A week from now, we’ll be three days deep into the new year. This year passed by so quickly, blah blah blah, insert typical end-of-year soliloquy-ing. But in the spirit of reflection and self-improvement, I’m going to indulge in a bit of plan-making. A little while ago I read this article from Quartz that stuck with me quite a bit: If you’re 30% through your life, you’re likely 90% through your best relationships.
Not saying this article was life-changing, but it does make me view time differently, particularly the part on how you get to see your parents about a few hundred more times in your life, if you’re a third of the way into a potential 90-year lifespan, and if you’ve already moved away from your parents. The second part that stuck with me was on the number of books left to read: if you average about 5 books a year, you only really will be reading another 300 books or so before you die. Three hundred books is an insanely small number of books, of all the number of books out there.
The post was quite morbid for me. Pessimistic, grumpy, grouchy narratives tend to stick with me a bit more than the optimistic ones, so my brain has been very wrapped around the idea of very few remaining possibilities to do certain things.
The books part has been especially sobering because I have hundreds of books in my room and I keep buying more, but truth be told I’ve been very bad at reading books. And I haven’t been particularly urgent about it either, because I keep thinking, I’m only 26, I’ve got the rest of my life to read books, I promise I’ll get around to it. But the reality is, based on what I’m averaging a year, there aren’t that many books I’ll get to read in this lifetime. And there’s a very still sense of finality in that idea, you know?
And you can extend this beyond books — the number of movies you’ll watch, the number of places you’ll be able to visit, the number of dishes you’ll try. I don’t think I all of a sudden have an urge to read all the books, watch all the movies, try all the restaurants, but it does shake me a little and make me think, “Don’t waste your remaining time doing useless shit.” Don’t go to a mediocre brunch spot for the thousandth time and get Eggs Benedict for the third time this month. Don’t just live vicariously through Instagram. Don’t just add more things to a mental check-list of things to do, buy, or say. Do more, do better. Time is precious.
I think I’ve been feeling rather anxious for change lately, and anxious about the idea of doing more of the same stuff over and over again. A lot of it comes from work. I’ve been having a lot of work-related stress, and stresses that have been occurring over and over again, ones where there’s not much I can do to fix. But when work becomes the source of a very singular and repetitive stress, that’s no bueno ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In the coming year, I hope to be more diligent and disciplined about things in my life. Getting more disciplined is something I’ve actually been able to accomplish as I’ve gotten older, which is quite a miracle if you knew younger me. I was always pretty bad about doing things I felt like I wanted to do or needed to do, and instead pushed things back and back and back to the point where creating a longterm to-do list seemed like a futile exercise, because what’s the point? I was never going to do the things on my list anyway.
But I’ve been able to take control over more things in my life, and that’s thankfully one of the good things about growing up and being financially independent and all that jazz. In 2016, I hope to be even more disciplined. I sort of fell off with a bunch of stuff in 2015. I got complacent, lazy, less motivated, and kinda stood at a standstill. I think it’s been a good year, but I got lackadaisical and want to get back onto the horse next year.
I don’t want to make a list of things I want to do more of next year — mostly because if I put together a list, I’d start getting overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the things I “need” to do next year, and I’d feel all self-defeated and everything — but I feel good about next year. Things will be good.
Have a great new year!