A manifesto for a more wondrous age.

Wow! The year is basically over. Did you notice? It snuck up on me. One day it was 60 degrees out and now my planner says it’s the 51st week of the year. Somehow we survived another spin around the sun. A week from today is Christmas even!

How is it one week until Christmas?

— イアン (@IanJBattaglia) December 18, 2017

I tend to use the year as a time for reflection, looking back over all I saw and did and felt, and also what I want to do going forward. Similar to how I use the evenings to review my day with my journaling, I like to look back at the year and see how I did with my goals. This is one of the many reasons keeping a log of your time comes in handy.

I plan on doing a more comprehensive “year in review” post soon.

I’d like to talk about the other side of the coin, though. There’s this disturbing trend I see both online and in person that treats productivity as a goal in and of itself. Not only that, it supposes the year as already passed. That the year is over, and time has stopped, so the best we can do is to count our losses and try for more next time. That there’s no point in doing anything now, just to write your resolutions and wait for January 1st to make changes.

This is dumb.

An article from The Outline by Vincent Bevins talks about this, and the Calvinist leanings that might have shifted the perception of time towards the linear view commonly held today. It might go a bit too far towards laziness, but the premise is interesting: where did we get this idea of time as an hourglass?

Of course, time is limited. Yet, time is cyclical. As the sun sets, the sun will rise; and after winter, spring will dawn. It seems like this idea of time “running out” tends to lead us towards inaction, if anything. If the time has passed, why bother trying? This sort of fatalist thinking isn’t good for anyone.

It’s a fine line. In one sense, it feels good to make things, and wanting to be productive is something that should be applauded. The world needs creators, people with the passion to make things for the sake of it. If that’s what drives you, keep it up. I think I fall closer to this category, or at least aspire to.

On the other hand, it’s good to give yourself a break. Take it easy. All of us have so much more time and potential than we think. And relaxation, comfort, breaks, and input are far more valuable to personal development than I see given credit for. Taking the time to study, or sleep, or read, or play video games will make you a better person, if you are working to be better anyways. And as Bevins notes humorously in his article, you could probably take an entire year off and not miss out on much.

A friend of mine posed a question on Twitter the other day: What is something you want to learn, but haven’t committed the time to? I’ll expand it: What is something you want to experience but haven’t committed the time to? Why not? What’s stopping you? Is it actually important to you, or is it just something you feel like you should be doing?

The end of the year is a great time to make changes, but you don’t have to wait until January 1st. You can start today. You can start right fucking now. Go ahead! Getting started a week before the rest of the West aspires to their resolutions will make you feel so much more ahead of the curve, just like accomplishing an easy goal in the morning will make you feel like the day is off to a good start.

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today. I’ve been journaling every day for the last 50 in a row, and I’m not stopping any time soon.

Yet — don’t rush off to do something that you don’t really care about. Think. Plan. Attack. If you want to finally beat Zelda and hang out with your family for the next two weeks, that’s great! I’m sure you’ll have a good time, and will be better prepared to face the future. Because even when it seems like we’re at the end, we’re only at the beginning. Time will keep flowing, ready for you whenever you want to jump back in the stream.

2018 is your year. Let’s conquer it.

Your faithful commander,
— Ian