The Calendar as a Most Unforgiving Overlord

I’ve iterated through a number of opinions concerning New Years resolutions over the years. I’ve liked them, hated them, been indifferent, forgotten them, and then gone through the whole cycle again. I’m sure I’m not alone. But 2017 has been a year in which I’ve experienced some small success concerning a sort of resolution I made, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on why I think that worked and what I’m doing in 2018.

A new year necessarily brings with it certain changes, even if the most substantial one is having to date things differently. Even this small change provides you with opportunities to remember that time has passed and to briefly evaluate if you’ve changed in the ways you hope.

The changing of calendars also brings with it an almost supernatural willpower. You can tell yourself that this will be the year you quit smoking, start exercising, lose weight, drink less, read the Bible, or stop putting your cat in the dryer when he urinates on your burgundy sofa. This power, however, is like the supernatural gifts bestowed by genies and magical creatures in fairy tales. There is fine print.

The problem with using the changing of calendars as a catalyst for some major life change is that the calendar is a most unforgiving overlord. The moment in January that you smoke your first cigarette is the same moment that 2018 can no longer be called the year you quit smoking. When you start the year your willpower is towering, standing strong on the shoulders of the new calendar year. The moment your zeal wavers and you slip up a little, the shoulders on which your stand drop you in the trash like you did 2017’s bird-themed calendar not many days ago.

Now the part of you that wants to smoke or inflict corporal punishment on your cat is at its strongest and your fairytale willpower enhancement is nowhere to be found. In fact, your less than admirable tendencies will use this to their advantage. If you can’t call 2018 the year you did the thing, why bother trying? What’s the point? You can try again next year. It’ll be easier then.

But this year, as I said, I had some degree of success with my resolution. This came almost entirely by accident and laziness. My plan was to try to find time every day to practice working in visual mediums like Cinema 4D and photography. But I knew this would be challenging and that I wouldn’t have time every day because of work and other commitments. I also knew that I wouldn’t practice on the Lord’s Day. So my idea was, instead of committing to a perfect record, to commit to a sort of theme for the year. 2017 was my year to grow as a designer and photographer. That was my goal. To that end, I’d try to make something everyday as I was able.

About a week into the year, I already had to skip a day. But that didn’t discourage me. It was planned. Instead of being distressed by ruining my goal, I was excited for the next day when I would have more time. I got back on track the very next day. Honestly, a lot of stuff came up this year. We moved to a new apartment, my job had seasons of craziness, and other various obstacles arose. I probably only worked on something half the days that I’d hoped to.

If my goal had been making something every day, instead of simply growing as a designer with making things every day as a means to that end, I’d have to consider 2017 a pretty miserable failure. But when I look back on how much I’ve grown as a designer and photographer in the last year, I’m more than pleased with the results.

I think it’s possible to pick a theme for a year and to try to have some more granular objectives to help you achieve that goal. Plan for a year of healthier eating (not a year of perfect dieting), a year of more physical activity (not a year of going to the gym every day), or a year of being kinder to your cat — actually, stop it with the dryer immediately. Go buy a spray bottle or get a different cat. And you need to replace that couch. Everyone can smell it, and that’s why people stopped coming over.

Alright, I got side tracked. The point is to make resolutions with room for failures and plans for how you’re going to recover when things don’t go perfectly. Make sure that if things don’t go well in January or October, you can still turn it around and call the year at least a mild success.

Last year I wrote about my goal, so this year I’m going to do the same. My plan in 2018 is to get better at animation and filmmaking. To that end, I’m going to try to make YouTube videos about once a week. Some will be short animations, some might be explainer videos, I might even try a vlog, and many will probably be tutorial videos on photography and graphic design.

I’m aware that, like with my Cinema 4D projects, the projects will be harder at the beginning and get easier as I become more proficient with my tools. At the end of the year, regardless of how many videos I’ve made, I hope to feel more proficient with my tools and have a better grasp on animation and cinematography as languages for storytelling.