In 2014, I only want to invest my time, energy and money in things that will improve my life or the lives of others. Things that are included under the amorphous, umbrella, new-age-y, often purposefully vague term improvement: enjoyment, challenge, education, health, adventure, kindness, love, contentment, perseverance, growth. More words included in the January pamphlets of gyms, travel agencies, religious groups. “New year, new you” is big business. It feeds on the tiny attention spans and giant dreams of the American public. But I don’t know how else to do this. I want 2014 to be the year that I change my life. If starting on January 1st is hackneyed but effective, I will bare that burden. I want to stop running from my problems, especially my depression, and stop lying to myself, stop being afraid because I might fail.
I’ve done my research. Well, I’ve kind of done my research. I’ve taken inventory of my life. I’ve put thought into it, pushed between time sucks into which I have fallen: full seasons of 30 rock in one go, 2 hour long naps, reddit comas, depression, candy binges and the overwhelming, debilitating guilt that accompanies feeling as if you are wasting your life. I don’t know if I am. But I certainly cannot look back without regret. And that is what I want: to do away with regret. So I’m doing this, in the hope that this time will be different, that writing it down—where a stranger, a friend, a lover might see, be inspired, disgusted, bored—will make it stick. I want to be someone I can respect, someone I would date, someone I would love. I know that your ideal self is more motivating than your ought self and I want to be fucking amazing.
According to Scranton University psychology professor John Norcross, you are more likely to stick to your new years resolutions if you define SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific) goals, track your progress, reward your small victories, make your goals public and remember that you are human and that humans make mistakes.
So that is the model that I am trying to follow. I’m going to try, to track and to get back up if I fail.
I want to be as open and vulnerable as I can be. And I want to record the struggle. Because THE STRUGGLE IS REAL,GUYS. It’s hard to become who you want to be. I have suffered from depression, anxiety and varying levels of self-loathing for almost a decade. I’m only 22. I know that will power is a muscle. I know that mine is feeble and atrophying and generally unimpressive. A person doesn’t change like a lamp does. I cannot illuminate my life just because I want to. So I’m going to take it how I can, excruciatingly erratic and bumpy, unrealistically ambitious, purposeful and so slow that you almost can’t see the change until the end. And there is never an end. That being said, here is the extensive and
unedited list of things I want to do, be and learn. I’ve broken them into categories, or themes, that I want to embody everyday when I wake up. At 7. In the morning. At 7 in the morning guys!
My mind and body are weak, flabby and filled with the corporeal junk of taco bell and the cognitive junk of reality t.v., trashy magazines and buzzfeed articles. Both body and mind have suffered from inactivity, overindulgence and overall laziness. I want to heal them, with an emphasis on nourishment instead of deprivation (although some of that will obviously also be needed.) So this year I will:
1. Take up meditation.
2. Read a book a week.
3. Subscribe only to the magazines which I will feel good about reading and actually read them. For me, this is going to be Time, Wired, Discover and Mental Floss. Periodically, I may buy a few that look good from the bookstore and read those as well.
4. Try not to stress (what does this even mean? No one knows. I’m going to try and keep it in mind though…)
5. Challenge myself to keep up with the news and the state of science (Ted talks count).
6. Take the time each day to really peruse something (be it a blog, a wiki page, and mantra, a historical individual, an ancient medical practice, etc.)
7. Watch a documentary a week.
8. Be off or significantly decrease the antidepressants that I take.
9. Question myself.
10. Be positive.
1. Begin juicing on a regular basis.
2. Plan my meals for the week ahead and cook as much as I can.
3. Exercise 5 times a week.
4. Begin a weight training program.
5. Lose 25 pounds, without obsessing or focusing on this as the only measure of health or happiness. My mom and I are having the friendliest of competitions. More on that in another post.
6. Complete C25K.
7. Compose a medical history, get my sexual and general health checked. Find a doctor and gynecologist who I like.
8. Go to the dentist (shit, fuck, I don’t want to) and brush my teeth twice a a day, flossing once.
9. Really focus on drinking a fuck ton of water. I want my pee to look like an undiscovered mountain spring.
10. More sex. Better sex. SEX.
11. Fix my ailing, old lady back.
12. Touch my toes. This may not be achievable. I don’t know if I can touch my knees. Start an at home yoga practice?
13. Figure out which supplements, as a pescatarian and a human being, I should be taking. Take them.
14. Love my fucking body for what it does, not what it looks like.
This year, I want to really appreciate the life that I am able to lead (debt free, make my own hours, loving and supportive friends and family) and take advantage of the flexibility that that life affords me. I don’t want to look back on my 20’s as the time I wasted sleeping in and getting drunk. I want to learn, try, explore. Push self to do things that are scary or hard or neglected. Plus, I’m already past my prime, mentally. Use it or lose it, right?
