Spring Self-Improvement Report

Last year, I started breaking down my list of lifetime goals into smaller steps and making those my resolutions.  Instead of just starting at New Year’s, though, I split the calendar up into the three major divisions that my life as a father and teacher naturally fall into: a Spring semester, summer, and a Fall semester.  To keep my summer at a useful three months, I schedule those goals to be done in the three months before I report back to school for the new year, which means that this year my “summer” is defined as May 22-August 24 (even though I still have two weeks left this school year). 

That also means that my Spring semester for self-improvement–January 1 through May 21–just ended.  I had set ten goals for myself to achieve during this time, each correlated to the larger “bucket list,” and it went surprisingly well.  For comparison, out of the ten goals I set for last Fall, I only accomplished…two.  A poor, piddling, puny little two.  This time around, out of these first ten goals for 2010 (including the eight I rolled over from last year), I finished seven.  Not bad. 

The three I didn’t finish were the biggest three, the long-term projects that I just didn’t make priorities: a scout project goal, revising an old academic article, and a series of Chinese study.  Here, in the order I finished them, are the other seven:

1.  Finish studying Sister Wendy’s 1000 Masterpieces.  Part of the larger goal to be well versed in Western art.  Reviewed here

2.  Finish three books on my reading list.  Part of the goal to read everything in the Harvard Classics and Great Books of the Western World.  I read William Penn’s Some Fruits of Solitude, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and Agamemnon, by Sophocles.  The first two are reviewed here; the third was OK–I especially liked Cassandra’s speech before she died.

3.  Finish three Sunday New York Times crossword puzzles.  Part of the goal to finish 50 such puzzles.  I kept track of how many things I had to research online, and it was about a dozen clues for each one, give or take.  Honestly, there were a few in each puzzle that I simply had to look up the answer to, because I just couldn’t figure them out at all.  I hope to get better. 

4.  See five more movies on my list.  Part of my goal to see all 100 movies on AFI’s list (except the R-rated ones).  I saw The Graduate (average; overrated; really, the only worthwhile thing is Dustin Hoffman’s performance; C-), Spartacus (excellent epic action; A), Sunset Boulevard (incredible, flawless, classic noir; everybody should see this right away; A+), Double Indemnity (another great black and white noir classic; very gritty and effective; A-), and Some Like It Hot (the father [mother?] of comedies; Marilyn Monroe is hilarious, as is Jack Lemmon; A). 

5.  Prepare three more names for temple work.  Thanks to the good people at new.familysearch.org and their census records search, this was a piece of cake! 

6.  Finish a service project I’d been working on.  Check. 

7.  Do the art exercises in the back of How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.  I found these to be strange, oddly focused on perception more than drawing, but I understand that new students must often do seemingly weird things to prepare themselves for more direct work later (like Daniel in The Karate Kid; goodness knows I’ve made many a youth do pointless things they’ve hated to give them basic skills for bigger things in the long run).  As I found these boring, and it was nearing my deadline, I hurried through them, adapting some to my needs and wants.  Maybe I’ll do them over and see if I get more out of them, but I think I’ll just move on to more traditional sketching instruction.

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4 comments on “Spring Self-Improvement Report

  1. I really like number five. I think I’m going to do that too, if you don’t mind me stealing the idea. The AFI 100 Movies list is wonderful, and I’m especially excited to see what you think about 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dr. Strangelove, both of which are on the list and are two of my favorite movies ever. Stanley Kubrick was a great film maker.

  2. Yeah I am a huge fan of 2001. The book is good, to bad the sequels are terrible. The unfortunate thing is that nobody will watch 2001 with me, it scares all my friends away.

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