• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
  • Previously spoken….

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3 ways to keep a resolution

Piles of Cookbooks
Taken in November. Image missing a few cookbooks I later found on another bookshelf.

Happy New Year! Ready for all the “Make a resolution?” questions? Oh, folks started asking you about it a week ago? Then I’m slacking!

1. Keep it simple. The list should be short and sweet. Focus on just a few things you wish to change for the year. Once you have your list, then go through each goal and make it specific and measurable.

2. Reward yourself. When you make the list of goals and break them into steps, include rewards for various milestones. Some that have resolved to quit smoking have put the money they would spend on cigarettes into a jar. At the end of a set amount of time not lighting up, they get to spend the money on something fun.

3. Share. Those that have a good support system, on average, do better than those without. Whether it’s a support group or family and friends, sharing with others will help you get and stay on track.

What’s my resolution? Not sure. It has to be simple. It really has to be simple. Next semester is going to be hectic. Next year has the potential of being a roller coaster ride. Besides, I usually do big changes other than at the beginning of the year (vegetarianism).

I know what I want to do — other than graduate in May — but think it’d be a little too crazy a goal with the crazy months incoming. We’ll save that one for after May or 2010. But, I do have a simple (#1), rewardable (#2), shareable (#3) goal I can do. Yes, the picture is a clue.

2009 Goal:

I resolve to not buy any new cookbooks in 2009. I will cook a new recipe from one of the cookbooks in my collection at least once a month and post it here. Inspirational hat-tip goes to 101 cookbooks. Each new recipe I cook and post from a cookbook in my collection, I will set aside $5. At the end of the year, I will use that money to — no, not buy a new cookbook. At the end of the year, I will use that money to buy camera equipment. (I have my eye on a lens that is less than $100. That’s only 20 recipes!) My support system will be you and the poor guinea pigs — no, the lucky few that get to come along for the gastronomic ride.

Some of the gotchas will be that I have quite a few meat-centric cookbooks, don’t like certain foods (like bell pepper), and will have close to no time from January to May. Some of the helpers will be that I’ve been trying new recipes (for Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook which I want to buy) so have experience, have some winner cookbooks in my collection (Veganomicon, for example), and love using food as a way to practice photography.

Bring it on, 2009! Bring it on.

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November Summation: Meatlessness Goal

Smiles come back.It went well. Assuming 3 meals a day and 30 days would be 60 meals. Of those 60 meals, 2 had meat. That’s pretty good for a newbie. One was my fault totally — craving. The other was me being polite to the hostess. I’ve since dropped being polite to hostesses. I’m not rude though. The cravings, however, come and go still. Recently, I smelled hamburger, grilled onions and a hint of mustard in the air outside a Walmart. If I had fangs, they would have grown before your eyes. I did not succumb but was very close to hunting down the burger joint and …. avert your eyes, little ones, avert your eyes.

It doesn’t help that I’m overly busy and not able to cook a good meal. I did buy supplies for one of the recipes to test for Urban Vegan. I wanted to get more but produce doesn’t keep forever. I’m looking forward to finishing finals within a few weeks.

Another hurdle to the new meatlessness is group functions. A group I joined last month does this hosting thing. Basically, a small group within the group brings in food for everyone at the meeting. This rotates among other small groups. The new members have to do this for January. We decided on a theme, and I dig it. However, I don’t dig what “we” are to do and said so. We’re to chip in for a bucket of chicken tenders. I said I’m a vegetarian so don’t want to put my money toward meat but would be very happy putting it toward decorations or a pretty dessert. (That’ll be hard when/if I go full vegan. We’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.)

So, do I push again and say “no” or do I cave and blend?

December’s started and I haven’t picked a goal yet. I’d love to get back to bringing lunches but see a few lines up — time is not on my side.

Online goal setting application: Lifetick

Lifetick
Lifetick application screenshot of goal list. The left place where the promised charts would go would appear if one spends $20, I suppose. Click to enlarge.

I signed up for the free account on Lifetick. I liked the visual representation of the goals and tasks but didn’t like how things were connected. For example, if I want to lose 15 pounds, it’d be nice to break that down into 5 pound increments. But have the overall goal be 15 pounds. To do this with Lifetick, I have to enter in 3 different “5 pound” goals with timelines for each and the tasks required for each. That’s a lot of typing!

I’d rather just have a “Lose 15 pounds” milestone/goal with a tree of tasks underneath that are repeatable with different dates. One of the ways to lose 15 pounds is to lose 5 pounds 3 times. The way to lose 5 pounds 3 times is to do what you did for the first 5 pounds for the next 5 pounds and so on. Maybe a clone tasks feature would be good.

