I resolve to do this, I resolve to do that… The plans we make at the beginning of a year are usually in response to areas in our lives that we feel are lacking. They may even be the consequence of a personal problem in need of a strong, determined solution. Hence, the resolution.

The funny thing is that we do this over and over again, year after year. Some of the goals I have set for myself have remained the same since I was in high school (be a better son, stop going to bed so late, etc.). I promised myself I’d change in 2017, and I didn’t really, so here we go again. Hence, the re-solution.

Well, I wanted to keep it very simple this year. I’m not a passion planner kind of person; I make lists and forget about them; I have astoundingly little discipline. I think that if I focus on just a few things, I’m more likely to follow through. So here’s my “GPS” for 2018, a handy acronym to guide me throughout the year:

  1. Gain. This is a direct response to having injured my back at the very end of last December, possibly from weightlifting. I’ve been to physical therapy and the primary suggestion was rest and stretching. So, I have not been to the gym in a few weeks, and I’ve somehow lost even more weight. Last year, my goal was to increase my weight — in muscle — by fifteen pounds. Instead, I lost five. This year, I’m trying again for them gainZ: getting back the weight I lost and then some; rehabilitating my back with weekly yoga; and doing it in time for a Spartan Race that I’m planning to run in June.
  2. Publish. This is for my academic career. I’ve been sitting on completed or nearly-completed work for months or even years, and I’ve never felt confident enough about it to send it to a journal for consideration. Well, this is the year that changes. I have to go on the job market for the first time this fall, and the one thing I’m sorely lacking is a published academic article. In fact, my goal is to get two under review by December. I’ve gotta start somewhere, so check back with me in February and see if I’ve sent one out yet.
  3. Serve. This was inspired by a sermon I heard at my brother’s church, where the pastor talked from Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” I want to help other people more, just for the sake of helping. I’d like my motto for this year to be, “How can I help?” Not for the sake of asking, either. It’s not about appearances or the need to be useful. Later on in the letter, it encourages Christians to “do everything without grumbling or arguing”; if I say I’m going to help out and I’m given a task, I’d better follow through with it cheerfully or respectfully, the way Jesus would have done. This is all meant to lead to a greater sense of humility, which I will be the first to admit is very difficult for me. I have crazy overweening pride. But… baby steps, right?

Thanks for reading! You have now been tasked with keeping me accountable for these resolutions. If you share yours, I’d be happy to check in with you occasionally, as well!


Word of the Day: nociception, from the Latin nocere ‘to hurt’, is the nervous system’s response to harmful or potentially harmful stimuli. In most cases, when the nerve cells are stimulated in this way, it leads to the sensation of pain. Thus, the feeling of pain can be differentiated from its root cause. Of course, feeling pain doesn’t always mean that there’s immediate danger. These days, when I stretch my back in the mornings, I feel soreness and some pain, but it’s more because of the past injury than because the stretch itself is causing harm. My nociceptors are just sensitive! I’ve gotta be kinder to my body; gonna keep that in mind even as I focus on the more aggressive parts of resolution #1.


About Andrew C.

I'm a grad student at UC Berkeley.
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