A New Year’s Resolution Architecture To Stand The Test Of Time – And Inertia


This year I made resolutions for the first time ever. Many situational changes in 2013, combined with internal shifts, required that I plant my feet and carry on with intent. Since I need logic to keep me going, I had to spend some time thinking about the architecture of resolve. Here’s how I deconstructed my resolutions, and built them back up.

If I abstract all my thinking up, I resolved to work at, in, and towards more good. So abstract as to be useless. We’ll try the next level of detail. I want to work towards feeling good for myself, and doing good for others. How about that? Still too vague. We’ve arrived at the point where detail lives in implementation.

Here’s something I know.

It’s a waste of capacity to bash away heedlessly at what you want. Better to try as hard to remove obstacles as to set goals.

How so?

Obstacles In The Path Of Goodness

Two things really get in my way.

  1. Aches and pains. Over the past 3 decades I’ve remained moderately active, relying largely on native strength and health. The bell has rung for that approach. I injured my foot, just walking. Recently I have torn something in my shoulder, through a mix of careless weight-lifting after a few years off, compounded by the incredibly dangerous past-time of putting on a fitted jacket. Exactly. Time to admit that I have to put my body first. This has nothing to do with weight, or visual appeal. It has everything to do with reducing the distractions of pain and physical constraints of age.
  2. Organization, of both space and tasks. The two years I spent working wreaked havoc on my paperwork and closets. Stuff overflows, tasks niggle. Time to complete and clear.

Resolutions: 1) Sign up at a gym with personal trainers, one to which I belonged a decade ago. See it as a medical expense, not one of vanity. Shin splits prevent running, I hate cold swimming pools, I failed at finding a good yoga class. But I’ve always loved a gym. 2) Reorganize my space, file my papers, and learn how to use eBay. I will be selling the good pieces of clothing I no longer wear, taking the decent stuff to Goodwill, and donating bags of books to the library. Look for a post soon on how to use eBay. Just as soon as my advisor explains it.

I do not call these goals, by the way. My goal is not to be organized and fit. My goal is to feel good – torpitude and chaos are just obstacles I’ve got to remove.

Picking The Dangling Fruit Of Good

There must be a million and one ways to actively feel good. I’m genetically cheerful, and life has taught me by now what sets off my endorphin flow. Writing, reading, being read, and caring for my loved ones. Also eating and drinking, but those are in maintenance mode, with an occasional slip and resultant recommitment. No need for new focus.

So here are my 2014 goals and plans.

  1. Blog on.
    1. I love writing Privilege, and I will continue to try very hard to balance self-driven writing with value to you guys.
    2. Posting will stick to the same schedule and topics – perhaps with a few more house style discussions. After all, I’m home now.
    3. The Privilege monetization model will change. I used to have ample finances and no time. In that context I set up programs to drive Privilege revenue, i.e. RewardStyle, LinkShare, Amazon Affiliates, and ShopSense,, to be donated to Dress For Success. How much did I actually collect? Spoiler Alert: Turns out making money from a blog requires skills more advanced than mine, or an agenda more accommodating of product links.
      1. $200 from Satchi Online. Remember that post? I wasn’t thinking about Mr. Saatchi’s controversy at the time. Perhaps I would have had second thoughts, but the women who run that site deserve support despite their boss’s terrible behavior.
      2. $200 from LinkShare. And I’d sure love to know which lucky person is now sporting the Halsbrook tunic. Love that piece.
      3. I ostensibly earned about $5o0 from RewardStyle, but they delay payment for a long time, waiting to see who returns goods, I suppose? Let’s assume eventually I will see a check.
      4. I have also earned $60 via Amazon Affiliates, but they won’t pay out until the end of this month.
      5. So this January I’m giving $1000 to Dress for Success to fulfill my original intent.
      6. Now that I’ve got more time than money, in 2014 I will use any proceeds from blog monetization to buy clothes to wear and show here.
    4. I’ll be including more items from lower price ranges, and reviewing more clothes that I don’t actually keep. I hope that a thorough analysis of boyfriend jean options, for example, avec photos, will make a plausible substitution for real life viewings of a Dries van Noten dress. We shall see. And I’m always open to feedback.
  2. Volunteer to help mothers and children. Although I’m changing the blog monetization model, I’m not abandoning service. This I approach with heart, not logic. Mothers and babies move me to tears, and that’s something I want to give space. I’ll be reviewing related programs in my area and scheduling in regular volunteer time.
  3. Care for my husband. I’m newly married. My husband works hard. For the first time in my life, I am supporting someone else not with financial resources, but with time and care. I plan to do a good job. And yes, I’m a feminist, and yes, I’ll be caring for my family and children too.
  4. Writing With A Capital W. I still have that book outline and brief proposal that I filed away in 2011. I will take another stab at getting an agent. However, if I realize in the process that I am simply not a book-writer, that I love the 1,000 word format too dearly, I will also make a stab at getting an article published somewhere. This blog has allowed me to settle into a voice, and hone my skills. What I really want out of writing that I haven’t gotten yet is broad audience. I may fail, that’s what stopped me in my 20s. What good is life if you can’t work up some courage over 30 years?
  5. Stay open to the idea of a new job, if it’s the right one. Somewhere I love the product, I can manage a team, and the company culture is a good fit. My time at VerticalResponse reminded me how much I love software, conceiving it, designing it, and working to help get it built.

