Seven Things I Will (Continue To) Do This New Year

“New Year, New You!” is the anthem that has been driving (or at least pretending to drive) us creatures of habit to re-invent ourselves  on  January 1 every year!  Just like you, I am a victim of this perpetual new year hysteria. In the past, On January 1, ____ (pick a year of your choice),  I have tried to start new habits and cultivate new talents, but by middle of February or March (tops), I go through the proverbial act of “giving up”, after clashing with my inner desire to actually not pursue these wild new activities. It’s not because I lack motivation or enthusiasm – I mean, it may be true to some extent, but overall, I have realized that my brain is just not wired to dive into certain activities.

A few years ago, I tried to teach myself how to draw comic strips. I convinced myself  that drawing (and even painting) is an ability that would help me get creative in other aspects of my life. I would impress people with my aptitude to sketch a mean strip that will not only make people guffaw with uncontrollable bouts of coughing but also make them realize what an amazing message I conveyed through art.

None of that happened. After several attempts of me coaxing my brain to learn, my heart made me put a stop to it, and encouraged me to learn other things that I have an inclination for. This has happened many times in my life, and after several (failed?) attempts at various things, I am coming to terms with the fact that certain things are just not meant for me.

That’s not a bad thing! The good news is that there are certain other things I am more interested in (and good at), and for me, personally, keeping those other things alive , and using them creatively in various aspects of my life , will be more fulfilling.

So, for this year, here is a list of things I plan to keep doing and enhancing in my life.

Write

I have always enjoyed writing. When I was in graduate school, I maintained a personal blog where I dumped all of my every day thoughts, and the four of you religiously and regularly consumed them. I realize only now how therapeutic it was for me back then – there was something so amazing about jotting down mundane details of my every day life.  It helped me deal with (and sometimes forget) many frustrations that came with being a student.

Since then, I have definitely maintained my writing prowess. I started Assistive Technology Blog in late 2010, and have been continuously writing about technology for people with disabilities since then. I also started Accessibility with Echo as well as my personal website (this) for the sole purpose of sharing information.  So, writing never saw a departure from my life but what I missed was expressing in words the mischiefs my neurons in my brain were up to.

So, what’s changing this year? I will definitely continue to write blogs. Besides that, I will journal my thoughts regularly. There is something so refreshing about journaling – it keeps my mind clear, and helps me plan and think through things. It is especially helpful when you have so many thoughts in your mind and you want clarity on one of those. (the  most important one, perhaps!) In my case, a lot of it will go into my personal journal but some of them may end up on my website.

h/t to my Wonder Woman to help me revive my habit of journaling. She is an avid journaler and that habit of hers definitely rubbed off on me!

In addition, I plan to write a book. Yes, you read that right – I will write a book! Announcing my goals in public is my mechanism to make sure I complete them. So, yes, I will write a book this year mofos! More details to follow but it will be on a topic I am quite comfortable with.

Read

Or continue to read. Reading is an ongoing source of self-schooling, delight, peace and frustration. Frustration mostly because there is so much to read but so little time. I am surrounded by books that I haven’t finished – some not even started! The good news is that the antilibrary keeps me grounded, and constantly reminds me about a) how much I still don’t know, and b) how much I still need to learn.

I got more books as gifts this holiday season! I am now surrounded by some really exciting books, thanks to my very thoughtful Wonder Woman who is always encouraging me to read and learn.

See for yourself:

a stack of books resting on a desk.

Some of these I was already reading, and the others are brand new. To not get intimidated, and to not make these wonderful books end up in the antilibrary, I have decided that  I will read one chapter from each of these books every day. If a chapter is too big, I will read at least 15 pages of that chapter and move on to the next book. The plan is to mark these books “read” from “currently reading” on goodreads! So, yes, a bit of an aggressive goal but the idea is to read a lot more, and on a daily basis. I will keep you posted on how I fare.

