Now is when we are buckling down to outline a year’s worth of commitments (or overcommitments), which is surely the basis of my personal aversion to making new year’s resolutions. Resolutions and promises and lists freak me out. Usually as soon as I know of a rule, even if I made it for myself, I want to break it. I also suffer from this extremely rare thing called fear of failure and it causes me to put unrealistic pressure on myself constantly, which of course is a totally unrelatable phenomenon to most other people. I read something recently about how procrastination is often about perfectionism, and that striving toward impossibly high goals doesn’t cause us to work better or smarter, but instead makes us paralyzed to act because we’re so afraid of failing.
There is probably nothing wrong with putting pressure on ourselves. We should all want to attain excellence, but the paralysis I mentioned earlier sets in when we choose to set goals that are always beyond our reach. My other downfall that I am vigilant about is that my time, energy, money, etc. limitations sometimes keep me from focusing on doing one thing well at a time. Or, as has happened in the past, I set “wrong” goals that are imposed by others and aren’t necessarily ones I genuinely care about, which makes me more likely to give up and go back into that self-critical headspace that paralyzes me from accomplishing more.
One of my mentors, Chris Guillebeau, writes about living a purposeful life and reaching goals by eliminating distractions, busywork, and things that you really just don’t want to do that are just getting in the way of the time you could spend in a more meaningful way—traveling, parenting, helping others, writing, for example. To stop suffering through unnecessary commitments, I always ask myself, “Why should I do this?" "What will happen if I don’t?” It’s cool to give up on things you don’t want to do. It’s fun and freeing to take a lightsaber to a big pile of dead stupid projects you are trying to ignore or shove into the back of your mental closet. The most important lesson I’ve learned from Chris Guillebeau is that freedom is more important than money, which is easy to forget as we fall back into some of our same routines and comfort zones after the self-reflection of the new year. (Chris is a particular favorite role model of mine because he manages his self-expectations so well and has shown me what it looks like to set and achieve high but realistic goals. He’s a NYT best-selling author, he visited every country in the world over the past 10 years, and he’s now finishing up his fourth book. To say the least, I appreciate his influence in my personal cabinet of advisors.)
My 2016 is going to be full of more of the same things that give me so much consistent pleasure and purpose: Political activism, reproductive rights lobbying, nonprofit advocacy, general bothering of political leaders through meetings and letters and phone calls, hosting events that build community by inspiring difficult conversations or bringing together disparate groups. Drinking shitloads of water. Taking off my makeup and moisturizing every day. Specific focuses of 2016 for me include designing a new line of products and taking a 14-day writing sabbatical in Berlin, which will hopefully contribute to my goal of finishing my next book.
Do it anyway 2k16
Disable the comments 2k16
Rose quartz and serenity 2k16
Get your money 2k16
Share the credit 2k16
Comfortable shoes 2k16
Girls protecting girls 2k16
Darker lipstick 2k16
Water and skincare 2k16
Think of the children 2k16
Show up for your friends 2k16
Protect your space 2k16
It’s true that there will never be a perfect time to get started on a big new goal. But it’s not true that you need to hurry to accomplish everything on your list, or even that you need to do everything on your list at all. So before you begin anything, get your priorities right. Check your motivations. Don’t start things you don’t want to do. It really is going to be a beautiful year—I have a good feeling about this one. We're all a year wiser and a year better.
One thing at a time 2k16. Grateful, thank you, more please.