Chinese new year seems more suitable for making resolutions (or setting intentions, in the parlance of our time) than Jan. 1, post-holiday, when we are tired and overfed. In Industry‘s Jan/Feb issue (and its first Brooklyn edition!), I try to sort out how change actually happens.
The new year is a time for turning over a new leaf, they say. We all know how that goes, though. Some years are better than others. In real time, the future is a promise and the past a memory. Around this time of year, we do have a moment’s pause, a sense of the last year being over and the next not quite here. This moment in between may last only a day or two, as we scramble to tease the disparate strands of experience, integrating them into a larger story, “My Life,” (with chapters “My Love Life” and “My Career”) and reorient ourselves. Then, the portal closes up, and we are left in the middle again to muddle through.
Read the rest here: The New Girl: On the Thrill and Terror of a New Year
The advent of Spring is a good time to revisit the resolutions I made for the year. This was the first.
1. Pay for experiences, not products.
A very simple example would be yoga classes rather than yoga pants. Writing classes rather than fancy writing implements. Or a museum trip with a friend rather than shopping.
Not to put too fine a point on it; I have bought yoga pants fairly recently. But what I wear to yoga is not as important as the engagement I have in yoga. The feeling I get from doing yoga is what I really want, and looking good for yoga is a shallow well that dries up quickly.
So often we expect to buy a product and feel a certain way, or be perceived differently because of it. But our experiences are only as good as what we bring to them. We all know that person who you would hang out with to go pick up their dry cleaning, because she makes even doing errands fun.
I had a habit of always rushing through my errands. I wanted to get through them as soon as possible so that I could do something I really wanted to. Inevitably I would end up tired and without energy later to do much of anything. I was rushing through the rest of my life too, trying to get somewhere I wanted to be.
I had it totally backwards.
Now there are two options. We are all going to spend a certain amount of time in line at the DMV, or stuck in traffic on the highway. It can be a miserable toe-tapping experience, and I can sit there, neck tensed, breeding heart disease. But sometimes I notice how the line at the DMV is a very interesting spot to watch people from. Sitting on the highway is a heady kind of boredom, a good moment to put on a loud loud song and loosen up my body, or bang my head for my neighbors’ amusement. Or I can sit there and really let the boredom sink in.
Sometimes boredom is compelling.