their language, but also because I hold myself to a standard that should include knowing at least one additional language by default. I’d like to know a few, but it makes sense to focus on one for this year.
Goal six: Spend three hours per week on Rosetta Stone Swedish; complete all three levels this year
Fact: “Well-read” doesn’t include keeping up with everyone’s social media status updates
It used to take me two weeks to get through a good book, Googling a few things and checking out some trivia along the way, sourcing some additional information on the topics presented and ordering related texts. Whether it was Stephen King or Naomi Klein, I always came back to the book when I had a moment of free time.
Over the years, social media has made us all a little dependent on thirty second status updates, shortening our attention spans and making it impossible to sit still long enough to enjoy a good book. I used to consider myself very well-read but these days I’m just as happy in the short term to spend my evenings cycling through the first ten pages of Reddit looking for another image macro. Like Billie Joe Armstrong suggested, my philosophy in 2012 did indeed come from a bumper sticker, and I have fallen into the trap where, if it can’t be explained in 140 characters, I don’t even try.
TL;DR needs to die. Life isn’t simple and concise. The fiscal cliff didn’t consist of “this needs passed or everyone’s taxes go up and we go back into a recession.” It actually contained some much-needed defense spending cuts as well, but that doesn’t fit in a tweet. We’re skimming headlines when, as the old saying goes (and my skip-level manager Scott likes to day), the devil is in the details. I’m taking responsibility for the fact that I can no longer consider myself well-read, and I’m fortunate that Kristin bought me three great books to add to my growing “To Be Read” pile.
Goal seven: I will devote 2.5 hours per week (or thirty minutes per weeknight) to reading books
Fact: My to-do list for home improvements only gets longer, never shorter
I have kept a list of things the house needs for quite some time. Occasionally, I’ll knock something out, such as the furnace, central air and humidifier that was installed a couple of years back, or the faucet and water filtration system I installed this fall, but for the most part, I just keep adding to the list and reiterating the larger projects that need completed.
Yes, we need new carpet. Yes, the living room furniture is rather worn. Yes, the house isn’t very energy efficient and we’re paying more for heat than we should be. Yes, I’m aware that I’ve been sitting on this list since 2009 and that it’s probably more than a little frustrating to my partner that so little progress has been made.
I picked up an Angie’s List subscription this past fall and it did help me get a few major things accomplished already. The windows no longer leak and the downspouts are all repaired thanks to Lake Effect Roofing, and I got some decent guidance from Kasidonis even though they didn’t fulfill all the obligations of the service I had requested. I have a carpet cleaning service to be scheduled soon to see if the carpet is salvageable as well. As I make my way through the list, there are things I can do myself and things I’d like to hand off to a professional, and Angie’s List seems to be the way to go for hiring professionals.
Winter will not come again without most of this list being knocked out. The next year will be a busy one when it comes to home repair and improvement. I have momentum on my side with recent projects so this should be pain-free.
Goal eight: Detail all the home projects to be completed in 2013 then complete the list on schedule
These are the apolitical goals I’ve made for 2013. Somewhere along the line I’ll be publishing a companion post on the “Rage” side of the site to detail the goals I’ve created on the activism side of life. I’m attacking my own consumerism and brand worship as well as my inclination to shop at chains when there’s a local option available, and I plan to help others join me in the shift away from those dependencies.
I’ll also be discussing my desire to become more focused on a core set of messages in order to create a more sustained and meaningful impact on each issue as opposed to my current method of disconnected, in-the-moment short bursts of passion. I feel that we all have the ability to make more of an impact with a little preparation and focus, and the disjointed early efforts of Occupy versus the meaningful, focused efforts of Occupy Sandy relief efforts and Rolling Jubilee debt writeoffs are my launching point.
What are your goals for 2013? Feel free to leave comments below!