I’m a lover of lists. Grocery lists. Lists of chores. Lists of people to call. Lists of lists that I need to make. I make a new list every few days for all sorts of reasons like reminding me what needs to be done short-term, long-term and longer-term. One of the joys of my life is crossing items off of those lists because it’s like a drug to my Type-A, obsessive personality.
As we approach 2017, I’m making another list, although it’s not a list of resolutions. Lists of resolutions always annoy me because it’s like saying that there’s only one time a year when we can resolve to change ourselves or improve our lifestyle. That work should happen every day.
Here’s my 2017 to-do list:
Wear sunscreen more often. This is me whenever I’m out in the sun: “I won’t be out that long. I don’t need sunscreen.” That’s BS. We all need to wear sun protection and it’s a low-cost, easy thing to do. There’s no excuse not to wear it.
Increase my 401k contribution. Like most Americans, we need every dollar we can get our hands on. But while there are many demands on our dollar today, we’re going to need money in the future, too, to pay for our retirement and the lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed. My goal is to bump up my retirement contribution slightly this year to better position myself for the future.
Make fewer lists. Sometimes my list-making gets out of control — like Angelina Joile’s habit of adopting children. Everything has its limitations and the more lists I make, the more I become a slave to them. That’s unhealthy. I need to find the balance between reminding myself to accomplish something and the almost compulsive need to make a note of it.
Listen to more new music. Before my kids were born, I was a music-phile. If there was a hot new band, I was intent on discovering them, seeing if they were coming on tour and sharing their music with my pals. Becoming a dad meant giving up that hobby because I had neither the time nor money to indulge it. As my kids are getting older, I want to rediscover music.
Get together with friends I haven’t seen in a while. Again, kids.
Take my doctors advice and cut back on my sugar intake. It seems that each year my annual lab work reveals a new minor health concern. A few years ago, it was my thyroid. Then it was my testosterone levels. Now, it’s my sugar intake. Basically, I need to significantly curtail my chocolate habit and cut way back on bread. I’m not sure if I have the willpower to lose both of those staples of my diet but I think I’m going to have to try.
Floss twice a day. Maybe there’s a theme here but as I approach middle age, I’m learning that my body is like a car. It will begin to break down, piece by piece. Lately my mouth has consumed a lot more than just bread and chocolate (do they make chocolate bread? That would save me a lot of time.) It’s also consumed a good deal of my time and money. I’ve got some receding gums and like most things that recede, once they recede, it’s almost impossible to get them back. So I’ve been ordered to ramp up the flossing and scale back the aggressiveness of the brushing. We’ll see if I can save what’s left of my gum line.
Introduce my kids to new hobbies, sports or activities. One of my life goals is make sure that my kids are as well-rounded as possible. Sure, they may not grow up to be artists but I believe it’s important for them to have a working knowledge of some of history’s most well-known painters. The same goes for music, sports and technology.
Think before speaking. This will require me to listen more and talk less. That’s a good thing. Sure, I have my opinions and I will argue them endlessly. But listening helps us to learn and enables us to grow as people because we’re ingesting and comprehending other, possibly different viewpoints. That’s healthy and necessary for many of us during these turbulent times.
Those are the items on my 2017 to-do list. I’ll diligently try to accomplish them and, if I don’t, I’ll feel bad about it for a little while and then I’ll realize that if I fail, I can simply start again.