Hey, Scalzi, Got Any New Year’s Resolutions?

I’m so glad you asked! Yes, I have a few. In no particular order, these are the things I’m going to try doing here in 2018.

1. Better diet and exercise. I’m up above 190 pounds, which is not great on my particular frame, and a good general description for me in 2017 was tired. Also I ate a lot of junk in 2017, and not just in burritos, for those of you who were about to make that crack. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with eating junk if it makes you happy, but I think I should probably eat less of it this year, since I’m not happy with the results of eating so much of it.

So: I’m going to eat less junk, take in fewer calories in general, and exercise not so much to lose weight but to get up my energy levels. We have a treadmill in the basement. That seems like a good place to start. Which brings us to my next resolution:

2. No computer before exercise. Which I started today; I walked two miles on the treadmill before I came up here to type this. The idea here is, honestly, once I park myself in front of the computer I’m pretty much here for the day. So before I get here, maybe I should go take a walk or something. I brought my tablet down and watched part of a movie while I walked. It was not horrifyingly onerous. I think I can do this on a daily basis.

(Before someone suggests a treadmill standing desk: Dudes, I already have a treadmill and a desk. I don’t need to mate them into an unholy union. Don’t spend my money for me, please.)

Speaking of “No [x] before [y]”:

3. No social media or news before noon. I think my major fall down of 2017 was that I let the world intrude on what is my prime creative time, which is the period of time between when I wake up and when I have lunch. Now, 2017 was a historically bad year, but honestly in retrospect there was nothing so very awful that I couldn’t have waited until after noon to find out about it (or that I could have done anything useful about until then). And the thing is, news and social media helped punt me out of my creative space — I’d get worked up and angry (and depressed), and that’s not conducive to building out the lives and adventures of fake people in my head, which is how I make my living.

“No internet before noon” is not new for me — it’s been a cornerstone of my getting work done for a while. What was new, to be blunt about it, was my willingness to ignore my own established process. A new year is a fine time and place to re-establish that old rule and stick to it.

4. More time reading books. I read a historically low number of books in 2017, which was a real problem, since, you know, I like books, and a lot of my friends write them and are good at writing them. So I’m going to make an effort to put more books into my eyeballs. Lord knows I have enough books in the house. This should not be a hugely difficult thing for me. Also, in general:

5. Less time on the computer — or perhaps more accurately, less time on the computer staring glassily into Twitter and Facebook as a default. I love the feeder bar aspect of social media, I really do, but perhaps I love it a smidge too much, and there are other things I could be doing with my time that I actually like doing. I bought myself a raft of music production software in 2017; 2018 might be the time to start learning how to use it. Or maybe get better playing guitar. Or doing more photography. Or just spending more time with Krissy, you know, my wife, who is fabulous and really cool and interesting.

As much as I love social media, for 2018 I think I’m going to approach it with the question “Isn’t there something else you could be doing?” in my mind. I’m not getting any younger, and I do suspect that when I’m on my deathbed, I won’t be wishing I spent more time on Twitter (“Lol, totally dying right now #ReincarnationBetterHappen #ComeBackAsAPangolin”).

Basically, these resolutions boil down to: Get organized, move around, don’t spend all day in front of the computer and when you are there, have a purpose. That seems reasonable for 2018.

52 Comments on “Hey, Scalzi, Got Any New Year’s Resolutions?”

  1. What music production software, and do you recommend it? My elder son is doing cool stuff now and jonesing for a software upgrade…

  2. I’m a software developer so I also tend to plunk down in front of the computer for hours. The company I work for buys a fitness tracker for anyone who wants one. Every hour it reminds me to get up and walk for a couple minutes. That has been very helpful for me. Not sure if that’s compatible with your creative process, but it might be something worth considering.

  3. Here’s mine: Do what I want.

    Longer version: Without dependents, children or pets and no major financial obligations I’m in the lucky position that there is not much that I really *have* to do, but a lot of stuff I could potentially do.
    I don’t have to keep doing things just because my parents taught me to or because I wrote them on a ToDo list some time ago or because it’s what everybody else does.

