Week 02 – Create a Bucket List

This week’s random number, as chosen by the random.org generator:

2013-01-08

And resolution 39 is … create a “bucket list”! (And shush to all of you who realise that the date above is for Tuesday not Monday, I forgot to take the fscking screenshot!). Oh, and for those of you who don’t know what one of those is, it’s basically a list of all the things you want to do before you die – i.e. kick the bucket – hence the name.

The emphasis of this task is to think about all the things you want to do in your life – places to go, sights to see, experiences to have, people to meet, things to achieve, and so forth – with the aim of then working on actually doing them. This intersects slightly with the resolutions on this site, but for the most part will be on a much grander scale, in both terms of the size of the goal and the length of time it’ll take to happen.

So why did I put this resolution on the list? Well, I must confess that this came from the original 26(ish) I lifted/borrowed/etc from the becauseisaidiwould site, so it wasn’t something I thought of completely on my own. However, that doesn’t make it any less of a task!

The real reason I decided on this one is that I’ve never been that good at deciding what I want out of life. My only real goal was to graduate with a degree in computer science, which I accomplished when I was 21. Since then, I’ve not really had any major drivers in my life to get me motivated, and so I’ve been coasting on and off ever since. OK, so I’m not a total waste-of-space drifter – I’ve got a career, family, etc, so my life isn’t bad by any means – but I lack any real sense of direction or purpose.

Therefore, what I hope to achieve with this bucket list is to work out what’s important to me, and how I could improve things to get to a point where I’m happy with what I’ve done with myself. I know this one won’t be easy, so expect my followup post to be posted right on the deadline – yes, I can procrastinate like no-one’s business 😉

However, since this is purely a speculative task, I need to set some success criteria in order to know whether I’ve met it or not. Given that I don’t have anything particular in mind for list items yet, I’m going to set a target of at least 3 of each of the following:

  • Places to go/see
  • People to meet
  • Things to learn
  • Experiences to have
  • Foods to try

This is of course just the minimum – I hope to be able to come up with more than just 3 of each! I’ll also do a bit of research in reading the bucket lists created by other people, to both inspire me and to give an idea as to the scale/scope of each item.

Time to start thinking!

Week 01 – Success!

The new year is off to a good start, because I’ve managed to meet my first resolution’s goal! I successfully climbed up into a tree, and took a few photos from the branch-level vantage point, as promised! Not only that, I made it both up and back down without injuring myself in any way, which seems silly at first, but I consider it important nowadays :)

I spent most of the week scoping the local areas, trying to find a suitable climbing candidate, but to no avail. However, my fortune changed on the weekend, and I ended up at a park in the older part of the city, which had plenty of large non-palm trees, many of which were close to climbable. I walked past a few that looked promising, but since they were in very open view and the park was crowded, I elected for a simple-looking intertwining pair of trees in a more secluded spot. I decided that I’d start on the right side of the tree (see below), and work my way up and leftwards.

The Tree

Once I started my initial ascent, I was glad of the “simple” choice I made – it’d been a very long time since I last did this, and I wasn’t too sure of my hand & footholds, nor how well the tree would cope with my now-adult weight. Thus, I gingerly crept up and along the tilted trunk/branch, cautiously testing the handhold branches to see if they were sturdy enough or not, and keeping an eye out for any unexpected wildlife. Oh, did I mention that this tree was on the edge of a swamp-like brackish lake? I really didn’t want to fall!

After a minute of two of clambering, I decided that I’d reached a good stopping point, and whipped out the ol’ camera phone to take the evidence-worthy snaps. I was probably only about 8 feet off the ground, but it felt much higher from in the tree, so I was content that I’d made a decent go of it.

View 1 View 2

Getting down was a little bit interesting, as the sloped angle of the main trunk/branch parts meant that I couldn’t just turn around and do back down. Instead, I had to clamber backwards to exactly reverse my upwards path, at least to get over some of the bigger cross-branches and down the main bit a way. Once I was clear of that, I elected to exit in the traditional childhood manner – a jump! I was only about 6 feet up at this point, so I knew it wasn’t going to be an issue, and made a clean drop onto the (fairly soft) ground below. Mission accomplished!

I must admit, it was a fun challenge, and definitely something I wouldn’t normally have thought of doing while out and about, so I’m glad that I added this one to my list. I think I’ll have to keep an eye open for other potentially climbable trees in future, not worry about what people watching might think, and have fun doing something that most adults have forgotten the joys of.

So, one down, fifty-one more to go!

Week 01 – Climb a Tree

The first task has been randomly selected, using the random integer generator at random.org:

2012-12-31

And resolution 02 is … climb a tree!

So why did I put this resolution in the list? Well, the astute amongst you will already know that this is from the “remembering my past” section, which should give you a clue. Back when I was a child, I spent many a day climbing in the trees in my parent’s back garden. The target tree in question invariably depended on how old/tall I was at the time, but from what I can recollect it was the small apple tree behind the shed initially, then the huge cooking apple tree in the middle of the lawn for many years (with thanks to the rope ladder my parents gifted me one birthday/Christmas), followed by the very tall pear tree in the middle of the gooseberry patch at the far end of the garden during my teenage years.

