Every new year is a new chance to screw everything up. In case you’d like to not do that, here are a few tips.
1. Remember everything from last year. Last year wasn’t all bad and it wasn’t all good. Learn from your mistakes. Learn more from your successes. Seek to build off whatever foundation you’ve left for yourself. And if it was all just a crap shoot, at least you’ve got a few good stories to tell.
2. Forget everything from last year. There is no reason this year need suffer from the sins of last, and there is no better time to start fresh. Also how hilariously confused would all your friends be if you acted like the last 12 months just never happened.
3. Validate everything from last year. In Hebraic culture, the past can– in very real terms– change. A mistake made yesterday may become a success depending on what happens today. Isn’t that a lovely thought? This year, turn all of last year into your own success story. Laugh at the embarrassing moments. Win the breakup. And for McCartney’s sake, get rid of those awful sweaters and make the whole thing a fondly remembered “transition” phase.
4. Plan for the little things that make you happy. Forget about the big vacation. Big vacations are for people who no longer have real problems. For the rest of us, the whole thing is more stress than it’s worth. Instead, find some promising dates– movie premiers, concerts, elections, sports events, award shows, product release dates– and give yourself some things to get excited about over the next year.
5. Prioritize. There is a lot of nonsense to do in this world. You don’t have enough time in your life to do anything but the most important nonsense. This next year gives you another 365 days for that nonsense. I suggest not wasting them.
6. Of course, make some New Year’s Resolutions. Because it wouldn’t be a new year if you didn’t give up on your dreams within a month. Seriously, though, how about I give you at least a fighting chance this year. Here’s how to set a goal:
Start with a clear Vision. I don’t mean go take some drugs and a nap and see what happens; I mean, when you see yourself in a year/five years/10 years, what do you see? That can be a difficult question to answer, I know. One weird trick I’ve found makes it easier; ask yourself, what will you be wearing?
Are you in your pajamas in the middle of the day because you have a successful writing career and complete control over your work schedule? Are in a power suit sitting in your now-former boss’s now-former office? Are you wearing an ironic t-shirt and a less ironic haircut because your indie folk alternative is finally taking off? Whatever the case, your future will never outreach your vision.
Now take that vision, and WRITE DOWN a time-sensitive, practical Goal. With some idea of the direction you’d like to go, you should be able to identify a milestone along the path. If this goal has a natural timeline, perfect. If not, make one up. For instance, if you want to rule the world you’ll definitely need a giant death ray, right? Set a goal to build a giant death ray by [insert date here]. Whatever that timeline is, WRITE IT DOWN. I promise it will be so much more real that way.
You need to anticipate Obstacles. Maybe it’s lack of funds. Maybe there are people holding you back. Maybe you love bacon just too dang much. Look forward to all potential (but realistic, no need to be paranoid) challenges and hurdles standing between you and your goal.
Make a kick-a** Plan. Get as detailed as you’d like. The important thing is that you WRITE DOWN a comprehensive, step-by-step gameplan to get you from wherever you are now to wherever your goal says you’re going to be.
Once you’ve got a plan you can identify your Next Step. The cruel joke of humanity is our ability to imagine a future we can never actually live. What I mean is that life is only ever experienced in the present moment. While that can be frustrating, it also means you only ever need focus on what you’re doing now. You don’t need to carry out your entire plan today. You just need to take the next step. Rinse, repeat.
Finally, provide yourself with some means of Accountability. As you’ll see in the next week or so, I’m going to be using y’all to hold me accountable to my goals. The idea is it needs to be someone to whom you actually feel some measure of responsibility, whether they be a family member, friend, coworker/boss, or a small village-sized gaggle of internet strangers.
That’s all I’ve got. Be a little more courageous. Take life a little less seriously. And have a great year.