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My name is Keith Michaud and this is “Letters From Away,” a blog written by a Mainer living outside the comfortable and sane confines of New England. The blog is intended for Mainers, whether they live in the Pine Tree State or beyond, and for anyone who has loved ’em, been baffled by ’em or both. Ayuh, I am “from away.” Worse still, I live on the Left Coast – in California. Enjoy! Or not. Your choice.
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- How Maine Became a Laboratory for the Future of Public Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education
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Tag Archives: resolutions
We all make ’em, but we hardly ever keep ’em.
Resolutions are the genuine expression of our deep desire to mend our ways in the coming year. They are the codification of frustrating, seemingly unattainable goals of losing weight, eating better, drinking less, taking our loved ones and friends less for granted, being better at whatever. And much, much more.
I’ve written before about setting – and failing at – resolutions. There was “Resolving to avoid resolutions this year … or not,” “Vowing to be a better blogger … I promise,” and “Resolving that these will be the best resolutions – ever.” I’m not sure if that makes me uniquely knowledgeable about resolutions – or really, really not.
It is part of human nature, I suppose, to set challenging goals. That gives us something to reach for and added satisfaction when we accomplish meaningful goals. We don’t only hit the mark, we exceed it.
And even if we know that most of our resolutions never will be accomplished, the mere exercise alone is worthy of our time. It is essential that we each take a few moments from time to time to reflect on the past and present, and look to what the future could hold. It is essential as humans to find a hope in what we do and how we do it. Setting resolutions is a way to remind us of the very hope upon which we desperately depend.
We do tend to sent lofty goals, when small steps are just as effective. We can always build upon the small successes that come with small steps toward improvement. Grand changes are not always necessary. Ending world hunger and bring about world peace do not have to ride solely on the shoulders of a new year’s resolution. It is best to pick a few reasonable changes. Instead of ending world hunger, perhaps volunteer at the local food bank or offer to deliver meals to seniors and other shut-ins. Or arrange a canned food drive at your school, office or church. Instead of bringing about world peace, vow to be more tolerant and understanding in the coming year. Or even sign up for classes to become a mediator.
None of us alone can make a significant difference in the world. But each of us pulling together, doing what we can, can make great strides toward a better world. Each little effort causes a ripple effect that moves and encourages others to do little things, which moves and encourages others. A little effort will beget a little effort that will beget more little efforts that in time will merge and culminate into a significant pulse, a surge, a movement toward change. We saw that in Egypt and throughout the Middle East and we saw it in the Occupy Movement.
Frustration with a situation often moves us to make change. The Occupy Movement is about frustration – frustration in the stalled economy and the fat cats that let it happen and have profited from a diminished middle class; frustration in the political system that turned its back on everyone; frustration in unemployment, home foreclosures, the lack of affordable health care, the lack of tolerance … the lack of hope.
I’ve never been a “kick the bums out” sort when it comes to political change. Our electoral system is flawed in many ways, but it is the system we have. When we want change we must use that system to make those changes. Our voice and our vote are our weapons. But I am growingly frustrated with the way politicians – Republicans, Democrats, Independents, conservatives, liberals, all of them – disregard what always should be the core goal – the greatest good for the greatest number. It should not be the greatest good for the richest 1 percent.
Where to start when you “kick the bums out” is a particularly sticky point. After all, do you start with Wall Street bankers and lawyers? Or with Washington politicians, lobbyists and bureaucrats? Or with the leaders and shareholders of mega-corporations that would rather lay off workers and relocate their jobs overseas than to take slight cut in profits?
Perhaps we should kick them all out and start with a fresh slate, one that puts in power the people with the most to lose and gain in the future. Perhaps we should turn over the running of Wall Street, Main Street and Washington to the children who will be living in this world for the next 70 or 80 years or more. Perhaps they can make more sense of things than those currently running the show.
I don’t suppose that will happen. I can only live in my world and do what I can to make it better, hoping all the time that what I do and how I do it will cause someone else to believe that they too can do just a little bit to contribute to the whole, overall, cumulative change for better.
My resolutions are not spectacularly original, but they are mine.
Resolution No. 1: Be a better person. Not sure this requires much explanation. We tend to know when the things we say or do or don’t do hurt people in our lives. There really is no need for that sort of behavior.
Resolution No. 2: Be a better person to myself. Not sure this requires much explanation, either. This includes exercising more, eating better, drinking less, getting more rest. Pretty normal stuff.
Resolution No. 3: Travel much, much more. Much, much more. I won’t be able to afford grand trips, but I can put together an impressive collection of day-trips. I’ve lived in Northern California since 1983 and for some unfathomable reason I have never been to Yosemite National Park. Amazingly, there has been no state legislative action to kick my butt out of the state for this incredible oversight.
Resolution No. 4: Recover a least a portion of that which was lost during two and a half years of unemployment. This is “the big one,” because I doubt I will be able to regain that much at all. I pretty much have spent the money set aside in 22 years of journalism for retirement. Cashing in an IRA was a painfully necessary thing to do a year or so ago after the unemployment benefits dried up. I’m employed, but making half of what I was making when I was previously working. I turn 50 in six months and I have no idea if I will ever be able to retire.
