I planned to tackle all sorts of end-of-year chores today, but instead I lay on the couch and contemplated the year. I blame this in part on nearly six hours of delays (across two flights) coming back to LA yesterday. It was extremely late when I walked in my door. The rest I blame on the state of my back, which I wrenched just prior to said adventures in air travel. The past day encompassed much of my year: forward momentum accompanied by pain and frustration.
Lately I’ve found it difficult to separate my personal goals and experiences from my world view. Politics bleeds all over everything. And while there’s plenty of progress being made, it is, as ever, nonlinear. The level of hatred and vitriol coloring social media, news reports, public events and more private interactions concerns me. There seems to be so much less harmony, understanding, compromise. No one listens; they just scream out their side of the situation. Nothing escalates gradually. We are full throttle, at war, all the time. And that’s exhausting.
The reality of the world means I can’t afford to disengage with what’s happening out there. It’s too important. But self-interest demands that I pull back to a certain extent. Getting angry over every injustice solves nothing; I need to pick my battles. Obviously, the upcoming presidential election is foremost on my mind. But that means being informed about the candidates, not tracking every upsetting thing Tweeted by our current president. Instead, I plan to focus on issues closer to home; my aging parents and their needs, my friends, my clients, promoting diversity and fair treatment in the publishing industry, my concern over climate change, my personal health, and a few other goals for the year.
It’s been years since I boiled down my life into very distinct categories, but I think it’s time for me to do so again. The older I get, the more aware I am that time moves far faster than we realize. It’s the old adage about the days being long while the years are short. I don’t want to waste time and energy being angry over things I can’t control or that won’t matter in a few weeks. It’s important to narrow my focus, and segment my time accordingly. That means dividing things into boxes: myself, my immediate circle (friends and family), my personal community, my business community, and a worldwide view. I’ll be slotting my goals into each specific box and going from there. And no one box is allowed to overwhelm my life.
Most years my goals involve specific tasks, things I want to achieve, and I’ll be coming up with a few of those, too. But my primary goal is to improve my outlook–my quality of life. Because without that change, I’ll continue to struggle with all my other goals.
How does your big picture look? Are you laying the foundations for any major changes in 2020? I’d love to hear what you’re up to.
3 thoughts on “Year-End Reflections: 2019”
I live on the edge of nowhere. Because of this, I’m mostly unplugged. It’s amazing how easy it is to ignore social media when you don’t have a smart phone. Also, I get my news from newspapers. The local one is weekly, and only carries local news. The big-city paper is daily, but we only get to town once a week (sometimes less often) to pick them up from a friend. So we get behind on our reading.
I’ve discovered that one doesn’t truly need to know what’s going on all the time. That when I read a week-old paper, it’s not nearly as stressful as when it’s fresh. But I still know what’s going on in the world around me. Yes, I have internet, and I can check headlines when I need to. But they’re often not nearly as important as people think they are.
I have conversations with real people in person. Out here, there isn’t all this animosity I keep hearing about, even though folks still have polarizing opinions. We keep things respectful, mindful that just because someone doesn’t have our views doesn’t make them evil.
I honestly think the media–social and otherwise–amplifies things beyond reality. We’re repeatedly told the world is going to heck, so all we see is the world going to heck. It doesn’t hurt to step away from the noise. You really aren’t going to miss anything. And you’re going to feel a lot better.
The recent political landscape has also forced me to compartmentalize my life/goals into boxes (family, work, social circle, me/my dreams). I have already laid the foundations, this past year, by setting boundaries I didn’t previously have (I deleted a few toxic people/contacts out of my life) and by using my financial power to good use (I give to civil rights organizations, shop and buy local whenever I can, etc…). I have also been writing in different genres, trying to discover/embrace who I am as a writer and define my voice/brand. I already know that I can write 7,000+words/week and that all my stories contain either an element of strange or romance. I look forward to discovering the challenges/lessons/opportunities 2020 has in store for me.
May the New Year be filled with health, success (personal and professional), happiness, great friendships, delicious dishes, laughter, and a dash of aventure!
Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt post. It really does feel like, as a society, we’re letting our worst impulses rule us. But I think that when we speak up about being more tolerant, listening more and being kinder, that helps provide a little of the calming sanity that we all need, and reminds us to be our best selves. There are lots of good people out there, finding their voices and making the world better bit by bit. Here’s to the 20s.
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