New Year’s Coincidence

I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions. Firstly, I can’t keep the resolutions that I make, like writing on this site regularly, regardless of whether there are boundaries set by the calendar. Secondly, I don’t see the importance of needing to make changes to my life just because the year has increased by one; like a speedometer showing all zeroes.

But the last few years have been a struggle. While I’m lucky to be working in a field that I absolutely love, the pandemic pushed me to work harder than I’ve ever had to do. Normally that would be good for a workaholic like me, but I was already finding it difficult to not let my work hours encroach into my personal time. Between needing to work from home (which I had pretty much stopped doing before March 2020) and having many more extra tasks asked of me, my work-life balance was out of whack.

Mind you, things could be much worse. I’m lucky to have a good job, a roof over my head, and more importantly, my health. In the last three years, I’ve attended way too many funerals over the last three years (oddly enough, none of them having to do with COVID). I know people who have suffered from COVID and have had to make it through long-COVID symptoms. For those lucky enough to not be maimed by the virus, I’ve seen friends struggle with mental health issues from the pandemic, whether it’s because of isolation or not being to cope with the situation the world is in.

Even though I’ve been on vacation for the last week, I haven’t had much of a rest because of family party after family party. However, after talking with many people close to me and now having a few days to unwind and reflect, I think I need to start prioritizing things that will improve my health, both physical and mental. Therefore, I’m coming up with a few resolutions for myself that I’m going to track. It just so happens to be January 1st so I guess someone could say they’re New Year resolutions, but truthfully, I could be writing this on July 1st.

I’m writing my resolutions here because I want to put it out there rather than privately in a journal that only I can see. Although I don’t feel any additional compulsion to act on these because I write it here (again, take the example of how many times I’ve said I’m going to write more on this site), but I feel like if I put it out there, it means something rather than collecting dust in my desk. These resolutions are not in any particular order, and I will be tracking them privately. If my friends and family who read this site want to ask me about my progress, I’d be happy to share, but this is my own personal journey that I won’t bore the world with tedious chronicling.

Run at least two marathons and ten road races total

I ran a marathon last year (my first in five years), but I was underprepared. Prior to the marathon, I was training somewhat regularly, but not enough and with the rigour that a marathon requires. I started the race decently, but I struggled throughout the second half. 

The easy part is marking my calendar for the races. Even showing up and crossing the finish line isn’t that difficult: it’s the training required to make sure that I finish the race with a time that I’m proud of. I know what I’m capable of and just finishing is something that shouldn’t be my goal. I’ve run over a dozen marathons at this point and my goal shouldn’t be surviving the race.

The struggle for me will be to maintain my training at the level I need. Time is always the biggest problem. When I feel stressed, I struggle with training (I know many people are the opposite, but my mind runs out of control when I’m in my training bubble). If I know I have three hours of training scheduled for a day and I feel like I can only fit in two, I don’t even bother because I’m not getting to do what I want or need to do. I need to stop being stubborn with that and train with the time available to me rather than give up because I don’t have all the time in the world.

Read at least 25 books and spend at least one hour a day reading a book/magazine/journal

Why read a book or magazine when I can look at Reddit? The simple answer is because I’ve had the same book on Québec history sitting on a table for me to read since the beginning of 2020; not to mention the dozens of books that are on my bookshelf. The Internet is full of diversions and sometimes you need to escape the world to let you mind decompress, but I feel like I’m letting my mind go to waste. The best I’ve been able to do recently is read magazines like the Economist on an infrequent basis. 

Reading helps my mind settle down (even if I read on an article about how we’re all doomed). I want to be better informed about the world and I know reading more consistently will help. I would love to clear up some of my literary backlog (which will also help with clearing up space as I have way too much junk). 

Practice my French more

Even though I live in Québec, my opportunities to practice French are limited. I work for an anglophone school board, and my friends and family are predominately English-speaking. Funnily enough, my girlfriend is francophone (although she speaks so well in English, you wouldn’t know it was her second language), but we tend to speak more in English. 

I’m good enough in French that I can carry a conversation and get by. My grammar isn’t great, but I’m understandable. However, by the end of this week, I was so exhausted, that when I was with my girlfriend’s extended family, the part of my brain that functions in French had closed up shop. 

I used to read French Newspapers and watch the news in French. I also used to use language training apps on a regular basis. I need to get back into the rhythm of doing all that again. When I stop, I become reluctant to start again because my French brain becomes lethargic and requires more horsepower to get going again. However, I must treat this like I’m training for a marathon and that the more I train, the easier it will become and will require less brain energy to keep up.

Watch more movies

Kind of the opposite of reading more, but considering the content I consume, I could be doing better. I feel like I’m wasting too much time on sites like Reddit or watching short-form videos on YouTube. I had set out on a goal to watch all the movies that were released theatrically in North America since I was born and I’m still on the year of my birth (meanwhile 400+ movies have since been released). The goal, while quite lofty due to the sheer volume of films released per year, is possible, even if it takes me fifteen years to do it.

If I’m going to waste an hour each night watching YouTube, I’m better off watching a good movie (or in the case of my mega project, so less-than-good movies). Even if I can’t watch the whole thing in one sitting, it’s still better than watching sports bloopers or watching a computer being built for the umpteenth time. Like training for a marathon, I get stubborn not wanting to watch a movie because it’s too long and I don’t have enough time. I need to be more flexible with my time for myself as I do when I do bend over backwards to fit my time for other people.

Publish more

Believe it or not, writing has not been the problem for me. I’ve got more than two dozen movie reviews waiting to be posted on the site. I’ve also written about 15-20 articles over the last year that I just couldn’t get myself to push the publish button.

Part of the problem is I agonize over what I’ve written. I question its quality: from its readability to its grammar to whether it’s even worth anyone looking at. While the movie reviews are in limbo, waiting for me to finally pull the trigger, I routinely trash everything else.

I’ve been reflecting quite a bit over the last few months as to what I want to do with this website. Domain renewal and WordPress services aren’t getting any cheaper and I’ve had a few offers in the past just for the domain name alone (or the offers I’ve received when I was writing and podcasting on a regular basis). The problem has been that when I make a push to write again, I do so because I’m pushing myself to write without much of a clear goal in mind. I enjoy writing movie reviews, but I want my little corner of the Internet to be more of a reflection of me rather than just one thing I like to do.

I have a couple of ideas that I feel really motivated with. These ideas will reflect things I want to write about and share rather than me striving to fill this place with content. I would like to write daily about the news of the world which will help keep me informed and on pace with my goal of reading more. 

For those that are curious, I don’t think I’ll ever podcast again. It’s way too much work for something I don’t enjoy enough. I know that there AI tools that can do a great job at post-production that would take away some of the more tedious parts of self-producing podcasts. However, podcasting was the most time-consuming part of anything I’ve ever done for this website and the thought of doing it again as a permanent fixture of this site brings on negative feelings.

Move in with my girlfriend

For me, this isn’t a yes-or-no (since we already have plans) but a matter of time. My problem is I have quite a bit of clutter. Some stuff I plan on selling while other things I will just toss or donate. However, I have trouble doing all of that.

Part of the problem is that I know what it’s like to see things disappear to pay for necessities. Every time I sell something or donate it, while I feel slightly lighter because I have one less thing, my heart hurts because I’m losing another thing. It doesn’t matter how insignificant something is, I still feel like I’m going backwards. I accumulate stuff and I don’t want to lose it.

I also have emotional attachments to things that are so strong, that I really have difficulty letting go. Whether it’s furniture that belonged to my parents, my Dad’s dictionary that he had when he was a child, or a video game that I cherished when I was a kid, I feel anxious about letting these things go because I feel like I’m getting rid of my past. I can’t even delete a picture of a family member or one of my cats, even if it’s blurry because I feel that if I delete it, I’m deleting them. I feel deeply saddened even writing this paragraph. It’s paralyzing and I feel and fear as I get older, it will get worse.

Another thing is the sunk-cost fallacy. I feel that if I sell something or give it away, it’s like throwing money away. There are moments where I know that selling something for any amount means that I’ll get something for junk that I’m not using. But I struggle with this, and those moments are fleeting. 

I love my girlfriend and I look forward to sharing a permanent space with her that we can call our own. I don’t want to bring my baggage (both literal and emotional) into our new space. While I do need time to clear out my junk, I also need strength as it will take more will-power and healing to de-clutter my life. She is the opposite of me in this regard and I appreciate her patience as I know it bothers her to see how much unnecessary stuff I have. 

Jamie Gore

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