New Year

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Sunset in Porto

I’ve never been able to make New Year’s resolutions; I always find that when I decide to do something, I have to start as soon as possible! So I’m constantly making new ‘resolutions’, every day, rejecting old ones that don’t mean much anymore, and reshaping exactly what I want and how I want to achieve it.

Funny enough, those resolutions always stay roughly within the same categories. Maybe you find the same thing too? Fitness, writing, travel, music…

I try to avoid making resolutions about goals (reach this level in a language, write X amount of songs) and make them habit-, process-based, instead. Go to yoga once a week. Start learning Japanese again. Write a poem every day.

But as I get tired and too busy over the winter period, it’s easy to make this into a big to-do list, like the rest of my work… and suddenly, I have all these things I want to do, and I don’t know where to begin.

So this is the first year, in the depths of the long winter, where I’ve condensed this great ‘to-do’ list of ‘tasks’ into adventures, and into some core resolutions for 2018. Even when I have more processes on the go, these are the things I want to be conscious of, every single day.

1. Write every day with purpose. Fundamental to 2018 and simple. There are so many ways to mark progress on this, but I decided this year to write 3 pages every day as well as a new poem or song every day, so at first this resolution was to¬†write every day. At first this resolution started really well. I was creating new ideas every day, writing new short stories, free flow writing. Then after a busy week, I noticed my writing was getting more and more lazy. There’s free flow writing, and then there’s writing for 3 pages ‘Well, I’m writing, but I’m not writing very much, so I guess I’m just going to write about how my day went and what I learned, and I’m feeling unmotivated blah blah…’. The more I wrote about how hard I found writing, the harder it got. It felt hollow. I was in a sinkhole, but instead of digging up, or trying to escape, I was digging down. And the more you write about writing, well, the more your world narrows, and the creativity just trickles away… so that’s why I’ve looked at it again and decided to change this goal from write every day, to write every day with purpose. To find what I’m really trying to say that day, what I’ve been trying to say for a very long time; when the winds of life are buffeting against the door, when they take me up in their storm, what core message can I find, beating, as I press my ear to the ground, as I embrace and welcome the constant rather than the fluctuations?

2. Move every day. At first when I started this resolution, I wrote ‘Exercise regularly’, but that’s not true to what I actually want to do. For me, swimming isn’t exercise. Yoga isn’t exercise. Dance isn’t exercise. It’s just moving the body, in different ways, staying active, not being afraid to get a sweat. For me, one of the biggest changes in 2017 was going to the gym every day. It was hard, but not as hard as I thought it was going to be. The hardest moments was when I forgot about it. After a month, it became a habit. But after three months, it wasn’t just a habit. It was part of life. If I went a day without getting out and moving and doing something, I would feel antsy with energy. That way, I didn’t even have to think about it.

3. Work hard, play hard. I like to think I work hard, but there’s this tendency to work inefficiently, and to be ‘busy’ – to work to as many hours as a day, like when you get a deadline at university and you do it all last minute. Now, I’m working at switching off, at allowing myself to work up to a stopline. That goes for working in a job but also writing – there’s such a difference between writing on a project, and creating new ideas for fun. When I’m traveling it’s easy to say ‘now, no work’, but what about weekends? What about evenings? Now that’s hard! I’d like to see more sunrises and more sunsets; to sleep outside more often; to enjoy my free time, without making it a chore in itself.

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