Aim high so that you can end 2013 feeling better about life

Full disclosure - this year took a lot out of me.

I think 2012 aged me as much as any two years have. At work, at home and in my family life, stress has been a consistent theme.

This is my final column of 2012 and I just didn’t feel like I was up to setting personal goals and making New Year’s Resolutions.

So I decided to measure myself against the most popular resolutions.

Polls by General Nutrition Centers, Quicken and other sources narrowed all of the choices down to a top ten list of resolutions.

Let’s see how we would all hold up to those resolutions this year.

1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends

More than 50 percent of Americans resolve each year to spend more time with family and friends. I should certainly do that.

Thanks to job changes, I have to work at least three and sometimes five evenings a week. That is after getting to work early and putting in a full day. But since my family is almost addicted to using the heater when it gets cold and eating at least three times a day, I don’t see a lot of hope on the horizon. We’ll adopt this resolution, but don’t hold your breath waiting for success stories 365 days from now.

2. Get fit

I work out several times a week. My fitness and strength have been steadily improving since a New Year’s Resolution in 2009. I still have a long way to go, but resolution number three will be where my fitness level will improve the most.

3. Lose Weight

Two thirds of Americans are considered overweight. Add to that our typical vanity and weight loss is an obvious target for resolutions. I need to do this, too. I said last year that if I lost 10 pounds I would be happy. I lost 16 and I’m still not happy. Let’s set the goal this year at 16 more.

4. Quit Smoking

Score one for the home team! I never started smoking so that’s one problem I don’t have to solve.

5. Enjoy life more

I’m not the only person who feels stress apparently. But this has actually been a topic of conversation between my wife and me recently. She cautioned me not to work all the time. She told me to have fun. I really don’t know what that means to me anymore. I’m happy when I watch my kids practice and play sports and when I do things with my family. But I used to go to movies – even by myself – and play golf all of the time. I played golf four times this year. Three of those were during a one-week vacation. Getting work done around the house and at the office take worry off my shoulders.

I guess in that sense work is what I like to do now.

6. Quit Drinking

That’s another one in my favor. I have never consumed alcohol so I just have to keep not doing what I’ve never done and I win this one.

7. Get Out of Debt

Money problems breed other problems. Adopting a little guy isn’t cheap. Our family has set a target of being debt free by the end of 2013. That would be great. As long as no one has health problems and the creek doesn’t rise, we have a shot.

8. Learn Something New

I was supposed to learn how to ride a bike and write two books this year. We won’t discuss my dissatisfaction at the lack of progress I made on those resolutions from last year. I write about 5,000 words per week. That is enough to have written The Great Gatsby 10 times this year. I just didn’t have enough words to fill two books on top of that. I don’t have a good excuse for not learning to ride a bike. That is an effort problem.

We’ll double down on those and see if we can’t put No. 8 in the win column next year.

9. Help Others

Our family is pretty good at this one. We have many good friends who have modeled how to do this for us. We are nowhere close to the level they are. We can get better, but this should be another chance to score in 2013.

10. Get Organized

The common theme runs all the way through No. 10. A lack of organization can increase stress. I have done a lot this year to improve my organization. In the past 365 days, I have taken great strides from a pegboard in my garage to better digital organization for work and home schedules. If I improve as much in 2013 as I did last year, I will be accused of being OCD.

These 10 resolutions are more than enough for any of us to pursue. In reality, you should probably cut the list in half so that you can focus on real goals and achieve them.

Aim high so that you can end 2013 feeling better about life.

We can’t be perfect but we can be better. As we come up to the junction between what was and what will be, aim for a future that is at least slightly better than your past.

Kent Bush is the publisher of The Augusta Daily Gazette, The El Dorado Times, and The Andover American newspapers. He can be reached