Monday, January 09, 2006

New Year Resolutions

I have a patchy record of making resolutions - and an even patchier record of sticking to them. Nevertheless, I think I may have one or two that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible so why not document them....

  • Become actively involved in my local community

  • Become actively involved in politics (not necessarily party-politics, however)

  • Decide on my career-goals - and then work harder than I've ever worked before to make them happen.

OK... so perhaps they're not all totally specific or tangible but they'll do for now.

The "local community" one is an interesting one. I originally formulated that as "get involved with charity (above merely donating money)". However, I'm not sure that is necessarily as altruistic as it sounds. Two hours spent stuffing envelopes could have been spent earning extra money (e.g. achieving one of my bonus objectives) which could then have been donated. This is likely (not definitely!) to be more than the cost of hiring somebody to stuff envelopes for two hours. Thus, I could provide more value to a charity by simply giving more money (with appropriate boxes ticked to allow them to reclaim tax, etc, etc).

I'm not entirely convinced that my argument is sound... and I may be discounting the value of being physically present (both to me and to those who have to put up with me). However, it was enough to convince me to phrase the resolution as I did.

The politics resolution was driven by my increasing interest in the role of economics and the effects of various governmental policies (past and present).

As for the career-goals... I envy those who knew, at an early age, what they wanted to do and how they worked unceasingly until they had achieved it. The rule I've set for myself is that I should think about what I would like to be doing if I didn't need to earn money. It's an obvious qualification to make but one that I hadn't made until now (which probably explains more about me than I would care to admit).

Right... I'm off to find some competitors to bash... normal service will be resumed shortly.


Quentin Way said...

I've always found resolutions to be almost like curses, as though you need to be touching wood as you utter them. Or something.

Could the local community involvement could be cultural or neighbourly or something besides charity? Charity is a tricky one, and easy to overthink - the economics reading you've been doing is showing through there :)

I've always liked the economics of charity. There was a day at uni when an accounting lecturer used the example of Mother Teresa to challenge the assumption in economics that all individuals seek to maximise their own utility. I told him that those who get involved in charity do so because they receive utility as a result. Which in english means that people do charity because it makes them feel good. And while gaining enjoyment from helping people is commendable, it isnt truly altruistic because a personal benefit is received from it. But I'm sure plenty of people disagree with me on this one.

I think from the 'feel good' angle, stuffing the envelopes yourself would be better, and would be involving yourself more. Giving money isn't getting involved, its helping (and as you say possibly helping more) but it's not getting involved in the full sense.

As for career, I still have absolutely no idea. Suggestions most welcome.

Richard Brown said...

Good comments about the economics of charity. You made the point I was trying to make - but far more clearly!

I think I'll end up doing something for the community - which may end up being charitable in the strictest sense but where that isn't necessarily the primary aim.

Chris H said...

Richard, you live in London do you actually see you neighbours or people in you community I thought you weren't allowed to talk to each other? ;-)

Richard Brown said...

Chris, you're quite right.

We're allowed to nod at each other in a stiled and uncomfortable manner but no more.

Indeed, if you are about to leave your flat and you hear the sound of another door opening or closing, it is considered good manners to wait until the other neighbour has disappeared.

It is socially unacceptable to deliberately "run into" a neighbour.

Yes. Glad we have that sorted out :-)

Quentin Way said...

The whole neighbourly vibe is a bit different down here in relaxed Melbourne in mostly relaxed Australia.

When I first moved into my flat and had no television etc, I used to play music and sit out on the balcony drinking wine and saying hello to any neighbour that walked past. Now I don't do it so much, which is a shame.

I also used to lurk around on the balcony when the really hot guy was next door. Especially that time he was barbequing topless. I think he's just a friend of whoever lives there...

Richard Brown said...


Your depravity never ceases to outrage me... :-p