I hope everyone had a great holiday! My yuletide was certainly merry and bright.
Now the year is coming to a close, I don’t know about you, but it’s been a wild ride for me and I’m looking forward to what 2013 has to bring. I like to make New Year’s Resolutions, judge me all you want, and this blog was actually created last year to accomplish one resolution which was to start focusing on my writing and get my voice out there…obviously a goal I’m still working on. I thought it might be fun this year to share my resolutions, maybe they’ll inspire you to write your own, or maybe they’ll give you confidence that yours were far more clever. 🙂
As an homage to the closing year, I made exactly 12.
1) Take Better Care of Yourself – One of the popular trends of New Year’s Resolutions has always been to start ‘dieting’ or ‘exercising more’ with the goal being to ‘lose weight’, ‘bulk up muscle’ or ‘get in shape’. In more recent times, there’s been a push in focus from the promotion of a poor personal image that these resolutions create (ie. I’m fat and need to be thin), which thus creates a goal that is from the start doomed to fail, towards a healthier mindset (ie. I’m not going to exercise to lose weight but instead to feel better about myself). While I certainly could use a change in diet (the lettuce on my hamburger apparently does not count as one daily serving of vegetables…), and probably an exercise regimen that goes beyond ‘bicep curls” with the television remote, my idea with this first resolution is to address more than just my body, but more so, my spirit, mind, and lifestyle overall, and it will set the tone for the eleven resolutions that follow.
2) Force Yourself to Create Daily – As an artist, creation is one of the most important parts of my life, in many ways, it defines my life. Yet, over the years, my time spent creating (brainstorming) has dwindled, and now I find that my greatest effort is being focused on developing projects/ideas/stories that I created years and years ago. While development is obviously incredibly important, if I never developed any of my ideas than they would forever remain abstract thoughts that eventually fade from memory, keeping my creative mind sharp is also of grave importance. With this second resolution, I hope to brainstorm daily at least one new idea, to be jotted down in a journal or typed up on a word doc, regardless of whether I plan to further develop the idea and eventually bring it to fruition, in order to keep me on my toes, and re-train my mind to be continually looking for inspiration.
3) Read for At Least an Hour a Day – I have found, as I’m sure most people find, that the older I get the less I read. Periodicals, newspaper and magazine articles, blog posts, and likewise ilk certainly get skimmed daily, but books, which in my childhood were the very air I breathed, very rarely make it into my daily schedule. I like to claim that it’s because I have no time, but I realized as I sat in my room watching some television program…on Youtube, egad, I could be reading right this very moment. Time is not the problem, but in fact, it is motivation. With this third resolution, which will care for both my mind and spirit, I plan to partition off at least an hour a day for reading. I have a rather extensive personal library, but many of the books in it have yet to be cracked open, so I’ve made seasonal reading lists and as an added incentive, motivating factor, I plan to blog about the books once they are finished. Currently, I am working on Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers; expect an upcoming post reviewing the book.
4) Do Something New Every Week – I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll reiterate it now, for artists, specifically writers, I think experience and having wide and varied experiences is imperative. Art is about life. Capturing, cataloguing, recording life and to most accurately do this, one must go out and live life. Doing something new every week might be a bit difficult a goal to attain, and I doubt that I’ll be able to with my limited resources, but it gives me the motivation to search out new experiences to be had on a daily basis and will help remind me to keep my eyes open for new opportunities, and more importantly, not to snub something new or different that presents itself based on some belief that it might not be fun or interesting, if it helps me to somehow achieve this goal.
5) Stop Making Promises You Can’t Keep – This and my next resolution are connected and they will also quite possibly be the most difficult goals I have ever set for myself. I am terrible about agreeing to do things or proclaiming that I will do things, without regard to whether or not doing them is plausible or conceivable. That is a longwinded way of saying: I make a lot of promises that I can’t keep. Everyone does, and I think, everyone to a certain extent feels guilty about it, and if you’re anything like me, it also can make you feel like a complete and utter failure. The automatic assumption as to what my problem might be is that I can’t say ‘no’, but I am actually incredibly good at saying ‘no’, I will say it all day long. The truth is I am very bad at admitting when I can’t do something. To look incompetent or incapable is perhaps my greatest fear, so I tend to agree to do things, because I am absolutely embarrassed to say that I can’t, for whatever reason, be it lack of time, resources, motivation, etc. I plan to work on that in the coming year, by developing better time management skills, and a better grasp of what I can, in reality, actually accomplish versus what I want to be able to accomplish.
