It’s New Year’s Eve, another year has come and gone. 2018 will be over in a few hours and we are here at home celebrating. By celebrating I mean sitting in our pajamas hanging out with the baby.
2018 was a wild year. I can’t think of anything more life changing than becoming a father for the first time. Every single day feels like a new adventure and as soon as I start feeling confident about the whole thing the creature changes all of the rules.
Other than becoming a father 2018 was a year of work. I pulled a lot of long days and took care of several difficult projects. The hard work paid off and I’m leaving my current station with a great evaluation and a lot of motivation. I’m looking forward to taking on more challenges in the upcoming year.
On the other hand, fatherhood and a heavy workload caused my writing career to suffer. I did poorly, horribly actually. I didn’t complete a single short story. I just wrote lots of fragments and spent the majority of my free writing time editing older stories. The year wasn’t a total bust, I did manage to get two stories in print. One of them, Kakerlacs in Storyhack was well received.
2019 is the Year of the Boar. My year, and the spiritual mascot of this blog. A lot of changes are in store. First off, in about two weeks we will be moving out of our house. We are packing up and heading back to the United States. New location, new position, and a new home. The move is going to be a challenge and I’m going to miss Japan a lot, but I’m looking forward to it and all of the new adventures that we will be having.
The Year of the Dog is upon us, 2017 was great for us but 2018 holds so many exciting changes and new adventures. We enter 2018 a family of two plus Quinn and halfway through the year we will become a family of three plus Quinn. Career-wise I am due to find out my next assignment, that means that 2018 might be the last year of living in Japan. The year of the Dog will be an interesting year with lots of change.
In other news, we spent most of my four-day weekend cleaning the house Japanese style. In Japan New Years is a big deal, the way it’s celebrated is more akin to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most places close down for a few days and everyone takes the time to go visit relatives and spend time with family. One of the New Years traditions is called Osouji, or cleaning, a tradition similar to American Spring Cleaning. Osouji is more than getting the house prepared for family New Year celebrations. It symbolizes a fresh, new beginning. Ridding homes and working spaces of clutter, particularly the clearing of soot and dust known as susuharai (think of the soot sprites in Totoro,) is said to give thanks for the blessings of the previous year and to purify these spaces for the coming one.
We cleaned our house from top to bottom and really focused on decluttering the place getting rid of so many bags filled with junk and stuff we haven’t used in years. One of my aspirations for the coming year is to redo my wardrobe and turn it into a minimalist set up where I only have a few pieces of clothing that can serve a lot of functions. Check this video out, it does a great job of showing what I’m trying to do. I got rid of 70% of my closet, keeping only the bare minimum. I’m slowly going to trim it down to even more basic items which I will replace with high-quality pieces that are meant to last.
The NYE celebration was low key, comfortable, and exceptionally pleasant. We spent the night with friends drinking wine and bullshitting. The era of large parties or NYE barhopping is long gone. To illustrate the point we woke up without a hangover, feeling fantastic, and spent most of the day hiking around our local forest before coming back home for dinner and more house cleaning.
I’m very excited about this year. I’m excited to become a father and I’m excited about all the new opportunities coming our way. I look forward to a lot of reading, a lot of writing, and hopefully some great publishing opportunities.
In four days it will be 2018, a whole new year of adventure and excitement. With the dawning of the new year, many of us will take the time to reflect on the past and plan for the future by making traditional New Year’s Resolutions. According to some random internet poll, that I found on Wikipedia, 50% of Americans make resolutions. Unfortunately, 88% of people fail, with men having a 22% success rate and women only 10%.
I like goals so I make resolutions every year. Not only do I make them, I make sure that I put my plans down in writing and make a digital copy that I keep on my phone that I use to motivate and keep myself on track. I believe in the power of goal setting and the concrete permanence of physically writing them down allows me to conceptualize and solidify the ideas.
Last year I made three resolutions. Unfortunately, all three were rather vague and didn’t specify concrete milestones or achievements. Looking back I genuinely succeeded on one goal, but the other two are somewhat up for debate. So this year I decided to take a systematic approach and use a rule of three style setup. Three general resolutions or visions with three specific milestones each.
Using sets of threes imbues the process with a mythological magic, three is a powerful number. Three witches, three wise men, three sisters, three little pigs, three Christmas ghosts, three Musketeers (ok ok four technically), three Brothers Karamazov(spoiler… ) on and on. Three is magical.
So this year I picked three areas of life that I wanted to focus on, improve, and advance in. Physical health, writing, and family life. For each one, I wrote a one to two paragraph vision on what I want to achieve this coming year. These paragraphs I scribbled on the left side of my journal. Then, on the right side of the page, for each of the three, I chose three concrete and attainable goals pertaining to the overall theme.
Resolution: One or two paragraphs.
Resolution: One or two paragraphs.
Resolution: One or two paragraphs.
For example, my first Resolution is as follows:
PHYSICAL HEALTH & FITNESS: 2018 will be a year where I will seriously focus on health and fitness. With the implicit goal of drastically improving my strength, endurance, and overall well being. I will completely eliminate horrible vices such as smoking and binge drinking, two behaviors that I significantly decreased in 2017 but still indulged occasionally to my detriment. My goal for 2018 is to become the strongest I’ve ever been for my own benefit, made more important by my upcoming fatherhood.
Quit Smoking completely.
Meet strength goals using my ongoing Linear Progression program.*
Eat 80% Primal/Paleo avoiding sugar and junk.
*I will outline actual numbers in a future post.
So I have three Resolutions following the above format, each has a written blurb followed by three concrete goals. I made sure that each one of the bullets is reasonable and achievable within the next twelve months. This is all written in my journal where I keep story ideas, interesting lines, sketches, and all sorts of crazy stuff. I also took a picture of the outline that I saved on my Evernote app so I can look it over anytime on my phone.
I think that short-term goal setting, specifically when put down on paper, is a fantastic way to focus one’s mind and cut through the mental and emotional clutter that plagues so many of us, especially us writers. I highly recommend using a system like the one above or even just free writing ideas down in your journal or on your blog.
Happy New Year and may all your upcoming goals be achieved!