After Hours

A new year, with new goals, lurks ahead.

As I write this, it has become December Thirtieth.  You know what that means — right?

No, it doesn't mean it's time to burn the Charlie Brown Chrismahannuqwanzaaka tree.  Well, maybe it is, but that's not my point.

It means that we need to have our New Year's Resolutions lined up, ready for a solemn oath and diligent observance.  We must persevere in our aims to better ourselves, starting with . . .

Well.  What do we promise to ourselves?  What are you promising yourself this year?

Kimberly and Albrecht Powell, at About.com, claim these are the top ten New Year's Resolutions:

  1. Spend more time with family and friends.
  2. Fit in fitness.
  3. Tame the bulge.
  4. Quit smoking.
  5. Enjoy life more.
  6. Quit drinking.
  7. Get out of debt.
  8. Learn something new.
  9. Help others.
  10. Get organized.

Aside from the lame, kitschy phrasing in some of those, it's an interesting list.  It seems to match up with what I find by checking out what I, and those around me, plan to resolve for 2007.

Sterling, over at Chip's Quips, first says he doesn't like making New Year's Resolutions, then goes on to list seven things he plans to do differently — of which four are variations on items from that list of ten. The others include being more honest (we could all use some of that), making more money, and, err, wait. Okay, so he hits fully half the list of ten. My bad.

In addition to his non-New-Year's resolutions, Sterling also provides a succinct analysis of the etymology of the term "resolution" as used in the term New Year's Resolution, and notes the irony of it cleverly. He asks a pertinent and deceptively simple question of his readers based on that.

Ironically, in light of the honesty non-New-Year's resolution, New Year's Resolutions were originally spawned by a two-faced guy named Janus. Okay, so in his case it was about having two faces on his head, not being deceptive — but still, ironic. Back in something like 150 BC (or BCE, if you prefer), the Roman god Janus was identified with the beginning of the year (thus the month name "January"). With his two faces, he simultaneously looked back at the mistakes of the past and toward the hope of improvement in the future. He thus became the patron deity of resolving to do better in times to come, and thus was a tradition born in his month.

I found some very pedestrian Tips for Making Good New Year's Resolutions that include, in summary:

  1. Create a plan.
  2. Create your plan IMMEDIATELY
  3. Write down your resolution and plan.
  4. Think "year 'round", not just New Year's.
  5. Remain flexible.

It all seems rather obvious when reading it, and it coincidentally matches my plans for a New Year's Resolution for 2007 pretty much to a T. I came up with a plan as of a few days ago, I started making notes, it's aimed at being a year-long process rather than a single act, and it's flexible. It's good to know my instincts match up with the advice of some random "Who are these people?!" types on the Internet 'cause, y'know, t3h Intarw3b is always right. Anyway, the explanations of the five points are quite brief, so you might as well go read them.

If you're still reading at this point, you might be wondering what I'll be resolving. Here it is, in brief:

I resolve to read, basically cover-to-cover, complete with doing exercises, as many computer programming texts as I can reasonably squeeze into one year.

My plan is to start with a book I was given as a Christmas present, Intermediate Perl. It's a book related to a language I actually use (almost) every day — professionally, for personal utility, and for fun. Next, I'll choose from among a list of books I have picked out that relate to languages I'm unlikely to need in day-to-day work, but want to learn anyway. Next, I'll go back to a book that relates directly to my coding work. The alternation of books between work-related and utterly work-unrelated will continue until the year is out. I will complete each book (barring deciding the book so utterly sucks that I will probably never read the whole thing), and I will do exercises, practice as I go, play with the languages and techniques learned, and by the end of the year have significantly improved my competence and expertise with programming. That's the plan, anyway.

What about you?

About Chad Perrin

Chad Perrin is an IT consultant, developer, and freelance professional writer. He holds both Microsoft and CompTIA certifications and is a graduate of two IT industry trade schools.

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