It’s been interesting to actually write out this list. I find myself thinking, “Wow. That’s a lot. How will I manage to take walks to Whole Foods, putter in the garden, watch Game of Thrones?” So let’s just put recreation into the goal category too. After all, this is retirement, not How To Execute The Bejeezus Out Of My 50s While Winning Prizes For To-Do List Completion. Some of us, we know who we are, need to remember that smelling the roses is not a competitive sport.



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  • “…not How to Execute The Bejeezus Out OF My 50”–Bejeezus, you crack me up! I love it. I’m also fond of the end run, which you’ve instigated here by shifting the focus from bashing away at goals to removing obstacles. As with personal interactions, sometimes the Very Direct becomes confrontational, and heels dig in. The sideways approach often is the one that works, like sidling through a narrowly opened door.
    I like what you’ve got planned for the blog, particularly the home-decor posts. And I look forward to your investigation of the boyfriend jean. I am currently mourning the tattered state of my perfect pair of Luckys boyfriends, which have a coveted (by me) straight leg. All the current iterations I see have tapered legs, which give me 1980s acid(wash) flashbacks, and the shuddering horror of Mom Jeans.
    My intentions for 2014 include breathing(!), and practicing the art of accurate discernment. Happiest of years to you!

    12:38 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Artsy in Boulder, Very true, that if we don’t quite tell ourselves what we are doing, we can’t muster our defenses.

  • That all sounds awesome!!

  • Sounds like a plan . . ;-)
    I got driven to a disciplined fitness plan the same way, through injury, about ten years ago. Since then, subsequent minor injuries have led to corrections and adjustments to that plan — it’s a considerable commitment, really, in money, time, and energy, but mobility and strength and balance, not to mention endorphins, in my 60s? Priceless! You will find it ever so worth the effort, I know.

    12:39 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, I didn’t know that’s how you started running!

  • I really enjoy your posts and truly value how open and honest you are with your policies regarding affiliate links. It’s certainly rare in the blog world, and I appreciate that, while you will be claiming the (well-deserved) profits instead of donating the proceedings from now on to Dress for Success, you are telling us that you are changing your policy. Thank you.

  • Your list sounds ambitious…mine is rather scant.
    As a newbie on the retirement front and with two adorable grandbabies I have to get my “sea legs” before deciding what to do. Walking, reading, knitting, blogging and having a day each week playing with the babes leaves me with just enough time to action some domestics and cook for my hard working husband.
    I have yet to find the perfect volunteer job but am keeping my eyes and ears open.
    I hope you don’t give up your dream on the book front…you have a way with words Lisa.
    Hope you find some relief for your shoulder soon.

  • I admire the way you’ve set this out so sensibly. I’m working on more exercise this year as well – partly for physical health and partly to fend off stress and anxiety.

    I’m looking forward to your clothing advice and reviews!

  • I have never worked out who to earn a penny from my blog, I really need a teenager to show me how.
    Oh personal trainers – I had one for 18 months of sheer agony, I still barely built any muscle and it didn’t help me to maintain my weight which is a constant struggle, I just do my own thing now knowing that no matter what I do, I will never have a muscular form.

  • Both your list & your honesty, are admirable. I need to be a bit more organised, in general. And also figure out ways to monetize the blog properly, I’ve probably earned about £10 through affiliate schemes so it’s hardly worth the hassle.

  • I am supporting someone else not with financial resources, but with time and care

    I had the luxury of staying home for the first four years of my marriage. I didn’t marry until I was 44 and had always worked.

    Now that I am working for money again, my husband notes that our lives were a lot easier, we ate better, and the house was cleaner when I wasn’t leaving every morning at 7:06 a.m. It definitely makes it easier for someone to focus at work when she or he does not have to spend the weekend doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, shopping for groceries, and cooking. It is a very nice partnership when finances permit and can lead to a very nice life together.

  • It’s been obvious from the get go that you have an organized, logical mind. Plus the ability to write so I can understand it. You blew me away with “reorganize my space and file papers.” Always imagined your space as near perfect!

    We’ve had better luck with high end consignment stores rather than ebay for nice clothes.

    12:40 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Linda @ a design snack, Not even close to perfect. Home is where the heart is, not necessarily the organization:).

