What is something you want to achieve this year?

The title of this blog post is the first prompt of this year’s #bloganuary challenge by WordPress. It is, at the same time, a very natural question to ask on the first day of a new year. It implies the promise that new beginings are possible and that wherever life has brought you, you can still change your path and achieve whatever you want. That is of course, if only you are dedicated enough and invest enough time into it.

If you think about this promise for a while, then it might even occur to you that every day of the year, every day of your life, every instant, every breath of each day offers that same opportunity to just begin again.

To me, at first glance, these questions always seem like an illusion, like a false promise. Sure, you can achieve a lot, you can invest a lot of time into becoming physically stronger, eat better, become a better cook or, if you’re so inclined, a better mathematician. But at what cost? What other things in your life will suffer from their newly won lack of attention? Your work? Your kids? Your wife? Your health?

My life, to me, always seems to barely work on a day-to-day basis. I always just have enough time to make a good job at work, as a husband and as a father. There’s hardly any time or energy for anything else really.

So in that sense, I might even decide to become more efficient at work, as a husband and as a dad. Maybe that’s what I want to achieve? But, honestly, that doesn’t sound very actionable. We all know that time is not something you can posses and store on a bank account (unless you happen to be one of Michael Ende’s Grey Gentlemen). It turns out, you can only take time away from activities by using it on other activities first.

Damnit, that brings me back to the original question: What is it I want to achieve this year? I didn’t quite manage to shake it off with my first attempt. So do I want to become a bit less addicted to food? Maybe a bit more physically fit? Probably a bit more organized as a dad and more empathic as a husband. Maybe finally understand the proof of the prime number theorem? I guess a bit of all of the above.

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