When an author writes a preface, they’re seeking to create context. You’ll better understand what you’re about to read, they feel, if you get to peek behind the curtain first. Often they’ll explain what inspired them to write the piece. They’ll take you on the journey of writing it, and the struggles they overcame to get it published. The idea is to help you to appreciate the book more, because you’ve witnessed the story of its creation.
This is my preface for 2021.
In this New Year I’m motivated to be aggressively optimistic. I want to be kinder, both to other people and to myself. My inspiration is to find more joy, and creativity, and wonderful people that keep the world spinning. But I’m willing to be a hard son-of-a-bitch in relation to any obstacles between me and where I want to be. Everything that comes after this needs to be seen in that context.
At the start of 2020 I set SMART goals for myself. Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. By April I had to abandon all of them. Everything in the world went completely off the rails. Like many people I went into a holding pattern, waiting for something to happen. It was impossible to make decisions, because there were too many unknowns. What if I decide to do this, but then that happens? The lowest common denominator, in terms of taking action, became survival.
I’m tired of living in a perpetual state of fear and uncertainty. Waiting for other people to take action or fulfill promises is exhausting. No, I don’t know what the state of things is going to be next year, or next month, or next week. There are still things that I can do now. I can write, and build relationships, and make plans based around the few stable situations that exist and the most likely scenarios for the future. Said plans need to be based on utility and flexibility.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”
I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions, but in these times I can’t believe in SMART goals either. What I have instead are ambition, a sense of direction, and sheer force of will. I know what I want to accomplish in 2021, and all of my efforts will be focused on that. Because I don’t know what lies ahead, I can’t set deadlines. Parameters of individual projects might change. I can do as much as I can each day, on any given day, with the determination to get there eventually.
This is my preface to 2021. This is me, asserting myself as the author of my own life. I may not be able to control events, but I can persevere in spite of them. What I can control are my own actions in response to whatever comes next. This new year could turn out to be even harder than 2020 in a lot of ways, but I refuse to allow it to run over me