Earlier this week, on the eve of my thirtieth birthday, I was flipping through a stack of old National Geographic magazines, looking for something to symbolize my goals for the new year. A friend was hosting a vision board party at a bar in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. Now, I’m not entirely sure I understand what a vision board is, so I’m sure I was doing it wrong, but as a former elementary school student, I felt pretty confident when I saw the magazines, scissors and glue sticks spread out on the table.
I didn’t have a plan. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just words and images that inspired me. I slowly amassed an admirably random pile of clippings. Grabbing a poster board and a glue stick, I realized there was an unintentional, perhaps subconscious, theme in the images I’d chosen. From an advertisement, I’d lifted a man in a jet pack. An article on the redwoods yielded two scientists scaling a monolithic tree too tall to fit on the page. A feature on birds of prey offered up the image of a screaming hawk, its tawny wings spread wide.
Reaching new heights.
For most, if not all, of human history, we’ve yearned to emulate birds and soar among the clouds. However, despite our lofty aspirations, but it wasn’t until one hundred years ago that the Wright Brothers built a flying machine that could actually sustain flight. Reaching a difficult goal takes determination, repeated failure, and time. Orville and Wilbur Wright could never have achieved the world’s first powered flight without their fair share of crash landings. I think life is a lot like that.
Which brings me to my yearly tradition of making birthday resolutions instead of new year’s resolutions. No, I’m not getting my pilot’s license or going skydiving. Last year, I was not able to realize most of my resolutions. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but life took a couple of unexpected turns, as life has a tendency to do. As I set out on this new year, this new decade, and my thirtieth year of life, I’m aware that failure is the best teacher. I’ve learned a lot from what I tried and was unable to accomplish last year, and I have better ideas for how to improve my process in 2020.
This year, for my birthday resolutions, I have my sights set on taking flight — metaphorically, of course — while also taking to heart the lessons of failure. So, without further ado, here’s what I have my sights set on this year:
1. Pursue a Healthy Balance
Last year, I set myself a challenge of running a 5K. It didn’t happen. This year, I’m still focused on taking better care of myself, but I’m not limiting myself to running. I want to go for long walks, hike through the woods, kayak around Puget Sound, break a sweat working on our ongoing remodel and exercise on a regular schedule. If I do some running along the way, that would be excellent. Overall, though, I’m more interested in striking a healthier balance in my life — more physical activity, less laying on the couch — in whatever way works for me.
2. Write and Publish
Three years ago, I declared I would complete a draft of a novel by the time I turned thirty. Well, I’m thirty now and the novel isn’t done; however, I am halfway through and the story is starting to take wing. I didn’t make my arbitrary deadline, but that’s okay. I’m not giving up and will continue to chip away at my manuscript until it’s ready for its debut.
In addition to my novel, I have an itch to write more short fiction, which has taken a back seat recently. I love short stories and flash fiction and I have several ideas burning a hole in my notebook that I can’t wait to get to work on.
Finally, I’m refocusing on getting more of my work published in 2020. I have an opportunity in the next couple of months to submit to a local publication I really admire, and I hope it’s the start of getting more of my words into print (or pixels) for the world to see.
3. Indulge My Curiosity
Last fall, I embarked on a journey I could not have foreseen when I started an online program to earn a certificate in strategic communication and public relations. Going back to school, even in an incredibly limited fashion, reminded me that I don’t miss homework, but I do enjoy learning. The program is short (I’ll be finished in March), but I plan to continue stretching my brain, seeking out books, articles, podcasts, and documentaries to help me widen my worldview and challenge my preconceived ideas. The world is huge and complex and there is so much to know. As I enter my third decade, it’s obvious to me that I’m just scratching the surface.
Will I spread my wings and take flight this year? Only time will tell, and I’ll be sure to share highlights here on the blog. Thanks for reading!
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Jonny Eberle is a writer, storyteller, and hawk fledgling nesting in Tacoma, WA. You can follow him on Twitter and join the mailing list to get exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox each month.