  • It sounds like a fine plan. If you really stick to the gym resolution then I expect to read a post on why high-WASPs feel silly in Zumba at first.

  • I like your plan, very much, and admire your honesty about it all. So glad part of your plan is to take good care of your husband, very loving and so important.

  • “I have torn something in my shoulder”

    Oh holy grief! Let us hope you haven’t actually torn something, let us hope you’ve just fired up that dangerously crowded joint, and that some temporary runaway inflammation will soon resolve. Let us hope you’re on the way to a clear diagnosis, and from there into therapy/treatment. Let us hope you’re keeping that angry joint comfortably mobile as the clinicians study your pictures and film. And from here I’m going to abandon Hope, and PRAY you don’t end up with the living hell of adhesive capsulitis [which I’ve had in both my left and right shoulders].


    12:41 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Flo, MRI results are in, and hooray! No tear. Just inflammation. With PT and time I should be OK. I am so happy.

  • Even at 27 I am reminded constantly that if I take care of myself the rest will take care of itself. Working out and getting enough sleep, eating properly and being a mellow and happy me lets me volunteer, take care of my family and do what I want to do.

  • I love how open you are about all of this stuff. And yes, have the goal but work on the process. The piles of stuff drive me nuts too, but neither of us really have time to deal with them (yet) without giving up what little down time we do have.

  • This is fascinating stuff. You seem disciplined and I know you will achieve it all x

  • I am sure you will achieve this list Lisa – you have amazing drive and energy!

    12:42 pm
    Lisa said...

    Well I will just have to justify this faith, won’t I!

  • My (genius) daughter recommends working on the principal (those tasks that are either one of a kind, or infrequently needed, like income tax prep, drawer cleaning, or mucking out the garage) more frequently, and letting the “interest” tasks, the daily grind of dishes, laundry, cooking, and grocery shopping, fill in the cracks. This simple suggestion is working beautifully for me. I love a day when I have gotten a little paid on the principal of the matter, and not letting the interest accrue. It is always so satisfying when the Christmas decorations have been put away, or the carpet has been shampooed or taxes have been filed, isn’t it?

    12:43 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, Great concept. Wonderful to have a brilliant daughter:).

  • As for your writing – now that short stories are back in vogue – see Alice Munro – maybe that’s a way to go? I would love to see you let down your hair, and go all wild-wasp in fiction!
    Oh, and never under-estimate the euphoric effect un-cluttering has…

  • Bravo! You are very focused, and I’m excited to see you fulfill your plans. I’m especially looking forward to your endeavors with mothers and babies (also very near and dear to my heart), and when you find the right opportunity to build a team. You are a wonderful leader, who I know I would enjoy working with, but am not very techy!

  • Smelling the roses is one of my favourite things to do. For the period that my nose is firmly ensconced in the petals, time stops.

    Look after that shoulder, our bodies really do operate on the basis of losing all for want of a horseshoe nail….

    Most important thing? Have fun!

  • Love your plan, and your way of deconstructing the hell out of concepts to drill down to the intent. It is an important thing, to watch Game of Thrones. Or Downton Abbey, or whatever you enjoy. This is known as ‘play, rest and recreation’ or ‘down time’. It’s been missing from my life’s ‘pie diagram’ and I intend to try hard to include it more this year, hope you will too. Enjoy.

  • Such a lovely post. Giving (and taking) care is so important, and so hard to do.

  • I love this glimpse into your thinking. The ‘removing obstacles’ approach is new to me and I can see it working really well. Your plans sound very sensible. Just a thought – maybe add some sort of stretching/movement classes and massage. I’ve found staying flexible and getting the kinks worked out by expert hands are key to avoiding injury and/or irritating previously injured areas.

  • Your plans sound great. I’ll bet you’ll be happily surprised with how much you are able to get done in 2014 now that you have more time. As others have said, I’m glad you’ll be prioritizing time with your husband. That’s a big priority for me too.

