Ah, January. The month of light rain (for us here in the tropics, at least), quiet hope and new beginnings. While we dream up new #goals and aspirations for the coming year, here’s a look back at our 2017 resolutions.
First up, we have Tara.
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
I’m not normally the kind of person to make resolutions. I love waking up in a new year and feeling as if suddenly everything is possible. This year I’ll go to the gym! I’ll meal prep and never wait until the last minute to do laundry and be far more social than the last year! I like to hold these optimistic, unformed convictions in my head and gently bid them goodbye by the end of January.
By the end of 2016 though, something had changed. I knew, with a certainty that hasn’t featured very often in my life, that I was ready to leave my job. For this reason, I’d written down my first ever concrete list of resolutions. In the spirit of not pretending to have my shit together, here’s one big success and one failure from my 2017 goals:
RESOLUTION #1: KEEP THINGS ORGANISED FOR EASY HANDOVER
Beyond the fairly anxiety-inducing process of giving notice, I was worried because I am the kind of chaotic person who holds all processes in her head. It was important to me that handover should be seamless, that someone shouldn’t be taking over my job and picking up my slack. Setting this resolution firmly helped me be more intentional in my work in the first half of 2017. I saved weekly (later, when enthusiasm wore off, monthly) reviews of work on Excel; I made itemized daily to-do lists as well as weekly plans to keep the big picture in mind; I set a 24-hour deadline to reply to any email I received. I also tried to pay attention to what I was doing in a typical workday and formalize a routine.
In some ways, I stuck to this resolution for purely selfish reasons, because it turned out to be hugely helpful for my own state of mind. I found myself taking less work home, and small parts of the day – what I did the minute I got to work, or my bedtime skincare routine – began to feel automated, and instill a kind of Pavlovian reaction/response to the start and end of the day. I’m not sure, at the end, if my annotations and documents and emails really helped the person who took over my job; but I left with a clear conscience and the slightly regretful recognition that, okay, I could be more consistently organised if I tried a little harder.
RESOLUTION #2: LEARN TO DRIVE
My friends. This did not go well. TV taught me that driving would be blissful and I would feel free and music would play loudly from my speakers as I cruised down OPEN ROAD.
This was not the case.
Driving lessons made my muscles seize up all the way from toe to thigh. Manual did not “become instinctive”. Every time I had to make a U-turn I made a slightly different mistake that caused me to stall in the midst of angry traffic. The instructor’s acerbic “everyone else figured this out so much faster than you!” style emphatically did not work for me. When I went to collect my learner’s license, a man walked into the room and inexplicably told me off for sitting with my legs crossed, which still confuses and angers me.
I dutifully did early-morning lessons for a month but never showed up for my driving test, a fact I have not been able to dredge up sufficient remorse for. I mean, I resolved to learn driving, and I did attend most lessons, so technically I can cross it off the list, right? Anyway, my unofficial 2018 resolution is to always live in a city with a public transport system.
2018: What Next?
My 2017 resolutions were uncharacteristically concrete: quit your job, learn to drive, exercise consistently, save money. I was largely successful, and it was rewarding to have measurable goals, but by the end of 2017 I was tired of breaking down my life into tangible results.
So here are my far less ambitious, far more nebulous 2018 resolutions:
- Be more honest with myself around people. (Let’s count this blog as a definite first step?)
- Consider the other person’s perspective, and try not to default to assuming that they’re not considering my perspective. I think the flip side of the Internet’s “get rid of toxic people!” rhetoric is that it can turn into a situation where you see yourself as infallible and everyone else as callous and uncaring, and I’ve definitely been guilty of that a few times last year. I need to work on giving other people more credit than that.
- Make an effort to talk to new people, especially about what interests them, and try to suspend judgement (yes, even if they like “The Big Bang Theory” and hate cats!). Every conversation doesn’t have to end in guaranteed lifelong friendship, and every friendship doesn’t have to be built on 100% mutual interests.
- Be a little braver than I was in 2017 about going after and communicating what I want. I’ve set this goal every year for a while, and its vagueness is a kind of freedom. It makes me celebrate every small instance of growth, and allows me to intentionally commit to the possibility of change in my wants, actions and behaviour. It’s been the impetus behind most of my Big Adulthood Decisions, and I’m excited to see where it’ll bring me in a new job, in a new city, in a new year!