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2016 is nearing its end. I’m not one to make resolutions for the new year. My track record for keeping new year resolutions is abysmal so I quit making them some time ago. But January 1 is a good marker to remind myself to ruminate on the last twelve months. So, like anyone who favors self improvement, I analyze the previous year and come up with two or three goals to accomplish for the year ahead. Usually they revolve around finances and fitness, such as: paying off credit cards, eating healthier, having “X” amount of money in savings, going to the gym at least 3 times a week…blah, blah. All of those things are smart ideas. All of those things are improvements to one’s life. Are they the keys to a happier life? Possibly.

But this year, after giving some thought to what I’m going to try to do differently in 2017, I’ve settled on these three things:

1. Downsize everything.

2. Do creative things.

3. Give compliments.

DOWNSIZE EVERYTHING

I’m not sure how easy this one’s going to be but I really feel like I’ll be the better for it. And I bet it’ll take me the whole year to do it. But my plan to downsize will entail a whole bunch of discarding unneeded clutter such as old paperwork, statements, old clothes and shoes, stuff I thought I’d need but never did, knick-knacks that never got unpacked from my last move, books I’ll never read again, old pots, pans and dishes…you get the picture. I just want to focus on keeping what’s essential, plus the things that add value to my life, and get rid of the rest. Do I really need a TV in every room? No. Do I need three computers? No. As a single person who rents, do I need to live in a 3-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom condo? No. These are all examples of unessential things and a byproduct of living in our current American consumer-based culture. Now if you asked me if I need all the vintage audio equipment, my answer is a solid YES. Although unessential, they are things that bring me joy and therefore add value to my life.

DO CREATIVE THINGS

In a nutshell, this one is me trying to reconnect with my younger self. Back in my 20s and 30s I was studying fine art in college and being creative was who I was. I remember those days as being so satisfying and fulfilling. My mind was full, different thoughts and ideologies were exciting and making art was my focus. During those times, coming up with interesting and meaningful images seemed effortless. Now when I try to come up with an interesting visual, I simply draw a blank. I suspect it’s because I’m less in touch with myself, and I’ve become fearful of representing the true nature of that person via artful expression. Then when I chose to focus on my profession, all those things that come along with adulthood descended upon me. The majority of my waking hours was focused on work. With more money comes more financial responsibilities. With more responsibilities comes more stress. And it perpetuates itself, continually turning like a merry-go-round, only less merry.

Although I like my job and the people I work with, it’s just not fulfilling, which is why “Do Creative Things” is on the list.

GIVE COMPLIMENTS

This is one that I think will be difficult at first because of my shy nature, but has the potential to be the most rewarding. I feel like this one can go in the “Simple Acts Of Kindness” category. Anything that one can do that is a benefit to another person, even something as simple as making them smile, is always the most rewarding, right? I know it’s a small gesture but spreading good energy and warm feelings only generates more of the same. I truly believe that happiness spreads like fire: it multiplies and gains abundance without diminishing the source.

So these are the things I’m going to try to accomplish for 2017. Perhaps with focus and a bit of luck, you’ll be reading an insightful post from me next year recounting how successfully it all went. Or perhaps not. Whatever the outcome it will be a learning experience. For those of you who are also planning some self-improvement goals, or new year resolutions if you prefer that label, I wish you the best!

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