Archive for January 6th, 2010

The Captain Trades Stability for Consistency

Another year ends and another year begins. And my annual tradition of reflection and declarations starts yet again. As you may recall, this time last year I declared 2009 to be The Year of Stability. I decided that 2009 should be a calming year, one in which I lived and worked in the same place all year. It was supposed to be a year with no big events and a more active lifestyle. Funny how things work out…

As it was, 2009 was yet another year in transition for me. Shortly after I dedicated The Year of Stability, life sent me on a radically different course. In January of 2009 a first time homebuyer credit worth $15,000 began being discussed in Congress. Megan and I immediately began saving additional money to put towards a down payment for a house. By February it was announced that it would be only $8,000, which is still nothing to sneeze at. Spurred by this amazing opportunity, we had signed a contract to build the house where we now live by the end of March. And since then we’ve been consistently busy preparing to become homeowners.

So pretty much from the start The Year of Stability was destined not to succeed. All of the work involved in purchasing a new home made stability next to impossible. And once again, my life is dramatically different one year later. However, I wouldn’t call The Year of Stability a failure. It ended up taking a similar path as the previous year.

Also around this time last year I observed that The Year of Focus was a struggle for almost the entirety of 2008, and then somehow I managed to obtain it right as the year ended. Strangely, that seems to have happened again this year. After working hard all year I found myself with a job I love, living in a place I love with a family I love deeply.

Much like focus in 2008, stability was not the theme of my 2009, it was the goal. And it was a goal that I ultimately was able to achieve. Moreover, I would not have been able to work so hard at preparing for homeownership if I had not been successful at finding my focus. By the time the idea homeownership was introduced this year, I had a very clear picture of how I want to live my life. Without the ability to focus on what was important to me I would have never been able to commit my year to homeownership so quickly.

So if I had a redo, I would declare 2009 to be The Year of Working Towards Stability. But either way, I ended up in the place where I wanted to finish. Which brings me to 2010…

I’ve been thinking a lot about the year ahead of me lately and I’ve come to some conclusions. This year I’m determined not to dedicate the year towards a goal I work towards. Instead I want to have a plan from the beginning and stick to it closely. With that thought in mind I’m declaring 2010 to be The Year of Consistency.

While I’ve been able to accomplish many wonderful things over the past few years, I’ve been very inconsistent in how I’ve lived my life. 1 I feel like I’ve been all over the map when it comes to many aspects of my life. While the results have mostly been great, I haven’t been happy with the process. I’m ready to stop concentrating on the ends and start pay attention to the means. Some of what I’m talking about is difficult to discuss, but I’ll try and give a few examples.

Since 2006 I managed to lose about 30 pounds and find most of them again. At the start of 2010 I’m only a few pounds lighter than I was when I left for Florida, which is unfortunate. I’ve been real guilty of yo-yoing my diet and exercise over that period. Typically I’d work really hard at being healthy for several months, and then burn myself out. The same could be said about my personal finances, my alcohol consumption and my dedication to family and friends. Many aspects of my life suffered from the same cycle: get stressed out about it, work hard to change it, get burnt out by it, forget it.

The missing piece in my approach towards my problems has been moderation.2 I tend to approach many things in my life as either all or none propositions. I’m either gonna solve a problem right away or not at all. I’ve learned that the major areas of my life where I desire change will need to be worked on gradually. Moderation prevents burn out, which is why so many of my problems perpetuate.

While moderation may be my goal, I’m trying not to dedicate my year to a goal this year. I don’t want to feel like I’m sprinting towards something every day, only to eventually burn out from exhaustion. I want 2010 to be a steady jog, a comfortable pace. With that in mind I decided on The Year of Consistency for 2010.

After years of trying to make the final product better I think I’m ready to work on making the process better. So here’s to The Year of Consistency; may you be even and unswerving. Cheers!


The Captain

1 While it’s true that a good chunk of my inconsistency has been a result of dealing with the large amount of change I’ve experienced in that time, it should not be an excuse. Change will always be a part of my life and I can be consistent in how I respond to it if I so choose.

2. One of the few things I remember my maternal grandfather telling me in my childhood was “Moderation in everything.” He was a wise man; it’s something I’ve struggled with my entire life.

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