Happy New Year!

Another month, another year, and depending on how you count a ten year span, some people are in a new decade. New beginnings, new resolutions, and ... the same old you.

Or, the same old me.

The same Laura that has been 'going to run an entire 5k without walking' and 'study and pass my SQL certification tests' and 'finally play piano competently again'.

I've been working on the 1st goal for five years, the second for 6 years, and the last for an embarrassingly long 11 years. How do I eventually meet them? Well, not the way I've been going in the past, clearly.

Playing piano:
I need to recall the last time that I played competently piano was in 2008, just before the stroke hit. I had been playing piano again from 2004, and got better - good enough to record an album in 2006 - but it didn't feel like it was a lot of work. Until I realized that I practiced for hours at church, after lunch in town (church was 35 minutes away from home and I didn't want to drive home just to drive back) until the Bible Quiz team I coached started practice around 5pm. I was in college, first majoring in Music Education, so I had to take Group Piano I (which was too easy but I couldn't test out of just a single class). I also spent several hours in the music building between classes when I had a sizable break and would practice piano. All the piano I played on an average week in college likely added up to 10-15 hours a week. Between that and playing music with my friend Criss in the evenings, I likely racked up 20+ hours a week during the school year between 2004 and 2006. I probably ended those years with 1,000 hours of practice each year. But, being dispersed between breaks and enjoying creating new songs and spending it with musician friends meant there was very little "I have to sit here for 30 minutes to learn this particular song to play it passably well." I knew my forte was creating chord progressions and putting simple melodies on them, so that's what I focused on. Just by doing more and creating more complex progressions meant I became a better player until everything just stopped one night. I've been struggling to get it back since then.

This suggests to me that I shouldn't make myself sit there and learn a new song from Alfred's Adult Learner, but instead focus on Hanon Etudes (what I do like) and create chord progressions (which I also like). Eventually, I gather, the desire to learn a certain piece will encourage me to stick through the pain of sight reading so I can learn whatever piece is on my mind. I've been trying to force myself to go through Alfred's Adult Learner - and I've gone through Level 1 and halfway through Level 2, but not many of the songs I enjoy playing - probably 10 songs out of 100. Regardless, the exercises from Hanon and creating my own songs won't be bad, and won't be hurting my goal of playing piano better than the last 11 years. I know I have a 'play piano daily' challenge coming up in May. I might move that up to February as there's nothing special about waking up/going to bed at a certain time - the challenge I decided to plan for Feb. Not much to mention in a daily blog. Well, that problem is solved.

SQL Certification:
For the SQL Certs, I think I'll go the braindump route as I know quite a lot about the content covered in the first two of three exams required - 'Querying SQL', 'Administering SQL Databases' and "Implementing a Data Warehouse'.

Ooh, I just looked up the MCSA exams, and while I could go for the 2012/2014 version I mentioned before, I think I'll train for the newer version of the MSCA for DBAs, SQL 2016 Database Administration which only requires two exams and both would be helpful for my job growth, as well as sound much more exciting and fun. I'll still go the braindump route to make sure I don't get bogged down on reading materials forever, but know that I will learn just by studying for the exam, and I can refer to the books already published in case I feel like I don't know something fully and should. Allowing myself one test per month seems reasonable. I'll move my 'Read a book a week' challenge to later in the year and I think I'll nix the 'setting priorities and find a productivity system'. I think I should be tweaking my habits and priorities now, just slightly, instead of trying to change my life in some grand way - battling too many habits at once. So, March will be prep for Exam 70-764 and April will be prep for Exam 70-765. I'm interested in the MSCA for BI Reporting, and it would help my job growth later on, but I think I'll wait to decide on that certification after I see how this one goes.

Running a 5K:
The 5K goal seems the most in reach. In the summer and fall I was training moderately well and managed to run 2 miles without stopping or walking, but I still feel best interspersing walking in between half mile running segments. I'm sure as I continue to train (after all, I'll be going to the gym at least twice a week) I'll reach my goal this year - I just have to keep going.


And, now I have a rough idea and plan of how to accomplish those goals this year after many years of neglect. I'm hoping that I am being reasonable in my timelines! The December  Gym Challenge taught me that I can go to the gym every day and like it, and it was nice to start before 2020 - gives a push of encouragement and a quick win. Things seem possible, just with a little effort. Make a little progress (or a lot, if you're feeling energetic!) every day, and even if I don't meet a certain goal, I'll still be much better than Laura of 2019.

Happy New Year to the 2020 version of you.

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