These aren’t New Year’s resolutions because January first is an arbitrary date and YOU CAN’T CONTROL ME, GREGORIAN CALENDAR!
But these are little things I’m doing to make me feel better about how I interact with the world. Take a look, one might be helpful to you.
Delete Twitter from my phone.
The problem is that I like Twitter. I spent a lot of time finding interesting articles, keeping up with interesting people, laughing at funny threads, and chit-chatting with friendly writers and writer friends who are far away. I like that. A lot.
What I don’t like is how much of my time was spent there. Time I could be doing the things I claim I want to do and don’t have time for. And I didn’t like how much of what I saw in my feed was inflammatory nonsense, or how people I like and respect were trolled.
I’ll still use Twitter. Just not on my phone. And that, I hope, makes me a little more purposeful about what I use my time for. Like …
Write every day.
This is one I’ve tried before, but it didn’t stick well. I still wrote, and a fair amount (see launched book here), but it was often in fits and spurts.
I find when I write every day for any significant stretch, I feel good. I’m a happier person when I write frequently. And when I write frequently, the writing comes easier. And consequently, I’m even happier.
Being happier and more productive is nice. So I’m going to do it more.
I used to eat books like they were Girl Scout Thin Mints. (No, not straight out of the freezer; this is a metaphor, people.) But in the past few years it was life and work and blah, blah blah … we all know the things that go here because we all have those things.
And of course I’ve been reading, but not as much as I once did. And I probably won’t read as much as I once did until I retire, but I’d still like to read more than I did in 2016. So I set up a Goodreads challenge to read 40 books in 2017, but that might only happen if reading The Gruffalo over and over counts toward the total. (If it does, I definitely hit at least 100 in 2016.)
Pay for high-quality news.
I want analytical, insightful, well written information from someone who’s studied journalism. I want news that informs first, rather than entertains or placates or agitates. And I understand that to get that kind of quality, I have to pay for it. My particular choice is The Economist – it’s exceedingly well written, it’s analytical, they pay their writers as far as I can tell, and they make their slight bias clear. (All journalists and news outlets have a bias. If they tell you they don’t, they’re either lying or ignorant.)
Plus, supporting good, analytical news is important for at least two reasons:
- I get clear, sometimes challenging knowledge about what’s important in the world because a for-pay news service is necessarily focused on the quality of their reporting and information. (I’m trying to avoid GIGO for my brain.)
- Paying for news out of my pocket helps journalists focus on news. In order to keep turning a profit, “free” news services often need to focus more on keeping advertisers happy and appealing to the most people possible for good click rates and stickiness of their sites and apps. This is not conducive to thoughtful, challenging reporting.
Support causes I believe in.
I don’t have specifics here. More research is required in this, an ongoing effort to be engaged in what happens to our world and the people I care about. But a few of the many things that are important to me include supporting libraries and spreading the availability and quality of education. Certainly, there are many just and wonderful causes. But it seems to me that all those just causes will do much better when lots of people are informed, thoughtful, participants.
And you? What are your secrets for clinging to your sanity in 2017?