Resolutions: How To Make the Most Out of 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How to Make the Most Out of Your Year
I am not a huge advocate for resolutions. It seems to me that we often use them as an excuse to promote temporary change. We throw out our calendars and act like we’re suddenly going to be different. The new year, new me! attitude and ridiculously unrealistic declarations of personal transformation made in millions of Facebook statuses around the world makes me physically ill. Within a few weeks, we’ll go back to binge-watching Stranger Things and eating microwavable burritos instead of going to the gym. Resolutions made at the expense of the panic of realizing that it’s yet again already the beginning of an entire new year are short-lived, but they don’t have to be.

Though I am incredibly repulsed by the idea of New Year’s resolutions, I am a firm believer in goals. While segmenting life in chapters is extremely corny, you have to be able to compartmentalize specific parts of your life to measure progress. No, these chapters don’t turn at 12:01 on the first of January. Instead, they are characterized on an individual basis by specific events and other various factors, but each year is sort of like a mini-chapter, too. I have become convinced over the years that even though everyone has their own experience that defines the periods of their lives, it’s okay to use the start of each calendar year as a marker for checking up on yourself. It’s not a bad thing to use the New Year as a reason to initiate small revolutions, ones that can be considerably, or even marginally, valuable to achieving your personal objectives, or at the very least, re-igniting the enthusiasm you had for them.

If anything, setting reasonable expectations and ambitions for yourself will give you better insight to who you are and what you want to achieve. It’s okay to want and filtering those wants into goals will help make them become reality. Each year is a reminder that you need to dream bigger or keep working if you’ve fallen off. It’s a new year and you don’t have to be a new you, just a better version. One that takes initiative and doesn’t let life choose where each chapter starts and ends. Make this year whatever part of your story you want. Make 2017 yours. Here are some of my goals for this year.

2017 Goals

Leave everything in the years before this one.
I am 25 years old now and will be 26 at the end of this year; I no longer need to dwell on that one time the host at Kona Grill was snarky to me, or the embarrassment of not knowing that sayonara was a Japanese farewell instead of a Spanish one.

I will not re-read letters, text messages, or re-visit old pictures, unless it is just as a nice reminder that they have shaped me in the past. They are souvenirs of a different time in my life and they no longer direct my future. I will leave everything before this moment as a gentle impression, something to be subtly reminded of, but this year I won’t linger.

Make good shit.
I often stop myself because I am afraid or insecure. Whether it is during the creative process or just the decision to put my completed work on display, I pause. This year, I will not allow myself the moment to question.

I will not let myself get in my way. I will make art that I am proud of. I will demand quality. I will not hesitate and will do so by convincing myself that every movement is deliberate, even if it isn’t.

Know when to apologize.
I used to always say sorry when I would accidentally bump into someone at work. It happened literally every step that I would take. Oh my god I am so sorry, I’m just so clumsy! Then one day after delivering my thousandth or so apology to my coworkers, I realized that I was getting tired. I’m a server, we practically stumble over each other, almost as often as the thought of throwing the sauce a guest asks for after we brought the side glass of ice for their wine they asked for in their face crosses our mind. I’m sorry I almost knocked into your tray of food, but you already know that.

I used to also say sorry after I made a joke. Sorry, I just had to use that pun since the opportunity was there! I’m actually not sorry in this instance. I’m upset you didn’t laugh to the degree in which my animal pun merited, but I am certainly not sorry. This unapologetic feeling extends to my writing and everything else I create. I’m not sorry and I’m not sorry that I’m not sorry. Something I do will offend someone or not live up to their standards and that’s okay. I will learn to apologize when it matters, when I am petty or stubborn, or if I make mistakes, which are all also okay. But I won’t apologize for sometimes getting in the way, being myself, or any byproducts of being myself, like my writing. I will apologize when it matters and I won’t apologize when it doesn’t. This year, I will try to discern the difference.

Not form judgments.
I actually thought of this one fairly recently. I think we all fall victim to this, I just pretend that I don’t play any role to unfair judgment because I am an intellectual and because of this I am not only perceptive, I am accepting. But sometimes I find myself commenting out loud that the news anchor has a large forehead or noting in my head that the girl standing in front of me in the Chik-Fil-A line is wearing a dress that doesn’t compliment her figure. I don’t know why these things are important to me in the moment, but I allow them to become more than surface-level background noise and take the form of thought-controlling perceptions of who these people might be as humans, which is both unfair and damaging. This year I want to limit myself to thoughts that are based on unity and inclusiveness. Instead of jumping to conclusions, I will wander past them. Instead of a discourteous comment about a woman’s eyebrow style, I will consider asking her what her favorite brand of foundation is because her skin looks flawless. This year, I will revise my attitude by modifying the way I approach my thoughts.

Not let the big picture fool me.
Everything is picture-perfect when you’re looking at a picture. Instagram makeup makes regular humans look like their faces were carved by the gods. That pin of a woman’s flawlessly sculpted braid on Pinterest is beautiful, her hair a seamless ombré. Somehow, Facebook profile pictures make couples look faultless, as if fighting about what to have for dinner is never recurrent dialogue between them as they hold each other sweetly in front of a Tumblr-worthy beach resort backdrop with matching tans.

But a picture captures only a moment and life is full of a whole lot of moments and statistically speaking, only a handful of them are going to be as happy as the moment caught on camera, perfectly edited and double-filtered, first through Snapchat, then through VSCO cam. This year, I won’t look at these pictures and self-generate anxiety that I am not a part of them.

The same goes for looking at my life as a big picture. I want to be a screenwriter, but sometimes the thought of all the things it could take to get there makes me tense-up. I scroll through so much content, it is difficult to miss all the people who appear as if they’re doing more than me, or the ones who have already accomplished the things I want to. Look to the ones who have made it in what you want to achieve, but do not look to them. They have made it differently than you will. In 2017, I will take a deep breath and take one step at a time until I get to where I want to be. I will not let the big picture fool me into thinking that for some reason it is unobtainable.

Set realistic goals.
The reason our resolutions are short-lived is because we set goals like “this year I will be a better person” and “this year I will be healthy.” Those are just general things that we all want, but there are a lot of things that need to happen between who I am now and who I want to be. It’s okay to use these statements to shape your ultimate outcome, but only to encourage you. These are not goals. In order to be a better person, you might need to compliment people more. To be healthy, you might decide to try to take your dog for a walk once a week. Then, once these smaller goals become habits, create some more! Through time, you’ll start to become closer to the person you want to be. This year, I will celebrate even the smallest of victories because they are part of the bigger whole.

In 2017, I will let go. I will be deliberate. I will learn when it is appropriate to apologize. I will not judge. I will not be fooled by the big picture. I will be who I want to be and I will recognize how much I can impact that myself. What will you do in 2017?

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