New Year’s Resolutions are crap. We can all just acknowledge that, right?
The whole “breaking resolutions on January 2nd” thing is not just a joke but a tired joke. Besides, “Goals” and “plans” are much more concrete and useful. I know this because of all the How to Be Productive articles I read when I should be being productive. Lifestyle blogs are big on focus. Like, pick a word that’s your theme for the year, like “flourish” or “persist” or “gratitude.”
Yeah, me too, Scully. Sure it’s nice to hand-letter in your #BuJo with your watercolor brush pen or whatever, but is it useful?
At the beginning of 2016 I declared it to be “The Year I Get my Shit Together.” (Because the unofficial themes of 2014 was “The Year My Life Cratered” and 2015 was “The Year I Lay Amid the Rubble of My Life and Felt Sorry for Myself.”)
Seriously. I said this aloud and often, in that “I’m making a joke but not really joking” way. I put it on a Post-It note and stuck it on my computer monitor. I WROTE IT IN MY BULLET JOURNAL. I mean, I didn’t make a whole decorated page or anything. But I made, you know, a bullet point. That’s how official it was.
And you know what? It worked. I mean, no one ever totally has their shit together (no matter what their Instagram looks like), but I made substantial progress toward my goals.
I didn’t declare the year anything. There didn’t seem a point because the rest of the world was declaring it a dumpster fire. I was back to lying in a crater, only this time under constant bombardment from the media, social media, and this echo chamber of “OMG EVERYTHING IS AWFUL AND PEOPLE ARE AWFUL AND EVEN THE EARTH IS TRYING TO KILL US.”
Which is not 100% true.
You see, the thing about depression and anxiety—
Wait. Quick sidebar. I don’t think I’ve ever talked seriously about this. I struggle with depression, which is something that a lot of people can relate to. But I also have this panic thing, but not like from normal stuff like, you know, 2017, but from things like watching 3D movies, or going to IKEA, or unloading the dishwasher.
Okay, back. So with depression, you tend to go straight to the worst case scenario and view problems in an “all or nothing” way. Like, “Well, I haven’t gotten anything done and it’s already noon, so I might as well CALL THE ENTIRE DAY A LOSS and binge-watch Inkmaster. Because OBVIOUSLY I am a complete FAILURE.”
We already think in all caps all the time. We don’t need everyone shouting at us 24/7 that THINGS ARE THE WORST THEY’VE EVER BEEN.
Did bad things happen? Yes. Natural disaster? Injustice? Ineptitude and assholery? Check. But before any of that, everyone I knew decided that 2017 was going to suck. That was the focus word, and then when bad things happened, the discussion was more useless vitriol and hyperbole than a call to action.
While January 1st is cosmically arbitrary, it happens near the winter solstice, and across cultures, there’s a mindset of renewal this time of year. Maybe if we all decide 2018 will be better, we can make it so.
That’s not magical thinking, that’s stating intent. I can’t just wish to get my shit together and it happens. But I can put it on a Post-It note and stick it where I will see it every day and think “What am I going to do today to make this happen.”
SO what is this the year of? Well, getting my shit back together is a little on the nose, and it’s not very affirming to remind yourself every day that you dropped the ball and now you have to chase it down. I want something based on what DID work last year.
You know what worked? WHEN I GOT OFF OF TWITTER. Around about November I stopped reading social media, limited my news intake to headlines, and turned down the volume the talking heads–including the ones in my real life. It isn’t that I don’t care—but when you can’t separate what you can control from what you can’t (let alone let go of the latter), it just gets to where you can’t control anything at all.
Now, how to put that into a positive, actionable plan?
So I’m downstairs making myself a butter and honey sandwich, AS ONE DOES, while I free-associate. Batten down the hatches? Stay the course? Eyes on the road? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…
That’s it. I need to just keep swimming. To be less Marlin, more Dory.
Yeah, I’m laughing, too. I need to stop overthinking, not give it up entirely.
But you know who is a good role model for this?
Face it—BB8 is the real hero of Star Wars VII and VIII. Those rebels would all be toast if not for him. He keeps rolling, keeps his head (most of the time), and keeps his sense of humor.
And his name ALSO ends with an 8. So happy 201(BB)8, everyone. Just keep rolling…and I’ll just keep writing.