In the eleven or twelve years I’ve been making birthday resolutions, my success rate is mixed at actually following through on my goals. Some years, I check off each and every one, accomplishing everything I set out to do. Other years, I make little to no progress.
I think the reason for this has less to do with the resolutions themselves and more to do with me. You see, when I first started documenting my annual ritual of creating resolutions for the coming year on my birthday, I would set out these grand, vague, life-changing milestones to hit—and I’d fall short. It’s not that they were bad goals. I chose them because they seemed out of reach. But I was under the mistaken impression that Future Me would be inspired to try harder and accomplish more, but Future Me saw an insurmountable obstacle and threw in the towel.
It turns out (no surprise) that habits are hard to change, no matter how sincerely you want it. The older I get, the more I understand what works and what doesn’t work for me. I know that I do better with smaller, specific resolutions—especially when they build on something I’m already doing. Maybe it’s cheating, but it’s a lot easier to hit a target if you’re already aiming for it.
That self-awareness is at the heart of what makes a good birthday resolution. Sure, you want to grow, you want to challenge and stretch yourself, but you’ve also got to play to your strengths and not set yourself up for failure.
It’s an approach that’s working for me, helping me make incremental improvements over the course of a year. Of course, that’s isn’t stopping me from making big, vague, no-way-you’ll-finish-this-in-lifetime-let-alone-one-year resolutions like “be the best parent I can be,” but I’m under no illusions that I’ll be checking them off this time next January.
If Past Me was all about resolutions as rockets, then Future Me is about slow and steady progress. Just keep chugging, Future Me. You’ve got this.
With all that preamble aside, here are my birthday resolutions for the year 2023 (my thirty-third trip around the sun):
Finish My Projects
This one carries over from last year, because I will always struggle to prioritize existing creative projects over shiny new ideas. It’s just in my nature to constantly churn out new stories, but this year, I really want to wrap a few things up, including the final two seasons of The Adventures of Captain Radio, revisions on my novel, and editing a collection of sci-fi stories I wrote with my friends back in high school that really deserves to see the light of day.
Get Outside Every Day
If there was a silver lining to the early days of the pandemic, it was my daily walk. It helped me stay grounded when it felt like the world was in chaos. It may be cold or rainy, but a dose of the outdoors, however small, does wonders for my mental health. So, for at least a few minutes every day this year, I want to get outside and get a few lungfuls of fresh air to clear my head.
I used to write things because I thought they would have mass appeal. I wanted to be taken seriously as a writer and I desperately wanted to be published. But something clicked into place over the last couple of years. I started writing pieces that were less mainstream and more like the things I wanted to read. And a funny thing happened—those pieces found an audience and I was taken seriously as a storyteller with something to say. In 2023, I hope to continue that evolution; to not worry about what everyone else is writing or what I think would be marketable and to trust my instincts. Here’s to a year of fearless creativity.
New habits and routines aren’t made in a day. These resolutions will take time—if I accomplish them at all. But I can feel the momentum building. It’s gonna be a good year.
Jonny Eberle is a writer, podcaster, and storyteller. He lives in Tacoma, WA with his family, a dog, and three adorable typewriters. His writing has been published in Creative Colloquy, Grit City Magazine, and All Worlds Wayfarer. You can listen to his audio drama, The Adventures of Captain Radio, and his writing podcast, Dispatches with Jonny Eberle, wherever you enjoy podcasts.
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