The end of my year of doing a new thing each day is drawing ever closer, and I don’t want 1 January 2017 to arrive without me having a plan for what to do next. I shouldn’t worry really as I didn’t have a plan on 1 January 2016 – and if I make a plan, I’ll probably change it at the last minute anyway. I could work out what I want to achieve in life, and come up with an idea that might support this. But it needs to be fun and flexible, otherwise I won’t do it. So what have I gained and learnt this year so far, and does this help me decide?
I like lots of things
This is great because I get to do new things with lots of different people. But it does mean I never really focus on anything in particular, I’m OK but not good at various things, and I over-commit myself. I’m lucky I enjoy lots of things but I would probably benefit from working out what my favourite things are and doing more of them.
I’m not very good at finishing things
I give myself too much to do. And I forget what I’ve decided to do. But also I’m just not good at seeing things through. I really wanted to Borrow a Doggy, for instance (see March’s new things), but I haven’t done anything about that other than registering online. I’m not sure what has stopped me – it might be as simple as the thought of picking up dog poo. But that in itself would be a new thing.
It’s always possible to find something new to do
Even when I’ve been as low as low can be and tired and out of time, I’ve always managed to find SOMETHING although the occasional Facebook plea for ideas has been required. I’ve become quite good at pouncing on new things that appear on the conveyor belt of life, which is a very useful new habit for someone who isn’t very spontaneous.
But it’s not always possible to do all types of new thing
Some days are full of a million new sociable things but I wouldn’t be able to face trying a new recipe. Other days I will spend ages finishing some new crafty project but you wouldn’t catch me speaking to a stranger. And I will sign up to all manner of events and challenges but whether I’ll actually turn up for them or finish them is anyone’s guess and often hangs solely on what sort of person I am on the day it’s happening.
Partly through this project and partly through normal life, I’ve worked out that I am capable of very different things on different days. Ideally, I would work out some sort of pattern and capitalise on this. I recently read some advice aimed at people with depression (I’m not saying that’s me, I have no idea what’s wrong with me, if anything!) and something I found interesting is the idea of saving up difficult tasks until the ‘well you’ resurfaces. The principle is that if you’re suffering from depression then the simplest things can seem – perhaps are – impossible, but by accepting that you can’t do them right now and noting them down to be done in future by the ‘well’ version of you, you take the pressure off yourself at that time but make it easier for that future version of you to deal with those tasks more efficiently when you have a bit more get-up-and-go. Most people know they function better at certain times of day or during different seasons, or on their own or surrounded by people, and will plan their life or their working day around this. This is similar but it’s hard to plan when you don’t know from one day to the next whether you’re going to be cheery, brave, focussed, chatty, listeny, relaxed, or just knockable-over-with-a-feather-able or balanced on a tightrope over a pit of despair. If I can work out what things – new or not – each of these characters does well, that would be useful.
New things are a great distraction and a great excuse
Doing a new thing each day is brilliant for changing the focus of your attention. This can help take your mind off something, whether it’s a problem that’s getting you down or a fun thing that you’ve got too absorbed in or a boring day full of chores. I’ve found this useful in helping me see all sorts of things differently. I’ve also found it valuable to be able to justify doing something in the name of this project, something I wouldn’t have got round to doing or would’ve felt guilty about doing otherwise.
New things don’t solve everything
I started this project as a way of getting through a bad patch in a positive way. The structure and surprises are still working their magic and I’d recommend something like this to anyone who suddenly feels like they have no control over anything and no plan. My problems haven’t gone away though, sadly! All the more reason why I’m unlikely to give up on the new things any time soon.
Ideas for next year
- One big new thing each month (solo holiday; riding a horse)
- A theme for new things each month (fitness; craft; cookery)
- Keep a list of all the new things I do but don’t necessarily do something every day
- Pick a country each month and do new things associated with that country (language, books, food, music, visiting…)
- Or just continue with a new thing every day.
Your observations and suggestions are very welcome!