Here’s my problem with resolutions: When people make resolutions for the new year they tend to see them in an all or nothing sort of way. If you decide to do whatever healthy or productive thing, you start off excited about it and you get up every day and make that thing happen. Then, somewhere between January 2 and July, depending on your discipline level, you miss a day or otherwise stumble. With a new year’s resolution the reaction is typically, “I failed.” Most often, the resolver will ditch the whole thing and fall right back into the habits of the old year, just a little more despondent over their lack of dedication. They seem to forget about the healthier lifestyle they created for a few days or months. They forget to see the daily victories and instead focus on the one slip-up.
With this in mind, in January of 2020, I listed several of my goals to improve my life. You can find them lower on this blog but as a quick reminder they were:
-Exercise every day
-Sketch/Write in my sketchbook every day
-Get in exhibits
-Read every day
We all had a perfect year to make excuses about why we ditched our personal goals, but I tried to stick with these goals all the way up until today, Thursday, December 31. I wrote an entry on July 1 providing a 6 month update and today I give you the year end summary.
-I exercised every single day. Every single day. This is my easiest victory for the year simply because it’s a habit I formed before the year began. It may not have been all the exercise I planned for each day, it may not have been at the time I wanted to do it, and it may not have been the smartest thing for me to do, but I freakin’ did it. I ran every day in 2020. I did PiYo and other exercise some days. I’ll admit that I did not do ALL the exercise I wanted to do on many days, but I did something.
-I kept a gratitude journal this year. Actually it was just an excuse to buy a cool, small sketchbook, but I wrote down at least 11 things for which I was grateful each day. I remember missing a few mornings and having to go back at night to write them down. I also remember missing a few days and not realizing it until the next day when I wrote down the date. But I went back and filled in each day with at least 11 things. This was also not such a huge deal because I had started to make this a habit from last year. It took maybe 60 seconds each morning. But it set a tone for the entire day.
-I was supposed to sketch/write in my sketchbook every day. Ok, I missed some days here. Actually, lot of days. But remember that opening paragraph? This is not a failure situation. This is a situation where I set a goal and did a really good job of regularly entering information, both visual and written, in my sketchbook. I did not cheat and call my little gratitude sketchbook my actual sketchbook. My actual sketchbook is larger and I really only missed a couple of buckets full of days. Strangely, as the year wound down and I had more time here at home to rest and relax, I found it harder to open my sketchbook. At this moment my last entry was December 25, almost a week ago. I want to keep at this goal for next year.
-Eating better was another goal. Any goal writer can see that I left this one intentionally wriggly as a goal. It’s very open ended, difficult to define objectively, and who knows how to judge it other than by my word. While my eating habits were perhaps not as healthy as yours, they were improved this year. I had more salads as meals than ever before in my lifetime. I made the choice to only drink water (sometimes in the form of coffee and mimosas). I chose to avoid fast food unless it was a dire situation and I chose to zig zag around fried foods when I had a choice. I don’t normally weigh and I only go to the doctor if I’m forced, but I feel great and my body is healthy so I think this goal went very well. (I looked for a photo of healthy food, but let's face it, broccoli isn't sexy so those pics get deleted quickly. But that's a healthy waffle with coconut, whole grains, and a banana!)
-Getting in exhibits is difficult even in a regular year. The pandemic forced many exhibits to cancel or postpone and sent many artists into a panic. I was fortunate to have my most productive year ever in regard to creating new drawings and working from home allowed me the opportunity to seek out exhibits. As a result, I was lucky enough to have 6 exhibits this year, which is good for any year. I also have 2 solo exhibits coming up in early 2021 and I’m waiting on a few more rejections to come in.
-This morning I read the final chapters of the New Testament, completing my sub-goal of reading the Bible all the way through chronologically in one year. I read the Bible every morning and this year I read a couple of books about Mr. Rogers, a handful of books for school, and a couple more for fun. Back in high school when I was writing essays and book reports about books I still haven’t read, I never thought I’d read for fun and yet, here we are. By the way, that chronological Bible thing? Regardless of your beliefs, I highly recommend reading that. It was eye opening in so many ways.
-What a year to choose positivity! This one was perfect for 2020 and it’s one of the reasons I see this year differently than most of you. My goal was to make a conscious effort to see the positive in every situation. A dude eats a bat? That’s easy enough to joke about. A global pandemic? Ah, it probably wont be so bad. Don’t leave the house? I mean, I’m a hermit so…fine by me. No seriously, stay home for months? Ok, I’ll just draw a lot, remotely entertain my students, make music with my kid, start a new project of recreating famous art, and cook a lot of meals at home. It’s easy to look at all the things this year brought and make memes, jokes, and excuses. I’m glad I had this goal to keep me on a different path.
So that’s how I did. I have nothing to brag about, but I also do not see any of my missteps as failures. Goals are set in order to make us better and on December 31, I consider myself a bit better off than I was on January 1. All of these goals helped me to encounter this challenging year in positive ways. I can easily see that trying to be more positive and more grateful were immensely helpful to me this year. These two goals kept my head in a place where I could have a proper perspective in tough times. They also put me in a position to help others find the bright spots in dark times. If you had goals, resolutions, or moments of joy this year, I’d love to hear about it. You can always reach me by electronic mail at thedougmcabee at gmail dot com.