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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year Goals

With my new device, which will not take over my life
Welcome to 2015. Happy New Year. My rhinovirus and I wish you the healthiest, happiest of years. May you flourish. (Not you, Rhinovirus. May you wither and die.)

I realize I've been AWOL, and perhaps more about that later. Or perhaps not. Perhaps there's nothing more to say than, I've been busy. It's been winter break. We've celebrated Christmas here like good, secular Jews with WASP ancestry. (Bagels and lox for breakfast, Stilton cheese and leftover Chinese food for snack, and roast beast for dinner.) We've had a small New Year's Eve party. What's left to say?

Rhinovirus. Yeah, shut up.

Anyway, now's that time of year when everyone sets goals. So I thought, since success and goal setting are indubitably linked, that I could offer perhaps a word or two regarding goals.

  • Don't go crazy with the goal-setting. 

  • Remember to set appropriate goals. An appropriate goal is challenging but not frustratingly out of reach. I will master Ashtanga Series Four by March, for example, is doomed. 

  • An appropriate goal is specific. I will eat less chocolate is vague. What is "less," really? Anything you say it is, really.  I will only eat six squares of chocolate per sitting – er, day. Er, week. That's specific. But remember to be realistic. (Er, sitting.) 

  • To achieve your specific, realistic but challenging goal, use mental contrasting – visualize achieving your goal, by all means, but also be sure to think about the challenges you will encounter along the way and how you will overcome them. Each journey begins with a single step and all that jazz.

Such is my wisdom for you, Readers. A couple days late, but it’s really never too late to set a goal. 

As for myself, this year I am not making any particular resolutions, except to continue to work on my systems that I already have more or less in place. Morning stretches to stop from freezing into immobility; regular exercise of various kinds, such as walking, NIA, Pilate's, Zumba, the occasional sprint, the NY Times 7 Minute Workout. Writing. Centering myself sporadically. 

It occurs to me that these are actually habits. I wish to maintain and strengthen them. A habit is something done pretty much automatically. As a result, performing it doesn't use up a lot of willpower. Willpower is then available for achieving other actual goals. So what does it mean that my goal is to continue strengthening my habits? 

Admittedly, the meaning seems to be that perhaps my "system" isn't quite as habitual as I'd like it to be. Therefore, I don't have a lot of willpower left over for new goals. I'm still working on habit formation of these old ones. 

(Deflates a little.)

Bottom line: I already have enough goals. It would be crayzee to add many more. 

I'm a firm believer in that old adage, "Moderation in all things." This came up just the other day. January 1st, to be precise. Our friends, the husband, and I were walking the dog and racking up steps on our fitness monitors. For some reason, and I'm not sure why, right after we had to pause to pick up the dog's poop and our friends walked in circles rather than forgo a few seconds of step-acquisition on their fitness monitors, a spirited discussion ensued on the second part of this old saying. Is it Moderation in all things, EXCEPT moderation? Or is it Moderation in all things INCLUDING moderation? 

I know I could just look it up, but the thing is, I don't really want to know. 

Oh, okay. I looked it up. Apparently Ralph Waldo Emerson was the one who said, "Moderation in all things, especially moderation."

But Horace said it earlier. 

Est Modus in Rebus

According to my Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, there's nothing further than that. "There is moderation in everything." Sans part B.

So, I guess we can't really know. We must decide for ourselves. 

Judging by the amount of baked brie consumed over New Year's at my house, the answer is clear. 

And now, I'm off to find a tissue. After that I plan to walk in circles around my kitchen island to rack up steps on my fitness monitor. So, what do you think of that? 


  1. You know I had to be pedantic. "meden agan," "Nothing in excess," was carved on the Treasury of Apollo at Delphi. Presumably Horace's source. Nice post!

    1. Well, you know I decided not to mention that someone Greek had to have said it earlier....But I shoulda, just to make you proud.

  2. Speaking of being pedantic…

    Being a big fan of Horace, I looked into the quote. It is from his Satires (1:1:106), and continues a bit: - "Est modus in rebus; sunt certi denique fines, Quos ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum," which, in my lovely little victorian volume called "Beautiful Thoughts - Latin Authors" is translated as "There is a mean in all things; there are, in short, certain fixed limits, on either side of which what is right cannot exist." In Odes 2:10 he expands on it a bit.

    On the other hand, I find Wilde credited with both "Everything in moderation, including moderation," and "Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess." Good old(e) Wilde.

  3. Clearly, you have better reference books than I....
    Thank you!