  • Hi Lisa,

    Sorry to hear about your foot and shoulder injuries but great to hear that you are committing to your body because well-being is a struggle when one is in pain. Fitness becomes a habit, endorphins motivate and a certain lightness of oxygenated well-being awaits you. At 55, I am feeling pressure to enjoy and take care of my body while it serves me as well as it does. My feet may be a mess, my bunions inoperable and painful, but damn, I can walk. And I do. Your thoughtful resolutions intrigue me because you remind me, as a (retired) VC friend of mine did yesterday, that even at our relatively ripe ages, absent the daily routine of a job, we find ways to create stress for ourselves. I’m certain that my mother and her friends didn’t sit around at 55 soul-searching. They were too busy planning the next trip. Guiltlessly. So I struggle with the resolution thing at this age and what I’ve pretty much figured out is that I want to give myself the physical, intellectual and emotional sustenance I require to be a source of love and help to others. This means staying fit, sleeping well, avoiding unnecessary stress and making an effort to try new things no matter how well I think I know my likes and dislikes. It also means seeking novelty for my husband and I as a couple, and recognizing the dullness and vapidity of getting caught up in lazy Northern California behavioral lifestyle (same hike, same trail, same restaurant) just because it is easy. I’ll be really angry with myself as a little old lady if I feel like I wasted these years feeling vaguely guilty about my relative privilege while chastising myself for not having accomplished something of great value on the world stage, which is more of an ego affliction than an honest contribution deferred for most of us. Which brings me to my next point. You write that you wish to “try very hard to balance self-driven writing with value to you guys”.
    Nonsense! YOU are an interesting person. Generally, what you find interesting taps some unconscious need in us. That is your genius. So yes, you may be writing about style, as MFK Fisher wrote about food, but your posts are so much richer than simple style posts, just as food was a mere conduit for MFK Fisher to express so much heartfelt genius about food and everything else. So please, keep honing what you are doing, let us experience your subconscious along with the discipline and gift of your style sensibility. And yes, we’d love to see the home decor addition, always fun for esthetes! But working your gift requires that you continue to write for yourself. Otherwise you won’t be writing for us.

    1:10 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Alicia Saribalis, I think I need to read MFK, for guidance. Your points are well taken, but I need to more fully internalize them.

  • SO glad to hear you’re not giving up blogging!

  • Here’s a Get Well card for you, LPC.

    xo xo


    12:46 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Flo, Ha!

  • 1. I like your approach of focusing on the goal of feeling good rather than, say, decluttering for its own sake – it explains why I have managed to sort through the papers enough to throw out many and dump the rest into a box in the closet but not enough to get them separated into files. 2. I don’t have the patience to sell on eBay, but a friend’s son handled some sales for me for a reasonable commission and most importantly took the items from the house right away. 3. If being read makes you happy, I’m pleased to help.

  • I am loving your writing – and the comments are great fun to read, too! Came here thru the “not dressed as a lamb” roundup of over-40 bloggers.

    Now I’m off to find out what a “High WASP” is – I’m a WASP, but I don’t think I qualify as a HIGH WASP! Ha!

    12:50 pm
    Lisa said...

    @LoriM, Just remember, the High WASP stuff is both true and tongue-in-cheek.

  • Happy new year, Lisa, and the best of luck with all your good intentions. with love – Marilyn

  • Re the aches and pains: I don’t know how close you are, but I cannot recommend the pilates classes at Center of Balance in Mountain View highly enough.

  • I want you to do all of those things and be happy too. However, can’t we have a post about khakis? Mom khakis are just as nasty as mom jeans and many of us can’t wear jeans all of the time. Khakis and Dale sweater (I live in a northern clime) or blazer or shawl neck cashmere cardigan…but where to get the khakis? JCrew was my go to brand but the rise has gotten lower and lower AND they don’t seem to be making many pants without “stretch”. What do you think?

    12:51 pm
    Lisa said...

    @cornelia forrence, Yes! I have been wondering where to find khakis for women forever. I had a pair of Karen Millen’s, but then I lost weight and they were too big:(. I should set off on that quest again.

  • That’s a lot of “to do”, you’re doing. For me, health is the key. Without it I can’t volunteer, take care of family, organize my desk, write- or even sleep well.

    Best wishes for moving forward and feeling better.

  • Hi Lisa,

    I thought I’d have a go at working out some New Year thoughts using your ‘architecture’. I haven’t really come to any conclusions, but it mighty helpful to clarify some thinking at least.

    You can see the results here (and I do credit you!) http://birdybegins.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/new-year-cant-quite.html

    1:10 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Eleanorjane, I’m honored that you based a post on what I wrote. Thank you very much. Clarity is my best friend;).

  • I am sorry to hear that you are still in pain. I hope that your PT is able to get you strong and healthy as quickly as possible. That is an ambitious list you’ve got going, but knowing you, you’ll get it done!

  • Try pilates. Not mat pilates––that is very hard. Take a class or two on the Reformer taught by someone highly qualified and see how you like it. The Reformer is perfect for aging bodies. AND, as an added benefit…after participating in pilates reformer classes for a year I GREW one quarter inch. Blew my bone density nurse’s mind. (I’m in my 60’s––well past any growth spurt stages!)

  • How did I miss this? I just read it as intently as I would read an interesting piece in The New Yorker.

    That said,what a good place for an article. ( like that’s easy. Still…

    Sorry about your shoulder. Surgery? Yes to a private trainer. Soon you’re be writing about your burpees.

    There’s a really annoying song at Zumba that we do arms to, the only words are ‘ Don’t Stop”.

    I hate the song, but I echo the sentiment.

    xo J

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8 Trackbacks

  1. […] I have said, my 2014 resolutions require some advance clearing. First up, space, both physical and mental. I […]

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