I love January and the new year. (I know it’s arbitrary and we can have a fresh start feeling anytime, but… something about it feels so good.)
Christmas doesn’t mean much to me, other than people having a break, enjoying themselves, and a couple of family traditions. But January? Love it. That clean-slate, happy-in-summer, anything-is-possible kinda feeling. I used to think that resolutions were stupid, because no one seemed to follow through on them. They’ve been out of fashion for years – more and more, I hear friends and acquaintances say they don’t believe in making resolutions. Then about ten years ago, I made some secret resolutions, and loved it. They started out being pretty weird, because I didn’t want to have really normal and boring resolutions. (I remember one resolution was to stop using common verbs like Have, Get, Go, Do.) Nowadays, I have resolutions based on a theme. In 2012, it was Smarter. In 2013, it was Creativity. In 2014, the theme is Craft.
Well, I was thinking about how Einstein, when asked about the meaning of life, apparently said we want to create satisfaction. Since I stopped full-time work in October, and I’ve had the freedom to work on my own projects every day, I’ve been able to do what I enjoy the most (writing!) as much as I like. Amazing. I worked on a novel in November and my website in December, but I’ve also had time to think about this new life, and what I want from it. Now that I have all the time in the world* and money is no object,* am I completely satisfied?
Of course, the answer is no. So, what satisfaction am I striving for?
I thought about this a lot from October–December. I’ve been living off my savings, in suburban bliss, in a cute house with my lovely boyfriend and our quirky dog, not really wanting for anything… and it’s been wonderfully satisfying. Gentle days, filled with writing, the dog curled up at my feet, James arriving home from court in the afternoons to tend to his vegetable garden; we mostly have homemade dinner but sometimes dine with friends; I escape the house occasionally for coffees with friends, or classes and talks and events in the city.
While my days are lovely and satisfying moment-by-moment, I know that I need to work on longterm satisfaction. I know that I need personal projects and a sense of growth, and that I would like to make a living doing something that I love.
To try to figure out a step in the right direction, I thought about people that I admire, and what they have, that I don’t. And I think it comes down to knowing a craft. I admire a photographer who has improved at their craft over the years, or an artist, or a writer, or an engineer, or a company owner. I think that’s it. I don’t feel like I have a craft. So that’s my personal theme for 2014.
This is a big ask, but I’ll see how I go.
|1,000 words (daily)||This is my main one. I don’t know exactly where it will lead, but I know that I love writing, and that when I had a daily word goal in November, I happily wrote half of a novel.|
|3 website updates (weekly)||The byproduct of writing for my website is that I enjoy creating images to accompany the text. If I focus on the writing, then I hope my sneaky side interests (photography, graphic design, drawing) will have a chance to grow, too. It also gets me in the habit of sharing, which is a habit I need to practice. (P.s. The way that I want to nurture my site is beautifully described in Frank Chimero’s post, Homesteading 2014.)|
Some of my creativity resolutions from 2013 will continue.
|Morning pages (daily)||This has became so important for me. It’s like giving yourself the time and space for some healthy thinking time, to work through thoughts, concerns and ideas.|
|Book reading (daily)||I enjoy reading soooooo much, but I keep doing other things besides reading, because it feels so decadent and like I’m not getting-anything-done. And then I never read any books! This year, books are going #2 on my daily schedule (after Morning Pages) so that I read before I do anything else.|
|Artist date (weekly)||Also very important, for new stimuli, and (this might seem silly) to make sure I plan little things that I find fun.|
|1 theme (monthly)||If I focus on a single theme each month, it allows me to follow something through for one month, and have bite-sized achievements for it. And if I come across other ideas, I can say, “OK, but I will look at that soon; this month I need to focus on this other project,” which helps.|
|Space to create||I will continue using my daily schedule and my longterm planner.|
|#1 make, #2 consume||I started using this rule at the beginning of 2013, and it really helps. Before I read any email, or check the online news, or do anything where I’m a passive consumer, I have to make something first. I have to write, draw, plan, photograph, anything… first.|
|Change myself||I always have some small additional resolutions that will help me grow. In 2014, one of them is “Patterns.” So much visual stimuli has become very minimal — architecture, fashion, homewares, everything! Everything is plain. I want non-minimal designs in my life. A few resolutions are related to my attitude: express myself better, stop being so meek (and other ones, which will be killer dorky if I explain them).|
This might seem like a lot, but they’re routines/habits that I’ve built up over time. Really, the only new one is “1,000 words (daily).” Bam!
*Sort of, sort of.