I’m sitting on our couch reading this book called Do No Harm, stories from a neurosurgeon. It is gripping. He’s detailing some of his surgeries in depth – the ones that were successful, the ones that weren’t. But my computer is making noise. Facebook has just dinged on my phone, my iPad, and my laptop… which is now connected to a giant monitor that displays everything clearly across the room. A pressing message, an email that must be responded to, a phone call that brings to life every gadget. My phone alerts me to the fact that I have fifteen habits left undone today. I have to drink a glass of water, I have to brush my teeth after breakfast, I have to make my to do list for the day, read the news, stretch, and… somewhat ironically, a reminder pops up that says “be in the moment.”
It’s still over a month away from the end of the year and I’ve already determined my New Years Resolution.
I’ve come around to New Years Resolutions.
In the past I’ve scoffed at the idea that you should only attempt to create great change on January 1st. Isn’t every day the start of a new year, a new you? If you need an excuse to start a new you, you’ll probably forget about it, give up, fall behind. People hate the idea of a New Years Resolution, and it’s that guttural distaste for the whole thing that began to appeal to me.
Why do we hate the idea of New Years Resolutions? Because for a few weeks they remind us that we’d like to be better.
We could sit here and argue that you shouldn’t be made to feel bad that you’re not eating better or going on a run, but I’d like to feel bad. I want that deep inner shame of “I told myself I’d run 364 days ago and I guess I’m making that same resolution again this year.” I want to be reminded that my life is soft and fluffy and easy and sweet and the absolute worst thing that could happen is that I’d have to force myself to drink the free water out of my faucet or wake up at a reasonable hour and get something done. Oh woe.
This upcoming year my goal is a bit of a softer version of what so many people seem to be doing right now: tossing their computers out of the window to live a more authentic life. (But not before they send out several posts reminding people that, in their social media absence, they’re gonna be doing tons of super cool authentic things.)
My goal is to focus on one thing at a time, all the time, as often as I can, and here are some examples:
- If I’m watching TV, I’m not going to have my phone out.
- If I’m reading a book, my computer is going to be turned off.
- If I’m with a friend, I’m going to be listening to them talk before I begin to think of my response.
- If I’m eating breakfast, I’m not going to be pondering what I want for lunch w/o enjoying what’s in front of me.
- If I’m reading the news, I’m going to finish reading the news.
- If I need to do work I’m going to do work and only work until whatever task I’ve assigned myself is finished.
I am also going to attempt two other related resolutions:
- Do all my “big ticket” chores on the same day and do them immediately. Calls I’ve been avoiding, cleaning tasks I put in my rotation but totally hate, general life must-do-or-else things that literally get added to a list in my phone called “I should probably do this.”
- Run errands in a way that is economical and sensible. If I have several places I have to be in one day I’m going to plan a way to make all of them happen without burning out. Extra important for introversion, extra important for getting things done without falling back on “I’ll do it later.”
If you’re not catching the hint, my general goal is to get shit done.
Of course there are other things I’d like to do next year. I’m currently studying grant writing. I’m catching up in my French for our trip to Europe. I’m trying to blog (hello!) and I’m starting my own business (I hope!) I’d also like to do those run of the mill resolutions, like drink more water, and be more fit. What I think is most important for me is the knowledge that if I’m able to give more of my focus to each individual task, I’ll be able to live more presently – be happier – and get more done. Phew.
What does the New Year mean for you?