Monday, September 29, 2008

My New Year Resolutions

I would like to say that I have been thinking long and hard about my New Year's resolutions, but the truth is that I have not. I have not been thinking long and hard—or, arguably, at all—about anything that is not 1) work-related or 2) chocolate. But Rosh Hashanah is around the corner and I just passed the corner on which my birthday lives and as fascinating as work and chocolate may be, resolutions MUST be made. Because I ALWAYS make resolutions. Which means that my thinking had to be diverted.

Well then.

For years, influenced by my Franklin Planner and its supreme importance in my life, I drew up wildly elaborate annual plans. I listed my values and wrote a descriptive paragraph about each one. I broke down my life down into key areas (professional, relationships, spirituality, education, creative, and so on) and then proceeded to write page-long essays describing where I was in respect to each area and where I wanted to be the same time next year. The next step was to take these aspirations and make them tangible. I built an outline for each item in which I broke it down into steps. The idea was that as I planned each week, I would review my annual plan and pick one of the small, manageable steps from each category and thus make consistent progress in all areas of my life.

As you might imagine given the complexity of the drafting process, my annual plans tended to be extremely ambitious. For example, my annual plan from the Rosh Hashanah after I made aliyah included, among other items: pass the Israeli CPA exams, lose 20 pounds, find a job at a Big Six accounting firm, move to Tel Aviv, become stylish and cool, learn French, develop a sideline as an artist and meet and marry the guy of my dreams. In the end, the only goal that I actually managed to accomplish was the weight loss and the only reason I managed that was because of my surprise enrollment in the Machane-Yehuda-bombing-diet-plan mid-way through the year.

After a several years of drawing up hopelessly unachievable masterpieces, I came to the conclusion that creating a more modest annual plan might result in a better success-to-failure ratio, if for no other reason that one item achieved out of 10 results in a better ratio than one item out of 40. Accordingly, over the last few years, my annual plan has gotten successively more modest. By last year I still broke out my goals by key area, but the quantity of goals was way down, I did not bother to outline anything and I ditched the deep thoughts section completely. Sooner or later I fully expect that my annual plan will shrink to something along the lines of "avoid getting killed and anything else excessively fatal, injurious, stupid or illegal". Which, provided I manage to stay out of G-d's way, is eminently achievable.

But that is in the future, and must be worked towards. This year's annual plan, while much shrunken from last year, still has actual goals in it. As follows:

1) Move to Jerusalem
2) Write and sell a book
3) Get back into singing or studying parshat ha-shavua (Realistically, I might be able to squeeze in one, but not both. I have yet to decide which of the two I want more.)
4) Get in shape
5) Find a friend with benefits

I must admit that I really went back and forth on the last one. I think we would all agree that "meet the man of my dreams, get married and pop out some Jewish babies" is clearly a goal. It is worthy of being included in one's annual plan. But…finding a f**kbuddy? I mean, does that actually count as a goal? On the other hand, I am trying to set more achievable goals. So one could look at this as a goal within a goal. A goal which, by virtue of its existence, fulfills another goal. A double-point goal, if you will. Kind of like a triple point word in Scrabble, but unlike Scrabble, absolutely not suitable for minors. (Of course, Scrabble was not suitable for me as a minor because my snotty genius sister would always beat me, and that made me cranky and I would throw the board at her and toss the pieces all over the room and end up being grounded for a year. Really, just based on the number of Scrabble games I lost, and not even taking into account the time I hit my brother on the head with a large broom and my weekly destruction of the vacuum cleaner, I calculate that by rights I should still be under house arrest today. But I digress). Quite frankly, I have planned on the marriage and children thing for pretty much every year since I was…I don't know…legal? And yet, it has not happened. Apparently, it is not as achievable as one would hope. Perhaps modifying my goal to something less ambitious will improve my chances of success?

But then, if I am going to use that argument to justify ditching my dreams of holy matrimony in favor of life as morally bankrupt harlot, how can I possibly justify including "get in shape" on my list? THAT one has been on my list since I was seven, which is the year my my mother explained (read "started drilling into my skull with a jackhammer") the concepts of "calories", "dieting" and "you will never have a boyfriend if you are not thin". Some 31 years later, apart from the year I did the bombing diet, I have yet to actually succeed in my "get in shape" goal. I still list that goal year after year after year. Such inconsistency is disturbing. Fortunately, (well, no, not really) my mother passed away many years ago and the repeated and futile inclusion of "get in shape" can easily be considered an eternal monument to her memory, twisted as it may be. Which is, of course, not only appropriate, but admirable.

And yet…I still question my judgement in respect to the "special friend" goal. I conducted an informal poll of my friends. Responses were:

1) Of course it does! You actually have to ask that question?
2) Yes, because it requires a change of attitude on your part and changing one's attitude counts as a goal.
3) Yes, because it will make you a lot less annoying and therefore a better friend.
4) Yes, but you better make it plural because what if you find one and he turns out to be a one-off? Then where will you be?

The lesson to be learned from this, of course, is that asking a Tel Avivit—including a religious Tel Avivit— whether finding a f**kbuddy can be considered a goal is the ultimate kickback question. I decided to check another source in the form of non-Tel Avivit, very Orthodox, RivkA. After a moment of shocked silence, she broke into hysterical laughter. At first I was worried because her laughter seemed to indicate that this was a ridiculous question and that of course the answer was "no fucking way in hell". All of a sudden, it hit me. I realized that I had just provided her with a session of free laughter therapy! Charity and aiding the sick all in one fell swoop. This translates into divine brownie points. And the divine brownie points can offset potential divine demerit points associated with the above-mentioned goals. I had it! Rak B'Yisrael, the ultimate Rosh Hashana kombina.

