The Fourth Letter from 2022: The 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

G’day, Ryan,

A new year, and a new letter. We are now up to #4 for your communication with your 2022 self. Just like with the first, second, and third letters, this one is to offer you the guidance you need to continue the path to getting where you need to be.

However, before the release of another set of resolutions that will take your life to new levels, we probably should address 2016 despite your probably not wanting to. First, I apologize for how I misled you last year when it came to romance. It needed to happen because all of your failed attempts with dating this last year led to your learning a lot about yourself, your values, and your needing not to be a silly love fool.

With that said, I was right about the relationship changing your life in many ways but just not in the way you imagined. Trust me it was for the best, for this year, you really need to trust your gut and focus on what needs to be accomplished. You didn’t last year, and while there may not be massively huge regrets, “should have beens” were created (and you know full well I am referring to Positive Campaigns). While you cannot change the past, you can, will, and must take control of your future.

While there were losses, you did have quite a few wins with many steps taken in the right direction. We will get more to those when we get to the 2017 resolutions. Overall, you really did a decent job with the set I gave you.

Most importantly, 2016 was a lot about healing and becoming stronger. Your forgiving and moving on released a huge weight that was only bringing you down while it also stopped anger from transforming your heart into fuel to grow. There was also so much you learned throughout the year from readings, podcasts, experiences, and, most important, other people. In fact, you will find so much learned last year will continue to help you for many years to come. After all, remember always what Robert told you in Canada – “You don’t know what you don’t know.” There are so many blinds spots of which you are not aware. I wish I could tell you, but as you also know, no spoilers are allowed, and even specific hints are banned from here on out too.

But it’s time to get to 2017, so without further ado, here are your resolutions for this coming year:

1. Live a Better Story.
Isn’t it amazing how a book can sit so close to you for so long without your even knowing it will alter the way you look at life? For over a month, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years sat there on the second shelf of your standing desk at work thanks after Andrew sent it your way. You left it there thanks to your hectic schedule. Eventually, though, you took it home late November, and its magic did its job to get you to start thinking about your own life story.

You have some great stories to say the least – adventures during your Iola, college, and Australia days are many, but you and I both know the best ones involve going that next step.

Of course, there’s the running down the French Quarter’s Royal Street, a place with the ambiance of a film set, to get to a coffee shop before it closed. You raced time not knowing the person you would meet there would become one of your best friends.

You also have all of the stories that come from your times as a tour guide for your mother. The mere mention of places like New York, Edinburgh, Jasper, and Woodstock, Vermont, brings flashes of memorable stories you will always hold very dear to your heart.

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An Easy-Going Walk in the Park at Woodstock

Then there’s the almost being blown off the side of a mountain, hiking through a blizzard, almost suffering from hypothermia the next day, living off mainly peanut butter and Nutella (and some kindness of other hikers) after your great friend/hiking buddy left the cooking gear at the first hut, and finally, after finishing the hike, getting stranded at the Derwent Bridge Hotel near the Hungry Wombat Cafe thanks to some capitalist van drivers that all make up the Tasmanian Overland Track story.

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What about the time you were riding with another friend the week after Tasmania and the car hit loose gravel to slide off the side of a mountain in the Australian Alps? Once again, yay for that dead tree that caught the car. That was pretty scary, but the whole situation led to a great story with also a great moral that you should always hold close to your heart.

Rottnest is another. The same goes for that one special night under the stars. You know the one. And you will never forget Spartacus, the ball python whose path crossed with yours for almost a year (although for the first half, you had no idea about his being your roommate). Even these resolutions over the last couple of years have led to some great stories for your life as you learned how to dance, play the violin, live extremely frugally, and not be an island (and keep fighting not being one).

But then there has been so much time you wasted in the past that could have gone towards a better story instead. What doesn’t make for a good story? Wasting a lot of your time listening to people with severe cases of nonsermitis (you might want to post that blog entry next week because Google is currently not going to help anyone figure out that disease). Being a victim rather than a creator. Scrolling through social media feeds for way too long. I am sure you are getting the idea. You need to be an active rather than a passive participant of life.

With all of this mind, find ways this next year to take your story to new heights. How? I can’t tell you, but you will figure out ways to write new adventures into your current life.

2. Do Rather Than Only Read
You were definitely right to call out your addiction to self-help books last spring. For a second, imagine all of books that could be argued to be in that genre in your possession. Sure, they are scattered throughout your house, but imagine them all in one place. It should look something like this:

self-help-books

This doesn’t even include your extensive audiobooks, e-books, and article collection.

Quite a few times, this last year you found many of the books rehashing points you have read elsewhere. Guess what? You are armed with more than enough ideas to take on your life. Even if you come across a book that sounds like the answer to all of your questions, it is not going to be completely new ideas you have not read or contemplated before despite the book summary telling you otherwise. Save your money and start putting into effect what’ve you read. If you do happen to relapse and pick up a book, I am expected immediate application of the ideas rather than just adding it to the shelf afterward.

