We’re now two weeks into 2014, and by this point we’ve all spent at least some time thinking about what this new year will bring. Will it be more of the same? Or will it be life changing? Are we filled with hope and motivation or with hesitation and resignation when faced with another 365 days in which to propel ourselves forward into the life we want?
As hard-working young women, many of us entrepreneurs and artists, we have a lot on our plate. How on earth do we plan for a new year that’s bound to be full of surprises? 2013 proved to be an incredibly unexpected year for me. In March, I dropped out of a well-paid fashion “dream” job to travel the country, producing a documentary that would capture the spirit of my generation. Now that The Limitless Generation is moving into post-production, I’ve found my calendar suddenly a bit empty. This brief lull in my schedule has given me a little time to think about what 2014 means and how we will be moving forward. A few specific directions of thought floated to the top of the “what on earth am I doing with myself” heap, and I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re in about the same place. Maybe some of these questions we can answer together.
1. How much of your day do you spend consuming what other people have created? How often do you create?
Truth, the specific phrasing of this thought came from Cracked.com’s super viral “6 Harsh Truths that will Make You a Better Person” article. Not entirely on board with the level of worship with which the author hails the Always Be Closing speech (it IS brilliant though, point taken) but those kinds of challenges get me thinking. How much AM I actually contributing to the world? How much am I really just taking? Everything around us everywhere, the buildings we work in, the cars we drive, the apps on our phones, the furniture around us, the food we eat, the movies we watch, the advertisements we see, the clothes we wear, all of these things are the products of people’s dreams. All of these things are something someone thought of and said, “You know what? I think I’m going to actually get up and MAKE that.” How often does that happen in our lives? What is our consumer vs creator ratio? And for those of us who think they aren’t “creative,” are you creating money, or are you spending it? Are you creating jobs, or are you just filling one? Are you creating value, or are you collecting a paycheck? Creation, the bringing forth of new things, is how the world moves forward. How can we position ourselves to create more in the new year?
2. How can you build a platform this year for you to stand on next year?
This is an important one for me personally. I’m a planner. As unpredictable as life is (especially with an 11.5% unemployment rate), I like to have some idea of where I’m heading. So the question is, where are we going and what can we do in 2014 that will help us get there? For me, that answer includes writing more, building an audience for the documentary, reading books that stretch my brain around new subjects, building a financial cushion, etc. I don’t see myself going back to full time employment any time soon, so what can I do instead to create value? Even if you don’t know where exactly you want to go, but you’d like to be a person that can cook, or you’d like to be someone who helps other people or who is a good friend, what can you do this year to embody those traits? It’s daunting to look down the road and see everything that you wish you could someday be, but this year I’m going to try to look instead at the question: “what I can do today that will send me down that path?”
3. What are you doing that actually matters?
This goes along the lines of the other two thoughts above, but raises the stakes a little. What are you doing that matters? What are you doing that’s lasting? At the end of the day, the only things that seem to have any lasting significance are the things that we build or create and the relationships that we have. If we look at our lives honestly and think, “nope, yeah none of this really matters,” what can we do to change that? Does our work life need to be re-evaluated? Is there a relationship that we can invest more time in? With our parents maybe? Or our siblings or a friend? When was the last time we did something for someone else without expecting anything in return? Are we where we want to be spiritually? Can we grow deeper in our understanding of God and the universe?
4. How can you inject more awe and wonder into your life?
I am a huge fan of Jason Silva’s philosophy that awe and wonder are crucial in our developmental process as humans. That feeling of being overwhelmed with beauty or magnificence is so precious and so rare and yet those rare encounters are the moments where we are convinced that we are actually living. According to Silva, our minds get so engrained in the mundane patterns of every day life that it becomes harder and harder for us to break outside of these patterns and appreciate life with any kind of real excitement. What can we do this year that will help us break those patterns? Who can we get outside of our comfort zones, stretch our minds just a little farther, soak in life a little deeper? How can we see more art, encounter more worldviews, dig further into what it means to be alive and how really fantastical and wild the universe is? How can we prepare ourselves to live lives that are excited and full? How can we mix things up to make room for the divine and unexpected?