Friday, January 24, 2014

Why I Willingly Watch the Superbowl and Other Sports with My Husband

Like many wives, I used to mourn the loss of my husband between the months of August and March for the football and basketball seasons. Game after game. Weekend after weekend.

In a little over a week, the Superbowl will be here. But believe it or not, now I'm actually excited about it.

My 95-year-old grandmother watches football and basketball on her own. That sweet, tough old bird taught PE back in her day, married a college football player, and raised six kids: three active boys and three equally active girls. While we lived in Utah, my husband and I watched a football game at her house, and she and my husband talked about the game, both informed and passionate. When she asked me if I was enjoying the game, I explained her about my bare-bone "tolerance" of sports on TV, and she encouraged me to get involved in what my spouse likes and make it interesting for myself.

In recent years, my dread of the football and basketball seasons have become less painful as I've tried to participate in watching sports with my husband. In my own way.

I sit next to him and do something else simultaneously. I type on the computer, crochet or craft, or read, watching key replays and reacting according to his reaction.

Also, I've noticed elements in sports that I actually find interesting.

1. I love listening for odd names. Nearly every team has at least two or three players with horribly cruel first names. Athletes have either dumb or mean parents to name their sons Casanova, Haha, Shabazz, or some combination of random syllables. The name game becomes exponentially more fun if I can find a bizarre first and last name combo.

2. During the fall, audience members bundle up, and I vicariously experience a chilly autumn evening by watching fans shiver. Silly, but it helps me endure living in hot, humid Houston.

3. My husband has a penchant for anticipating and stating exactly what the announcers say or what the coaches do before they do it. (Example: Tracy says, "The coach will call a time out here." The ref blows the whistle signaling a time out. Need another? Tracy says, "The defense should have blitzed there to prevent the play-action pass." Kirk Herbstreit says, "I'm surprised the defense didn't blitz. They could have prevented the play-action pass.") I get a good laugh out of it and have even tried to develop such skills myself. The best I've been able to do is occasionally predict a holding call, but I'm getting better!

Years ago, my husband and I struck a deal. He refrains from watching games on Sunday, and in exchange we make a big deal of the Superbowl, as a whole family. He isn't allowed to shush me (or our future children), and we have tons of yummy snacks! I've enjoyed our Superbowl parties just as much as he has. Plus, most of the commercials are entertaining as well.

Against my expectations, I have actually come to enjoy sitting down with my husband sometimes to watch football and basketball in small dosages. I still don't care for sports statistics, and I doubt I will voluntarily keep abreast of sports on my own, but the point is we turned a point of conflict into something we can do together peacefully. Compromise in marriage at its best! (Now to get him to like BBC Austen adaptations.)

Happy Superbowl to everyone: football lovers or not!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Forget New Year's Resolutions: How to Set and Achieve Goals

I attended a New Year’s Eve party, and not one person admitted to making resolutions. Every single person said, “I don’t make them because I won’t keep ‘em.” Fair enough. It takes only six weeks at the gym to see that people start off enthusiastic and then give up on their resolutions.
However, I feel that most of us set goals on a fairly consistent basis, either for work or school or whatever. We may not set my goals on January 1, but we do have goals and achieve some of them. What enables us to meet some goals successfully and then fail at others?
·         Desire to reach a goal. If I don’t care about it, I won’t do it. I have to want the end result and be able to at least tolerate the steps between to get to the end result.

 ·         Practicality. How can I know if a goal is practical or not? Difficult to say. My suggestion: understand yourself and your limits and then aim a little above that. Be aware of time or other restraints or circumstances that would impede you and either mitigate them or adjust your goal accordingly. Perhaps starting out with a small, easily achievable goal would help me gain confidence and a grasp of how to handle your goal efforts in the context of everyday life. Then again perhaps diving right in and giving everything to the goal forces you to figure out how to handle it all together. Get a feel for what works for you and do it. 

·         Map of steps. For more complicated goals, I need to have a plan of attack or even a set of smaller goals. Cutting a larger goal into bite-sized pieces make the process more palatable. (Enough food metaphor for you?) What steps will lead me to the end result? Map it out and follow it.

 ·         Accountability. If I know someone will ask me about my progress, I will more likely work on that goal. During NaNoWriMo, friends and family members asked me about my progress, which made me want to be able to report only good news. 

·         Buddy system. For some goals, it helps to have someone work on a goal with me. If I forget, he or she can help me remember. If I lose desire, knowing that he or she is doing it too motivates me. 

·         Record of progress. If I work towards a goal but see no progress, it makes me feel that I wasted my effort pointlessly. However, if I monitor my progress, however small, I can see that end result inching closer. Use whatever system of recording that will motivate you. 

·         Smart support and choices. If I want to achieve a goal, I can’t surround myself with things or people who will distract me from achieving that goal. Both the choices we make and the choices of people around us could either support or sabotage efforts toward a goal.

 ·         Rewards. Progress is its own reward in some goals. In others, more tangible rewards help keep motivation up. On the other hand, for me failure is its own punishment. If you need a punishment to ward off laziness or apathy, I suggest keeping it on the lighter side to prevent self-loathing or discouragement. 

·         Overthrow of apathy. If/when apathy sets in, reevaluate the goal. Is it realistic and attainable? Am I seeing the results I want? If not, why not? What can and can’t I change?

 ·         Reflection. I honestly leave this one out most of the time, but it can be helpful for making and accomplishing future goals. What helped you succeed in this goal? What didn’t work that led to failure? What can you learn from it that you can use later or change later?

I really haven’t set any “New Year’s resolutions” for myself, mostly because I was already working on a couple of goals, and I don’t need to add to the pile and make it harder for myself just for convention.
So forget the formal title of resolutions if you want, but don’t give up on setting and at the very least trying to achieve goals. We all are always changing, developing, growing. And goals allow us to have at least some control of how we change, develop, and grow.