    So… figure out what I want, make appropriate choices, own the resulting decisions (!).
    I hope that will help some other things to fall into place (midlife crisis coming up…)

  4. It’s quite amazing to me how this list mirrors my own things I want to do better on in 2018. So I’m suspecting it’s a pretty common list.

  5. SSteve:

    I had a natural “get up and walk around” tool when I had a dog, since Daisy would come and ask to go out, and then a while would bark to be let in again, so I would have to go down the stairs each time to do that. I suspect we will get another dog at some point, so that will be taken care of again.

  6. Pretty good resolutions – it’s pretty much “the ball is in your ballpark”- you got given one brain one body and one (unknown) timespan – make the most of those things. Btw congratulations on your successes

  7. Bundle up and get outside! -6 isn’t that cold. I am only slightly kidding, it is a beautiful world out there. From pictures it looks like you have a nice chunk of land. Do a perimeter walk. Get a birding book and plants and animals too. I still enjoy turning over rocks to see who’s home. First thing in the morning is the best time for nature.
    And hip deep snow makes for a great resistance work out ;)
    Fine, treadmill until spring. As I head off to Reddit….

  8. Since you enjoy stories and want to move around more, you might like Zombies, Run. (Running not required; treadmill use supported.) Zombies aren’t normally my thing but the story is really interesting and I’ve really enjoyed it — enough to get this cold-hating Californian out running in the literal freezing pre-dawn.

  9. I’ve got two major projects for 2018, one of which was supposed to happen in 2017: a blog involving my work and career, and becoming a voiceover artist for a second career. I’m determined to get them both in place this year, starting today. There are also a whole bunch of minor ones which absolutely need to be completed this year. I shouldn’t even be looking at this stuff. GET OFF THE CHAIR AND DO SOMETHING!!

  10. Your resolutions mirror my own goals for 2018. I generally avoid naming them “resolutions” in my own head, just because “goals” better fits my sense of what they are, but the function and purpose is largely similar.

    In my case, I want to get back to better managing my intake (fewer carbs, less sugar and fat, more lean protein) because I just feel better when I eat that way. My clothes fit better, too.

    Most of all, I really want to get back to expressing my creativity more regularly this year. I’ve got a pottery wheel and all the associated toys that go with it gathering dust in the basement, I splashed out for a good-quality D-SLR a couple of years ago, and I need to get back to using both of them on a daily basis. I have learned the hard way that when I go too long without expressing creativity in some form, I get spiritually and emotionally constipated, which is not pleasant for me or for anyone around me.

    I don’t do the face-book or twitting thing, so that’s not what keeps me from creating. It’s more just inertia, I think; I get home from work, eat supper, clean up, and then my chair in the living room starts calling my name and I never get to the wheel or the camera. Gotta stop listening to that damned chair this year.

    Happy 2018, all. May it bring us health, happiness, and achieved goals.

  11. Hmmm, I’m gonna have to forward your final wish comment since it fits with one that I tell people routinely… no one on their death bed ever said that “I wish that I didn’t have so many friends”.
    As far as resolutions, My TURNING 51 YEARS OLD (all caps in the Disk World sense) was to get a MyZone3. So far their eggheads have managed to manipulate me into doing what I should be doing for my own good…

  12. Regarding social media, my resolution is to approach it with intention. Before I go to it, I mentally state my purpose. That purpose can be “ask aunt Esther for her address”, but it can also be, “relax and enjoy the lives of my friends” or even “argue with sexist idiots”. Then I try to check in with myself occasionally and see if I have achieved my purpose. When I have, I log out and close the window.

    I’ve been doing a slow start for the last couple of weeks and it has been good so far. It has made it easier for me to notice when I get into that dulled, click-happy, stimulus-seeking state that characterizes too much of my Facebook and Twitter time. It turns out that if I’m not clear on my purpose, I end up serving somebody else’s.

  13. It’s likely, as you get older, that staying away from junk food will be of increasing importance.
    Is it out of the question to hire a cook?

