I don't do New Year's Resolutions. They never made sense to me. Perhaps it was because if I was looking to do anything in the realm of self-improvement, making a resolution wasn't the way to get there.
However, in the past, as a new year approached, I'd often create a list of habits I'd like to form. In looking back, I am mostly convinced that approach didn't work well, although it looked better on paper!
Nowadays, I realize that when you want to make a positive change in your life, you just have to make a decision. And you really only have to make it once. Yes, you have to act on that decision on a daily basis, but the decision is a single moment. You just decide to do it. No matter what.
In my early fifties, I decided I wanted to be in a little better shape, to be a more limber person. I felt that doing yoga would be a big part of that desire. But - making time for an hour yoga class every week was a big challenge. Even finding the time to watch and follow along with a yoga DVD (the go-to tech at the time) was also a challenge. Then one day I made a decision: just do 10-15 minutes of stretching and yoga every day, and be done with it. Every Single Day. While the coffee is
brewing. Before showering.
Yeah: Just Do It.
So I made the decision and started my daily short yoga practice that year, on my 52nd birthday. And with a very few exceptions, mainly because circumstances make it impossible (camping, traveling), I've done that little bit of stretching and yoga every day. My daily meditation of sorts.
I'll give you another example: exercise.
I've always loved a good walk, but twenty years ago if I got out for a 20-minute walk once or twice a week that was a good week. After I got married nearly a decade ago, my wife and I walked a few times a week.
But then...we got a dog. And with the dog wanting to take a walk Every Single Day, that's what we do. So, every day we walk the same 1.25 mile loop. Takes us about 22 or 23 minutes. Sometimes we go for 40 or 50 minutes when the weather invites us to. Sometimes it's a little shorter, like today, when it was raining cats and dogs.
One more example: writing. For years, I wanted to write fiction again. I'd done a fair amount of fiction writing in my twenties and thirties, but let the practice fade. I still had it in the back of my mind to do at some point, but kept coming up with excuses: I didn't have time. I wasn't sure how to do it. I didn't know what to write about. The time wasn't right.
But at some point a couple of years ago, I ran out of excuses. That's when I made a decision: tomorrow, I'm going to get up early and write for an hour and do it again the next day and the next and so on, and see what happens. Yes, I had been thinking about a specific character and a story setup, so I had that to start with. But the decision was made only once. Since then, with only a handful of exceptions, I've written for 30 - 90 minutes Every Single Day. I've written four novels with the
same character and am on a fifth. No, they're not ready for publication, but I'm getting closer to having something I feel would be worthy of showing to an agent or publisher. And the fact of it is: I enjoy the challenge of writing fiction. The challenge of plotting and structuring a story and making the characters compelling, real and flawed. And giving them challenges and roadblocks that lead them to a moment of resolution.
I had a friend ask me recently if I never landed a book deal would I still be happy with the hundreds of hours of writing I've put in. The answer is an unequivocal YES. I've learned so much and have come a long way, and frankly, it's an exhilarating creative outlet.
As we transition from one year to the next, many of us seem to reflect on what it is we're doing here during our short time on this planet. We all come up with different answers and approaches that suit us, but I suspect that many of us still struggle with the question.
I think it boils down to a few things: be healthy, be creative, make and keep friends. And to do any of that, it takes a moment in time where you make a decision, then stick to it.
In spite of the work you do and whether you love it or just do it for a paycheck, or if your life situation is challenging enough just to make ends meet, if you can find time to create, exercise, reach out to friends, those moments of will undoubtedly contribute to your peace of mind and sense of well-being. It is worthwhile. It opens your soul just a little bit.
As you enter a new year, 2022, yes, it's just another page in the calendar of life. But keep in mind the words of Maya Angelou:
"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."
Keep creating, keep active, and keep moving forward.