At the start of the year, I posted my New Year’s resolutions. I actually posted them on January 2nd because I procrastinated on New Year’s Day. In the post, I asked you to hold me accountable. I wrote, “I’m posting publically so you can hold me accountable if you see me slipping.”

Slipping was a fancy way of saying procrastinating.

I started slipping in early January. I slipped through February. And March. In April made a spring resolution that I would post a mid-year progress report on my blog. June passed. I kept slipping. Then I decided to post a fourth-quarter update on September 30th.

It’s now October 6.

Before I get to the update on my progress, may I quickly digress?

Digression #1: I just started using a bullet journal and it’s helping me get stuff done. Including this post.

Digression #2: I’m an INTP and I needed all the help I could get.

Digression #3: The whole business of getting stuff done is largely based on a fundamental question…

Are you a starter or a finisher?

A starter is a person that loves new projects, new tasks, new visions. They love ideas. And they love to START them.

A finisher might like starting things, but the finisher far prefers checking them off the list, getting them done, finishing.

So all of us are both starters and finishers. But the question here is this. Which do you prefer? Starting or finishing?

I prefer starting. Finishing is hard work. Satisfying, yes. But my life is cluttered with countless un-finished projects because I’d rather start a new project than finish an old one.

And because I’m a starter, I get giddy at the start of every new year. It’s a time to throw away the old year of the unfinished, and think new and visions and ideas and change and…resolutions.

Being a starter, I love New Year’s resolutions. I love them so much that a few years ago I decided to have a few of them — New Year’s resolutions with an s. Because with just one meager resolution, it’s easy to completely fail. Your hatred of finishing or lack of will power or lack of commitment or your proclivity for procrastination, or, “slipping,” gets the best of you.

I found that having one New Year’s resolution is like having a test with just one question. You get it right or you get it wrong.

But with multiple resolutions your odds of success improve. Throwing all the new ideas and commitments against the wall to see what sticks.

So on January 1st of this year I decided to create a list of all the new things I would get done in 2016.

One more digression.

Digression #4: Before I embarrass myself with the Paul E. Martin New Year’s Resolution late June Progress Report update, it’s important for me to say that I think new year’s resolutions should be about doing something fun, instead of boring stuff like losing weight of giving up swearing. Us starters do better with goals that are exciting, that could change the world, that are more interesting.

In 2005, for example, I had the perfect boring and uninteresting resolution — lose 10 pounds. I lost all of them, but it was a total bore. So in 2006 I decided to go the other way. I would learn to cook Greek food. On January 2nd I found a Mediterranean market. I bought a cookbook written by a lady from Greece. And I went to the kitchen.

It was a successful year. The next year it was Lebanese food.

Year after year, my list grew.

This year, in the end, there ended up being 33.

Time for the accountability. Here’s the 2016 list. Like a report card, I’ve given myself one grade for effort, one for achievement, and a comments section.

Resolution #1: Stop procrastinating, especially when it comes to writing and posting.

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: C
  • Comments: Writing is one of the easiest things to procrastinate.

Resolution #2: Not think of my kids too much

  • Effort: A
  • Achievement: D
  • Comments: Not sure how to measure “too much” but sure try and realize they are going to be okay, no matter how much I think or worry about them.

Resolution #3: Become a better parent.

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: C
  • Comments: I’ve become better in that I’ve improved in realizing they are going to be okay.

Resolution #4: Study Jesus

  • Effort: D-
  • Achievement: D-
  • Comments: Been in a bit of a spiritual valley. It’s been hard. Please don’t judge me.

Resolution #5: Get a better grasp of Islam

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: That time I had to admit that I had become a better student of Islam than Jesus. Please don’t judge me.

Resolution #6: Become more decisive.

  • Effort: A
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: It’s been so liberating.

Resolution #7: Become much better writer

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: C
  • Comments: It’s usually hard work. Free writing has helped.

Resolution #8: Try to finally figure out love.

  • Effort: C
  • Achievement: F
  • Comments: More certain that the deeper you try and understand love, the less you know.

Resolution #9: Not care what intellectuals think about my writing because the audience I’m trying to reach is everyday normal people, not academics.

  • Effort: A
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: This works with the trying to be more decisive resolution. I writing what I’m thinking then just putting out there.

