Looking Forward Towards 2017

I woke up today to snow sparkling in the sun. It was beautiful, and a great way to start the New Year. It’s the kind of quiet day that’s perfect for reflection on what I want to aim for in the new year.

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While this isn’t quite a post of resolutions, I do want to look forward towards the coming year and talk a little bit about the goals I have. This is partially as a document for myself, and to focus my own thinking, but I also think it’s almost always good to share your goals. Maybe you’ll cheer me on, maybe you’ll scoff (and if you do please there is no need to share it), but just knowing my goals are out there and other people are at least vaguely keeping an eye on them can be motivating in its own right. (Or paralyzing through anxiety. I’ll try not to let that one happen.)

1. Exercise More

Exercise is one of those things that makes me feel better both mentally and physically whenever I get a chance to do it, and yet is always easy to let drop when things get too busy. Plus, I’m just not particularly happy with the shape my body is in right now. So exercising more (and more consistently) is a major goal for the year. I’ll be doing weightlifting for sure, and probably some running as well. I just need to figure out a good source of cardio that I can do on the freezing mornings in Seattle where, sometimes, making myself go out and go running is just a bridge too far.

2. Read 50 Books

I hit 50 books this last year and it felt really good, so I’d like to do it again if I can. I’d like it if this year more of them were full-length novels, or if I hit a slightly higher number if a similar percentage of them are going to be graphic novels and small issues of short story magazines.

3. Write Consistently

I let myself get into a real creative backslide this last year. It’s easy to go “oh, but I didn’t write the last five days so what’s one more day?” and my output suffered greatly for it. It affected my happiness, too, because I lost so much creative momentum that it began to feel like I was running out of ideas when in fact I was just drowning in inertia. So this year I want to try to write consistently, even if I don’t write a lot. (Though I’d still like to hit 1,000 words a day.) I even altered how I track words written for this year so I can count things like this blog post, which will encourage me to switch gears more often. Even if I can’t think of any fiction to write, I can try to write an essay or a blog, or work on some game design. Everything counts now, not just fiction, though that’s still where I want to keep my overall focus.

4. Pick Up Another Art Form

Inktober this last year was great fun and reminded me how fulfilling it can be to have a secondary art form that one practices. I’ve been itching to improve my visual art skills, so drawing is an obvious candidate for this. I could even try to finally learn how to draw/paint digitally, which seems like an awesome skill to have. Other candidates I’ll be experimenting with are learning an instrument (getting more serious with my piano practice and/or picking up guitar) and various game design technologies. The latter is hard, because sometimes I feel so burnt out on tech that I don’t want to learn new programming/tech skills in my downtime. But then I end up doing it and it’s actually super fun.

5. Learn Some Languages

Learning languages is fun for me, because I’m nuts. I was learning Spanish via Duolingo for a good bit of last year, brushing up on all the stuff I’d forgotten since junior high. I’d like to get better at Spanish, and also pick Japanese back up again. Japanese is a “happy place” language for me that feels warm and familiar, and I’m good enough at the grammar that I feel like I mostly just need to relearn vocabulary to improve drastically. But maybe there will be room for a different language in here! Arabic’s been piquing my interest lately, and if I could ever find a good course on Scottish Gaelic I would be all over that in an instant.

6. Reach Out to New Friends, Work at Keeping the Old

I can be bad at keeping in touch. I don’t mean to be, not by a long shot, but it’s easy to slip and not keep in contact with someone who’s important to you. I want to do a better job of reaching out to the people I love from over the years, to let them know I still care and haven’t forgotten them. At the same time, meeting new people is always good, and I’d like to do a better job and cementing new connections instead of just letting them slip away or not following up due to perceived potential awkwardness.

7. Sleep More

I hear it’s good for you! Also I keep getting sick when I don’t sleep enough, and falling asleep at work (which I, uh, totally *haven’t* been doing) isn’t fun either. I’d like to hit seven hours a night consistently, but we’ll see how it goes.

8. Cut Down on the Noise

My friend Jill Seidenstein chooses a word for each year, instead of making resolutions, because she is a smart cookie. “Focus” is a word I want to have as my guide this year, and a lot of that is related to cutting down on distractions. I feel like I spend too much time dinking around on sites like Facebook, when I’d be happier doing something that does a better job of satisfying me and filling the creative tank. Things like reading a book, going for a walk, exercising, that sort of thing. So I’d like to cut away some of the chaff and unsatisfying distractions this year, and try to focus on the things that make me happy. This extends out to the way I spend my time. I’ve got a lot going on in my schedule that’s a hard-wired obligation at the moment, and I’m hoping to free up some of that time again so I can use it to focus on the projects I care about, and so doing those activities feels like fun instead of “ugh, I have to do this every week.”

9. Shake Up My Self-Expression

I have a tendency to get into ruts with how I present myself. But there’s things I want to change: being less quiet on the internet, clothing styles, hair styles, and some other body presentation modes. This year I’d like to push myself to get out of these ruts. Get that tattoo, try that hairstyle, get a piercing, try something bold and different with my clothing. Even if whatever it was turns out to have been a mistake or a phase, at least I tried it and didn’t hold back on showing the world who I am. This goes for both the social/emotional (talk more openly!) and the physical (clothes/body stuff).

10. Get My Work Out There

Submitting my work to markets is still my friggin’ white whale. I’ve gotten a little better, but I really need to get a process nailed down so things go out, and if they get rejected, they go out again. There’s too many stories that don’t deserved to be trunked yet sitting gathering dust in a drawer right now, and I want that to change.

11. Self-Care

This is related to the sleeping thing. I’m bad at remembering to take care of myself instead of continuing to push myself harder and harder. I’ve got to be kind to myself if I want to keep myself up and running for the long haul. So.

12. Finish My Shit

Nautilus and The Doorstop (aka The Shivering Deeps) have both been in development for far too long. I want to get them done and onto the next stages of their journey. Then go onto other things, and finish those things. Letting things sit for too long can make them seem so much bigger than they are. So it’s time to get better at finishing them, within reason.

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There’s probably more. A lot more. But that’s always true. There’s always things one can improve about oneself. I didn’t get to any sort of financial stuff here, my ideas about freelance writing, or some personally important emotional goals that are currently more than a bit nebulous. There’s a deep rabbit hole here of things I want to do, but those 12 are a decent snapshot of the overall trend, and all feel doable. Just have to keep the energy going, and not let temporary setbacks (which will inevitably happen) knock me down and stop me from pushing forward.

To a great 2017 everyone. I hope you meet your goals this year, whatever they may be.

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