Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking Forward To A New Year

I made a resolution many years ago to no longer make New Year’s resolutions, and I’m fairly certain that’s the only resolution I’ve ever managed to keep. I’m not really a resolutions kind of person. I prefer to just do things and, like so many people, when I do state in advance what I am going to do, I tend to bite off more than I can chew and then get frustrated when it doesn’t work out. This can end up making things worse rather than better, so I just opted out of the whole system.

If it works for you, use it. It can be a good tool, and some people work better when they have that plan laid out in front of them. There is no One Size Fits All solution. I don’t think I can ever say that often enough. I do not tell you what works for me so that you will do what works for me. I tell you what works for me so that you can see that things work, see ideas for how they work, and adapt those ideas to what will work for you. If what works for me does work for you, great! Use that. If not, though, just adapt to fit. Variety is part of what makes life magical, but it can also make functioning in life difficult.

What works for me is light planning and then jumping in. I do the same thing with most of my activities. When I am writing, I am often as surprised by the ending as anyone. Even when I have a grand plan for what is going to happen, that is rarely what ends up happening. As short as these articles are, there have been a couple times now when I had to change the title after I was done because what got written was not what I had sat down to write. It seems to work though.

I do need that light planning, though, or I might go off on a random tangent, and that doesn’t always have the best results. One of the tricks I use for that is simple notes. Rather than plan out or even outline what I am going to do, I will make a small list of, for example, five things I want to cover. I will put them in an order that seems to flow smoothly and then I will write a paragraph or two about the first one. Write a paragraph or two about the second one, and see if they flow as smoothly as I had thought. Adjust as needed, and keep going.

You should know by now that the last part there is pretty much the theme of my life. Adjust as needed, and keep going. No matter how well planned you make it, life is going to throw you surprises. If you can’t adjust, those surprises may break you, but if you can keep it light and make changes as you need them, you can then weave the changes into the tapestry that is your life and make something new come out of the process.

If you need a plan, plan. Use the tools you need when you have them available. Just make sure your tools aren’t using you. Don’t get so hung up on the plan that you can’t adjust to life’s surprises. Spending too much time looking ahead can be just as bad as spending too much time in the past. The point of living is to live, and to do that you must be in the present. You are living right now. What you did yesterday is gone, and what you may do tomorrow you also may not do. Right now is the only thing you have for certain, so make sure that you are making the most of it. Use the past and the future as the tools you need when you need those tools, but live now.

One of the best things about the New Year’s celebration, and the tradition of resolutions that goes with it, is the symbolism of ending something old and beginning something new. Have you had a difficult year? It’s over now, and here’s a new one that you can build to your liking. Have you had a good year? Use it as a foundation as you begin to build this new story. Everything gets to be new now, and that includes you. The new year is a great time to look at making a new you. Turn the page, close the last chapter, and start writing this new one knowing that you can do anything with it. You will be building from the past, because your past has led you to this point, but where you go from here is up to you. You can stay the course or change direction, as you need and as you choose.

Don’t be afraid to make a mess while you’re doing it. If you’ve had a difficult time and need to make some changes, you’re probably going to get dirty. Making life changes can be rough work, but the results can be amazing. I’ve been listing to “Cut the Cord” from Shinedown, and that is basically what it’s about. As vocalist Brent Smith explained in an interview with Billboard:

"'Cut The Cord' is a wake up call reminding us all that we can control our own destiny by finding the courage and tenacity to destroy whatever it is that's holding us back. The process may not be pretty or perfect or even easy, but absolutely necessary. The song is brutally honest and unapologetic, which is what Shinedown has always been."

Sometimes you have to be brutally honest and unapologetic, and that includes being so with yourself. When it comes time to change, the hardest person to convince can often be yourself. Don’t believe what’s holding you down. Cut the cord and fly.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I can acknowledge a few things that are going to happen. I will continue to work on being healthier, and that includes physical, mental, and emotional health. I will spend a little more time exercising and a little more time meditating, and a little less time worrying and stressing. It won’t be a perfect balance, but I’ll keep working toward making it better, and that is really all we can do. I’ll keep writing because I have remembered that’s what I do. I have definitely found that it helps, and I will continue to hope that it helps you as well. I will continue to be a father, a husband, and a friend, and hope that I can be the best of those that I am able to be. I will continue to be obsessed with music. When I die, eventually, it will be the loudest memorial service you’ve ever heard, with a wildly eclectic combination of musical farewells. I will continue to be me, and I will continue to invite you to join me on this journey of discovering exactly what that means.

Happy New Year to each and everyone of you. I look forward to seeing what it brings, and I intend to bring all my best to it. I hope you will do the same. If we all make such a resolution, the new year can’t help but be great. Peace be with you, and let’s keep moving forward.

Check out the video for "Cut the Cord" below and, as always, all copyright belongs to the artists.

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