“Room for improvement” was one of these popular comments I got from teachers when I was going to school in Hong Kong. On some subjects, I worked my ass off and did better than half the class and I would still get the comment “room for improvement.” Personally, I never quite enjoy hearing a comment with the word “improvement” because it reminds me of how difficult and competitive it was going to school in Hong Kong.
ROGER: Improvement is kind of like making money – there can always be more. The challenge is knowing how much is enough for you. Or, in a more spiritual sense, at what point will a certain amount (of progress) make you happy.
3 things I’d like to improve upon this Year of the Dragon – 1) Integrate more satisfying, professional work into my life balance equation, 2) be more patient with my kids, 3) live a healthier lifestyle via better diet, regular, fun exercise, and more sleep. yeah, much more sleep.
ALFREDO: While cleaning out my garage a month or so ago, I found a box of old Super 8 movies I had made in my early twenties. I remember buying the Super 8 camera at the flea market and just goofing around with it. One movie was my attempt at a music video, consisting of me spaz dancing in the street for three minutes.
There was no reason to do it – I wasn’t auditioning for MTV or America’s Home Videos or film school or anything like that – I just felt like doing it.
Point is, I want to tap back into that playfulness. It’s not that I’m all Sturm and Drang now, it’s that I’m sometimes hobbled by a voice in my head that asks grownup questions like: is this a productive use of your time? Is this worth doing at all? Is this any good? Shouldn’t you be doing something more important? How will this be judged by others? Why bother at all?
If I had asked myself any of those questions before picking up at that Super 8 camera, I would’ve shot nothing at all, and that would be sad. So: to rediscovering the joy of play in work and life!
DHH: I’m very lucky to enjoy most things about my work life. So my challenge this year is to spend more time taking care of my health. Specifically, I recently took up yoga, but am not very diligent about practicing (ok, I’m downright lazy). If I can just spend a little time each day doing the exercises, I’ll be very impressed with myself!
ANDERSON: Improvement, to me, is doing something better that has a benefit to yourself. Better grades, healthier lifestyle, making more money, reading more, learning more, exploring more, you name it. I sometimes feel that I am in a rut, and need to get smarter. I’ve pretty much have forgotten high school math, world history, etc. It’s time to crack open those old textbooks and re-read them or enroll in a culinary class or take in an opera. I’ll eventually get to it….
JEROME: I feel like Roger hit the nail on the head. I’ll never be the best person I can be, period. The most I can do is be the best person I can be during any given moment and I’m working on balancing out all the qualities that I’m working on so that I don’t let any single one fall by the wayside.
The most fitting analogy for me is comparing life to those role-playing games where you create your own character. You can choose your own class with its own strengths and weaknesses and it’s up to you to decide to make him extremely good at the things he’s already gifted at or to make his traits – say fighting or intelligence – more even.
I’m also striving to be less insular these days. No man is an island after all…
EMMIE: For me, improvement means working on stuff that I like. Regardless of what I’m attempting (whether it’s a 1-day hobby or something I’ve been doing for 30 years, like procrastinating) I tend to compare myself with professionals. Hence I suck at everything, hee hee. I don’t find this discouraging, though; I figure if I put in the necessary 10,000 hours, I’ll be decent.
Things to improve on this year: being healthier (less junk food . . sigh . . . and less stress) and focusing on being grateful. I’d also like to be a mo betta dancer, business person, music person and boss to myself.
PHILIP: There’s so much I can improve about myself that I decided long ago that it’s better to just embrace all my faults and warts and not worry about it. So no improving will be going on with me in the new year but I’ll be fucking happy.
IRIS: I need a major improvement on my financial situation. I hate whining, though, so ‘nuff said.
QUENTIN: And finally, there’s always “room for improvement” but way to go, White Boys speaking Cantonese!