I know that for many people, the focus for today (December 24) is tomorrow, Christmas. Me? I'm focusing on a week from now, December 31, and the start of a new decade the next day.
Over the summer, I went through Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way. In a nutshell, she feels that most of us were artistic at one point in our lives, but we buried our art when we became adults because we felt we had to. (Men are especially guilty of this, which is why I offer my <shameless plug> The Creative Man program </shameless plug>. Email me for details, dammit.)
Anyway, a key part of her program is writing "morning pages." As early as possible every day, you write three pages of whatever is in your head, getting out on paper what would otherwise distract you during the day. Today's morning pages gave me an unanticipated epiphany.
2019 has been a trainwreck. A shitshow. A disastrous, Uwe Boll-level abomination. Businesses have failed spectacularly, in spite of Leigh's Herculean efforts. Long about mid-August, I retreated into "survival mode," which meant focusing all my attention on getting through each day, applying to every job that I seem remotely able to do, cutting back on spending, and not eating. (I'm now in the mid-170s, which is the lightest I've been since high school.) It's also meant a resurgence in my depression, the emergence of anxiety that I didn't realize I had, and stress. Dear heavens, the stress.
Along the way, I also gave up on anything that could be considered a dream, a hope, a goal, an aspiration. I told myself I did so for the sake of focusing on handling immediate issues (hello, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs), but I'm no longer sure. I think the true problem was that either what I thought were my dreams, actually weren't, or that I'd never articulated them in a way that I could grasp onto. When I've felt like I was drowning, they should have been my life preserver. Without them, I was surviving, but I wasn't living.
The thing is, except for VERY FEW people (like Leigh, who has a fierce optimism that I admire and resent at the same time), we all do this. When shit goes south, like it always will, we curl up into a fetal position and hope we can survive until the kicks and punches stop.
WE ALL DO THIS.
It's your hopes that get you up off the floor, dust yourself off, and tell life to fuck off because you are an unconquerable badass.
It's your goals that make you work hard because at the end of the day, you can go to sleep knowing that you took a step, no matter how small, in their direction.
Your dreams are the life preserver.
Unfortunately, very few of us really devote the time and attention to identifying our dreams in a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) way. Instead, we settle for half-assed, half-visualized goals that we are half-passionate, half-concerned, and half-hopeful about. Then, when shit goes wrong, like it always will, they all go out the window and we repeat the cycle.
I won't live like that any longer. I can't. Between now and midnight on New Year's Eve, I'm figuring out my "why" and creating a concrete dream future that I won't let go, no matter what. I want nothing less than a life that fills me with so much happiness and joy that it feels overwhelming because THAT IS FUCKING LIVING. Survival mode isn't.
We love to say "life is short," but yet we act like we have all the time in the world. We delay doing things we know would make us happy and, by extension, improve the lives of those around us. We think it's noble, but it's not. It's selfish, because you keep those who love you from seeing the very best version of you.
So what are you going to do between now and the start of 2020? Create resolutions that you KNOW you will abandon because they don't really mean anything? Or have the courage to create a vision of something you are willing to live for?
Post in the discussion, below, what you will do. If you already have a dream, share it.