Saturday, December 31, 2011

My New Year's Resolutions

Okay, I think I pretty much have my new year's resolutions set up, but they could still use some polishing. I can always toy around and figure it out as I go along, and there's no problem setting additional resolutions in the middle of the year.

The first three are intended to be chronological pretty much, while all the rest are either concurrent throughout the year or can be tackled at leisure. Again, I'm trying to be less concrete-bound than I was last year, this time opting for more broad goals that will help direct me to form concrete goals around it.

1.) Get a second job in culinary-oriented place and stop washing dishes:

Ha, I've been washing dishes professionally for about two years now. It's time to move on, hopefully into fine dining. I can afford to be a little bit more picky this time now that I have a job to hold me well, so in a week or so I'm going to begin hunting down all the great places. It sticks in my mind that I should focus on hotels, for some reason.

My purpose in life isn't very concrete, but I do know I want to become a chef that specializes in protein cuisine (i.e. meat, fish, poultry, game, etc.), so I've got to go someplace where I can get a good knife in my hand. Hopefully I can use a second job as leverage to cease washing dishes at my current place and become totally a bartender and kitchen hand.

2.) Move into an apartment:

The above flows into this. It's unfortunate that I've lived with nothing but bad people for most of my life. My mother was freakishly unnerving with her emotional disorder, and my grandmother was always pushing her anxieties on me. While renting a room here in Texas is much better, I've come to detest my landlord since she, surprisingly, has a lot of the same attributes as my past family, even done to some speaking mannerisms. Plus she has maintained her health so poorly that she's had about literally a dozen "emergencies" with her type-1 diabetes, which has erased any sympathy I could have for her. (And I dislike dealing with the other roommate too.)

All in all, regardless of how it increases my cost, I simply value living alone very highly. When my mother temporarily moved to Florida and left the house all to myself it was heaven. No, I didn't have parties and hardly invited a single friend over; I just loved the peace. I cleaned the way I wanted to, ate the way I wanted to, organized the shelves I wanted to . . . I love being a self-responsible adult, and I relish that responsibility the most when I don't have other people around to interfere with me, particularly if they have emotional problems they force on me (as was the case in all the homes I've had so far).

Additionally, I think my current place constrains other goals such as cooking, since I have very limited pantry space and am too often pestered in the kitchen. I'll often procrastinate on coming out of my room in the morning if I hear somebody downstairs. I can be very social, but I just don't like living with people!

I don't dislike my current place intensely enough at least that I'm not willing to go move into a slum or ghetto, as my current income would limit me to. I can wait until I can afford something decent.

3.) Begin investing:

To protect my savings from inflation and whatnot. I don't like the thought of what kind of attention it would take to these issues in order to be able to make money, so my only concern is with protecting my actual financial worth. Buying precious metals and the like, for instance.

4.) Perform mental exercises every single day:

To reiterate my previous explanations in my previous articles, I want to do this since I've found that training specific mental skills has had very good benefits in the past. For example, doing arithmetic exercises mentally has helped me develop a mental calculator in the past.

My major goals in life will dictate what exercises I do. Math will be one particular, as I see great value in being able to do mental math for restaurant work, meaning culinary math. This is definitely a resolution I'll been polishing and mastering throughout the year, but so far I can only think of three areas I can perform these exercises: Math, concepts, and imagination.

For math, I'll use this and this website, mainly the former, to practice doing equations mentally, striving to do as complex of problems as quickly as possible. Of course, I won't be writing anything down during the solving, which is the key. I am frustrated, however, that these seem to be the best options out there, as I'd still like generators for decimals, percentages, fractions, and so on. If you know of any, let me know.

For concepts, I'll be doing my conceptual exercises again, at least five per day. I'm tired of reiterating what they are, so unless you ask let's settle for the fact that they're a little more sophisticated than a typical vocabulary exercise, instead being aimed at groundings terms in reality.

The imagination aspect was something that struck me as I was reading The Brain That Changes Itself that a whole spectrum of cognitive training is possible just through imagination alone. Succinctly, I've learned it's possible to practice and hone skills just by imagining them, literally. The book puts forth a strong case that imagining performing a skill stimulates the portions of the brain that are involved in actually performing that skill, so the imagination, with practice, can develop those parts of the brain. It's no substitute for real practice and doesn't yield as good of results, but it is promising in how it can aid. For instance, in learning how to carve a roast duck for work I could do the physical practice at work, in whatever way I can at home, and then practice some more with some imagination exercises. I see this as a god-send, as I've always wondered what's the best way to develop knife skills when, say, I can't afford fifty ducks to bring me to mastery. I know it sounds ridiculous, but read the book and it'll make perfect sense.

For this portion, I'll have to rely on context. It'll probably change rapidly throughout the year. I might imagine practicing a liquor pour the evening before and after I actually employ it in a shift, for instance, and then maybe a knife skill in preparation for the next.

I hope I can think of more cognitive exercises later on, but this is all I can conjure right now.

- 5.) Achieve mental exhaustion at least five times a week

The best improvements to my mental functioning come when I push myself hard enough that my brain feels fatigue. The above will flow into this, but won't always be a cause of it.

6.) Cure my bipolar and OCD tendencies

Already talked about it, and don't want to delve into it more for the moment. Simply put: I'm still recovering from a life of dealing with bad people.

7.) Optimize diet:

I've strayed a little too much from being optimally Paleo. 

8.) Practice cold meat preparations:

If work takes up so much of my time that it limits cooking at home, then I'd like to begin dabbling with something like sausage-making. 

9.) Turn reading into my primary form of entertainment:

I love books, but haven't habituated reading enough to experiencing the full power of their enrichment.

10.) Become more inspirational as a person:

This ties into a lot of things, such as how I want to be more assertive as a person, whereas I'm a lot more toned down nowadays. I seem to be tiring out too much now to competently elaborate, but to paraphrase Gandhi: You must be the change in the world you want to see.

11.) Buy and master more knives:

While I have the essentials, my collection is still incomplete. Also, I need to practice more. 

* * * * *

There might come more, but these are my new year's resolutions. What are yours?

(Edit: forgot to mention knives.)

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