A manifesto for a more wondrous age.

There’s something wonderful about the start of a new year. Last year was difficult for many of us. Perhaps I’m just at a transitional stage in my life, or maybe things were a bit coarse around the edges. And yet, going into this new year, I feel like I really have an opportunity to make a difference, to change myself for the better. This can be the year we make our own, start to remake the world and ourselves in the image we want to see. Change has to come from somewhere.

It’s a running joke how many people show up for the gym on January 1st, and how dramatic the falloff is after a few weeks. But it has to start at some day one. Maybe you won’t keep it up, but if that’s so, maybe it wasn’t a priority? Even better, perhaps you’ll stick with it, and make yourself a better person. What have you got to lose?

I have a long history of setting lofty New Year’s Resolutions. Of course, many (perhaps most!) of these fail. But I stick with some. Some become so integrated into my lifestyle that I can’t imagine not doing them. Things I’m so glad I got started.

So let’s set some goals.

2018’s Goals —

Okay, so just like last year, I have a few timed goals, and a few habits I’d like to establish. All of these contribute to my personal development. However, I think last year I was too focused on quantity, not quality; about hitting an arbitrary number. This year, I’d like to focus on making myself better, not just striking things off of a list.

A writer I admire, David Cain, wrote about this in his post describing what he terms, a “depth year”. His idea is to not take in new hobbies, games, books etc, but learn to appreciate deeper what you already have. I like that idea. While I won’t be taking such a hard and fast stance on it, I will be trying to work on self-improvement, rather than goal completion.

I see the difference as being someone who studies to learn, and someone who studies to pass the test. I want to learn.

A few of these goals are continuations from last year. I think that’s okay, it shows that it took root in me and has become a priority. I’m working on making these even stronger habits than before.

The biggest goal I have for 2018 is to be published. I want to receive a contract to publish my book, and have my work featured in print and web publications by the end of the year. I would like to start moving more towards self-sufficiency with writing work, rather than with cinema gigs. (To that end, if anyone needs to hire a writer, please contact me)

This year, I want to:

  1. Finish my manuscript by March 31st. This means a complete draft, front to back, that I can begin using to query agents with. Ideally, I’d like to have an agent or a deal for publication by December 31st.
  2. Submit at least 4 literary submissions a month; one a week. I intend to do a lot more than this, but I want to work very hard at writing pieces for submissions, and seeking active publication and writing work as much as possible this year.
  3. Write at least two new entries a week for Monochromatic. Pretty simple, just a continuation of what you’ve come to expect on this website. Again, this is a minimum goal, but I hope to do more than this.
  4. Write a journal entry in my Hobonichi Journal each night. I’m on a 60-day streak! Don’t want to let that break.

I want to read as much as possible this year. I’ve been reading a lot, but switched away from books towards articles and web content during the end of last year. I’d like to reverse this, and go back towards books. I’m going to continue to read the newspaper as much as possible.

  1. I’d like to read at least one book every week or so. I set a goal on my Goodreads account at 50 books, but I don’t care so much about that. Again, my goal is quality not quantity, so if I read a few much longer books, or take my time with the reading, that’s okay. As long as it gets done.
  2. Meditate at least 10 minutes each day. Last year I really got into meditating, building up my own private practice of it, and made great strides in my awareness and perception. I’d like to continue that as much as possible.
  3. Work on Japanese at least 30 minutes a day. By the end of the year, I want to be able to have a conversation in Japanese, even if not fluent.

So, long term I want to finish my book and be published, and learn Japanese at a conversational level. Each month I’d like to continue writing for Monochromatic, and do more literary submissions. Each week I’d like to read a book, and each day I’d like to meditate and journal. Not so bad, when you take it like that.

Tracking —

I’ve taken to using Josh Avenier’s Log for tracking my time, but fell off towards the end of last year, as I got involved in a longer 9-5 gig. I still intend to use it to track my productive hours for creative work, but I am switching to a more “big picture” view of my productivity with my Hobonichi Techo.

I plan on using it a lot more this year, not just as a journal, but as a daily planner (like Itoi intended!). I’m still using the same Loops Habit Tracker on my phone to log my streaks, and Wunderlist to track my to-dos. I have a Google Calendar I access on my phone and through FantastiCal 2 on my computer to track important dates.

Change —

There’s always room for improvement. 2017 was a hard year, but one in which I made a lot of personal progress. A year I grew and changed, improved myself, and worked at accomplishing my goals. But the journey doesn’t stop there. It’s only getting started. Were you totally happy with what you did in 2017? Even if you had a good year, this is a time to make it better.

Change your wallpapers on your phone and computer; change your password while you’re at it. Start each day with a goal of acting a little different, of being a little better. See how you feel. Track your progress. Let’s Conquer 2018. Make the world you want to live in, and be the person you want to be.

Your faithful commander,

  • Ian Battaglia