Right then…so I think I am covered. Back to thinking about accounting and chocolate.


Child Ish Behavior said...

Your whole goal setting thing seems very ambitious. I can't imagine actually going through the effort to write down all the things that I actually want to accomplish. Who has the time? I'm just so busy beating myself up, hitting my fist against my chest, to actually make any real goals.

If I did decide to make any goals though, they would probably be along the lines of yours, though I may not do with the first or the last one (maybe when Moshiach finnally shows up and they bring back the polegesh, then I'd move to Yerushalayim too, after all with moshiach there will automatically be unlimited room in the holy city) Though I think I still can get my mind around the loosing weight thing, everyone is unhappy with their weight, either they want to be skinnier or they are not skinny enough. As for the Parsha thing, I'd probably make it till the parshas get long and then give up as usual.

Writing a book on the other hand, now that sounds like a lot of fun.

Marni said...

You are moving back to Jerusalem? From your previous blog, I was under the assumption that you felt more comfortable in Tel Aviv. As someone considering making aliyah in the way distant future, I am kind of torn between Tel Aviv and J-town, so any input would be highly appreciated.

BTW, I think getting a friend with benefits is a great idea as long as you prepare yourself emotionally to not get attached. Besides, if you have a FWB, it might make dating for serious purposes, less annoying and stressful.

tafka pp said...

Will do everything I can to introduce you to some new men for whatever purposes you require in Jerusalem. Failing that, I have chocolate too.

Shana Tova!

Batya said...

Honey, your shape is your shape and it's hard to get into another. If you can bike the distances you do, it should prove your shape is ok if that makes any sense.

Small, realistic goals are the tricks of coaching.

Good luck!!

RivkA with a capital A said...


I am completely blown away by the amount of thought and energy that you used to put into your resolutions.

My first thought was that I should recruit your help in creating a plan for myself!

But then I read your most current list and thought, hey I can probably do that myself....

So, I think you may have inspired an actual post....

(my house is still quiet, as everyone else sleeps late...)

As for the last item on your list... well, say no more.

RivkA with a capital A said...

oh yeah...

and about the weight thing...

what Batya said!

If you can ride a bike as much as you do, your heart is doing ok!

Jack said...

Set goals that make you happy- small victories lead to bigger ones.

BBJ said...

I always start making elaborate plans around Rosh Hashanah. Then I worry that my goals are not spiritual, but just about organizing my life, losing weight, etc. Then I try to rationalize spiritual motivations for losing weight. It takes a lot of time.

As for the man--Ben Franklin reportedly said that beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Sex, similar. Also, friends with benefits can be husband material too, so you may be able to complete two goals at once.

Have fun, be safe.

Asher said...

I always get stuck on the Parsha business round about halfway through Exodus (3 tenths of the Chumash)

What's the bit about benefits - is that like tax-free air-conditioners for new immigrants??

Remember, the opposite of STRESSED is DESSERTS

Shana Tova from Asher, Dovrat and Sinai

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a lovely resolutions post and best of luck with all of them.

I think it is easier to get in shape (and stay there) in Jerusalem than any other place on earth. Everywhere I went I seemed to be walking uphill, and then when I turned around, the road was going uphill yet again. :-)

Shana tova u'mutzlakhat; may you be inscribed and sealed in all the right books.

Anonymous said...

What a brilliant post - I think many of us can relate to this in some way!

But let's be less serious for a moment - how would you like to start 5769 with a little nomination...

May this year be a sweet one!


aliyah06 said...

I got exhausted just reading your resolutions and the amount of preparation that goes into them...oy!

What Jack said--small goals:

Find a date for the weekend instead of the guy-for-life -- maybe the former will turn into the latter but if he doesn't, find another date for the NEXT weekend instead of eating a gallon of Ben & Jerry's (my favorite therapy).

Decide to change dress/pants size by one size--easier than trying to lose 20 pounds all at once.

And remember the immortal words of my college roommate: "chocolate is every bit as good as sex, and much more reliable."

Shana tova!

rickismom said...

The year I decided "losing weight" was unattainable, and didn't make it a resolution, was the year I lost (and a LOT!). (I've gained it back, but that was a different year.

Katherine said...

yeah all this blather - ha - about the friend with benefits, whereas I reckon the big news is you want to move back to Jerusalem. Why pray tell - most intrigued! Given that I think Tel Aviv is hell on earth, and Jerusalem sublime, I'm interested to see what you think. And I aint even religious!

Ahuva said...

I agree with the smaller goals comments. Also-- why are you minimizing the goals you do accomplish? I'd give just about anything to be in as good a shape as you are!

Why do you want to move back to J'lem? I think it's really cool, but I'm curious...

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Move to Jerusalem? Hmm... But good luck anyway.

Shana tova - better late than...

Mia said...

Tov, so about #5. I think it is certainly a worthy resolution. Firstly because it will make you happier and hopefully feel better about/with yourself.
Also most non-religious "for life" relationships pass through that stage before the "for life" part anyway.
You might want to consider swithching singing to folk dancing (rikudei am) since those dances are known for being places to find those kinds of friends.