For goal setting, they had a check list to make sure the goal was SMART. And one’s life is broken up into values that we set like Health, Career, Family, etc. I chose Health, Career, and Growth since those are the major areas of my life right now. I figured my schoolwork would fall under Growth as well as any art classes that I take when all this crazy Master’s degree stuff is done.

All in all, Lifetick was pretty but I don’t see it helping me get to my goals. Even if I spent the extra $20 a year to get the status charts and journal, I don’t think it would be worth it. Feel free and check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

How to fail at a goal

I feel like I could write this post. I didn’t bring in my breakfast today. I did bring in some lunch/snack supplements though. But the breakfast one was supposed to be easy!

Wandering through the wonderfulness that is delicious, I happened on a great post called “The Ultimate Guide to Motivation – How to Achieve Any Goal” by Leo Babauta. A lot of the tips we already know so I won’t rehash what he wrote (though he has a fascinating view on copyright) but this one I didn’t think about:

13. Chart your progress. This can be as simple as marking an X on your calendar, or creating a simple spreadsheet, or logging your goal using online software. But it can be vastly rewarding to look back on your progress and to see how far you’ve come, and it can help you to keep going — you don’t want to have too many days without an X! Now, you will have some bad marks on your chart. That’s OK. Don’t let a few bad marks stop you from continuing. Strive instead to get the good marks next time.

The emphasis is mine.

Of course. I mean, come on, don’t we chart the other stuff like weight loss/gain or budget (those of that are good about that).

How do I chart my June goal of bringing in breakfast 4 out of 5 days a week and lunch one day a week? Do I put an “X” on a calendar only for those days that I brought a meal or do I tally by week? Well, let’s try this experiment. I’m starting a new widget!

Couple of ways I thought of doing it. X above or X instead of the date. I like the flow of instead of the date but how to track which was breakfast and which was lunch? What if I bring both on one day? I guess we should have that happen before I stress about it too much. ::grin:: After tinkering, I think I like coloring the background of the cell the best.

June 2008
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4
X
5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30
June 2008
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30

Oh, and the easy way that I did this was just view the source of the calendar widget WordPress already had. I took out the links and left just the dates. I also did valign=”top” on the rows (tr) so that when I put an “X” under the number that it didn’t look all funky.

[Edit] I keep changing the code in the widget. That’s the great thing about the web: easy to change stuff!

Goals that score

DSCN2415 We all have goals. I have goals. I have no time to think about them between the rush of work, school and life. I have so many that I have lost track of them. When I find my tattered lists here and there when cleaning, I think, “Oh yeah. So. That goal. Man, that’s a great goal. I’m nowhere nearer to that goal now than when I wrote it 5 years ago.” Then there’s that wash of disappointment. Feeling me? Right.

What to do!

According to all the Einsteins of the task management world, there are certain things we must do to get that goal good. Well, better than what I’ve done before, obviously.

One way is the SMART way. Told you that Einstein was involved.

  • Specific. Using the question words of journalism might help: who, what, where, why, when, how.
  • Measurable. How else can I check it off if there’s no unit of measurement?
  • Attainable. Can I even do it? It should be broken down into things I can accomplish to spur me on.
  • Realistic. I’m not going to build a skyscraper by myself. I can change one thing though. That’s not so scary with everything else going on, right?
  • Timely.
    My memory bank says that 3-4 weeks is the amount of time it takes a habit to stick. 30 days (some months). That’s not long, right? Forever to me. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a nugget of time. 30 days.

I have so many options for goals. Let’s narrow it down to “greening.” I still use plastic bags at the grocery store. I still use plastic bags to put my vegetables in at the grocery store. I am better about checking the air in my tires. I’ve bought items on sale at the store and packaged them up for the freezer (this helps by giving me more money for buying organic and locally). I buy my breakfast and lunch at work and get them in non-reusable to-go containers. Did I hear a gasp? Yes. I do. Horrible, I know. Oh!

June’s Goal
I will bring my own breakfast in a reusable container or eat breakfast at home 4 out of 5 days of the week. I will bring my own lunch in a reusable container 1 out of 5 days of the week. I will accomplish both of these by planning ahead. I can cook up a large batch of oatmeal and section it out the night before. I can bring in cinnamon for sprinkling after I warm it in the microwave. I will plan ahead when cooking dinner and make up a container of food for lunch. I will bring with these meals silverware that will be taken home with the containers and washed.

Sound good? Very long. But it’s very specific, attainable, realistic, and timely. I know it’ll be easier to do oatmeal at breakfast and that would save lots of trash (and maybe money). The lunch will be a bit more difficult and that’s why I set it to one day a week for now. More is great. Less is not acceptable. Whip snap.