Saturday, June 4, 2011

New Year's Resolutions Update and Self-Improvement Concerns

In thinking about how I need to get back to my self-improvement endeavors I have also noticed that it's been a long time since I spoke about my resolutions for 2011, so I'd thought I'd take the time to brainstorm some ideas here as well as mention where I am in my resolutions. I haven't forgot my resolutions at all nor stopped working on them, for I check them at least once a week.

First, let's tackle the resolutions and where I sit with them:

1.) Get Project finished: Completed in March! It's unfortunate that it took about a year to actually complete such a simple thing, but the benefits have been more than worth it. Perhaps I should do a post-Project update on my life and well-being.

2.) Read twenty books: I'm only five books into my goal, and it's been difficult to catch up given new reading habits and other complications. For one, I only count books I've read practically cover-to-cover, so when I decide the entirety of a book isn't worth reading and instead skim it for what I want, I'm still reading, but it won't apply to my resolution. Additionally, I've often been losing books to library due dates since I can't finish them in time often, so that has been further slowing me down. Perhaps this goal is irrationally formed, but at least I'm content that I'm working on it.

3.) Try out at least three different kinds of salt: Only tried one new kind so far, and it was McCormick's sea salt grinder, which is, I believe, sea salt gathered from a different ocean than the one I usually get. It's definitely more intense. I haven't gotten to trying two more yet since my finances are so strict, but once they lighten up I'll be perusing Cost Plus World Market for maybe some Hawaiian pink salt and gray sea salt.

4.) Start writing activism articles regularly on activist-oriented blog: I've been more engaged in activism lately with posting political articles on my Facebook profile, but I still haven't gotten to establishing a good source of media in which to keep me in touch with food politics, and I've been rethinking how I want to go about my activism. Instead of a separate blog, I've been thinking about perhaps dividing this one up, but more thinking needs to be done.

5.) Establish an original layout for my blog: Not yet, but I want to get working on this one soon. My layout looks too unprofessional for my taste, and while I recognize there is beauty in simplicity I still want to make some significant changes about here, even if it's as minor as designing a new header banner. The current one makes me think of moon craters and construction paper. When I look at my layout it gives me an amateurish impression, so my motive in changing things is to at least make the environment surrounding my text look more serious.

6.) Cook a pasture-raised steak at least once: My finances are simply too tight for that right now, though I know a Whole Foods nearby that sells entirely pasture-raised beef.

7.) Try out sous vide cooking (Do research on alternative methods for pulling off): Finances are too tight, and the goal may be impossible given my current living arrangements. Right now I only have access to a glass-top stove, so that may make it impossible to attempt a manual sous-vide setup since the temperature can't be controlled as precisely as a gas-top.

    - Save up for an immersion circulator if I enjoy the method: This is a corollary goal. If I do by some chance get to try a product of sous vide cooking, like attending a demonstration or the likes, I might skip to this goal directly.

8.) Improve my writing skills for chocolate reviews: This goal is both accomplished and ongoing. It's accomplished in the sense that I bought a printer and am taking editing more seriously, and it's still ongoing in the sense that I'm always working to improve my writing. So far I am extremely pleased.

-Buy a printer to make editing phase easier: Done.

9.) Buy a camera and start practicing food photography: I had some savings going for this, but my Project wiped them out, so I'm no where near accomplishing this. I think this is direly important for my chocolate reviews, as it must be a severe setback for my readers not to be able to see the product I'm talking about, especially when I talk about the chocolate's appearance and packaging. I'm worried as to whether I'll be able to get this done this year, but I'm sure as hell am going to try.

* * * * *

In summary, I'm constantly aware of my resolutions and am keeping on them, but primarily my income difficulties are preventing me from moving forward on some of them, and I've also been thinking of better practices which is setting me off track from my goals' original intention, such as skimming books to save time. Nonetheless I am satisfied that none of the goals have been abandoned like those who give lip service to self-improvement at Christmas time, and still have hope that I'll be able to finish matters by the end of the year.

But what do I want to concentrate on in the short-term? As noted in my last weekly summary I think I identified my source of discomfort as not working sufficiently in optimizing my being, as I've been much too content in a stagnant routine. I feel my best when I'm striving to be my best. I cannot consider myself a moral being unless I'm acting to bring into existence my ideal. Resorting again to my favorite quote of all time, by Rod Serling: "A giant is as a giant does."

Three things have been on my mind lately: My strength workout routine, my speaking, and website design. Given how often I've been thinking about them should be evidence enough that I desire to begin working on them, so I ought to seize the moment, then.

Body by Science has transformed exercise into a pleasure for me which I cannot go without. I always have motivation to maintain my routine, it makes me feel good, it makes me look good, it makes me handle the heavy lifting at work with more ease and grace, and more. I love it, certainly classifying myself as a weight lifter now. However, I've been having some difficulty in my routine, as I've been stagnating horrendously on my progress with some exercises, have gotten bored using some machines too much, and am having difficulty in planning my workout order rationally. I always contemplate the role of exercise in my life whenever a gym day approaches, arrives, and passes, but I haven't been doing well to feed that interest in my studying and thinking. For right now, at least, I'd like to feed my curiosity and figure out how to best arrange my workouts.

On that first, I'd like to rent The Body by Science Question and Answer Book to see if I can improve my routine somehow as well as satisfy my intellect. I'd also like to memorize the various muscle groups so I can arrange my routine in a rational order that will maximize the benefit of each individual exercise, otherwise I'm undermining my efforts by repetitiously exercising fatigued muscles. For example, if I do a seated row and pull down then I'm going to fatigue my back muscles too much for the ab press machine, as I won't be able to do a movement, so it's more rational to do the ab exercise early, maybe first, since I need my back at full-power to do the movements, but it won't be fatigued for the following exercises. Maybe later I'll read some other books on the health benefits of exercise, but this is good for now. I'll request the above book at the library, and document the muscle group goal for next week since this one is filled up.

Next, I'd like to work on improving my speech. I detailed my problem on my post about my accent. While I've concluded I'm fine with my "accent" after being persuaded by a commenter on that article, I'd at least like to work on placing my voice properly while yelling, since I need to do it so much at work.

Finally, I'd like to begin setting the gears in motion towards redesigning my blog layout. I hardly have any money, so I'm going to learn the technical matters and do it myself. Right now I'm fishing for learning resources, so it's already an ongoing process.

These are the three concerns most dominantly on my mind as of late, but they are by no means absolutely the only ones. Other self-improvement goals will be mixed into them, but I isolate these as being the most particularly significant.

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