I have a very simple resolution for the new year. Not even a resolution, actually, as much as a simple tool for cutting through indecision and analysis paralysis:
If it’s worth doing, practice doing it better. If it’s not worth doing, practice cutting it out.
I didn’t put up a side-by-side picture of 2010 vs. 2019 or list off my accomplishments of the last decade, but if I were to sum up this period it would be like this: I spent the first few years of adulthood falling on my face, tripped up by emotional issues I had no understanding of, and during this decade I experienced firsthand the complete failure of several ideas about how to live that made me miserable:
- People don’t like helping messy people, so if (god forbid) you experience any failure, my first priority is hiding that I’m struggling.
- My real self is too fragile and breakable to share, so let’s create this whole other person for people to get to know.
- Other people have time for learning experiences, I don’t have that time to waste so instead of learning or practicing, let’s spend all of that time trying to figure out shortcuts!
- If I’m enjoying it, I should be working harder.
- The more miserable I am right now, the happier I’ll be later.
I’m very susceptible to the constant pressure to optimize/lifehack/always-be-producing. It’s like New Year’s resolution culture all year round. Unfortunately, it’s the idea that I am worthless dressed up in optimistic clothes.
I just can’t do it any more. I’ve given up. There’s no way to have a good life if it’s made up of bad days, so I need to start having better days. There’s no way to make good art from bad (or nonexistent!) play, so I need to start having more fun. I will always need to eat food that’s good for me, spend less than I make, take care of my body and my teeth and stay connected to my friends and family. Every time I do any of those things is an opportunity to try and do it better. I will never be fulfilled by getting mad at the news, reading stories about celebrities, listening to boring podcasts, or reading arguments between idiots on social media. Every day is an opportunity to do that less.
If that’s all 2020 is, it will be just fine, because this year (ok, it’s been true every other year, too) there’s no other way but through.