Resolution #10: Be more vulnerable with my emotions even if this includes crying.

  • Effort: A
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: Sung The Luckiest to Gina on our wedding day in June. Voice cracking. Cried. Liberating.

Resolution #11: Write more honestly about what I truly think and feel without fear of what people will think, especially my Evangelical Christian friends.

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: The fear is still there. But I’ve done it. Liberating, again. But still wonder if they ever read Ecclesiastes or Lamentations or major parts of Psalms.

Resolution #12: Learn Arabic and improve my Spanish and French.

  • Effort: D
  • Achievement: D
  • Comments: Have learned a few Arabic words through study of Islam but have done natha avec my Spanish and French.

Resolution #13: Resume my commitment to memorizing large portions of text: quotation, book excerpts, parts of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

  • Effort: skip
  • Achievement: skip
  • Comments: Does bringing out my copy of the US Constitution during the Democratic convention count?

Resolution #14: Study the Ottoman Empire

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: B
  • Comments: So much more to learn!

Resolution #15: Replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of muscle.

  • Effort: C
  • Achievement: D
  • Comments: Positive I’ve replaced 5 pounds of muscle with 10 pounds of fat. :/

Resolution #16: Punish my body in the hottest yoga studios and on the steepest hills.

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: B
  • Comments: Just not often enough.

Resolution #17: Listen better.

  • Effort: D
  • Achievement: D
  • Comments: This is the one I want to improve on the most. Hard when your mind is always thinking.

Resolution #18: Begin video posts even though I don’t have the technology to make them professional.

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: More to come.

Resolution #19: Become less tolerant of bigotry, prejudice and xenophobia, especially when I see it in people who claim to be Christian.

  • Effort: A
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: This one has come with a price. Mostly from other Christians who think it’s “mean” to stand up  a defend the rights of minorities.

Resolution #20: Launch The Christian Muslim Alliance to help (Christians especially) love and understand each other.

  • Effort: A
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: It’s still in the process. Stay tuned!

Resolution #21: Spend more time helping the homeless.

  • Effort: A
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: More difficult now since I’m not working with the agency.

Resolution #22: Be more of a giver and less of a taker.

  • Effort: C
  • Achievement: C
  • Comments: I try. It’s hard.

Resolution #23: Learn to be selfish because caring for myself isn’t easy.

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: C
  • Comments: Having to unlearn a lot of guilt-producing nonsense learned in church. If you could patent guilt and shame, imagine!

Resolution #24: Become politically active in the 2016 presidential election.

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: D
  • Comments: I’m a Republican and I don’t support our candidate so this is a tough one.
Don't know if this qualifies as being involved.

Don’t know if this qualifies as being involved.

Resolution #25: Attend synagogue with Elliot.

  • Effort: C
  • Achievement: F
  • Comments: Met with Jewish friend. Have the time and place. Just need to get there. He still wants to.

Resolution #26: Attend mosque.

  • Effort: A
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: The Muslims were so welcoming and warm it was startling.

Resolution #27: Spend 10 days somewhere on the Italian coast this summer, alone, writing.

  • Effort: C
  • Achievement: F
  • Comments: Next year.

Resolution #28: Be kinder to myself.

  • Effort: C
  • Achievement: C
  • Comments: Hard one.

Resolution #29: Better my understanding of US history. 

  • Effort: C
  • Achievement: C
  • Comments: Read through the US Constitution and Bill of Rights three times.

Resolution #30: Laugh more.

  • Effort: C
  • Achievement: C
  • Comments: At myself, mostly.

Resolution #31: Become more of who I am and less of want society seems to want me to be.

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: B
  • Comments: This one’s going to take a while because I’ve spent decades trying to please everyone else.

Resolution #32: Deepen pop culture understanding.

  • Effort: C
  • Achievement: A
  • Comments: Hey, I listen to Chance The Rapper now. And I think I could tell the difference between Riyana and Beyonce.

Resolution #33: Learn to live with clutter and disorder in 2016. Just surrender to it. Acceptance. All that yoga 12 step mindfulness stuff.

  • Effort: B
  • Achievement: D
  • Comments: I can’t even live with the clutter and disorder of this post. But…