Hands up all of you who have made New Year resolutions? I have in the past, but I usually don’t because I find it an exercise in futility. I mean, why wait all year to change a behaviour that needs changing, or improve your life if it needs improving? Surely if things needs to be addressed, they should be addressed sooner rather later? Later only means that stuff gets even more fossilised, ingrained, bolted on. Why decide to quit smoking or take up exercise in March and then, barring prohibitive and necessary things like surgery, wait another nine months to actually do the work you need to do? Sure, I understand that for some people thinking about it is an important cognitive step in the change process, but for four or six or eight or nine months? Give me a break!
I did make a New Year resolution this year, however, despite the previous paragraph. It was simply this: buy less, write more. This is not so much of a resolution as a pact to continue on the path I’ve already forged across 2014. I decluttered and minimalised and wrote like a motherfucker (to blatantly plagiarise Dear Sugar, who is the nom de plume of one of my most favourite writers ever, Cheryl Strayed), and it seems silly to have put so much effort into these things only to slip back into mindless consumerism and author apathy and stagnation. In the spirit of “buy less”, I have deleted the Ozsale app from my phone, which makes it much too easy to impulse buy. And to honour “write more” I have started a semi-autobiographical novel, planned and started two non-fiction books, and am progressing well on my book of short stories. Love & Other Stuff will be available at the end of this month, and stuff I write here that’s really, really, really good in 2015, I will compile as essays and call it Selected Stuff. There might only be eight or nine or ten, but that’s ok.
I made a couple of other pacts with myself over the course of 2014. After making some awfully bad decisions in the romance department, I made this pact back in March and, fine-tuned over the course of the year as it became clear I was still making disastrous choices:
Regardless and irrespective of the circumstances, including amount of alcohol consumed and good times being had and promises of what could be and how nice a kisser someone is and whatever exotic location I am in, I will not sleep with anyone I haven’t dated properly for at least two months, even if I know them or think I know them.
After I added a few clarifying clauses, I have found it easy to stick to. So much so that it recently morphed into:
Given that I now understand my family-installed wiring means it is highly unlikely, and quite probably impossible, that I can embark on a romantic relationship without it damaging my mental well-being and emotional stability, I am no longer actively seeking a partner.
Another pact appeared towards the end of 2014 after attending a couple of boring, worthless and expensive seminars at my local writers’ centre. Actually, I can’t blame my writers’ centre, because – apart from a few notable exceptions – it’s been my experience of every class, seminar or workshop I’ve taken over the last few years, irrespective of the class, seminar or workshop being taught:
Do not attend any face to face seminars, classes or workshop UNLESS I can be absolutely, 100% guaranteed that the presenter is skilled, interesting and experienced in their field OR I simply cannot get this information anywhere else on the planet. And by anywhere else on the planet, I mean online or in a book.
I have others which reflect the sneaking awareness that my intuition, while good, is sometimes off and causes me to make some snap judgements about people that aren’t always correct:
Just because someone seems nice and friendly and cheerful and approachable does not mean they actually are. Sometime these people are sociopaths or narcissists and have personality disorders and being nice and friendly and cheerful and approachable is a ruse. Sometimes the nice and friendly and cheerful and approachable disposition is simply a camouflage for being a fucktard or an arsehole or a twat. Sometimes the people who seem weird or strange or unrelatable are the best types of people. Knowing this, I will take two months to make up my mind about any new people I deal with regularly, six months for others.
I made this particular pact after noticing my behaviour around MeetUp RSVPS. I would RSVP yes to an activity that sounded good on the day that I RSVPd, only to find that on the day (or night) of the activity in question, I invariably didn’t feel like going. It was too hot, too cold, too wet, too early, too late or I had a crap day at work and just wanted to go home and cuddle the cat or I had every intentions of going, but went for a long run and didn’t get back in time. And so I’d cancel on the day, which is most unfair to the people who host:
To cause the least amount of inconvenience and stress to hosts, I don’t RSVP to MeetUp events until the very last possible minute.
And then here’s the pact that has eventuated out of 2014’s sad and lonely and awful Christmas:
People may think that they are being kind and thoughtful and giving when they invite me to their house for Christmas Day festivities. I might think they are being kind and thoughtful and giving and accept on this basis. HOWEVER, I have learned that no good ever comes from me going anywhere on Christmas Day except for a run or to help out people less fortunate than myself. All further invitations to attend Christmas Day festivities will be gratefully received but gracefully refused.
And the pact I made after jumping back on the job-hunting bandwagon and realising it’s still as bullshit a process as ever and I can’t be bothered with it. I am supposed to go back to my old (permanent) job in my old department, which is two pay grades lower than my current role. I have railed against it because a) it’s a $20 000 per year drop in salary and b) I will probably go back to my old manager, which I why I left in the first place. I’m seeing things differently now: less responsibility, bread and butter money means the bills are paid while I’m building my publishing brand, and the ultimate freedom of pursuing my own ventures:
I will not apply for any more jobs. In fact, I don’t want to be employed, but because I don’t have a partner, husband or significant other to gift me some time out of the workforce, I need a job so I can pay my bills. So I will return to my old job, and reduce my hours to three days a week and concentrate on my writing and publishing and the income streams I develop because of my writing and publishing. The only applications I will write from now on will be for arts funding or travel grants or Kickstarter campaigns or award nominations or similar.
Some pacts that are seemingly simple are the hardest to keep:
I don’t eat chocolate or similar on the days I do not exercise.
When my blood boils, choose to respond rather than react. Better yet, take time out to consider all courses of action. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing of all.
And this, the hardest one of all: