Thursday, January 3, 2013

The 2013 To Do List

Happy New Year!

Our New Year's festivities are usually low key. We give the Gods of the Old Year one last chance to finish us off by feasting upon the most evil of all dishes: homemade alfredo sauce and bread sticks. We only do this once a year because a good alfredo sauce is made with heavy cream, egg yolk, and copious amounts of hard cheese. I doubt that the six cloves of garlic do much to counteract the aorta-clogging madness that is alfredo sauce. Eating this dish more than once a year would inevitably bring about an apocalypse of the circulatory system.

This Feast to end all Feasts results in one or more people joking "That's it. Tomorrow I begin my New Year's diet." At least, those not already in a cheese-coma make that joke. Those of us existing in a state of semi-sentience merely digest and exude garlic. If we live to see tomorrow we count ourselves as among the fortunate. Take that, Gods of the Old Year!

New Year's Day is the time for making resolutions. We see the date of 01/01 as a fresh start. We want to make lifestyle changes that are dramatic enough to make an obvious positive difference in our lives, yet not so dramatic as to be unattainable. Let's be serious: I am not going to wake up on 01/01 and immediately run 15K if I have never laced up a pair of running shoes in my life. I am not going to write and submit 20 papers in a month. Attaining my black belt by October? I don't think so. There is nothing wrong with having big dreams and large goals. We just need to remember, when making our Grand New Year's Eve Proclamations, not to automatically set ourselves up for failure. Keep those goals realistic: all that matters is that the change you want to make is meaningful to you.

With that in mind, I have completed my 2013 To Do List. I plan to attack each item on this list with great resolve.


A. Academic
1. Publish those papers, dammit!
I know I am not the only paleontologist with a folder on my hard drive named "Papers In Progress". This folder is both my ally and my nemesis. It contains "manuscripts" consisting of merely a title and a few disjointed thoughts. However, this folder also contains several projects that are near completion...or they would be if I would just make myself sit down and put them out of their academic misery. These are the projects that Andy, when blogging at the Open Source Paleontologist (Andy now blogs at the Integrative Paleontologists), would prompt the paleontology community to excavate from the trenches of the "Papers in Progress" folders, dust off, and expel from Publication Purgatory.

In total, I have four ichnology papers, two tooth papers, and one osteology paper that I can realistically finish in 2013. The "last modified on" descriptors for some of these documents is embarrassing (the most shameful one is 2008), but there is nothing stopping me (except me) from graduating these manuscripts into my small (but growing) "Papers Submitted" folder.

2. Complete several thesis chapters!
It is not just a happy coincidence that at least 3/4 of the papers in my "Papers in Progress" folder are thesis-related. I love interconnected resolutions!

B. Athletic
3. Be in the best shape I can be for the 11th ICKF 2013 Soke Cup.
I may have mentioned before that I am in karate. This year is the 11th International Chito-ryu Karate-Do Federation Soke Cup, an international tournament for those who study Chito-ryu karate-do. This year the tournament will be held in Hong Kong, and I will be able to participate. This means that I have to be in great shape. I don't want to embarrass my Sensei, the dojo, and the country by being the flabby Canuck who gets winded and passes out in the middle of a match. I am not in poor physical shape, but there are parts of my current diet and exercise routine that need improvement. One, I am a notorious snooze-button junkie. This has derailed more workouts than I care to remember. Two, I am a sugar junkie. Chocolate and fancy coffee drinks are to me as the calcaneum and astragulus were to Achilles. Three, thanks to years of university life, I have trained myself to be a night owl. Heck, it's 2:00am and I am updating this post! So, in the interest of my training, I am resolved to (from this post forward) get to bed at a reasonable hour, use any form of training instead of a snooze button, and use alternatives to sugar snacks while I am working on resolutions #1 and #2.

Resolutions are promises to replace bad habits (i.e. staying up until 2am while eating a Rice Crispy bar) with good habits (i.e. getting up early to take advantage of the many cross country ski trails in this area). The only way we can form good habits is to choose to do the good habit so many times that it becomes part of our daily routine. We simultaneously have to choose to reject bad habits until we forget that we ever did them in the first place. Good habits have to be repeated until they become regular habits.

I'll keep you posted on the progress of establishing my resolved good habits as part of my regular life, and I'd love to hear about the good habits you resolve to develop! Good night...good morning...oh, heck, good 2am!


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