Like many other people I am using of the end of 2010 to think about what I have done over the past year and what I would like to change/improve. The overriding change I will make is focus. Sure, I have more specific goals in mind for the things I do. But none of those will happen without dedication to ensuring I have better focus in all areas of my life.
I enjoy doing a wide range of things and sometimes that can be distracting. External factors can also disrupt focus. For example, I love being on twitter, yet the constant stream of information and conversation can be distracting at times. I also find myself frequently checking my phone, email, or the long list of interesting websites I have. All of these can interrupt my work flow, making it difficult to maintain efficient effort on the task at hand.
So my primary resolution of 2011 is to focus on whatever it is I am doing and minimize my susceptibility to distraction. This means in work and play. My work will suffer if my mind is off in the mountains. I will not be able to bicycle to my full ability if I am thinking about work while climbing the hill.
Now, the specific goals… What do I want to accomplish with my developing focus?
My “day job” is as a PhD astronomy student. I study Luminous Infrared Galaxies, working on the connection between their increased star formation rates and the mergers of galaxy pairs. My goals for astronomy are designed to increase my research profile and gain more skills, opening the door to opportunities for research positions when I finish the PhD.
- Publish two long-overdue research papers I have been working on.
- Present new results at a conference.
- More observing at more telescopes!
- Continue developing tools to quickly analyze incoming telescope data.
- Continue learning to say “no”, to avoid over-committing myself.
My favorite hobby is climbing, especially in the mountains. My goals this year are focused on two aspects: supporting Big City Mountaineers, and preparing myself for a long-term climbing goal I’ve had: climbing the Cassin Ridge on Denali. The Cassin Ridge will not be a 2011 event, but building up the skill set necessary for the climb is.
- Finish raising money for my Summit for Someone climb, supporting the mission of Big City Mountaineers to provide positive outdoors experiences for at-risk teens.
- Train for the Summit for Someone Gannett Peak Climb (this means cardio and strength training).
- Climb a second mountain out west (e.g. Grand Teton, Mt. Adams, Mt. Baker, or Mt. Rainier).
- Comfortably lead 5.8 trad onsight.
- Lead NEI 4 ice climbs.
- Learn aid climbing techniques, do a multi-pitch aid climb.
Cycling is another hobby I enjoy, but unfortunately this has fallen by the wayside lately. I used to be quite good about commuting to work but have slacked off in 2010. So my goals are relatively simple:
- Commute to work on bicycle at least 2x per week.
- Incorporate cycling into training for climbing/mountaineering.
- Ride two centuries (100 mile rides) this year.
- Work up to averaging 17 mph on 20-30 mile rides through the rolling hills.
- Become a more healthy eater. I have never liked veggies. While in India I discovered that much of this was due to the preparation, and not the veggies. Armed with this newfound knowledge, I need to learn better (tastier!) ways of preparing vegetables.
- Run a half marathon. An achievement in and of itself, this will also provide an intermediate evaluation point for my aerobic fitness level as I work towards the mountaineering goals.
- Find a Boy Scout troop in Charlottesville to join and volunteer with. Scouting was an important part of my youth and in many ways shaped who I am now. I want to give back, enabling other boys to have the same growth opportunities I had.
The above enumerated goals are obviously aimed at specific events, tasks, or benchmarks. And implicit in each are sub-goals and the need for a plan to achieve them. But the critical goal is the one of focus, which will enable the others. So… with perseverance and dedication, 2011 will be the year of focus.