January 1, 2012
Looking at facebook or twitter at this time of year you could be led to believe that the next twelve months will include a monumental change for the better in all of mankind. Everyone’s at it, planning to be, healthier, more rounded, generally better people. I am as guilty as anyone else, a few days holiday and I’m ready to turn my life around by the end of the week.
It’s not just New Year, I feel like I spend most of my life trying to make major life changes, at any one time I’m trying to do any and all of the following: finally write an album, become good enough at illustration to produce a book, do something entirely different for a living, exercise more, eat better, spend less money, own less stuff, work more, go out more, spend more time with my family, spend more time with my friends, be more socially aware, be more politically aware, spend more time on my own (in a positive way), be smarter, be more organised, look after my car better, look after my house better, be more polite, sort out the crap in the attic (both metaphorically and literally), be more charitable, write three blog posts a week, spend a few hours a week out with my camera, learn to edit video properly, draw cartoons, accept more work and handle it better, finish/start all of the several thousand personal projects I’ve planned. Plus a host of other crap that bounces round my head on a near-constant basis.
Most of these things are not destined to happen, those that do, do so to such a small degree it’s immeasurable. Ennui may be a minor cause of this ongoing failure but the real root cause is there’s just too much to deal with. These self-defined expectations compounded with the those from external sources (clients, family, society, etc) become so overwhelming that rather than face any of them, my brain switches directly to standby. I’ve tried a handful of self-help books and techniques, all of which have been at best pointless, at worst they have intensified the shouting in my head. Anything promising a complete life change in 9 hours (or similar) do nothing more than add pressure and things to the big list of stuff to sort out.
I’ve been reading Oliver Burkeman’s Help! in which he takes a skeptical and logical look at the self-help industry. I started reading it for entertainment value, but have learned a fair amount in the process. Primarily I have realised something which should be obvious, people (generally) cannot make huge changes to their lives in quick easy (or even hard) steps, it’s just not in our nature. Tiny incremental changes which over time can build up to make a difference are much easier to fathom.
No more big resolutions, no lists of major life changes, just try a little bit here and there as and when the opportunity arises.
Happy New Year.
I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).
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