This post is not about New Year’s Resolutions.
Those always strike me as a little grim, carrying a note of hungover disappointment at the self for having done this or that wrong in the past year, turning that disappointment into a kind of disciplinary fervor to just do better. And, at least for me, that kind of thing never works, no matter how hard I try. No amount of gritting the teeth is enough to magically create different results.
(Your mileage may vary. I understand that some people have the force of will and are able to deny themselves pleasure, or delay it, and get to their tasks or avoid their vices, by just deciding to. I am not this person.)
So, for me, a more interesting way to go into a new year is just to decide what to look for. To look for something isn’t necessarily to find it—but it does mean that you’re more likely to see it when it comes your way.
Some things I’m going to be looking for in 2020:
- Crazy ideas. When something rolls across my brain and amuses or excites me, I’m going to pull up a chair and let it chat to me for a bit. Whether I then set it on its way or make it up a guest room is another matter.
- Doubt. If something doesn’t make sense to me, I want to pay attention. Rather than assuming I’m missing something that everyone else understands, I want to entertain the possibility that there’s something I’m understanding that no one else has noticed yet. These often turn into the best ideas, the ones I really should be bringing into the world.
- Desire. What do I want to do, with this moment or with my day or week or month or life? This is not the same thing as what I want to want to do.
- Control. Am I trying to control other people, or the future? If so, how’s that working out for me?
- Joy. There is almost always a clutch of large and small joys to be had, right before me, if I take even half a second to notice them. Stitch by stitch, these are the things that make memories, and memories make a life.
What will you be looking for in 2020? Whatever it is, I wish you good health and good cheer in the year of perfect clarity.