I'm usually quick to write off New Year's resolutions. Maybe it's that I know that when I have the convenience of breaking my resolution breathing down my neck, I will need to be able to fall back to motivations that are deeper than "because it's a new year." My resolutions are often spontaneous; several times a year I try to make commitments to myself to affect permanent change in some aspect of my life, simply motivated by having identified some behavior or habit with which I'm unhappy. Committing such a resolution to a time frame, as is the case with the typical New Year's resolution, makes that motivation feel fake to me.
This year, however, I have a slightly different outlook. I found myself particularly excited by ideas I've seen in recent months that commit to some quantifiable output each day, or each month of a year. For example, I recently read an article from a software developer who decided to produce a new game each month for the twelve months of a given year. I can only imagine the feelings he had when finishing his twelfth month - his project was then full, complete, whole. An entire year, start to finish, represented in discrete products of his imagination. A testament not only to his creativity, but to his productivity and dedication. And his is just one of many such projects I've seen over the past few months.
These inspirations have convinced me that 2015 is the year I commit to a similar resolution. So, here goes:
By the end of each month in 2015, I intend to produce some sort of discrete creative work to show for that month. That product can be any of the following,
- A complete piece of writing, such as an essay or a blog post. This can have any topic, and be of any length, but it must reflect a certain level of thoughtfulness and quality. Such an essay must be published to my blog by the end of the month.
- A song. Again, may have any topic or genre, may be of any length, but must reflect a certain level of thoughtfulness and quality. Such a song must be published to my blog by the end of the month.
- A new major version of an open source software project. This project may be my own, or I must be a strong contributor to another project which releases a new major version in a given month. This type of commitment will be considered complete when the new major version is released under an open source license on Github by the end of the month.
Certainly, the qualifications I describe here are somewhat arbitrary. For example, I haven't defined the level of thoughtfulness or quality that a given piece of writing must meet before it can be considered "complete." But I intend to leave it that way, as the goal of this commitment is less about hitting a well-defined mark each month and more about encouraging that I put enough of my free time into activities that I love, and that I feel are missing from my current day-to-day life.
Maybe that's as much of an explanation as I need to give for why I'm making this commitment, but I think that it has been really easy for me to fall into rhythms and habits surrounding my job that haven't left room for certain hobbies or activities that I now miss dearly. I love music, and I can't even explain how exciting it is to write a song, but it's something that I haven't done in years. That deeply saddens me. And when I consider that I've watched every season of three different TV shows that I really don't care about over the past few months, I can't reasonably tell myself that I'm happy with how I'm spending my free time.
Don't get me wrong, there are days where slumping down on the couch and flipping on the TV to give my brain a break is absolutely what I need, and what I want in that moment. But, with this resolution, I hope to stop myself from falling into that kind of behavior by default, and taking the time to think about whether or not that's really something I want, before I pick up the remote.
Wish me luck!