1. I bought a guitar in my first year of university. It cost 200 pounds. I have shipped it back to America with me, it has been broken and then repaired. The strings have been replaced twice. And yet, I have never earned a single callous. This year I will.
2. Conversational spanish. My boyfriend is El Salvadorian. I want to chat with his family.
3. I want to grow veggies in my yard (get it, grow them? Eh? Eh?)
4. Take an online course or two. Take a still life drawing class. A cooking class.
5. Sky dive.
6. Drastically change my hair at least once.
7. Travel. To Istanbul. Visit a friend in London for a few weeks. Road trip the country without staying in a hotel.
8. 30 days of new things.
9. Learn the sprawling edges and tendrils of my city. Downtown, silver lake, brentwood. The tiny taco stands, the interpretive dance groups, roller derbys, comedy shows, the homeless man on the way to the freeway who never smiles. Do this with friends, family, strangers, by myself.
11. Build a cat run for my baby. I’ve never built anything. It’ll be an adventure.
12. Make amends with the people I have wronged. Admit when I have fucked up. Accept when I don’t get my way. Try not to win arguments just because I have fancier words. This is really hard to do.
13. Try to cook something new each week.
14. Donate blood. This terrifies me and I have never done it, but it is such an amazing thing to do.
15. Really talk to people.
16. Say yes when I can.
One thing that I really need to work on is just becoming an adult. I pay health insurance now. And heating bills. What?
1. Finish my book and have it be successful. Be more specific about how to do that. It’s hard, but this is my dream and I am throwing it away. I want to try and work it like a 9 to 5. This is my passion and I want to earn a living from it.
2. Finance. Oh god, money is so hard. I want to try and only buy things which will directly improve my life and which I have thoroughly considered. No more impulse buys. I really want to set a budget and stick to it every month. I think a good way to do this would be to only purchase non-consumables on one day a week. I need to start saving, too. This is a whole thing. I’ll tell yu all about it when I start.
3. Home organization. I will take an inventory of my home, so that I know what I have and where (no need to buy duplicates!). Clear out my closet. Scan all of my receipts into electronic form. Generally simplify and organize.
4. Online organization. Fix/cull my fucking bookmarks. Zero inbox, email nirvana.
5. Try to start and stick to a morning and evening routine. Wake up every weekday at 7 and weekend by 9. Limit naps to 45 minutes.
6. Really keep mindless t.v. to a minimum. Or make it a social activity, with friends and popcorn and a girly cocktail.
7. Learn to type without looking.
I need to feed it.
1. Keep in touch better with my far flung friends. Write letters. Weekly Skype dates. Somehow get over my specific and crippling anxiety to respond to friends on Facebook.
2. Write poetry, preform at the open mic night.
3. Become inspired by others.
4. Be kind. As in, everyday. Do a mitzvah. Bring more love into the world. Leave things better than I found them.
5. Be patient with myself, if I have a bad day I have a bad day. This is a journey and I am learning to flex my muscles. If I try to carry too much at once, I’ll end up dropping everything. Remember what it is to feel well, even when I don’t.
6. Journal as much as I can.
7. Work on loving myself. If at first this means putting on some killer heals, over the top eyeliner, leaving ridiculous encouraging post-its around the house or fishing for a compliments from the waiter, I will do what must be done.
8. Give gifts to people randomly. I love to do this, but it is so easy to forget.
9. Spend more time with my beautiful, amazing roommate.
10. Spend 15 minutes a day playing with my cat, who I cherish, so that he will not be a demon.
11. Spend more time with my parents and begin a relationship with my brother again.
12. Become reliant on myself.
1. Take a video everyday.
2. Blog everyday. Well, most days.
3. Record my physical transformation, as I start taking better care of my body.
4. Take photos.
5. Keep track of what I eat, exercise, do and achieve each day. Weigh and measure myself on sundays.
1. Reward myself for the small wins. Practice an 80/20 approach to all of these resolutions, so that I don’t burn out.
2. Take one night a week for me, completely.
3. Sunday FUNDAY!
4. Set aside money for completed goals that can be put toward traveling or a small indulgence.
Leave things better than I find them. Become someone I can respect. Nourish and challenge myself to be more joyful, more passionate, more fascinated.
Through out this journey, I would be honored to inspire or help anyone in a similar situation, just as I have been inspired by so many strangers on the internet. I’ll try to include useful links throughout my posts, but feel free to ask me any questions along the way. Not that I have answers, but I do have time. For those of you looking to make life changes in the coming year, here are some of the links that have helped me that aren’t embedded in the article.
So, if there’s anyone out there, what are your new years goals and resolutions? What do you think of mine?