New Year’s Resolutions 2012

1) Harden Up

I’ve basically realized I’m a big poon and love to feel all sorts of sorry for myself when I encounter pain, discomfort, or have to wait longer than 45 seconds for a hot meal. Apparently I’m not alone, since my generation will forever be stained by our entitlement complex *cough cough* (Occupy Wall Street protesters) *cough cough* and overall ineptitude to take on adversity without wireless and a macchiato latte. Regardless, I am going to do my best to inoculate myself against pain and stress and doing a better job of denying myself. What’s that, Burton? You want a snacky cake? Cram it in your cram hole and go do wall sits till you vomit or pass out. I hope to push myself further in my workouts, stop complaining about 95% of the things I whine about, and be better about my diet.

2) Stop Fearing Failure

I grew up in a family that placed a premium on sarcasm, which was great for learning to laugh at myself, but also seemed to function as operant conditioning for my never wanting to undertake anything that would make me look foolish or inadequate. Perhaps that’s natural to an extent, but it can have debilitating effects in that it has prevented me from realizing my potential at a lot of things. I remember getting the starting job as a defensive end in 8th grade and then telling the coach before the first game that I was sick and couldn’t play (because I was really afraid of sucking). I remember countless girls I was interested in that I never asked out because I didn’t think they would say yes (though things still worked out for me in that area). I’ve always remembered that cheesy quote that says something like, ‘You’ll miss 100% of the shots you never take’, but it never inspired me to take action. But self fulfilling your own doomsday prophecies is a crappy way to live, and I don’t want to be driven by fear. I don’t really know how this will work itself out, but we’ll see.

3) Cut the crap

One of the many beautiful things of the Bible is the mandate out of Genesis 1 for us to essentially go and make culture in the world (and I think we will all do that again one day). Obviously we took that a little too far and screwed everything up, but I think today we are still screwing it up. I look back at some of the movies and music I’ve listened to, and it’s shameful. There is nothing redeeming about Superbad or other raunchy comedies, and most of the reality TV shows I see clips of aren’t doing us any favors either. Come to think of it, I don’t really know many people at all that are actually careful of what they expose themselves to; it’s almost a foregone conclusion that ‘it just doesn’t really affect us much’.

I’ve realized that the phrase, ‘Garbage in, garbage out’ isn’t some trite phrase your parents throw at you so you don’t watch R rated movies or listen to Nickleback (in the latter case, they were truly shielding you from soul destroying garbage). It really is important to guard yourself from what you watch, read, and listen to. As Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

I’m always puzzled by some of the unkind things I say, joke about, or think, when all along I’ve been taking the equivalent of a spiritual upper-decker and then wonder why my spiritual reservoir is filled with crap. Realistically this resolution will look like cleaning out my iTunes, being very judicious with the movies I watch, and be even more careful of the things I read.

4) Stop Procrastination/Being a Lazy Sack of Crap

Judging by the timing of when I’m releasing this, it shouldn’t be too far-fetched for anyone to believe I have a big issue with this. Sometimes I’m literally too lazy to answer a phone call or text message. Seriously? Too lazy to put my fingers to the keys of a smart phone?

 I chronically wait till the last second to turn in my homework or study for school like I need to. If there are clothes or dishes to be put away, well, I’ll just do those later tonight (and by later tonight, I mean maybe this weekend).

 I have noticed my resolve to be productive and proactive seems very proportional to the amount of sleep and even moreso, the specific hours I sleep. If I’m in a good rhythm, waking up and going to bed at the same hours every day, I feel great and more motivated. Realistically this should look like me getting good rest, writing out what I want to accomplish, and then just forcing myself to do it (see number 1).

5) Get in the best shape of my life

Related again to number 1, I have done a poor job of consistently working out and pushing myself hard while I’m at the gym. Time to sack up and embrace the pain!

6) Gluten Free 2K12

I did a pretty good job of this last year up until our honeymoon. The allure of those Mexican tacos wasjust too much though, so I caved. The next few months after that were off and on, and having a wifethat eats whatever she wants makes it more complicated. I know how great I feel and perform when I’m not eating crap like that, and it will not be conducive for my other goals if I do not follow this one.

7) Memorize a book of the Bible

I’ve never really tried to memorize scripture, let alone done a good job of consistently getting in the word (see numbers 1 & 4), so I want to really do a good job of getting more of God’s word (see number 3) written on my heart.

8) Pray 5 Days a Week

And I’m not talking about over meals and stuff like that. I want to spend 5 days a week in meaningful prayer for the people I care about, myself, Ethos, and our country. I think it’s one of the most important things we can do.


Belated New Year’s Resolutions for 2011

No doubt you’re puzzled by a post about New Year’s Resolutions in the middle of February (yes, February is spelled with an ‘r’ after the ‘b’). I did that on purpose, so that you would be reminded of the promises you made to yourself (that’s a complete lie; I’ve just procrastinated writing about it, even though I do think it will serve as a good reminder, but that’s a theme we’ll discuss later in this nugget). Here are my goals for 2011 in no particular order:

1. Low expectations.

I’m not talking ‘low’ as in Negative Nancy/I’m going to be a huge wet blanket on everyone I know and cry in the corner listening to Dashboard Confessional. I’m talking about having no expectations. It’s impossible to experience disappointment unless you already had a false expectation of what would happen.

