It’s at about this time of year when I start thinking back but also daring to imagine the next 12 months. Really, New Year is nothing more than a socially constructed moment in time. In fact, time as we know it is a construct. I’ll allow much cleverer people than me to explain the limitations of Greenwich Mean Time, the Gregorian calendar and all the other crap that goes with it….My point is: New Year shouldn’t really be any more or less significant than any other point in our existence but for some reason, it is.
Maybe using New Year as a chance to reflect isn’t a bad thing. We are all so busy that we forget to breathe. Each day, we’re doing so much and when New Year comes round we just steamroll, full speed ahead. Well, not this guy! Today I decided to get the felt tip pens and paper out and brainstorm what 2018 was for me.
I’m not gonna lie, before the exercise, I had been feeling like it was an average year. I started my own business and to be frank, it’s been fucking hard. I haven’t made as much money as I’d have liked and I don’t feel I’m as far forward as I should be. I’m lucky enough to not have experienced financial pressure before but for the last 12 months I’ve been beyond skint. In fact, according to statistics I’ve lived in relative poverty. Clearly this is my choice and I’m also lucky enough to be able to change it if I want because I have the experience and skills to walk into a well-paid job.
I’m not looking for sympathy (or donations), it’s just reality and with that reality, I have the feeling of unworthiness. I’d always correlated my societal worth with my financial worth. If I’m skilled enough to be earning a certain level, paying tax and spending money in the community, then that’s what I should be doing. To actively go against that and not even earn enough to pay tax this year (for the first time ever!) is crazy to me. You get the picture, I’d been feeling pretty shit.
So, felt tip in hand, I started writing. Firstly, writing the big things I’ve been involved with. I started with projects outside my business like The Happy `Hoodand Age UK. Then I thought about the business and community activism. Then I started writing the results of those projects, what opportunities they had bought me and the impact on others. I kept writing the same things; made new friends, made people smile, had fun, bought people together, had a chance to be creative.
It became clear. My worthiness isn’t dependent on a financial figure, it’s something more important, it’s impact. Sure, I need to pay my mortgage and feed myself but my worth (to society and myself) is about more than the bottom line of a pay cheque. When I think about what I’ve done this year to positively impact the world I’m living in, it’s not insignificant. I mean, I’m not fucking Gandhi, but everything I’ve done this year has been for the greater good and not everyone can say that.
A little bit of reflection is all that was needed to make me see that my year hasn’t been wasted and that actually, it’s been one of the most productive and creative of my working life. I’m asking you to do the same thing. Fuck the new years resolutions and unrealistic goal setting for 2019, just focus first on what 2018 was for you. If you liked it, do more of it next year. If you didn’t like it, change stuff up. However you measure your year, do it with a measurement that matters and be gentle with yourself.