New Year's goals: getting buffed, writing a book - Joel Hall

I guess a column about New Year's resolutions is not all that original. However, I've been working all throughout the holidays, my eyes are heavy, and my brain feels like the inside of a Cadbury egg. This will have to do.

The last year has been a year of great transition for me. I came back to America in August of last year, after two years of gallivanting around Asia. The following month, I did a mad dash for employment and found out first-hand why so many Ivy-League graduates are flipping hamburgers.

After my original job search left me empty-handed, I took a series of labor-intensive odd jobs until I settled on a job as a suit salesman. The job was challenging and it allowed me to greatly improve my wardrobe, but it still wasn't as fulfilling as working in the newsroom -- something I missed terribly.

In 2007, my only two resolutions were to get a job and write a book about my experiences in Japan as the first American high school teacher in a rural mountain farming community. As it stands, I've only accomplished the first resolution, but the first resolution seems to eat into the time that I have to accomplish the second resolution.

When most people make resolutions, they are resolutions that compliment each other, such as eating healthier and loosing 20 pounds, or going back to school and learning how to fly a plane, or something like that.

This is the first time in my life where two resolutions seem to cancel each other out. In order to have achieved my second 2007 resolution, I would have had to make even more resolutions, such as to manage my time better, or to answer my e-mails only once a week.

Making resolutions seems to be a vicious cycle of having to set more resolutions, so this year I have resolved only to set goals.

My first goal is to write my book. I may not accomplish it this year, but I am going to make it my No.1 priority outside of work. My memories of Japan are too hilarious and awkward not to share, so I am going to work harder to get everything onto my laptop before my recollection gets too fuzzy.

My second goal is to learn some Spanish. Most people don't know that the "F" in my middle name stands for "Fernandis" and that my grandfather was a Spanish- speaking immigrant from the Cayman Islands.

I never took the time to learn Spanish in my youth, because I thought French was much cooler. However, knowing how to say "Je voudrais un pamplemousse," (I want a grapefruit) is about as useful in Clayton County as knowing what an aglet is.

My third goal is to get buffed. I'm happy with my current state of physicality, but loosing 15 pounds would make running around on behalf of the paper a whole lot easier, and gaining some muscle would prepare me for any brawls I may encounter in the pursuit of journalism.

I'm going to attempt that P90X work-out plan (yes, the crazy one) that is supposed to get you ripped in three months, but I'm not making any promises about that.

In 2008, I'll resolve to make no more resolutions, but will follow my goals to the best of my ability.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.