I didn’t like Napoleon Dynamite. At all. Was it because it was a bad movie? No, it was because for 2 or 3 years straight, I had the entire movie quoted to me repeatedly and was told by everyone that it was better than sliced bread. I saw it, and it was clever and entertaining, but I probably would have liked it a lot more if I didn’t know anything about it. How many broken hearts (mine, not others *cough cough* my fiancée *cough cough*) would I have dodged if I had used this in dating?

2. Simplify.

This was a theme from last year, that I’ve tried to improve even more upon. Last year, I sold my Xbox, my electric guitar, my digital SLR, and a few other things I had that I either didn’t use much or didn’t “need” anymore. I want to take that further this year.

3. Get in shape.

I’ve always heard it’s not the years, it’s the miles. If that were so, 2010 was a year of hard living on the BurtonMobile. I put on about 10 pounds of pure fat while losing most of my muscle mass and metabolic conditioning on my way to getting literally zero exercise the whole year and eating burritos and pizza like a Hispanic-Roma hybrid. I guess you could say I was fat and happy, even though it’s tough to be happy when your fat rolls are staring at you every time you get out of the shower.

I’ve cut 20 pounds doing Paleo (10 of it was water weight, 10 was fat) and am leaner than I have been in years. Now I’m starting weights and cardio to get in really great shape.

5. Read and pray every day.

Ah, another part of my life that lapsed into obscurity in 2010. You would think the two most fundamental things to a Christian would have more precedence, but my own needs were met time and again before these two. I’ve been doing a red letter study (only the words of Jesus) with my friends Brian and Andy, and it has given me new eyes for the Gospel and stories I’ve read a hundred times. Once again, attitude dictates reality.

6. Gluten Free year, Paleo 99%.

I plan on going the whole year free of gluten (barring accidental exposure), and doing Paleo almost 100% (cheat meal every 3 or 4 weeks, gluten free of course!). I’m excited for how healthy I feel and how much better it will get.

7. No texting and Driving. Like being a registered sex offender, this is one of those things you really don’t feel warm and fuzzy about admitting on the internet. I admit, I do it. I justify it by “only doing it at red lights” or whatever shallow ruse I can summon to deceive myself, but the fact of the matter is that it is remarkably selfish behavior that is unbelievably short-sighted in the grand scheme of things.

8. No procrastination.

If ever there was a gold standard for a vice that has caused  a lot of small-ranging-to-humongous FAIL-trains in my life, this is it. Everything from cleaning my room or filling up my gas tank to filling out important paper work that will determine the rest of my life is like pulling teeth for me to get started on. I don’t understand why, but I’m sure it means I have some deeply planted psychological complex for using it as a defense mechanism to avoid failure. Perhaps my subconscious logic is “You can’t fail if you don’t try” (even if that means I just fail in a roundabout way by never accomplishing anything).  This introspection was already written about here.

9. Less sarcasm/cynicism.

I’ve always labeled myself a realist. Most people seem to think that’s just a polite term for a cynic, but I do believe there is a difference. Realists try to see the world for what it is, especially taking care to remove their own opinions or biases from what is pure and objective fact. Obviously, this is difficult to do all the time, and many times I’ve found myself toeing the line on into cynicism and negativity.

Ah, cynicism—the god of mockers and naysayers everywhere. Cynics are people who overflow with witty remarks and criticisms, but never seem to apply their intellect to offering solutions or encouragement. While constructive criticism is a remarkable tool for making corrections and helping someone out, cynicism offers a proverbial kick to the groin of whomever it is directed against.

If cynicism is the god of mockers, sarcasm is cynicism’s gift to them. Middle school served as a trial by fire for developing my wit, while high school served as a graduate school for throwing in zingers under my breath or belittling people in front of everyone else. In A Separate Peace, John Knowles says, “It was long after that I recognized sarcasm as the protest of people who are weak.” If that’s true (and I know it is), I am weaker than most.

10. Cut the technology.

It seems the older I get, the more I see the role that technology plays in destroying the community I have with loved ones. My friends and I get together so that we can sit in a room and watch football while we all text our girlfriends and play on Twitter or other apps. I can’t think of a greater sense of false intimacy short of having sex with your spouse but telling them to wear a bag over their head.

One of my favorite things in the world is to go to my buddy Aaron’s farm/ cabin and hangout. Our cell phones usually don’t have service. There is no TV, no internet. It’s dark, sometimes scary, and all we can do is eat terrible food, tell stories, and have stupid discussions about life, God, and probably inappropriate things. All we have is each other, and it’s the purest sense of community I’ve ever felt. I don’t know if that’s sad, or if we’re all so far gone that we don’t even see what’s going on.

When I was in Europe for 3 months, it was so incredible to have 3 months of freedom from the leash that I call a phone. Can you imagine a world where people had to show up to meetings of coffee or dinner because there was no way to text and say, ‘sry dude. i had something 2 do tat jus came up. i cant make it 2 ur place’? You’re already forming mental images of all the Frosted Flakes you have for friends that bail on you as soon as they find something better.

Either way, I’m cutting the internet off my phone, using the internet primarily for learning vs. wasting away on Facebook, and trying to be very intentional about staying off my phone while I’m with friends.

*On a side note, does it bother you that I only did 10 resolutions, even though it would have been really cute to say something like, ‘Here are my 11 for ‘11!’?