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A year ago, I made a joking aside in these pages about a new year’s resolution for 2003 to stop procrastinating. Here we are snugly in 2004, a week into the new year, and I’m still trying to figure out my goals for the months ahead.
Most people have them hammered out by the night of Dec. 31, at the latest. Maybe I figure I get an extra day this year, so there’s no rush.
But I’m full of resolve.
For instance, I plan to focus during the next 12 months on really not procrastinating. I’ll start exercising, in a structured and serious way. I’ll continue my progress in the areas of eating right and losing weight. I’ll work harder on the personal growth challenges I’ve been battling for years and years and years.
I’ll contemplate questions before I answer them. I’ll let others finish what they’re saying before I chime in, even if my point feels really important or funny or time-sensitive. I’ll stop responding with anger when I’m frustrated or tired, unless something really pisses me off.
I’ll employ a “put people first” philosophy. I won’t be self-centered, when I can avoid it. I’ll smile at strangers on the street and offer assistance to the frail and infirm.
I’ll share the remote when I’m watching TV with others. I’ll offer to drive more often, and for longer shifts, on road trips. I’ll get back to taking public transportation to work, which will save me untold sums of money that currently goes to parking tickets. I’ll find ways to support the District of Columbia to make up for the income it will lose when I stop driving to work and stop getting parking tickets.
I’ll save more money in general. I’ll put more in my mutual funds and my savings accounts. I’ll stop spending on electronics and clothes I don’t need. I’ll go to the library more instead of buying every book I want to read. I’ll sell more things on eBay and half.com.
I’ll pay extra on my mortgage each month so my house gets paid off faster. And I’ll keep my house cleaner, even if it means I have to hire a cleaning service. I’ll stay on top of yard work better in hopes that my neighbors might stop scowling at me when I pass them on the street.
Speaking of the neighbors, I’ll try really hard to stop parading around my house naked with little care about what curtains are open.
I’ll take the trash out on Wednesday nights, so I’m not conveniently in the shower on Thursday morning when the trucks are coming and it’s now-or-never. I’ll do my share of the laundry, and the food prep, and the cleaning up.
I’ll learn to cook. I’ll learn a martial art. I’ll learn to sculpt, or maybe knit. I’ll make cookies for the neighbors and clean up trash in the parks. I’ll report traffic lights that aren’t working and trim back hedges that are blocking stop signs.
I’ll read more nonfiction. I’ll stay current with the magazines I subscribe to, and read more of the newspaper, and not just the Express. I’ll pay the newspaper bill on time.
I’ll walk the dog more often and play with the cats every day. I’ll clean the fish tank when I’m supposed to. I’ll give more money to the animal shelter.
I’ll stop Googling everyone I know, and everyone I don’t know. I’ll mind my own business. I’ll start my own business, doing good things for people or advancing world peace or maybe just selling baked goods, once I learn to cook.
I’ll spend less of each workday e-mailing and browsing the Internet. I’ll work harder. I’ll clean my desk and keep it tidy. I’ll come up with mind-blowing ideas for how to accomplish more, how to exceed our goals. I’ll compliment my bosses more, and not just when it’s time for my review.
I’ll keep in touch with my parents better, and my brother, and my nieces, and my in-laws. My outlaws, too. I’ll e-mail my friends more often (but not during the workday), and be emotionally open but also pithy and clever in all conversations. I’ll blog.
I’ll see more movies in the theater, and return my Netflix DVDs more promptly. I’ll watch more documentaries and stop groaning about the science fiction and fantasy genres. I’ll see Lord of the Rings — the first two, and then the new one.
I’ll stop name-dropping, like when I tell people how my friend from college wrote the Big Fish screenplay or my partner’s brother is an award-winning novelist or another friend’s girlfriend is Quentin Tarantino’s assistant. I’ll stop expressing pity for people who don’t have TiVo. I’ll stop caring about famous people and material goods and money.
I’ll go to church even when I don’t have to teach pre-school. I’ll forsake earthly goods to find a higher meaning. I’ll join a cult, if I find a good one, one that’s better than the Southwest Airlines loyalist and Saturn driver cults I’ve been in for years. I’ll shave my head, if that’s what’s needed.
I’ll be cutting-edge. I’ll be on the right side of the “in/out” list for 2005.
I’ll stop exaggerating. I’ll stop prevaricating. I’ll stop using words that people have to look up, just because I know they sound fancy. I’ll stop using words that I have to look up before I write them, to make sure they mean what I think. I’ll stop using words I wouldn’t be able to pronounce if I had to say them out loud.
I’ll stop hiding behind the written word. I’ll start my own talk show, with the condition that it not compete with Ellen’s show. I’ll still watch Ellen every day, even when I’m famous and have hardly any time for such things. I’ll go on the college commencement speech circuit. I’ll inspire a reality TV show about me or my family or my pets. I’ll be an analyst on Today, but everyone will know that I’m just there to analyze Katie Couric.
I’ll hang out with rock stars. I’ll be a rock star. People will comment on how they never knew I had such a lovely voice, even all those times I sang karaoke. I’ll start singing karaoke, and then, in a gesture of goodwill, I’ll stop. But I’ll still be a rock star.
I’ll meditate more. I’ll take yoga and learn to relax. I’ll take more naps. I’ll make sure I get eight hours of sleep every night. I’ll need to, because my life in 2004 is exhausting.
Kristina Campbell is full of malarkey. Do not hold your breath for any of this to actually happen, but do read her biweekly column and feel free to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.