Last day of the year. There was a time when I’d formally review the year past, before going on to set my goals for the year to come. It’s not so formal these days, but I adhere to the basic concept still. It seems a natural thing to do. I know people decry the making of resolutions and whatnot. They make the reasonable point that it shouldn’t take the end of the year to make plans, it should be a normal part of life. And resolutions are a cliché besides.
That’s fair in principle, but few people live up to the principle. What we should or shouldn’t do rarely matches what we actually do, and there’s plenty of reasons for that.
The older you get the quicker life slips by. It takes a lot of mental effort just to maintain. Routines and schedules blur and confound. Deadlines rush at you. It’s easy to slip into a kind of torpor where life runs on autopilot. There’s not the space or the occasion to stop to look around and re-evaluate. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying how it is so often. And thus life proceeds apace, until it ends.
The Christmas/New Year period acts as a kind of break in that routine. There’s plenty of traditions and rituals around Christmas, but much of it is about returning to family and the values learnt in the formative years of your life. Nostalgia and sentimentality take over from the practicalities of making a living. And this time of year there’s the time and space to actually sit down and contemplate such things. I think it’s natural to reflect on what was and, from the leisure of your Christmas break, to ask yourself what it is you want different to what you’ve had before? The division of one year to the next is the perfect time for that.
I’ve been more aware of this than most people, I think. I won’t necessarily claim to be a planner, but I’m definitely a thinker. I’m cynical enough to doubt resolutions as such which, in any case, tend to be spurious and swiftly forgotten. For me, this time of year is about looking back at the direction I’ve taken and to re-align myself for the year ahead. And I’ll set myself KPIs to guide me on that journey.
It seems to me not much changed in a practical sense this year past. I’m in the same home, I have the same job, I’m earning practically the same, and I remain largely unfettered. I wiped out a big chunk of debt and got my car repaired (to the tune of $7K), but in so doing incurred another, consolidated, debt. Still, the pressure is less than it was and I can see my way clear eventually.
The big thing that happened this year was in my self. I don’t know how you measure these things. Am I happier now than 12 months ago? Certainly, at this moment I am, but happiness is like the tides, and anyway I’ve never thought it much of an indicator. I may be an oddball, but there are more important things to me: what would I rather, a dull but happy life, or a challenging but interesting life? That’s a no-brainer for me. I crave experience and knowledge. I want to understand, knowing that is a chimera. Truth and authenticity are the things I want, things that are real and meaningful. Enlightenment perhaps.
This year I have become more enlightened. It’s well expressed here repeatedly in the last 12 months so I won’t go on about it now. I feel a more honest man now than a year ago and have relinquished a lot that was holding me back. Still, a long way to go, but good signs.
The only other thing worth noting is my writing has continued strongly. Certainly, I am better at it now than I was then, and expect given another year the improvement will have continued.
I also have a working car now – that’s a big thing. And after many years I finally renewed my MCC membership, though it has relapsed again.
So, next year.
My goals are simple. I want to continue on the path I’m on psychologically, though it takes courage and the way forward is not always clear. That’s not something I can review every 12 months. It needs constant attention.
As I did last year I’ll strive to improve my lot – a better job, more money. It’s wearying being constantly under pressure, and infuriating that I’m not properly rewarded for my work. And I want some nice things for a change – more of a social life, a holiday, the odd trinket, not to mention the formerly ‘normal’ things I’ve learned to go without. In practical terms, it means – most likely – finding another job. I’ll get onto that. More simply:
- I want to be properly rewarded for my effort.
I’ve set myself little KPIs to ensure I live better:
- I plan to go out for one cooked breakfast/brunch a month.
Considering I would do this every weekend for many years this is hardly extravagant.
- And every three months I plan to take myself off for a massage.
That’s good for body and soul.
So we come to friendship. People change, they live different lives, they go off in different directions, that’s life. I’ve been out of step with a lot of my friends for a while simply because they are now family men, and I am not. We worked around that pretty well, but then other events intruded.
You live life at different speeds. That 15 months I was homeless life was superficially slow, but in terms of experience, it was sped up. I came out of that with issues unsurprisingly, but by all reports, I was fundamentally unchanged. The biggest reported change has been this year past when suddenly I began opening up. The point of all this is that I’ve moved on while others – comfortable, happy, content – have remained the same. Somewhere in that your friendship changes.
It’s taken me a while to acknowledge that. It’s a bit sad, really – I wish I could be as close as I used to be to some. I think my new openness makes some uncomfortable (others have embraced it) not knowing how they should respond to it, or how it makes them feel.
The bottom line is that while those friendships will continue they won’t be what they were before. I realise I need to make new friends – friends more aligned with the open person I want to be, without the baggage of preconceived notions. So:
- I want to widen the circle of close friends, with more women particularly.
This is easier said than done. It’s not easy making new friends. But then this other plan may help.
I’ve always been a believer in karma. I’ve always been socially engaged. Since I suffered my ‘misfortunes’ I’ve been more alert to the deficiencies in the system. And I want to give something back.
Perhaps volunteer work will fix the need – and it’s a way to meet people besides. An acquaintance studying social work wants to use me as a case study and has suggested getting me along to a St Kilda homeless shelter. The idea appeals to me.
- Check out volunteering options.
Then there’s my health. I’m reasonably fit, but there are more things I can do. Unfortunately, I’ve been constrained financially, especially when it comes to dental work. I’m in good health generally, hardly get sick, but there are nagging issues:
- Dental – I need a crown and probably another filling.
- Sinus – must get sorted this issue that every night sees me with a blocked nose.
- Psoriasis – small patch on my right, but a nuisance.
- Knee – could it be my patella? Slipped at the airport a couple of months back and hasn’t been right since.
I want to get on top of these things. Seeing a doc on Wednesday to get started.
There’s my writing too. By this time next year, I expect to have completed the revision of my first book and have submitted it to publishers, and I’ll be working on the final draft of the book I’m currently halfway through writing.
There’s nothing there about romantic relationships. I want that, but it’s not something you can legislate. If I put myself in the right places and measure up to being the man I want to be then it might happen. That’s all I can promise.
If there is one last thing it’s something I don’t have direct control over. I believe you’re master of your own destiny, but I also feel as if I’ve been dealt some tough cards in recent years. I’m putting it out to the world: deal me a good hand this year. I’m due. I’m in karmic credit I reckon and ready to cash in.
Happy new year to you!