It's here. It's that time of year that's downright poisonous for a type-A list-maker like yours truly. It's time to make an exhaustive inventory of how I'll be better next year than I was this year.
The siren of perfectionism calls me every year, and it's particularly shiny when a fresh, clean calendar with 365 days is spread out in front of me. I haven't screwed up 2016 yet; I haven't been selfish, I haven't gained weight, I haven't missed a work deadline, I haven't snapped at my daughter. As far as 2016 knows, I'm perfect.
And besides, my brother and sister-in-law got me this gorgeous calendar for Christmas—it would be unholy to mar it with skipped workouts and shouted words. It's the calendar that pleads don't screw this up.
I used to be this way about journaling, too. I couldn't bring myself to start a journal because—just look at those lovely white pages! My mistakes and pithy words and cramped handwriting aren't worthy of them. I'd start every first page with my best Pilot fine point gel pen and my most careful prose.
Sorry for the story with an obvious ending: my journals never stayed perfect, and to date neither have any of my years.
But last year, I jotted down a few goals—no perfectionism, no posturing, no harsh unkindness to myself—and wouldn't you know, I hit most of them. My 2015 resolutions lead me to an interesting exercise that I'm using again this year: the idea of more or less. Realistically, I'm not going to reinvent Emily next year. But I can nudge my habits toward more of some things and less of others. I like to think of it this way: I've created habits and traits over the past years—they're my current hand of cards. But 2016 is the beginning of a new game, and I get to take a second look at my hand and decide what I keep and what I discard.
1. More real connection, less Internet connection
2015 was a little heavy on the Internet scrolling for me. It's not always a bad thing: I relish a good New Yorker article and a scroll through Instagram. But the fact is, I have a toddler and a husband who could use my attention more often. Since we both work at home, it's easy to feel like we stare at a computer or phone screen all day, and I can see it rubbing off on Charlotte. In 2016, I want to nudge myself away from screens and toward my family.
2. More reading, less mindless media consumption
Here's something I learned in 2015: mindless consumption is the enemy of creation. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but boredom has to be a close cousin or weird aunt. I think I rob myself of the value of boredom too often with media consumption. In 2016, I want to nudge myself toward reading and listening to books or podcasts when I'm bored instead of other media—or even let myself be bored and see what happens.
3. More overall health, less perfectionism
It's easy to fuel my pursuit of running and healthy eating with an unattainable perfectionism. This year, I want to steer toward lifestyle changes that make health a part of our habits. Gardening, sourcing local foods, choosing hiking or the park over lazing around the house—these are all ways I want to shoot for a holistic sense of health for my family.
4. More time outside, less time working
Again, because Jason and I work from home, it can feel like we work all day everyday. Our home is our office, and when the two get muddled together our family feels off balance. This year, I want to put work in its place by protecting our weekends and evenings and getting outside with Charlotte more.
5. More family time, less rushing
Finally, I want to nudge myself toward less addiction to busy-ness. I'm attracted to the prideful importance I feel when I'm accomplishing things all day every day, but the rush isn't worth what I miss. I've learned to savor the quiet moments in recent years, and I want to continue finding balance in the new year.
Here's to 2016. Let's be kind to ourselves this year.