New Year's Resolutions

 Five action-oriented resolutions for a new year of creative productivity

40 is the new focus

After passing a few days wandering around toute seule in my soul-home Paris, (over)indulged in food, drink, and luxury shopping, I thought I’d share my personal new year’s resolutions. I’ve been shaping this list over the months running up to le big 4-0, scribbling ideas as they came to me in various circumstances- introspective moments in the midst of city chaos or mundane routines. Before the proverbial ink is even dry, as with most resolutions, I’m sure I’ll be mucking around changing them, ignoring them, fighting them, and adding new ones. I’m fine with that. Here’s to another 364 possibilities.

Prioritise movement

Lacking any real athletic orientation (specifically: coordination, grace, or agility), I’ve always tended toward more casual forms of exercise, like aggressively walking with purpose through subway stations and crowded sidewalks. I’ve managed to stick with my yoga, even though my recent travels have thrown me off a bit. But I know (and feel) that it’s just not enough. Everything being good in moderation, especially moderation, I’m perfectly satisfied with my current ratio of greens and grains to ganache and Gamay. So a gal’s gotta move. Now that I’ll be working from home again, I’ll have the blessing and curse of managing my own time, meaning I have to carve out a chunk to get out there on my cycle, go for long walks, take a yoga class. This means I’ll have to…

Structure time better

If there’s one major takeaway from these past two years’ return to clocking into an office everyday, it's is that working 9-to-5 is no way to make a living, at least not for me. Realizing this, I’ve spent a lot of time really tuning into the vicissitudes (how often do you get to use THAT word?! Not enough.) of my productivity and overall energy levels. I’ve embraced some routines, like reading and writing every morning for an hour before going to work, that have helped me feel more focused and accomplished. But I haven’t gone into full Tim Ferriss-style life-hacking mode or anything. I just want to waste less time, and do more of what makes me feel good. I’ve already mapped out a kind of “ideal day” structure of blocks for deep work, blocks for admin, blocks for collaboration and meetings, and blocks for exercise, downtime, and learning. It’s a lot less rigid than it sounds, but already I feel a sense of relief by knowing that this little bit of structure gives me the freedom to create more.

Create accountability

If structuring my hours will help me optimize my creative productivity, then this year I’m also going to double down on being clear about what I want to achieve, and focusing purely on the work that will get me there. For all it's benefits, the downside of working on your own is, I’m pretty sure, a slippery slope of retreating into oneself, a bad habit that plays on my introvert tendencies. While I need quiet and solitude for thinking and writing, it’s always been in collaborations where I’ve been most engaged, most fully myself. So my plan is to set myself up with coaches, mentors, and collaborators who will help me stay on track and evaluate my progress for whatever projects I’m tackling. And maybe I can sign on as someone else's accountability buddy, too.

Get on the meditation bandwagon

I’ve been developing this theory that engaging in routines and rituals are themselves a kind of meditation. Your brain is on autopilot just doing something simple and repetitive- say, washing the dishes. These moments of “relaxed attention” free up some RAM so thoughts can flow freely. I relish these moments, and on my best days of yoga practice, focused only on aligning breath to movement, I feel like I’m accessing the same kind of mental white space. I have a busy mind and am a restless sleeper. I’m an ideas person, for whom stillness and focus take some deliberate practice. I’m not 100% sure I have the headspace for Headspace, but at a minimum I’m going to try and find a few minutes a day to just be alone with my thoughts. See you at the sink...

Put myself out there

A friend of mine recently reminded me of the blatantly obvious: if I don’t introduce myself, if I don’t get in front of people, how will anyone know I’m there? This is the home truth of breaking out on your own, isn’t it. The hustle doesn’t come naturally to me, I’m not a salesperson, I’m not a networker. But this is going to have to be the year of biting the bullet. I doubt you’ll find me shouting from the rooftops, but I’m working on crafting some pitches for posts and articles and presentations. (I’ve already had one accepted, small victory!) I’ll be reaching out to the network I’ve managed to develop over all these years, seeking opportunities, connections, perspective. Consider yourself warned: at some point, I will probably ask you for help. 

Bonus aspiration: Maybe this will be the year I finally figure out eyeliner. I’ve got high hopes.

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