  14. John, my husband lost 255 lbs on Weight Watchers. That was over a 3.5 year period. You meet him at ConCarolinas in 2015 when he’d lost about 150 lbs. I started the program inmid 2017 and lost almost 40. The online app is essential as is having a buddy who can give you tips on using it.

    That being said, your goal sounds like fitness more than weight loss but weight loss would be a perk. Best to you in this endeavor.

    Oh and less social media/news, yes. Ugh I’ve already cut out the 24/7 news cycle and my life is better for it.

  15. Our goals are somewhat similar this year! Good luck with yours and have a happy and healthy 2018!

  16. As others have said, our goals are rather similar. I’ve tried using a treadmill (in the basement, on the first floor, in a box with a fox…), an elliptical and a rower. Argh! For me the deal-breaker was boredom. Sooooo boring. Even with distracting media. So now it’s walking outdoors. No music, no technology. Just walking & paying attention to what’s around me. That works + there’s the mental boost at being out of the house. (I work at home too.)

    Now & then I realize that unless I live to be 116 I am most likely past middle age. That makes me adjust my choices another few degrees to the healthier side. Having more years behind me than in front is a jolt. And a motivator.

    Good luck to all with your resolutions!

  17. Colonel, do you have the kiln as well? Electric or gas? High or low fire? My college undergrad major was fine arts: ceramics, and I still miss it. There’s nothing like thumping a wad of clay into readiness to get rid of the daily frustrations.

    Getting into better shape/ dropping weight is also in the ‘to-do list’. I have to be conscientious about it because the last few years, I have become prone to throwing out my back every so often; it seems to happen when I go on vacation and change my routine (including the HawaiiCon Our Gracious Host attended). The therapist gave me a list of strengthening exercises which I have to be more regular about doing, as having a back that shrieks at you for 2 weeks, especially when on vacation, sucks.

    To my regret, I also need to become more proficient at playing the bureaucracy game. Being a cog in any large organization means you have to be diplomatic and learn the best way of getting done what needs doing. Sometimes this involves learning who in the higher-ups to contact or butter up. I’ve been largely operating on the premise that efficiency speaks for itself, but it doesn’t, always.

  18. Agree with others, outside exercise is better in every sense – no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes ( I’m Scottish, so exposed to horrible weather at any time of year). I used to be a treadmill fan, can’t bear it now.

  19. Librarian, no, I don’t have a kiln. That would take adding way more infrastructure (electrical work, insulated room, venting) to this old bungalow than I can afford – the wheel alone was a significant chunk of change. I am fortunate enough to live in a community with several firing options relatively nearby, so I just transport the greenwares (carefully!) when I’ve got enough for a load.

    I do most heartily agree that thumping a piece of clay around is an excellent release of stress and frustration. If you have a community pottery studio nearby, or if there is a community college in your area that offers continuing-ed ceramics courses, it would be worthwhile checking into it to get your hands back into the mud. Very therapeutic, and a great way to thump on something that won’t thump you back!

  20. re. Resolution 2. No computer before exercise.

    Really, really not trying to spend your money for you, but I’d like to propose that you reconsider this one. My wife bought a cheapie laptop stand for our treadmill, and uses it to read social media etc. while she’s on the treadmill. Because she gets quite absorbed in her reading, she finds that she forgets that she’s exercising and thus, exercises more than she would without the laptop stand. Plus, it’s an effective way of multitasking (i.e., accomplishing two checklist items with one activity).

    Me, I listen to the radio while working out, but since one of your goals is to read more books this year, an interesting alternative would be to play audiobooks while you exercise. Again, you kill two birds with one stone, and may find that you exercise more as a result. Proof of concept is that you watched a movie successfully on the treadmill.

  21. I’m moving house this month. My resolution is to do so without making myself or my friends any crazier than I can help. Could happen…

  22. Geoff – see the part about the tablet and movie.

    I hate to say this John but those are perfectly reasonable middle aged goals… I know because they’re kind of mine too, especially the ones about no social media before noon and moving around.

