I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, at least not in the hyped-up, designed-to-fail sense. Any time a segment of the calendar rolls over — new year, new month, new week, new day — is an opportunity to take stock of life and figure out if anything needs to change. That said, I’m not standing with the Internet Smartass contingent that likes to remind us that designating a specific moment in the earth’s revolution of the sun as the starting point is arbitrary and human-made — no shit. I happen to like humans and the way we make cool things like years and seasons and weekends.
What I like about the start of a New Year is that even the name itself says, “Big Picture.” Day-to-day concerns tend to be small-picture, short-term stuff like making grocery lists and figuring out if anyone has a birthday this week. Monthly stuff is longer-term. Something about the New Year makes it easier to look back on the Old Year and reflect.
So, what did I like about 2015?
- I made an EP with two of my favorite musicians.
- I moved from Michigan to Virginia, and my employer kept me on remotely so I didn’t even have to do the job search thing.
- My wife and I adopted the sweetest calico cat.
- I was prescribed Prozac, which does a much better job of managing my anxiety than Celexa was.
- I took better care of myself overall, with doctor visits, physical therapy, counseling, and so forth.
- I joined a gym, which I still attend somewhat regularly.
- I took up drawing again, and this time I worked extremely hard on improving. It was a blast.
- I learned to enjoy reading and playing video games without feeling like I should be doing something more productive.
- I ate a lot of good food with a lot of good people.
That’s good stuff. I worked hard on being mindful about how I spent my time. I have a tendency to commit to leisure activity that makes me miserable — if I watch the first episode of a TV show, then I need to watch the whole season; if I’m playing a video game, I am damn well going to play it on Normal or Hard difficulty, even if it means dying frequently and replaying the same sections over and over.
No more of that. I’m good at turning things off and playing on Casual or Easy mode now, and I’m much happier for it.
Some stuff didn’t quite go according to plan. There was some chaos in my family that required an extra trip to Michigan shortly after I moved to Virginia. Our adorable new calico needed all of her teeth out right after we got her; later, so did our dog. Pets can be expensive. Good thing they are so cute and cuddly.
I had grand plans for music — continue teaching myself piano, record a new EP or two, maintain my voice. However, something caused a shift in my brain. It may have been the move, or the Prozac, or even just the sheer number of comics I was reading, but suddenly I found myself wanting to draw and write comics. I felt guilty at first, like I was betraying my inner musician, but it wasn’t long before I was able to embrace it.
My wife sprained both of her ankles. I don’t think I need to elaborate on why that sucks.
2016 Will Be Amazing and Terrible
This might be Star Wars talking, but I think I want 2016 to be about finding balance. Most of the time, I’m either all-in on some creative project, or else completely checked out and binge-watching TV shows. I need to learn to pace myself and make time to get out and see friends — or stay in and play online games with friends, depending on who is around.
Part of this process is going to involve figuring out milestones for the creative work, which I hate doing because it feels so corporate, but knowing whether I’m ahead of schedule, on track, or falling behind will help minimize the “I should be working” feeling I get whenever I’m not making stuff (or, you know, amp it way up if necessary).
As much as I hate making phone calls, I need to find a dentist and an optometrist this year. Despite great strides in taking care of myself after the move, I never did get around to replacing those particular medical professionals in my life.
Stuff What Helped Me
I’ll end with some tools I found last year that I’ll be carrying into the new year.
- Bullet Journal. First off: This is FREE. They have journals you can buy, but Bullet Journal is a system, which is described in detail on the site. I’ve never been good about keeping a planner, but somehow this works pretty well for me. This, by far, has been the most helpful tool in my box. I highly recommend checking it out if you have trouble getting stuff done.
- Xmarks. I thought I was done using browser bookmarks back in 2009, but I’ve never been able to get the hang of web-based services like Google bookmarks or Delicious — I usually forget about them. I gave Pinterest a go, but that ended up being more of a distraction than an aid. Now, if I stumble upon something useful, I just bookmark it and let it sync to all my browsers. So far, so good, but we’ll see if I’m still using it in six months.
- Scrivener. I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the things Scrivener can do, and it has helped me immensely as I’ve been developing this comic idea. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically a program that lets you create digital Trapper Keepers for all of your writing projects. I love it.
- Aeon Timeline. I won’t lie, I haven’t used this yet, but my wife loves it.