I spent the first weekend of the new year watching a lot of YouTube videos. Mostly videos by smaller creators, like Rosianna Halse Rojas and booksandquills, who were talking about goals. Things they accomplished or didn’t accomplish in 2017, what they were aiming to achieve in 2018, where they stood on their list of things to accomplish before they turned 30. I really admire these women, the way they speak so thoughtfully, how they express their ambition and compassion. So with their videos and the general resolution-fervor in my mind, I started thinking about my goals for 2018.
I started a new job in October 2017 and right now that involves a 110 minute commute each way. At some point in the coming months (especially if we get a lot more snow) this will become unbearable and I will move closer in to the city. This is something I expect I will do in 2018. If I don’t do it, I will probably be a little frustrated by my quality of life and maybe a little disappointed about where I am in terms of others’ ideas of early 20s success. But because I very much expect this to happen, I feel weird putting it on a New Year’s Resolution list or a list of goals.
For the past five years, either in January or at the start of the summer, I have made a list of things I wanted to do and each year this has included hiking a local mountain. The mountain is not a strenuous hike, I would be physically capable of doing it right now, all I need to do is get in my car, drive there, and hike the mountain. But because I want to do it with friends or family and I was spending a lot of weekends at the beach, I’ve not done it. I find this very annoying, and I still want to do it, but I have chosen not to put it on a goal list for 2018. And who knows, maybe by mid-June I’ll be busy with my new city life that I won’t even think about it anymore.
What I have decided to do is set a goal or challenge for each month. It’s much more manageable, easier to see success, and lower level of commitment for each particular thing. Expectations are low for remembering to pick a new thing for each month, but here we are January 13th and things are going well.
-Take a break from Twitter
These two things are very much related. I never feel like I’m reading enough, though I do spend over 2 hours on a train every day , providing a perfect opportunity to do so. I also find that when I’m at home I will be watching TV and scrolling through Twitter at the same time, and I don’t like the feeling of not being present. I also like the feeling of Doing Things, and reading Twitter feels like the exact opposite. My productivity at work will also hopefully improve – I was finding myself checking Twitter too many times during the day, afraid that I was missing out on some new article or news item that everyone was talking about.
So I deleted the app from my phone. Easy.
Pros: I am reading more. While before I would spend about half an hour of my commute scrolling through Twitter, I’m now much better about getting on the train, putting my phone in my bag, and settling into the book or New Yorker article that I’m currently reading. Luckily I work very close to an amazing public library, so getting new books has not been an issue. I’m also trying to be thoughtful about the books I read (last year I don’t think I read a single book that I would recommend) and have been enjoying myself much more. Last week I finished re-reading Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and I’m currently a third into Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon, a book I’ve been eyeing for years. I’ve also stopped scrolling through Twitter while I watch TV at home and before bed.
Cons: For some parts of my day I have replaced Twitter not with a great book but with Snapchat Discover. Yesterday, I read the GOOP Snapchat articles. GOOP! And at work I still find myself checking my phone too frequently, sometimes scrolling through Ask A Manager (the greatest blog in the world) or The Financial Diet (which stresses me out and I don’t really enjoy). I’m still bringing my phone to bed with me and refreshing Snapchat incessantly, which doesn’t even load properly since the Wifi in my room is very weak. In addition, Twitter has been a place for me to engage with a lot of new ideas politically, something I don’t do in my in-person relationships, and I miss that. I also don’t know a lot of LGBTQ people in real life while I do follow a lot of LGBTQ people on Twitter, so I find myself missing that community. Last and least, I still find myself thinking of little tweet-sized thoughts and being frustrated that I cannot post them.
Net result: Yes, I am reading more. But I will be glad to rejoin the outrage and meme cycles of my favorite social media platform promptly on February 1.
Here’s a New Yorker article I just read about New Year’s Resolutions and self-improvement in general (I obviously have lots of thoughts):