Reality check

My race number arrived in the post today (one of my resolutions!) and, in truth, I’m a little excited. And a little nervous too, because getting the race number means there’s not long to go and it’s all a bit real.

But sometimes we need the reality check to remind us that tasks have to be done: where would we be without deadlines and targets? Can anyone say that when the travel agent asks for the balance of payment it doesn’t cause a frisson of excitement because it means the holiday is getting nearer?

As the freight train of a deadline rushes headlong towards us there are two options, the same instincts which kept our ancestors alive: fight or flight. And that reactive mechanism is itself triggered by a reality check – for example, is this lion going to eat me? And the fact that we’re all here today does tend to suggest that our ancestors were, at least in part, successful.

So, to my mind at least, a reality check helps me focus and sometimes to produce my best work because I haven’t got time to think about a rough draft to be improved over time, I have to produce a result or live with the consequences. As some academics have put it for their particular reality, publish or perish.

And as I said before, procrastination just isn’t an option.

So, what gives you a reality check – and how do you react?

Out with the old … well, not so fast

My New Year’s resolutions are going reasonably well so far – running more, shredding lots – but there is one area I have noticed where I failed entirely to rid myself of paperwork which I’m holding onto in a vain hope that one day it will come in useful.

Every time I’m on an aeroplane there’s an envelope in the amenity kit for my unwanted money, but some banknotes have made it home where they have ostensibly been saved “for the next time that I’m going to visit that country”.  But there are certainly some countries which I’m unlikely to visit again and I’m now wondering why I have gone to the effort to save, for example, 3 Omani Rials or 100 South African Rand.

So the next time I travel I think the collection envelope will gain an unexpected windfall while I’ll have taken another step further away from hanging onto things “just in case”.

And, just for fun, how many different currencies are in the picture?

New Year’s Resolutions

As 2011 passes wearily away, and Auld Lang Syne fades into the chimes from Big Ben, my thoughts turn to what I will endeavour to do differently in 2012.

  1. Use technology smartly: I collect far too much paper in my study, hoarding statements and documents that I might need one day.  I can scan the documents and store them online, available from anywhere, and get rid of the dead trees making my workspace look untidy.
  2. Use my mind and provoke thought: I will try to blog two or three times a week.  I don’t know whether I’ll write about current events, my latest peeves, or something altogether more highbrow.
  3. Continue my search for the fitter me: I think it will be a lifetime of search, but I will aim to
    1. enter (and finish) a 10k race
    2. improve my cardiovascular fitness by running or playing racquet sports three times a week
    3. improve my musculoskeletal fitness by training with Amy
    4. lose weight

Should this list be longer, mention something inspiring (like solving world peace and famine), or set outrageous expectations (such as climbing Everest)? Nope, lets stick to what I want to do to make a change.

So, what are your resolutions?