Don’t get run over by New Year’s resolutions

There’s trip hop playing in the background. Cockatoos are complaining loudly about their feathers receiving a drenching. Social media is full of pithy memes and crying faces as many Australians head back to work after the holidays.

The bigger, faster, louder clan who have their plans. There are the ones who will conquer the lessons of last year and make their mark.

In amongst that, is the gripping reluctance to recognise the start of a new year. It harks back to the “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go” sign that used to hang inside my childhood home.

Some, like my partner, are blissfully unaware. They have not become a member of the unhappy heads extricating themselves from drool sodden pillows. He has another week. Despite the rain, he has more reason to smile.

And here I am otherwise happy to be back at the desk but somewhat out of step with the hell for leather approach.

I’d like to take my time, listen to the engine idle and work through this year with a feeling of savouring it. To enjoy the turn key moments of creation and review what I create as I go.

I want to be able to sit at my desk and do my best work without feeling as though the world will implode if it’s 3 seconds later or less green than anticipated.

How can you sell that in a modern world? How can we move away from tad a moments to subtle, gentle happiness?

Taking it back to basics

I recently fell in love with the glorious statement by Austin Kleon that “your website should be a self invention machine“. Instead of self promotion, it is you, your craft, your work and your business.

How simple yet so rewarding a premise.

In a self invention model, you can deliver what you need to the outside world, explore ideas and invite the audience in. You aren’t waiting for the moment where the world needs to influence creation. Or that capturing ways to contact people becomes the ultimate intent.

So ask yourself:

  • Why did you start your career?
  • Who are you? What do you stand for? Why do you do this?
  • How do you want to change the world or make your mark?
  • What is the ultimate goal of the things you do?
  • When is it the right time to let the audience into the process?

Extricating yourself from pressure

It’s naive to think we live in a vacuum without the need to make money for rent, mortgage and for food. Yet it seems like a lost opportunity not to see the world as it is.

For a long time we resigned ourselves to the idea that what we did for a living was what we did to survive. The job we didn’t like gave us money to have the family we did. The week we didn’t want to work gave us the weekend we enjoyed.

Now, we live in a society that advocates for living a passionate life in a job we adore. That if it isn’t all puppy nose chewing and extremely decadent doughnut drinks marking time between bliss, we’ve failed.

The pendulum is swinging too far.

We have the opportunity to change our jobs. Women have the opportunity to participate in the workforce before, during and after childbirth. People regularly change jobs from the one in which they trained. Lawyers run startups. Teachers run gift shops. Designers become bartenders to do more art.

The world turns.

Buying the passion myth can be as painful as accepting a lot in life that is miserable. Whatever happened to being content? To the humble art of the side project? Why do we need to be so anxious to be ambitious we run ourselves down?

Is it because we understand on some deep level that we are but an eyelash in a cosmic dream? Are we so desperate to enjoy life while also making a mark, we fail to see the fakery in the makery?

We used to sell the dream of the white picket fence. Now it is infamy.

In both cases, we drugged ourselves to cope with the lack of freedom and choice.

If you were dying tomorrow, what would you want to be written on your tombstone?

What is the one single thing you could pick to aim for this year that would make a difference? In your life and the life of someone else?

If the aim is for betterment, what does your version of better look like?

That is what a real, lasting New Year’s resolution may be.

Don’t you agree?

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