  23. Rickg17: Not sure what you wanted me to “see” about the tablet and movie. I was using that as proof that John can use electronic devices on his treadmill — including a laptop if such is available.

  24. Survival; trying not to be quite as anxious about potential/probable cuts to Section 8, Medicare, Social Security (all of which are essential for me to stay alive).

    Get back to making music – I can’t even remember when I last played my piano, didn’t play carols at all last month and normally I go a bit nuts with that. So, piano at least 3x week, harp at least 1x week, guitar if I feel like getting calluses back.

    Attempt medication roulette for an antidepressant, again – this has been an issue for about 20 years, because I always end up with unacceptable side effects. Dammit. So… two tries this year, max; there’s only so much I can deal with, in my attempts to improve my ability to deal with things. *very, very wry*

    Tame the paperwork monster (don’t ask *sigh*).

    Start sewing again. Ditto cross-stitch. Get back to making jewelry. FFS, *crochet*. (Yeah, my creativity has vanished, this past year. See depression in general and anxiety about survival in particular.)

    Please, ghods, let 2018 be a better year than 2017…

  25. I don’t believe in New year’s resolutions, so every year I make it my resolution not to have one. That way it will be broken the moment I’ve made it. Having that done and over with, I can then continue with the things that I fully intend to do anyway.

    Don’t get me wrong – I am working on improving some things in my life, but I was last year too, so I’ll just continue that.

  26. With having the last week off work I discovered/confirmed that my “prime creative time” is also “the period of time between when I wake up and when I have lunch”. Unfortunately I return to my normal work schedule tomorrow which will interfere with getting any writing done during this prime creative time, but I will be making an enormous effort to write during this time on the weekends.

  27. I am going to make a short resolution this year… Visualize what’s important for me, and apportion my time proportional to the importance. Repeat daily.

  28. Me too.

    Using Facebook, which I originally signed up for under orders from my daughter, who wishes to keep track of me, has the capacity to vastly expand the amount of time spent on it. One of my resolutions is to ignore it before lunchtime, so I have to find less easy ways to procrastinate…

  29. One suggestion: Gaming laptop on the treadmill. A little hard for twitch games, but with an appropriately mounted keyboard and mouse, I can play Civ IV at 3 miles per hour, or twitch games at 2 miles per hour or so.

  30. I want to read more books this year too, but the problem is that most of my favorite authors are now dead or retired. As well as the general mental exhaustion of living in the end of days interfering with the will/ability to read, there is a vanishingly short pool of books to read. It doesn’t help that what I like to read is out of fashion too, I get the same problem with TV too-I’m just unfashionable in general, so campy space opera and fantasy which is not trying to be overwrought, generally grimdark, or carrying a big message is just not that available. I’m not attacking those types of books, nor the people that read them, if they get enjoyment from them then good for them, just they aren’t for me.

    Plus even book covers are offputting now. It is always a figure in generic clothes, half turned, away/towards the reader with a dark and stormy background. Where is the new Josh Kirby, I want to see bright covers with actual artwork again.

    Anyway, with that all said. I resolve to stop talking about how pop culture is not catering solely to me or that I don’t like the new Doctor Who anymore. This has been my final grump on the who subject. I resolve to try to be less grumpy in general, in fact.

  31. Sounds a lot like what I have in mind for myself in the coming year. I don’t tweet, but there are three or four other places on the webz which somehow manage to suck up many hours of time that I’ll never get back.

    Indoor exercise equipment makes me think of gerbil wheels. Walking, for no explicit purpose other than burning kilojoules, doesn’t appeal either. So the challenge is to spend less time hunkered down with the laptop, and more time standing and walking about with purposeful intent.

    As it happens, I’ve got sizeable stashes of yarn, fabric, jewelry-making & sculpting supplies waiting for some love. I never got the hang of knitting while standing up, but the other crafts can be quite physically demanding, especially if there’s a specific tool that needs to be disinterred from a long-forgotten storage box in a far corner of the garage.

    And if I get really desperate, there’s always yardwork, or maybe tackling Mount File-More. *shivers*

  32. Looks like we’ve offered many dual uses for the Treadmill Time already, but my suggestion is that it marries well to the “Read More Books” goal. Treadmill+Kindle = 2 dead birdies, one stone. It sounds as if you haven’t gotten into podcasts much. When spring comes and you take your walking out of doors, a podcast app on your phone fills the time nicely (or an audiobook).

    n.b. you probably know about Jeff Smith’s “Immerse or Die” site? Constructive use of treadmill time to critique indie e-books. (http://creativityhacker.ca/immerse-or-die/)

  33. Less social media is a good resolution. Though I like reading your twitter, I like articles here more. And twitter is full of nonsense too… unfortunately.

    Speaking of it, I read your twitter something about OK symbols and went to look it up. Apparently that is some kind of 4chan practical joke? https://www.adl.org/blog/no-the-ok-gesture-is-not-a-hate-symbol Your tweet about it is the first I ever heard of it…

  34. I don’t know as I want to -comment- so much as say “Hey — I’m pretty sure I need to borrow these this year.” No… pretty sure is too equivocal. I -do- need to borrow these this year. Facebook is still my downfall. I’m not a social person to begin with, really — and I’ve been struggling with the whole issue of both creating my worlds and creating a name for myself amidst all the chatter — but Facebook is NEVER, ever productive for me, really. I think I need to write first, and worry about the other stuff later. It may not be the way things are done, where so many authors share their entire process with their impending readership, but I can’t seem to productively manage both. I wear myself out on social media and have nothing left for the creative process by the time I’ve socialized myself through the start of my day. Thanks, John, for sharing.

  35. I have the most unoriginal resolution: diet and exercise.
    Best of luck to us all in the new year.

  36. I’ve been a Reason user for a long time, and highly recommend it if you are doing any kind of MIDI or sequencer work. I use Reaper for all live audio. And you can ReWire them together easily if you do both.

    I’ve also dropped 50lbs by increasing my exercise (bought a really nice bike) and cutting down on the carbs (goodbye french fries).

    Happy New Year, and good luck on the resolutions, particularly if it means you write more stuff.

  37. I think that time-limiting social media is probably smart for everyone. After the experiences of the past year my rule is no social media before pants or right before bed (especially twitter). Better sleep, better for my blood pressure.

    I wish New Year’s resolutions could happen in, I dunno, March or June when it’s warm. No one wants to eat a salad in most of the US in January. Heck, this year it’s record-breaking-ly cold most places; not the best time to pick up outdoor exercise or a salad-heavy diet.

    @rewinn: I love Yoga with Adriene! I haven’t lost any weight, but I’ve avoided running injuries and it’s a great time to get out of my own head. And she’s funny!

  38. Pangolins are awesome, though apparently a bit smelly.

    Could definitely do worse though.

  39. Cut down starchy food. Increase lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables (and no, that doesn’t mean ‘eat more potato chips’, see sentence 1.)

    Starch is the ‘path of least resistance’, diet-wise. Pamper your metabolism with starch and it won’t want to burn fats, it will just demand more starch.

    Been doing this and slowly losing weight.

    My own resolutions? Go fishing more often, and eat more fish ;-)

  40. Glinda (crochet) and Shrinking Violet (knitting) Crochet can be amazingly creative, googlefu will show you – knitting was originally very much a walking-along activity, as it was mostly practiced by men going somewhere. There is a story, probably apocryphal, that a bright woman walked a little behind and stole the (reserved for the Guild) skill.. And taught lots of other women. Queen Elizabeth 1 wore silk knitted stockings made by men.
    As to my New Year Thingy – I choose a Word To Live By. This year’s Word is “Refine” – any good word with multiple shades of meaning will do very well. Last year’s was “Complete” (not “Finish” too negative) and was not always a success, but did some good things..

  41. You mentioned in your post-Head On blog that you want to tackle time management a bit better. I tend to kinda suck at it too, but I got a book for Christmas that I think might help. It’s called Work Clean, and it’s basically trying to adapt mise-en-place from restaurant kitchens to more broad applications. Might want to check it out.

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