I didn’t really set out to accomplish these life changes this year. But I did set out to make my life better, and I looked for those things that would do it.
People often say that new years’ resolutions are prone to failure. Maybe they are. But that’s no reason to think that you can’t make your life better in a year. Here are six ways I improved mine.
1. Blogging every day
No-brainer here. Daily blogging has perhaps been my biggest daily challenge, and the one that has brought me the most benefit. I’ve become much less skittish about writing, and I’m much less skittish about making mistakes with my writing. That generally makes writing easier and more enjoyable.
Writing every day has made me more articulate about my ideas and values. It has made me more comfortable with holding and expressing my opinions. The practice has given me discipline, and it has been a way for me to end my days on a creative note. My writing generates new opportunities and friendships for me. It even inspires some people.
2. Doing physical service work
I spend most of my life looking intently at a computer screen. Physical service work (mostly through my church community) has stretched my skill set and made me much more useful outside of my job. I’ve practiced everything from painting and landscaping to coffee barrista-ing and food serving. All along I’ve had the opportunity to have great conversations with good people.
3. Killing my Facebook newsfeed
Since installing the Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator, I’ve saved countless hours of frustration, cynicism, and pointless squabbling. I’ve saved countless hours of productive work time. I’ve stopped the cycle of self-comparison. And I still get all of the benefits of using Facebook for messaging, birthday wishes, and posting.
4. Journaling every day
I started a practice of daily journaling this summer. I’ll typically write down brief recollections of the events of a day before going to sleep. The journal is my third-party bird’s-eye view of my own life. I become more conscious of how full of good things they are. I get a chance to consciously celebrate my victories, meditate on my areas for improvement, and chew through the things frustrating and saddening me.
Journaling like this helps me to see the narrative of my days. The practice has probably pushed me (unconsciously) to do more interesting things in my “story”, or at least to see them as more interesting.
5. Building my social network
Friendship doesn’t come automatically. It’s taken me a long time to learn that I have to be the one to cultivate friendship in my life. This year I’ve been much more methodical in scheduling and hosting friend outings with people I value. I’ve begun to host dinner parties for people I want to get to know better. I’ve gathered regularly with friends who want to grow in wisdom and effectiveness.
6. Relying on my calendar
In 2017 I outsourced most of my memory to my Google calendar. I’ve used calendar events to remind me of my ongoing responsibilities, and I’ve used one-time events and reminders to help me remember to show up to everything from parties to volunteer engagements. I’ve been able to handle a large variety of commitments and events because my calendar is keeping track for me and reminding me in advance. I wouldn’t have been able to do that on my memory alone.