I’m not sure I’ll remember these resolutions much past the end of, say, this week. But at least I gave the future – and hope in general – some thought.
All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©
Here I go again writing down resolutions for the new year.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know, I know! I’m posting this very nearly on the last day of the first month of the year. Resolutions should come before the new year or very soon after the start of the year, not at the end of the first month.
I mean, after all, most people have made and broken their resolutions a dozen times over by now.
But I was tied up on the job search and other projects so I could not get to it the way I wanted.
And, yes, I considered making “improving time management” one of my resolutions. … But I ran out of time.
Each year most of us look at what we have done during the past year, perhaps cringe a bit, and vow never ever to do those things again.
We vow to stop smoking. To drink less. To work out more and drop those nagging 20 pounds. We promise to take more time for our families, for ourselves. We pledge to be better in everything we do.
But it hardly works out the way we plan.
That is OK. We are human. We are not perfect. A few flaws are part of our character.
And so is trying to fix those flaws.
Here are my resolutions for 2011. Well, my resolutions for 11 months of 2011, anyway:
1) Find fulfilling, meaningful, suitable work. I have been out of work since March 2009. That is much, much too long to be out of work, trust me. It is has been financially and emotionally devastating and demoralizing and frustrating and disheartening … you get the point.
Not long ago I saw a television news story about the passage of the extension of unemployment insurance benefits as part of the continuation of the Bush-era tax breaks. A fellow was interviewed who had just been laid off and said that if he did not have a job after a year, then he did not deserve the benefits.
Of course, he was JUST laid off as the economy seems to be making a move upward. It would have been interesting to talk to that guy if he had been in my situation.
I want to work and work soon. I have been working since I was a teen. I worked a green chain at 16 or 17 and held down three part-time jobs while going to college fulltime. I know how to work. And I want to work. I just need a chance to prove myself to others.
2) Be more diligent at updating this blog and my for-fun blog, “Coffeehouse Observer.” I wrote in an earlier blog entry that was going to be my No. 1 resolution for 2011 (“Vowing to be a better blogger … I promise,” “Letters From Away,” Jan. 1, 2011), but then realized there is nothing more important to me than finding work, as it has been for nearly two years. Being a more diligent blogger will have to be No. 2.
A head cold sort of derailed that effort for a while, putting me behind in other things that are of higher priority, such as finding a job. I blogged about that, too. (“Polishing up vow to be a better blogger – I promise … again,” “Letters From Away,” Jan. 13, 2011)
3) Which all sort of brings me to Resolution No. 3 – stop putting off eliminating procrastination from my life. Yeah, perhaps it should be No. 1 – especially since we are into the third week of the new year and most people have already broken their resolutions – but at least it made the top five.
Most years I make at least five resolutions. I can prove it because I’ve written about resolutions in the past as a blogger and before:
This year, three seems plenty.
I resolve to do my best to follow the spirit – if not the letter – of these resolutions and perhaps dip into the old resolutions that have gone unfulfilled. And as with most things, better late than never at all.
I’ve been looking for work for a few months now. Nearly 10 months, to be exact.
And in that time I have signed up for quite a few email job search alerts and newsletters. One came today from Job.com and I thought I would pass it along. It listed job-search resolutions and some of them are worth considering. Here they are:
1. I will review which tactics did and did not yield results in 2009, and I will work to understand how I might improve in those areas that did not do as well as I had hoped.
2. I will set myself weekly goals during my job search and keep to their deadlines.
3. I will consider my job search a full-time job and will not become complacent with my current situation. I will prioritize my job search above television, video games or recreational internet use.
4. I will not spam my resume to companies where I am seeking employment. Instead, I will tailor my resume to each company, so that my relevant skills are stressed for each specific position of department. The company will know I am serious and intent on working there.
5. I will send thank-you cards after every interview, whether I thought the interview went well or poorly.
6. I will start attending more job fairs and networking events, including those that may put me outside of my traditional industry.
7. I will start considering a wide array of employment opportunities, instead of only the areas I’ve been used to.
8. I will provide or demonstrate my value to my newly-made contacts first, before asking for their help.
9. I will meet, whether by phone, direct e-mail, or in person, three new people who can help me in my job search each week.
10. I will not depend on my network to find a job for me, but will view it as one of several methods of finding employment.
11. I will become a fan of Job.com on Facebook to receive up to date job market information and exclusive career advice. [This is NOT an endorsement of Job.com or Facebook, although I have been using both in my own job search. I am using several dozen job websites and online service, of which Job.com is just one. – KM]
12. I will do volunteer work to keep myself busy, and to also answer the question interviewers will put to me regarding what I have been up to recently in my unemployment.
13. I will ask friends or family to give me full and honest criticism of my resume and of my interview tactics, even if it may be difficult to hear.
14. I will be open to exploring many new options in the job market, understanding that there may be interesting opportunities beyond my traditional field.
15. I will not become frustrated with my job search, or, if I do, I will not take out that frustration on my friends or family.
16. And, most importantly, I will not give up.
The last one on the list is perhaps the most important.