A New Year’s Resolution For You: Do What You Would Do If You Didn’t Need To Do Anything (This May or May Not Include “Wanting To Rock”)

Posted on December 30, 2009


Woot! The new year is almost upon us! Double woot!

[If you don’t like all this wooting, blame PPFP. I’m pretty sure I got it from her.]

I’ve always been a fan of New Year’s Eve celebrations. It’s straight-ahead secular hedonism at its best!

Even my most angst-ridden curmudgeonly iterations of self could be convinced to whoop it up for the birth of the new year. And if I was brooding poetically alone in some dank, cold-water flat, I’d at least note the new year’s toll. It’s a moment worth noting.

Even so, I never really bought into the notion that the new year was a time for re-evaluation, soul-searching, or resolutions. Come on, people! It’s a totally arbitrary date and a perfectly good excuse to have fun! We should be evaluating and re-evaluating our plans all year round — not once a year.

Forget, the soul-searching; forget, the goal-setting; forget, the resolutions. Make merry instead! Woot, woot, woot!

This year, however, as chance would have it, I am totally, fully, and completely in life-evaluation mode. What do I want to do and what can I do to make it possible? These are the questions I’m thinking the most about these days.

So, on the oft — nay, likely — chance that many of you are thinking along the same lines, I want to share with you the thought-experiment I employ — and the theory that motivates it — to assess where I am at and where I want to go. I am curious to hear what you think of it and if you think it makes any sense.

Don’t worry. It’s pretty straightforward. Here goes:

Imagine for a moment, you don’t need to do anything to survive now or in the future. Not a thing. Maybe, you are filthy rich. Maybe, it’s a worker’s utopia. Whatever. Imagine a world, where you wake up each and every morning and you do exactly what you want to do — be it serious, fun, trivial, or world-changing. In this possible world, what would you do, with whom would you do it, and where would you do it?

Seriously. That’s it. What would you do, if you hadn’t been trained from the day you were born to think you had to do something you didn’t want to do in order to survive (or prepare for retirement, the apocalypse, or the afterlife)? What would you do?

My claim: whatever you imagine yourself doing — however banal or ambitious — that is exactly what you should be doing right now or you should be doing right now whatever will get you closer to doing it in the near future. Period.

The underlying theory: if you pursue what you want to do in good faith, you will very likely find the resources to make it possible and, even if you don’t make it possible, you will be far happier in life pursuing what you want to do.

Now, I should probably be explicit: what you want to do needn’t necessarily be dramatic or world-altering. If, in this possible world, you imagine yourself working in a comfortable job, raising a family, etc., that’s great. If you imagine yourself living very much as you are living now, even better! The content of what you imagine is not crucial, what matters is that you imagine what you want to do and then take the necessary steps to do it. That’s it, that’s all.

So what do you think? Is this a helpful way to think about your life? Do think about your goals differently? Let me know what you think!

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Posted in: My Life