6) Start Keeping the Promises You Make – On the flipside of the previous resolution, I do also make a lot of promises that I am more than capable of keeping yet don’t. The main reason I have for ‘breaking promises’ is procrastination. If it is a promise without a deadline, such as, a simple request that I paint a friend a picture, but, you know, whenever I have time. Well then, I never seem to find the time, and although I continually say when I see them, “yeah, yeah, I’m going to paint you that picture”, and in that sense comfort myself that it’s not really a broken promise because I can still get it done, essentially, it is a broken promise. Especially when I do schedule time to paint that picture, but then I don’t because…I get lost on Youtube, or I start writing some side project for myself, or I get caught up marathon-ing a new-old television series I discovered on Netflix. Even worse are the promises I make of my own volition, such as, promising to write an article for this blog that never gets written, or promising to write a short story every day for NaNoWriMo, and then not. I shrug them off because I tell myself they aren’t real promises. Yet, in that respect, these are the most damaging kind of broken promises. It severely detriments my ability to self-motivate, which in the artist’s world, is key to success. No one else is going to tell me I need to get this shit written, that I need to make my art happen, that I need to create and get my voice out there, only me, so I need to learn to be accountable to myself.
7) Simplify Your Life – This may come as a surprise to some people, and others may just say “well, duh…” but, here it goes: Life is not actually complicated. So why does it feel so complicated? Why does it seem like such a chaotic mess? Because we complicate things. We make our lives more difficult than they have to be. I’m going to digress for a moment, it’ll come back around I promise, but I’ve spent a lot of my life being depressed, just a miserable, bitter, spiteful person. Much of this had to do with people around me, my environment, my home life, all of those external factors over which I had no control, things that were easy to blame, but then I was told, “Happiness comes from within”. At first I thought, well, obviously, this person never had a psychotic mother and a father who breathes insults, but then I got a little older, became obsessed with the word “Perspective” in much the same way Robert Pirsig obsesses over “Quality” in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and it occurred to me one day that what the message this saying is actually trying to convey is that Happiness is not some abstract intangible object floating out in the ethereal plane that you are sifting through life in search of, but in fact, something you create within yourself through your perspective of the world around you. Being happy is as simple as just being happy. At this point, my sister will not let me hear the end of it if I don’t embed this video here…it’s one of her favorite Youtube bloggers, and he just rambles on about being positive. So watch that for a minute…or thirty if it interests you:
Ultimately, what I’m trying to get at is that, much like happiness, simplification comes from within. I perceive my world as complicated and then I make that perception reality. My room is a mess because my life is chaos, my writing is a disaster because I can’t focus through the disaster around me, I accomplish nothing because I have no time, I struggle in classes because I’m battling social life and work and personal projects and…I need to rearrange these thoughts. My room is a mess, and would take me fifteen minutes to straighten. My writing is a disaster because I focus on the false notion of how complicated my life is as an excuse not to focus on my writing. I accomplish nothing because I don’t manage my time the way that I should. I struggle in classes because I procrastinate and tell myself the work is too hard, except when I sit down and actually do it, it’s not hard and I ‘ace’ my courses. So, with this resolution, I plan to stop viewing my world as complicated, instead to see my world as simple and then make that perception reality.