 

3. Be in the Now Rather Than in the Phone
You go on to your students often about how they can miss out on the world around them thanks to their digital devices, and you show them the following video:

However, what happens often when you are waiting for something? What happens when you walk in between meetings? What happens way too much? Well, time to stop that.  Put the phone down, leave it in the pocket, leave it in the car, do something but don’t let it distract you from the world around you. This also means don’t waste so much time on it when you are around the house too. The apps are meant to be tempting for a reason. The phone is a great tool, but only when used in moderation and not when it is detracting rather than adding to your life. Don’t become one of those people who is on the phone rather than talking to those around you, especially friends and family. You have already missed enough time because of the siren calls of the cell phone screen. No more.

4. Improve Your Timeliness.
Remember when you used to be some place ten minutes early? Then it was five, and now you are usually showing up right on time with sometimes it being a few minutes late. Time to stop that too before it gets worse, and return to being places at least 5 minutes early.

Plus, think back to all of the times you missed out on something that surprisingly became an option the same night an assignment was due, but you had to send your regrets to do the last-minute work. Let’s start placing a self-imposed deadline of 24 hours before the due date. This will be good for your timeliness too.

The same goes for replies to personal emails, messages, and letters. That is another area in your life you need to greatly improve. You don’t even have all of your Christmas cards out yet. Seriously, Ryan. Do better next year.

5. Get in the Best Shape of Your life!
     1. Continue to strive for at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
     2. Meditate on a frequent basis.
     3. Improve your eating habits.
     4. Work towards a 10% or below body fat percentage while adding muscle weight.

As warned, this is going to continue to be a standard New Year’s Resolution every year. One of the great wins from last year was working meditation into your daily habits, and the Tony Robbins’ piece from the Tim Ferriss podcast (and the alterations you made to it with the adding of the background music) should continue to be part of your morning ritual, for it can help keep you grounded. Continue also to improve your focus, and while at it, continue to aim for 7 hours of sleep. When it comes to eating and working out, you know what you need to do. The key thing is do it. Last year, you didn’t, and a kidney stone came as a wake up call. Let’s avoid that from happening again.

6. Write Often Pieces That Will Be Read by Others.
From letters to blog posts to papers to pieces of fiction, write. It is that simple, so get to writing.

7. Continue to Learn How to Draw Beyond Stick Figures and Other Basic Items.
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You made some great gains in 2016 with your drawing skills, and you shouldn’t stop now. Keep this resolution alive, and continue to sketch away. However, as you know, without a definite goal in mind, a resolution can be placed on the back-burner, so how about your 2017 Christmas cards be something you have drawn? That seems like a good idea to me.

8. Perform Four Songs for at Least Four People This Year via a Mix of Violin and Guitar.
Since high school, you have joked about how you wanted a guitar for Christmas, and then after your success with the violin, that joke turned more into a genuine interest. Now, a Christmas present to yourself led to your having a guitar in your house. You should really learn to play it.

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However, don’t stop practicing the violin just because you have a new musical instrument. Rather, both will be good additions to have in your life, so play away, and by the end of the year, play four songs for at least four people using both the violin and the guitar. Whether the four people are all together at that time will depend on how things unfold. The most important thing is you are playing for an audience beyond Kim who is teaching you how to play the violin and the person you will find to help you with the guitar.

9. Keep Your Personalized Progress Log Updated
It was a chance situation at work that led to your finding that copy of Zig Ziglar’s Personal Performance Record that had been sitting in a dust-covered box hidden away in a forgotten storage area for well over a decade. However, your transforming it into an Excel document was one of those things that is going to benefit you from many years to come. The same goes for all of the modifications you made to it throughout the rest of 2016 to include pieces from the Tim-Ferriss-inspired 5 minute journal as well as from other sources you came across here and there.

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You have already found yourself using it as a way to go back and find information you have logged in the past, and you are going to continue to find these as great value in the future. The key is actually completing them though. Although it does take some time to do that, it really isn’t that long, so be sure to make it a habit to keep these updated. You will regret it otherwise.

10. Create and Carry Out Monthly Themes/Challenges
You have sometimes felt like you were drifting this last year, and what better way to change things up than by trying something new each month. For an example, you can try out being a vegetarian for one month. You can try out different diets, exercises, hobbies, ways of life, and the such. These should be a great way to enhance your life story while also giving you some things about which to write. Plus, you can’t complain about this resolution or any of the others because you are going to kick things off by not being able to complain during the month of January. Have fun!

Extra credit: Revisit past New Year’s Resolutions to continue to have them in your life.
All are up for grabs this year, including the self-mandated time of being single. As you found out last year, this extra-credit assignment was actually quite helpful on many levels and was fun at times too.

That wraps up things for another year. This year will be different from the last two with a very different feeling. You have, for the most part, found your footing, so now it is the time to enjoy life and keep going forward. You can do it!

Cheers!

Ryan

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