I’ll always remember the “treehouses” we tried to build in up them (usually just a collection of small bamboo poles and a few blankets), and the time we hauled an old TV antenna up into the pear tree and hooked a homemade/kit crystal radio to it in order to try to listen to signals more clearly. However, the memories are all that’s left now, as the small apple and tall pear trees were both cut down during a redevelopment over a decade ago, and the large cooking apple tree was chopped down a few years back, so I’ll never be able to repeat those endeavours.

Therefore, the aim of this resolution is to try to relive a brief moment from my past, and to do something that I’m far too sensible & grown up for now. There is one slight snag to this plan – where I’m currently living is predominately palm trees (FYI the trunks of which are actually just very tall stalks, not real tree trunks), with most only having being planted in the last few decades, so my first challenge will just be to find a big established “real” tree for climbing. I shall have to keep my eyes open on my travels around the area… Then, once I’ve identified the right candidate, I’ll have the main challenge of the climb itself. Should be fun!

Oh, and one last thing – I shall prove that I’ve met the resolution by taking a photo from up in the branches, so I can’t just pretend to have done it! :)

Finalising the List

After much thought and general head-scratching, I’ve finally settled on my list of resolutions. There are two things that’ll grab your attention as soon as you see it (well, three if you count the geeky way I’ve padded the 1-9 tasks with leading zeroes!):

  1. The resolutions have been grouped into categories.
  2. There are 57 of them!

The first should be fairly self-explanatory, as it makes reading the list much easier, plus it proves I’ve spread things out over the entire spectrum. As for the excessive number of them, I’m not (deliberately) honouring Heinz :) In fact, the extra tasks on the list allow for two things – it ensures that even in the closing weeks of the year I won’t know ahead of time what the final resolutions will be, and also it gives me a little wiggle room should a chosen task not be possible for whatever reason. However, since there are only 5 extras, I can’t abuse this padding in order to cherry pick the easy/”good” ones!

And so, the die is finally cast! The only thing holding me back now is the clock…

Setting the Schedule

It’s all well and good just saying ‘one per week’, but what are the mechanics around how that works? In other words, what’s the schedule, and how will I make sure I stick with it?

The new year starts on a Tuesday, so that would be the literal choice of when to start things, but mid-week doesn’t make for a natural/memorable rotation point. Therefore, I shall instead every Monday morning randomly select a number and post about the corresponding task. Once the resolution has been met -or at the end of Sunday, whichever is sooner – I shall post a followup regarding how it went. Oh, and the observant amongst you will note that this means that the first resolution will actually start on the last day of 2012, but that’s part of the fun :)

As for how the resolutions will be enforced? Well, there are three options – rely on my own willpower, getting someone I know to chide/harangue me, or publicise this blog to the world and be accountable to the readers. Since none of them are reliable on their own (especially the willpower one!), I shall attempt to utilise all three – at least to some extent – in order to increase my likelihood of overall success.

Now I just need to finalise the list, and then we’ll be all set for Monday morning…

Building the List

In order to start this plan of 52 resolutions in 2013, I just need one thing – a list! But how should I come up with the list? And what sort of things should be on it? Good questions indeed…

The simplest thing here is to not reinvent the wheel, as the BecauseISaidIWould site conveniently lists the 52 that they’re using, which makes for both an excellent template and a source of ideas to “borrow” from. A few minutes of copy/paste and pondering relevance leaves me with 26 ideas from that list, and (completely coincidentally) 26 spaces to fill. Time to really start thinking!

So what shall be my criteria for inclusion on my list? The task obviously has to be something that can be completed within just one week, so no ‘become fluent in Albanian’ or ‘climb Mt Everest’-like ideas, and fit in with my work & social lives fairly easily (not to mention my finances!). However, on the flipside, the task still has to be at least slightly challenging, so no routine things like  ‘wash the dishes’ or ‘cook a pizza’ either.

The other thing about each task is that it should have some benefit, either to myself, or to others. I want to use these resolutions to try to improve my life and that of those around me, albeit perhaps in just small little ways, but I want to avoid the complacency of just doing nothing new or good.

Want the TL;DR version? OK, here’s a summary of my criteria:

  • Small enough to complete in a week (so either one weekend day or a few minutes per day across the entire week)
  • Must benefit either myself, or others (directly or indirectly) in some way
  • Outside of my normal routine

Time to put my thinking cap on!

New Year’s Resolutions

What is the one thing about New Year’s Resolutions that make them so hard to keep? In my opinion, it’s the monotonous effort of the same thing day in day out for weeks on end. Due to the drudgery of these endeavours, we eventually get tempted to cheat, skip a day, or just forget, and thus the resolution breaks down into another failed effort.

So what can be done? Well, in my travels around the web, I recently found the BecauseISaidIWould site, with the idea of doing one promise (or resolution) per week. This concept resonated with me, and thus the idea for this 52 Resolutions site was born.

My aim in the coming weeks of 2013 is to do just one simple thing per week, (somewhat) randomly chosen, in order to both prevent procrastination and actually achieve something worthwhile with the year. After all, just one thing a week should be easy enough!

Wish me luck…