PS: A couple of years ago, right around this time, I went to a bookshop in Bangalore to buy some books. On my way out, I grabbed around 2 dozen free bookmarks. Soon after, I felt pretty dumb for doing that. What was the need for picking up those many bookmarks? Will I EVER read those many books simultaneously? Well, turns out, the Universe has a plan for me. It’s not 2 dozen books that I am currently reading, but it’s pretty darn close. Yes, I DO need all those bookmarks!

Photography

Taking photos is another activity I consider therapeutic. I haven’t taken photos regularly in maybe a couple of years, and i plan to change that this year. The plan is to take a little bit of a structured approach – through “projects”, If you will. There are three projects I have in mind:

A Photo A Day

I will take at least one purposeful photo a day and post it somewhere – either in my personal journal or on my website. The photo should resonate with me, and I should find some meaning in it. A condition I have set for myself for this project – It will not be taken with my phone camera! I will use my compact mirrorless camera that I will keep in my backpack all the time, along with the USB powered shaver (!) that my sister gave me for Christmas.

Community Project

Just like any other city, Minneapolis has segregated pockets of ethnic communities in different parts of the city.  My goal is to get to know the local Somalian, Ethiopian, Hmong communities better by getting actively involved in these communities, taking photos and sharing them with everyone.

Data Project

I love data. I am not a data guru by any means but just like many others, I am fascinated by it. This project, that I have a rough idea about, will be an amalgamation of data and photography. We will just have to see what I come up with.

Music

I haven’t touched my guitar in a while too. I plan to play the guitar at least for five minutes every day. I miss the ability to be invincible in front of an imaginary crowd. I miss the calluses too.

PS: Solomon Linda turned in his grave after watching this.

Fun With Wonder Woman

This is not necessarily a resolution but more of a relationship goal. I will continue to do fun things with my Wonder Woman. I need to make a conscious effort to make sure all these personal projects listed above do not become obstacles in my relationship. I am fascinated by Wonder Woman’s brain and heart, and how they operate on a totally different level. I wouldn’t want to put a stop to all the fun we have together because of my selfish goals!

So, these are what I consider “major”  goals for the coming year. They are not necessarily brand new. They don’t have any shock factor. I am already familiar and comfortable with them. I just need to continue working on two of them (reading, writing), and pick back up the other two (photography, music) and be as creative as possible.

Besides these, I also have some “minor” goals for this year. Starting with:

Close all Browser Tabs

On my computer, I have at least 50 tabs open on each browser window. I tell myself that (almost) every tab has important info, and I will keep them open to revisit them later. Well, I never revisit them. Never! I don’t turn off my computer for weeks because of these tabs, and finally when I do, I feel a bit of a tingle in my body. I just lost all that valuable information that I was never ever going to read! 

That is coming to an end starting today, January1, 2019! No more hundreds of open tabs for weeks/ months. Every night, this computer is getting turned off, whether I like it or not!

Floss

A part of me feels ashamed admitting this in public but for the life of me, I cannot get into flossing. I have no issues with the activity itself but it’s just the intrusive nature of it that I have a problem with. It’s too much work making it get between my wonderful teeth (my dentist’s words!) to clean them. Also,  why is it always the dental hygienist who is all about flossing but the dentist doesn’t really give a shit? [“Your teeth are in excellent condition!”]

Anyway, I am happy to announce that flossing is a go starting today! I bought a water flosser that is a pleasure to use! All it does is shoot a stream of water right through the gaps in your teeth, so it’s not intrusive at all. I honestly don’t know if it’s really cleaning my teeth but according to the 12,363 reviewers on Amazon, it is! So, dare I say it but I look forward to flossing every night now!

So…

here I am. I have a list of things I want to not only do but also succeed at this year. To me, my goals are about making my personal life more meaningful. I do not want to get stuck in a rut involving my professional life, which I absolutely love. These little things will act as reminders to switch off, log out. I want to constantly find ways to be creative, live a wonderful life with my partner, and enjoy more things than just work.

What are you doing to spice up 2019? I would love to hear about your plans in the comments below!

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