It’s December. That means you get a lot of holiday spirit, but you also get a lot of resolutions and year-end lists and trend-spotting and 2015 predictions and the occasional cool article about why resolutions don’t stick. It’s a cycle, every year. There’s beauty and family and the same sets of songs and there’s resolutions and food and promises to get to the gym more, and then there’s trees and ornaments and balls dropping and shots and beers, and then there’s a new morning, and it’s 2015, and football is on the television, and we feel like the reset is here, but … we’re probably going to head back to work on the 5th of January and most things will be the same. The passage of a year should be a good opportunity to think about your life and where it stands and what you want next, but for most people that seems to be an exercise you do half-heartedly, and then dive right back into the muck once the calendar resets. That’s what I’ve observed both (a) from me and (b) from my friends over time. I think it’s probably human nature.
This time, I thought I’d blog about it a little, though.
I wanted to think about my biggest challenges of the upcoming year. What are things that I anticipate being hard, and how can I deal with them?
I guess I should start with a caveat. Obviously, it’s hard to predict your life. Your parents could die tomorrow. (Hell, you could die tomorrow.) If something like that happened, a lot of things that seemed important 10 minutes ago would become meaningless, and most of your emotional/mental/physical capacity would go in a different direction. I sometimes think — not trying to be too deep here, but — that the single-most unique thing about humans is that we can literally pivot 360 degrees to deal with a new situation in the span of about 20 minutes or less. I don’t think apes can do that, but I might be wrong.
That’s a long way of saying that these are my challenges now. They could change. I wrote a little bit about some of this when this blog hit 1,000 posts, too.
Having A Kid: I wouldn’t necessarily call this “a challenge,” but I do think it’s a radar element for the next year of my life. I’m 34. My wife is 33. I know that’s not “the end of things,” but I would like to start trying this year. (We’ve talked about it, obviously.) I also realize saying you’re “going to start trying” is pretty much the most white, middle-class bullshit a person can say — you’re basically talking about having unprotected sex on a more regular basis, I guess. Obviously if this even remotely works out in the next 12 months or so, it’s going to change a good deal about my current existence: my commitments to various things, my sleep patterns, my understanding of love (again, not trying to sound deep, but…), my financial responsibility, perhaps my concept of living in a home or other free-standing dwelling, etc. So I wouldn’t necessarily call this “a challenge” so much as “an opportunity,” but I think this is a big on-the-radar moment for me for the next 12 months. And yes, I do worry about the world and I sometimes worry having a child is actually a selfish decision, but God-willing, this does seem right.
Health Overall: This is one of those things people always say when you get near January 1. I’m going to say it too. I read an interesting quote yesterday; it was something I had never thought about. In American society, we view wealth as aspirational. It’s good to have wealth and acquire wealth and use wealth. We don’t view health as aspirational. What if, then, we started viewing health the same way we view wealth? Sure, it would take a lot of changes to society (that probably won’t happen), and it would take a reduction in the amount of shitty food we pump out (which probably won’t happen), but that does seem like a good marketing slogan, if nothing else: View health like you currently view wealth. As for me and health, I think I eat pretty well, but I still drink a bit more than I want to. I need to keep working on that. To tie (A) and (B) together here, I did decide that if my wife gets pregnant at some point, I’ll quit drinking for the nine months as well. Would be cool.
The Friends And Where-To-Live Dynamic: I’ve thought about this one a bit, and probably more and more in the last few weeks. Let’s take stock of where I’m at, shall we?
- It took me forever and a day to find a job out of graduate school.
- I finally found one, and it’s cool so far. Heck, I got to go to Belgium.
- I live in Fort Worth for the job, where I don’t know that many people aside from co-workers.
- I’m over 30, so it’s probably harder to make friends.
- A lot of my friends live in the Northeast.
- The Northeast is a more expensive place to live compared to Fort Worth.
So it kinda comes down to this: I could stay at a job I like, with a good salary, and buy a house for less money — but maybe not be around my friends without a plane being involved. Or I could move to an area (which would require a job, obviously), be closer to friends, spend more money on an eventual home, etc.
Right now, I’m leaning towards the former (as is my wife). I’d rather have a higher quality of life and a good job and fly to see my friends for occasions, I think. But it is kind of an interesting thing to think about: what do you value more?
This does mean I need to spend some time in 2015 actually trying to make friends, which is its own challenge.
Becoming Relevant: I wouldn’t classify myself as irrelevant, in that I believe there are people walking the Earth who value me (although some days are better than others in this regard). But I would say that I look at the next year in terms of becoming more relevant, and I view that as a challenge. Like I said just above, I enjoy my job; but I also struggle to get people to listen to me about basic things, and I want to improve on that. I want to feel like I make a difference in the overall work that we do as an organization.
I want more people to find and discover this blog; some of what I write is fairly relevant, although admittedly other sections are just pure drivel.
My brother-in-law is applying to PhD programs right now. That’s a daunting process, to be sure. He’s a smart kid, and a few days ago I texted him and said something off-the-cuff. I wasn’t even thinking about it at the time, but I wrote: “Figure out what story you want to share with the world, then do it.” I know it’s probably over-dramatic, but I feel like I did that with this blog (to an extent). I figured out stories I wanted to tell and I started telling them. Now I need to take that same attitude and apply it to work, apply it to my personal life, etc. This goes along with my shift in mantra.
Now It’s Your Turn: If you are reading this (still), stop and pause for a second. Think about this: In the next 12 months, what do you see as your biggest challenge, or the biggest thing you need to think about/work on? Just start typing in the comments. Type and type and type, and then hit Submit or Send or whatever it is. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking about in terms of your own life.