I thought about making this column a list of resolutions for 2016—since this is my last one of the year, but then I thought, “Nah. Let's make it about me instead.” (This is where I'd insert a smiley-face emoticon if that was regular practice in columns.) But no, the point is to put out there some of the things I hope to do in 2016 (let's face it though: most resolutions are broken as early as January) and maybe you'll be inspired to do your own list too. I find that after 34 years of New Years, you run somewhat short on ideas on new things to do, so here are some I'm throwing in there.
1) Read more non-fiction: I read a lot, so reading is never on a list of Things To Do, but I invariably steer towards fictions—usually novels, and usually about relationships. Not just romantic ones either, I'm interested in the human condition, but non-fiction has never been something I do for leisure. Which is a shame because there are so many good books out there and so many that I would probably love. 2016 is the year I'm going to wade through my vast list: one non-fiction to every two novels and hopefully by the end of the year I'll have a lot more knowledge under my belt. I stopped my education after my bachelor's degree, and I've realised that most of what I've learned—while my friends went on to MAs or MBAs—has been “in real life” so to speak. When you stop learning things, you stagnate, and I don't want that to happen to me.
2) Edit down on “stuff”: Every year I go through my cupboards in the hope of finding some order in them, but usually in a week or so they go back to being a mess. No longer. I will discard things that either no longer fit or are unflattering no matter how much I like them or how much they cost. (Pass them on to a grateful friend, perhaps?) I will stop keeping every item that comes my way. In this world of instant shopping it's very easy to wind up with a bunch of stuff you don't really need, and I'm going to be ruthless in throwing things away—or recycling them—for a clutter-free happy life. This is the year I'll be moving to a new home, so it would be nice to start afresh.
3) Make an effort: I'm not a bad friend, in fact usually I'm a pretty good one, but I am beset by laziness. So for someone's birthday, wedding or special occasion I always think I'll get them a present eventually and never get around to it. I mean to meet a friend only in town for a week and don't push our schedules together. Things like that I mean to change. Life is short and having friends is wonderful. I'm going to work harder on my relationships, make meaningful gestures and I'm sure my life will be enriched for it.
4) Work harder at craft: After a while, writing, like everything else, becomes something you do automatically. Less so for the fiction I write, but when fingers hit keyboard, sometimes words come out of you without you thinking too much about it. I'm going to contemplate my sentences this year, spend less time when I'm thinking going back and forth to Facebook or Twitter, where I scroll down the pages like they're worry beads, and more time staring out of the window. I placed my desk next to a window for a purpose, and that was to have something to look at while I was thinking. This may not apply to you in every way, but think about the job you're doing and whether you're doing it the best way you can, and whether this is what you want to do for the rest of your life. If so, how can you make it so you're challenging yourself every day? That's the trick to an exciting life.
Happy New Year, all! May the end of the year be sparkly and celebrated exactly the way you'd like and when we talk again, it'll be in the new beginnings the future holds.
(A version of this appeared as my column on mydigitalfc.com)