Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to reflect on the things I thought were important last year, and see what I got right, and what I got wrong. If you want to see my new year’s post from 2023, you can click here.

After reading and reflecting on my resolutions for 2023, I noticed a trend. Things that required positive changes in my habits, such as doing those things to maintain good physical and mental health, or taking fewer pictures with more care, were doable. Commitment to doing specific tasks, such as more camping and canoeing or spending more time on improving my piano skills, were not resolutions I stuck to, and I believe it’s because of the first one, which was focusing on maintaining good physical and mental health. I found that, by focusing on things such as cutting out alcohol, getting 8 hours of sleep each night, and enjoying the benefits of a clean diet free of excess salt and sugar, along with the mental health benefits of distancing myself from social media, my mind was able to come into focus and I was able to recognize the things that were really important in my life in the moment. So I opted to sacrifice my weekends to go after the opportunities to work overtime whenever I could in order to more quickly shed my debt load and build my pension upon fully understanding how short life really is; making sacrifices today to improve things for myself and my family in the future. Clean living gave me the stamina to work a lot of overtime, as well as the discipline to not buy much of anything throughout the year, and hopefully will permit me to enjoy a longer, more enjoyable retirement doing all the things I truly enjoy.

Riding my bicycle to work a couple of times was my greatest physical accomplishment this year. This is a 17 kilometer ride each way, more downhill on the way there, and more uphill on the way back. I could get to work in just under 40 minutes, but it took me 50 to ride back home. On one of my rides back home, I got caught in a summer rain, and that felt great. The only drawback is I need to ride on some busy roads, where one section sees the speed limit go up to 80 km/h. If it wasn’t for that, I think I would have made more trips like this. I believe bicycle lanes are an excellent idea; unfortunately, a section of that 80 km/h road includes a narrow bridge that goes over train tracks, so bike lanes on that route are not going to happen any time soon, and that’s why this is likely not a ride I plan to repeat.

The bridge of doom The dreaded bridge of doom

Moving forward, I’m not going to go with numbered resolution lists; instead, my resolutions are going to be changes in habit that center around those things that will improve my physical and mental health, and will guide me towards living more intentionally. Simplifying my life, shedding debt load, getting 8 hours of sleep every night, getting my weight to my target; these are worthwhile that all contribute to a better quality of life.

While I accomplished my goal of reading more books, I decided to migrate away from my Kindle and towards actual books. The problem with the Kindle became apparent when I added some eBooks to my Amazon wish list. Whenever someone tried to buy a book for me, it went to their Amazon account instead of mine. Amazon has no way for anyone to transfer ebooks from one account to another. I recognized this as a failing of heavy handed digital rights management that did not benefit me. When I add a paper book to my wish list, other people can buy me a book as a gift. Many of these paper based books didn’t cost much more than their eBook counterparts, and in some cases, they were less expensive than Amazon eBooks in places like Costco. Furthermore, that paper book still has value after I’ve read it; I can sell it or exchange it. I can lend it out to friends and family. Two new physical books added to my collection this Christmas include Making It So: A Memoir by Patrick Stewart, and Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Along the same idea as physical books, I’m going to return to watching television and movies on physical media. I find that Netflix creates the same problem as cable TV; I’m always looking for something new to watch, because I would feel as though I’m not getting my money’s worth out of my subscription if I don’t. After an episode is done, the next is ready to go before the credits barely start rolling; if I’m watching a movie, I barely get through the credits before it starts wanting to show me trailers of recommendations. With a DVD or Blu-Ray, I can process what I just watched while the end credits are rolling, and decide for myself if I want to go on watching something else, or maybe I’ll shut off the TV and go out and do something else, inspired by whatever it is I just saw. If it’s a really compelling show or movie, I might enjoy the bonus features that streaming doesn’t offer. If I’m watching a series and my life gets too busy to watch it, it can stay on a shelf for however long I want, and I can come back to it when I have more free time, without incurring a monthly expense while doing so.

The bridge of doom My journals, pen, and pencil

Along the same lines of physical books and media, I’m going to commit to keeping a paper journal this year, and substitute mindless scrolling on my phone to mindless doodling in my journal, along with day to day note taking and collecting my thoughts. My pen of choice is the Zebra F-301 0.7mm black. I like the Zebra M-301 mechanical pencil, but I’m going with a 0.7mm point size instead of the 0.5mm I had been using; I find that I tend to break the tip too often with the 0.5mm. My journal this year will be written in a Pantone 5.25"x8.25" lined, hard cover journal made by Browntrout Publishers Inc. I bought these in bulk from Costco, and they seem just right for the task.

With physical media, books, and a paper journal, I intend on reducing my dependence on digital technology and the Internet in general. While technology and the Internet are useful for my own exercise in my charter right to freedom of the press, a lot of what makes up the Internet has become very manipulative and political. It’s easy to become endlessly distracted to the point where we lose our own identity and become slaves to other people’s ideologies. With that, I do intend on posting more of my own thoughts that are contrary to some of the ideologies that I believe are detrimental to our very unique Canadian culture.

I wish you all the best in the new year in whatever journey you happen to be on in 2024, and may you find good health and success.