It's been a year since I issued my "Anti-Tech Resolutions," and now it's time for a new batch. But this won't be the same Anti-Tech spiel that I ran last year. I learned a lot from those resolutions, both the ones I kept and decided to abandon. But I learned more about how to keep and follow a New Year's resolution itself. So, here's what I have learned about making New Year's resolutions, including my newest set of technological directives for the coming year.
Buy a new TV
Last year, I vowed to "Use my gadgets to do things more than I do things on my gadgets." I don't know what that means, but I think it was my way of telling myself not to buy a new TV. All year long, I held onto that mantra, and used my resolution as a way to keep myself from the purchase. It has been a very difficult year to avoid buying a TV.
First, I started working for Samsung in my day job. Now, TVs are cheaper and more readily available to me than ever before. Plus, we have a room dedicated to awesome TVs where I can test our convergence products. I get that room for short stints at a time, then I have to leave. I am not allowed to hook up my PlayStation 3. Man, I want one of those TVs.
[aquote]I don't have anyone around telling me I can't go larger than 38-inches[/aquote]
Second, I got a divorce. That means I don't have anyone around telling me I can't go larger than 38-inches because of the size of the entertainment cabinet. In fact, I got rid of that cabinet, too. So, the wall's the limit. We sold the house, so I had some cash money on hand. Also, I needed something huge to fill the void of endless loneliness created by the dissolution of my 15-year commitment. A TV would be perfect for that.
Third, all my favorite video games can now be played in 3D. There are movies in 3D worth buying. I never minded the 3D glasses, not much. TVs are cheaper than ever, thinner than ever, and they look great.
I give up. I'm buying a TV. I'll wait until after CES, when the new models are introduced, and pick up last year's model for a good price. I might even wait until the Super Bowl sales start. But I will have my TV. So the lesson here, I suppose, is to make resolutions that you were probably going to stick to anyway. That way, when I buy a new set, I'll feel good knowing that I have stuck to my resolutions, as well.
Take more pictures
So, I'm not going to be an anti-consumerist this year, but I'm still not going to buy useless junk, unless you find a 51-inch 3D plasma TV useless, in which I don't need to hear your stupid opinion. One way to make a commitment I'll stick to is to resolve to use the things I already have in better ways.
For instance, my cameras. I have a ton of cameras. I'm not a professional-level photographer, but I can handle Manual mode on a DSLR with little trouble. I have a DSLR with a bunch of lenses, a point-and-shoot, an HD camcorder that I would never have bought if I knew how good video recording on DSLRs would become, and every phone I have uses a 5-12 megapixel camera, with HD video. I pre-ordered a Lytro camera, too.
Now it's time to take more pictures. More pictures of my son and my family, of course. But maybe a photo safari is in order. Head down to the wild landscape of southwest Texas or Louisiana and fill up some memory cards.
Read more books
The first thing my mother asked when she picked me up at the airport was whether I was reading anything good. Actually, I don't think I'm reading anything at all. I finished The Hunger Games, and I'm meandering through Game of Thrones and the subsequent books. But I'm not the avid reader I once was.
[aquote]This year, I'm going to subtract more shows than I add[/aquote]
I blame television. Early in the TV season, I record a bunch of new shows, then eliminate some from my round-up as they get cancelled or I lose interest. This year, I'm going to subtract more shows than I add. Some shows with a good premise but very mediocre execution will have to go. Sorry "Terra Nova" and "Person of Interest." You both had promise, but you're dead to me now. I'm going to give the new Hurley show "Alcatraz" 2 episodes to win me over after the mid-season break, then I'm gone.
In my spare time, I'll read. I used to read every single night. It's time for that to start happening again. My problem is that I make a good resolution (Read more books) and implement a bad plan (Read the entire new translation of "À la recherche du temps perdu").
Now that books are no longer printed on dead trees, I might be more cavalier about stopping a bad novel. I might be less interested in filling in the gaps of lost classics that I want to own and have around, but not necessarily read. Instead, I'm going to actually read more books.
Document the important stuff
Reading through my social networking history, I can tell you all sorts of interesting facts about my life. I can tell you what song was stuck in my head on a Monday in November of 2009. I can tell you which airports I've been to, and if there were any major, annoying flight delays. I can tell you how many times I remembered to check in at the movies, but not which films I saw. Yawn.
I'm going to make an effort this year to use my technology to keep track of the important stuff. Not my family, I don't need a reminder to take pictures of my toddler. He's the subject of all my pictures anyway. No, I mean the personal stuff I'm avoiding.
It's time to track the vitals. I have at least 3 different types of devices with a pedometer built in. I have 2 devices that can track heart rate. I have a multitude of apps to track calories and diet. I have apps to track health progress, fitness goals, and one that takes a photo every day and makes a movie to show your progress.
In other words, it's time to stop tracking nonsense and start tracking useful information. It's time to stop sharing silly minutia, and start saving important personal information that I can use and keep to myself. Of course, all of this is in the service of my next resolution.
Lose some weight
I know this is probably the most popular New Year's Resolution, but this is a meta-tech resolutions list, so here's how my resolution is different. Weight problems run in my family. My cousin Rachel started a blog to help with her weight loss goals. She lost more than 120 pounds. She doesn't just look better. She looks like a different person who then also lost a lot of weight and looks like an even more different person.
[aquote]You feel obligated to deliver to an audience[/aquote]
I think Rachel would agree she got a big boost from blogging her experience because of the accountability it created. When you make this sort of thing public, you create an audience, even if it's only in your own head. Then, you feel obligated to deliver to that audience. The same thing happens with personal trainers. When you know you have scheduled appointments to see a personal trainer ever week, you feel more accountable for your actions. This should be an ingrained notion in our own heads, but I suspect my wiring is faulty.
Where I think most weight-loss resolutions go wrong is that they aren't really new goals. We're constantly trying to lose weight all the time, so setting this as a resolution is like saying you'll drink coffee every morning or you'll floss more. You've pretty much already decided what you'll do, and a resolution won't change anything. When you fail at the resolution, you're simply failing at the new action, but there is little accountability. After all, who really cares about New Year's Resolutions?
So, my resolution is accountability itself, not simply to lose weight. I'll hold myself accountable, through recorded progress and other digital means and reminders. Maybe I'll go public, maybe I'll just keep a personal record. But it's going to work, because If it doesn't, I'll know exactly when things went wrong.