In the past few years, I’ve fallen out of setting goals and resolutions for myself at the end of the year. It used to make me feel excited, because New Year! New Things! New Beginnings! But I never followed through on anything that I set for myself, unless it was a big long-term thing like “get a relationship” or “go to grad school.” Which aren’t BAD things, really, but the small, day-to-day life improvements? Nope, never really happened. Or, well, I tried to make them happen and that lasted less than 24 hours.
Eventually, I got lazy and stopped trying to essentially better my life. I also stopped making short-term goals because it sort of became, why bother if I’m not going to do anything, anyway? But in my ongoing quest of realizing how important certain things are to keeping my mental health in check, and in my renewed passion to take charge of those realizations rather than just pushing them to the side, I’m looking at 2016 as a change in organization, commitment and responsibility, in all ways.
This is a big one. This year, I fell into the black hole of letting social media consume my life in an overwhelming way. (Okay, let’s be real, it wasn’t all bad. Fandom brought me some amazing, important friends that I wouldn’t have known if I wasn’t so involved, and I’m forever grateful for that.) Some of this “immersion” was due to anxiety, in that to keep my mind off of real life things, I fully threw myself in denial and Internet life instead. Some of it was due to work, and the fact that because of the job I have, I need to be connected 24/7 or at least keep up appearances on Twitter and such. It’s tiring. But even after staring at news websites and tweets all day, the first thing I do when I get home? Get on Tumblr and do the “fandom, fun, relaxation things” that I don’t get to do at work. And instead of giving myself limits, I let that consume me, to the point where I’d bypass dinner or forget to call my parents or forget something else important in favor of sitting on the computer. (Living alone can kind of suck sometimes.)
I’ve realized that personal relaxation time is important to me, and it’s important for me to HAVE that time to dick around on the Internet and flail about fandom things. But I’m going to try to improve the way I integrate all of that into my life: an hour or two of online time, maybe, and then doing real world stuff. Getting myself into the mindset I don’t NEED to be connected all the time, that the world won’t end if I don’t see my entire Tumblr dash, etc. Curating the amount of time I spend will (hopefully) help make me more productive in the long run.
I wrote about this in another entry, but I miss how I’ve fallen out of reading regularly due to being busy, or just not being in the right mental state. Reading is not only so much of who I am (I wasn’t an English major for nothing) but as a writer, it’s so important to keep my brain active with other people’s words. Good fic is a nice substitute, but I miss real stories. So I’m hoping to read more this year, and even if I can’t get through a lot of books, I at least want to regularly read each night or each weekend. I have a pile of stories on my list and I’m trying to get recs from friends, and hopefully that’ll help.
Probably my biggest self-improvement goal for 2016. I’m currently waiting on my newly ordered passion planner (thanks, Shelly) which I plan to use religiously. I’ve become so dependent on technology, especially since my Mac syncs everything from my phone to my iPad to my computer, that I haven’t used an actual paper planner for far too long. A lot of my friends started bullet journals this year thanks to the fabulous advice of Kelly Sue (glow little shark, glow) and that’s hopefully going to be something that I start doing, also. But I’m hoping to use my planner to chronicle everything from commitments to writing time to life events. And hopefully relying on that will help me put order back into my life.
Oh, the big one. I’ve been struggling with debt for years, thanks to bad choices in my past, and that hasn’t been helped by the fact that going back to grad school 2 years ago meant taking on student loans, which I hadn’t had before. While I’ve gotten better at being aware of how to handle money, I’m nowhere near satisfied with my financial state, and there are multiple “life” things I need to face in 2016 that hinge on money. I can’t even remember the last time I kept a checkbook, because I stopped writing checks when everything became electronic, but I’m making an effort to make notes when my bills are due (so I don’t miss deadlines), and sign up for programs that will help me budget correctly so I’m constantly aware of what I’m spending.
Allocating writing time! In addition to blocking off specific Internet time, I want to block of writing time, too, for both blogging and fic and original personal writing. I’d like to at least get into the habit of blogging once or twice a week, no matter what I’m writing about, with set times to work on fic or just write in general. (This will go out the window when it’s NaNo time but whatever.) In the same way I plan to set limits for myself with Internet usage, I want to give myself time for writing: an hour or two each day, but at the very least, regular writing time each day no matter what so I’m constantly working my brain…and then not feeling guilty for not having time.
A lo of the things I want to do this year are going to be challenging — not because of how big the changes are. But I’m not “settled.” I’m still going out every so often and messing up my routine some nights by not getting home til 10 or 11 at night, I’m not living somewhere that’s a real home or that I know will be a real home where I can feel settled as much as I love my apartment. I’m a little worried that I’ll be thrown off if I miss a few days of not being able to do things with the regimen I’m trying to put into place, but that also feeds into my efforts to be better about my mental health. Just because I don’t do something every day, that’s no reason to fall off the wagon. Just because I don’t do something every day, it doesn’t mean that I’ve failed at anything.
It should be enough.