8) Organize and Reorganize Your Life – A lot of the resolutions I’ve covered thus far sound nice in theory, but practical application is going to require seriously organizing and reorganizing my life. Right now, the way I live, I wake up and wing it. Which is nice, really, most days I don’t put on any clothes, I drink beer all day (that’s a lie…I may have a beer or two, I’m such a lightweight one is enough to get me drunk…), make a mess of the kitchen cooking some new concoction birthed in the darkest recess of my mind (and it always comes out delicious, of course), and listen to music or watch television, when I should be writing or doing homework or reading or painting or just plain doing something productive. Obviously, if I don’t set out to restructure how I do things, then most of these resolutions are going to fail before the ball in Times Square has even begun to drop. My sister, who happens to be one of my favorite people in the world (and who is celebrating her birthday today, so Happy Birthday to my sister) is also one of the most insanely organized individuals I know. She is obsessed with organization, and I think a lot of that has to do with how unorganized our parents were growing up. She is making it her mission to help me organize my finances this year, so that will be fun, and I have harassed her about writing an article on organization for my blog, because I think it’s especially important for artists who must be self-motivated in order to be successful to know about organization. In that respect, this resolution (though not numbered one) is priority one.
9) Expand Your Happiness – Despite what some people might think upon first glance of me, I have a hard-lined face and can be a bit standoffish, not to mention, my life right now is a bit of a jumbled mess (I am sorting it out…) and people might consider that a reason for being sad or something, not to mention the things I’ve implied or bluntly said about my childhood, I am actually an incredibly happy person. As I’ve said, since realizing that happiness is not something you obtain, but something you create, I have been a happy person…I still get shaken sometimes, I doubt, I become emotional…overall, I am plainly put, happy. I enjoy my life and I find joy in the simplest things in life. As a creator, I always want to expand on my creations, and happiness is certainly no exception. So far, I guess this resolution might not make sense or sound a little weird, but what I’m trying to say is that in this New Year, I want to find ways to be increasingly happier. All of these resolutions I’m making are geared towards achieving this one, simple resolution, to make my already happy existence happier. Really, though, I think that should be everyone’s resolution for every New Year: Be happier.
10) Redefine Your Boundaries – Everyone puts themselves in a box, some boxes are bigger than others, but we all do it. We tell ourselves there are things we can’t do, we constantly set limits for ourselves, and we do this subconsciously. We don’t even realize we’re doing it: when we see someone cute at the bar and decide not to talk to them, when we don’t turn in an application for a job because we don’t meet all of the qualifications, when we put something off for another day or for never because ‘we just don’t feel like it’. On one hand, limits are good. I don’t want to bash too hard on limits. If they are realistic, then yes, limits can make you happy, healthy, and wise. You know, if you tell yourself you can’t jump across the gap between the roofs of two buildings on a skateboard, especially if you’ve never skateboarded before or know next to nothing about planning a stunt like that, such as the basic physics involved, then that is a perfectly acceptable limit to set for yourself. I do believe, however, that sometimes you should test those boundaries, just to double-check if you might be unrealistically limiting yourself. For this resolution, I want to start examining the things I tell myself I can’t do, and then question whether I actually can, and then attempt to do it. Hopefully, through that, I can also achieve resolution four, five, six, and nine.
11) Become a Better Blogger – This one is obvious and should be on every blogger’s resolutions list. I would like to start posting full-length articles weekly (I have a slew of articles brainstormed on writing, critiquing, and the story-telling process, just need to get them written); I might start at bi-weekly though, to ease my way in, and I also need to start participating more in the blogging community, and to promote my blog. Simple, straightforward, and should be easy to accomplish if I accomplish all of my other resolutions.
12) Continue To Dream – I like to throw this one on my resolution’s list every year. I think as you get older, you stop dreaming so much and, maybe, if you’re lucky, you start focusing on accomplishing a few of the dreams you had when you were younger, but if you’re not lucky, you give up on your dreams entirely, which I think both, in their own way, are sad. Although I want to focus on accomplishing my most pressing lifelong dreams (becoming a semi-successful writer, working on my art, finally finishing my degree and starting a career), I always like to remind myself that life is not short unless you make it that way, and that you should always continue to dream, to think of the future and what it could be.
I hope at the very least, these resolutions entertained you, and I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and the very best of luck in the New Year.