More or less … some things for ’22

When I write up what I’d like to do as the calendar flips on each new year, I find it a bit challenging. I’m not a resolutions kind of guy and I’m pretty active, so getting to the gym or starting to run is never a thing for me.

However, there are always a number of things I’d like to do more of, or better, and obviously a few things I’d like to do less, or not at all. So, without further ado, my list of things for 2022, handily broken into more and less for your (and my) reading pleasure. I don’t tend to get obsessive about these things, but I’ve really tried to drill down to things that will make me happier, healthier or both.

More

  • Cycling – I’ve cycled for years and, when I was doing events and cycle commuting a lot, my distance was always fairly high. Between no significant commuting or cycling events in the past three years and counting, my volume, FTP or any other measurement you like, has plummeted. This past year’s wrist/hand injury has kept me off the road for 5 months as of this writing. With most riding these days on the trainer, I’ve set up an FTP program on Zwift and I’m really hoping I’ll get back to a good mix of commuting and longer rides as the weather improves, wrist willing.
  • Drumming – As a former somewhat professional musician, it’s been more years than I care to count since I played regularly, and particularly in the past three years, doing anything consistently has been a major challenge due to multiple moves and life changes. I’ve finally got a space to do so, and I’m playing fairly regularly right now. Mostly just to get my chops back and as some wrist therapy. I’d like to think about maybe doing an actual band or project again.
  • Health monitoring – As someone who’s always had borderline high-ish BP, I’d like to make 2022 a year I really begin to pay attention to this. I’ll be 58 later this year and need to be more mindful of actually keeping tabs on my vitals. To start, regular blood pressure monitoring and annual bloodwork. The last bloodwork I had done in 2019 was good and I’d like to keep it there.
  • Piano – This has been an ongoing thing. I’ve had a digital piano for a few years and just never set aside enough time to learn. If I could even just begin to bang out rudimentary melodies and maybe do some multi-track recording with my digital drums, I think it would be a nice creative outlet.
  • Photography – I bought a mid-range DSLR in late 2019 and, after our 2020 travel plans got killed by COVID, I really just didn’t put the effort into doing more of it. Granted it’s a bit more work to get out and do it, plus post-production and whatnot, than just snapping stuff with my mobile phone. However, I really like the process involved in real photography and have all the tools I need, including a free Lightroom account with 100gb of storage through work.
  • Reading – This is always a goal, and another thing I don’t set the time aside to do enough of (what isn’t?). As of this past weekend, I’ve started a daily ritual of targeting an earlier bedtime and reading before sleep. This has the added benefit of calming the mind down to help with more sound sleep, without always having to make the time for breathing meditation.
  • Sleep – Hand in hand with reading or meditation, above, I really need to sleep better and longer. I’ve always been a light sleeper and, when combined with my natural tendencies as a night owl with a day job, my regular formula isn’t great. If I can shut off screens earlier, reign in that bedtime and have a calming pre-sleep practice of reading or mindfulness, I think I’ll be much better off.
  • Writing – Also another perennial desire. Even if I just journal more, this would be a win. Since I’m very unlikely to win a lottery and begin to live out my remaining days as a hobbyist travel writer and photographer, doing this means setting aside time. One thing I’ve never really done is find my voice as a writer, so it would be nice if, through practice I was able to do that in 2022.

Less

  • Alcohol – I’m not a heavy drinker, but a reasonably consistent one. I rarely have more than a beer a day (aside from Christmas and such), but often have 5-7 drinks a week. This is considered well below an unhealthy amount, but I’d mostly like to try a period without any drinking just to see what effect it has. Since my time off is ending today (January 3rd) my grace period to begin some new year’s changes ends today too.
  • Caffeine – I have one drip coffee a day and that’s it. However, caffeine can also temporarily spike blood pressure in some people. Not sure I can quit both alcohol and caffeine cold turkey together, but I may see if I can tolerate switching to decaf.
  • Hand and wrist grief – This is entirely about my nasty acute injury in August. A bad sprain gave way to an intense case of carpal tunnel syndrome which, in turn, necessitated carpal release surgery in November. I presently do daily rehab and am getting some physio, but I suspect I’ll always have some wrist problems and have no guarantee as to how fully the numbness will abate.
  • Processed food (sodium, sugar) – To be clear, we don’t eat much processed food, but I’ll certainly have a muffin with my coffee and we use some meat analogues (though nowhere near daily). Mostly, this is to ensure I reduce sodium and processed sugar intake and is entirely related to my desire to pay more attention to my vitals.
  • TV – I don’t watch a whole bunch of regular weekly series or really watch any TV during the day ever. However, I do have a tendency to watch too many movies and binge stream too many things. When coupled with watching hockey 3-4 times a week half the year, this much time in front of a screen really kills my ability to hit many of the things in the More list above. I can’t manufacture more hours in a day and I’m not going to stop exercising, so using the remaining time more wisely starts and ends with reducing TV.
  • Work – Again, short of a lottery winning, I really can’t just stop working because … money. What I mean by less work could be more accurately stated as less 9-5 office work. My job does provide a good work-life balance, with a fair bit of time off. However, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to be able to do what I do more fully for clients and not doing so many of the unimportant things that come with working for a large bureaucratic employer.

So, that’s a pretty large list, but it’s almost about subtracting as it is about adding. However, a list of things I want to do is only useful if I have a plan for doing them. I can’t really change spending most of my weekdays working, and I know I’m going to spend one to two hours most days on exercise, so it really leaves me a handful of options for meeting some of these goals:

  • If I’m going to do more of the creative things in my first list I absolutely must do less TV from my second list. Aside from hockey games (which I don’t intend on giving up) I’m going to limit myself to an hour of TV a night.
  • I’m going to formally schedule the things I want to do more of into my evenings and my every second Friday off, on Google Calendar, with reminders. This will primarily be about music, writing and photography.
  • I’m going to take my DSLR with me more often when I go out and make photography more of a regular part of everything I do.
  • I’m going to be consistent with shutting off screens, closing up shop and reading in bed. Every. Single. Night.
  • Finally, I’m going to actually review my progress at least quarterly and see how I’m doing.