Five million people have died. How will you now live?
A few weeks ago, I found a house on Zillow, where I’d been casually looking, considering buying later this year. It had high ceilings, a fireplace in the bedroom, and a huge porch — I fell in love.
Though I’d had plans that day, I swiped everything off my calendar as if it was a desk in a romance novel. I filled out all the paperwork to get pre-approved, made an offer, started a Pinterest board, researched plants that would thrive in the shade of its trees. And then, 48 hours later, just when I had decided on the signature cocktail I would serve at my housewarming party, I lost the house to another offer.
Let’s skip the crying and go straight to the lesson.
Before I saw this house, I’d been procrastinating for months to get pre-approved, because I hate forms, the kryptonite of the creative. Until I fell in love with the idea of something tangible, that paperwork was the only thing standing between me and that thing I wanted.
I also had the actual hope that I would get it. I put a bid on it five hours after it went on the market! It was in my price range! And, 10 years after I had to do a short sale, my credit score can no longer be confused with the score of a bowling game.
It was enticing and it was possible. And I moved.
That energy is what I want for 2022.
I’ve been wading too long in the mire of all I’ve lost. My roommates moved out of the house we’d shared through the lockdown. My friend bought a 3 bedroom/2 bath 20 minutes north of Seattle for $800,000, smacking me in the face with the reality that I need to make plans to live elsewhere. I’m going to randomly cat sit in New Mexico for a few months, and then have no idea what I’m doing. The future hasn’t been clear, and so I haven’t had much motivation for it.
The house gave me a vision.
Now I need to give myself one.
When you make a resolution, you have to start with a vision and keep it close.
Then create a plan.
Then create accountability.
What level has the pandemic added?
We are still alive and life is a gift that has been snatched away from Five. Million. People.
I think my resolutions are less about “accomplishment” and more about depth. We’ve all had something like a near-death experience.
Why even make new year’s resolutions in a pandemic?
Because we are still alive.
Because it will help us focus on within locus of control.
Because we’ve got to keep moving.
Let’s move on to the how:
Creating your vision
I’ve been working out with my trainer Hamilton for about 18 months now. I’ve learned that when those mountain climbers start to burn my shoulders and all I want to do is collapse on the ground, I have to go back to my vision. My vision is pretty much what I see in the Instagram of my friend who’s an incredible climber, Wudan Yan. I literally picture the view from the top of the mountain, the mountain I just climbed with these quads I’m making right this painful moment with these MF-ing jumps. The jumps suck. But the outcome is just a bit more exciting than the moves are painful.
- I don’t like marketing myself, but I love the idea of being able to afford trips to see the Northern lights.
- I don’t like cleaning, but I like the feeling of going into my bedroom and not seeing just a bunch of things I have to do.
- I don’t like making budgets, but I like the feeling of pride in having my business organized and growing.
The vision has to be specific, visual, emotional, and attainable (that mountain, for example, is not Everest.)
So my vision is also having my book published. With Tin House? That’s a bit of a scary goal. Too scary? I don’t know. But I imagine sending it to Tin House, and what I want to have for them, and I imagine picking it up in a bookstore. It has a black cover with smoke on it, and then I overhear two people next to me talking about how much they love it, and that’s what gets me up at 5 a.m. to work on my novel.
Am I afraid that I’m not good enough for Tin House? Yes.
Do I think there’s a possibility I am good enough? Hell yes.
Make sure you’re looking at your vision.
- Make your vision your phone’s lock screen or your laptop’s screensaver.
- Make your vision the password to get into your computer.
- Say a prayer or some affirmations for your vision every day.
Making a plan
We worry whether the glass will get filled or not. We should worry more if the water is flowing.
My novel will get written, dammit, if I write every day.
I will get pieces in magazines if I’m reading and pitching each week.
I will feel like a well-read writer if I make time to read every day.
Think of the daily actions that are going to get you to that outcome, and focus on those.
One of the reasons I started A Very Important Meeting was so that I would be required to write 45 minutes a day. If I don’t show up, people are going to be waiting for me. People are gonna be mad at me! As a people pleaser, I can’t have that.
How are you going to make sure you keep your promises to yourself? A group? A class? A coach?
With an attitude of building
When I’m in The Bad Place, I think my writing life is not going well. And I have to come to it with an attitude of acceptance, that this is where I’m at now. Rather than thinking the road split somewhere back in the ‘80s, and I’m off track and I’ll never find my way back to the life I should be living, I remind myself that I’ve come so far and I have so much to build on. I think about, rather than flipping a U-turn, kicking it into high gear.
I try to think about it with agency and possibility. Think of it as building upon instead of tearing down. Think of all you’ve done to get to where you are, and how you can crowd out what you don’t love about your life by doing more of what you do love.
A heaping dose of grace
For so much of my life, tossed about by the ADHD I didn’t know I had, my resolutions lorded over me like an evil stepmother. You pitiful little piece of crap, will you exercise for once? Then, my writer’s mind would write a new future with a six pack and an unlimited supply of bikinis and I would be a new, acceptable person and then…! Jan. 3 would hit, and I’d catch myself hitting the buffet for round 3, and then the voice of the evil stepmother would step in.
3 books to help you with behavior change:
What I’ve learned from my New Year’s Resolution Fails:
- You are you, and whether you change some of your habits or not, the essence of who you are will not change.
- Resolutions made out of self-disgust will never hold.
- Life’s too short to be your own evil stepmother.
Be your own fairy godmother instead.
I am just no longer into the self-flagellation style of discipline. We’ve lost too much, we’ve come too far. Let’s see what we can do, but also just enjoy our lives.