Every year I lay down some goals, they help me to stay on track when I feel like doing nothing. The following are my targets for 2016 plus background on why or how they came to be.
1. Read 14 books
A friend and I have been working through a list of the Top 150 novels of the 20th Century, of which I’ve completed 114 through 2015. Turns out many of these books are actually not very good and they’ve induced me to make two concessions:
 I limit myself to four books annually from the list of 150. The other 10 are books that I choose to read, you know, good books.
 Due to the overall faltering quality of these supposed ‘Best books of the 20th Century’ I have come to the very recent conclusion that I may not, after all these years of pursuit, complete the 150 in its entirety. I’ll knock back those tomes already in my possession patiently waiting for me in the bookcase. I’ll then give serious thought to cancelling this quest of 150.
Reading. I have managed to turn this great joy into a chore. Cancelling the silliness of catching the 150 will, hopefully, return the joy of reading as I shift from assigned reading to desired reading.
2. Monthly blog post
It started in 2009 with the goal, and successful completion, of 200 posts. I was pent up at that time with much in the way of anecdotes, short fictions, and collected nonsense that I wanted to get off my chest. That was a year of much cleansing!
3. Watch 3 foreign films
My pal [you know who you are, Jam] made a suggestion a few years ago to add foreign films to my annual goals. I have kept it up supposing there’s value in working to become more perspicacious.
4. 10 hours of Spanish language learning
Ø self-study by means of Rosetta Stone software
It riles me up that there are so many countries where the citizens can chew the fat in several languages toggling back and forth at will. Here in the U.S. the vast majority of citizens, including myself, possess only the single tongue. I took three years of high school Spanish and the retention was disappointingly little because I didn’t take language studies seriously as a youth. Now, with the wisdom of age, I’d like a language, but honestly am not willing to commit the time necessary to acquire one. I’m hoping that 10 hours per year will help me to recapture just a little bit each year of what I temporarily picked up during high school and retain what little I have learned.
If I were to be teleported into a Spanish-speaking country I’d probably manage well enough to employ something useful from these few wisps of a second tongue. Fluency is not on my horizon, but a fumbling chance of clumsy interaction remains possible in a pinch if I keep at it.
5. 225 combinations of either . . .
Ø 25-minute set on Wife Klem’s ‘cardio machine’ averaging 13+ calories/minute OR
Ø one-hour walk with Ghost dog
‘What the hell do they think they’re doing? They’re just walking, it’s not really doing anything.’ That’s what I used to think of people rocking their stair-steppers and self-propelled conveyer belts. Then I sampled the cardio machine that we owned. I recall my first time on the machine with the setting on the easiest level. After eight minutes I was a sweaty mess, short of breath, and had to stop for a water break. Then another break at 15 minutes! Boy, was I surprised! Surprised that  it was so much more work than I thought it was and  that my cardio capability was so miserable. Three years later I really dig the thing! Also, curiously, my body craves those 25 minutes on the machine.
So, why the 25 minute increments, you ask? I stream Netflix while rocking the machine. I used to watch The Office television series [the U.S. version, not the English] and each episode required 25 minutes. I have since completed the series and haven’t the patience to extend my time on the machine. Instead of going longer I have cranked up the degree of difficulty over the three years, but have retained the 25-minute threshold. Over the course of a week I watch a movie.
6. 25,000 Sit-ups
I see humanity and my peers getting older and the affect it has on a person’s sack of flesh. I’m simply intending to treat my body with respect as the years pass. Hopefully I’ll be around awhile without having to lug around too much pork belly and other signs of decades of neglect. It’s too easy to do nothing, this goal keeps me making an effort, even if it’s only 100 sit-ups a night a few times each week.
7. 20 bike rides
Riding a bike looks like fun. I don’t need nor desire the click-in bicycle shoes and all the tight gear, although some cushion on the ‘downstairs cheeks’ would add much in the way of comfort. Turns out riding is fun, although those crummy uphills stink compared to the nice level terrain. Getting familiar with the gear shifting was an integral part of not blowing out my thighs on a single mild incline.
We’ve been discussing our 2016 goals, the whole team and I. Last year was the kids’ first year with enumerated goals, they committed to a certain number of sit-ups, and they both successfully achieved! Last year was just a matter of getting them to commit to something, this year I asked if they’d be willing to increase their goals. Here’s what they chose.
o Each child committed to 5,000 sit-ups. The boy prefers knocking them out in the morning before school, my daughter prefers getting it done before bedtime.
o My daughter also committed to 1,000 push-ups. I told her I’d match her goal at a 5:1 ratio, so I’m obligated to 5,000 push-ups. I’m not worried, though, I’ve already done 250 this year, so only 4,750 to go!
· They’ve both also agreed to the 52-hike challenge! This entails 52 hikes, or walks, in 2016. We took a family hike in the hills of the local park the other weekend to get this tally underway. Good times being out there as a team walking with Ghost dog.
Hope you have a successful year as you hone in on your goals.