New Year's Resolution: Don't Be Boring

I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t have anything against them; I just seem to always be on a constant “do-better plan” (as my dad would say), so there’s not much point to start or stop doing something on January 1st.

HOWEVER, I was reminded of Woody Guthrie’s inimitable resolutions from 1942, striking the balance between light-heartedness and somber that is characteristic of his work. Which is perhaps appropriate for the occasion, a time to reflect on the year that has passed while looking forward to a fresh start and the promise…ok, so maybe New Year’s is a bit more important than I originally thought. To that end, I humbly submit my New Year’s resolution: Don’t be boring.

“But, how do I keep myself from being boring?” you may ask. Well, to each his own, but since you were asking:

Consume New Things

Read new books. Listen to new music. Try new restaurants. Read a newspaper. For the love of all that is holy, put something in your mind that was not there before. It’s a shame really. Folks become caught up in their routine, same friends and co-workers day in and day out, everybody watching the same TV shows, etc. Everything’s fine, really. You’ve watched the latest episode of Game of Thrones. But you find yourself in a conversation with one stranger and you’re undone: “What do you think of the new so-and-so album” they ask! “What do you think is the appropriate UN response to the Ukraine Crisis?” they probe! And you, who had invested weeks of your life into watching HBO have nothing to add. Don’t be that person. (There’s nothing wrong with watching Game of Thrones. It’s a fine show. But everybody watches it. Bring something else to the game).

Travel New Places

Nothing broadens the mind quite like travel. I suggest going as far away and for as long a time as financially possible. I’ve been pretty bad about getting out of the country, and I aim to fix that this year.

Get A Hobby

I’m not saying your job is boring, but it’s probably boring. At least to most people. I’m a software architect, so I’m speaking from experience here. But I’ve also got hobbies for days: classic car restoration, bicycles, music, to name a few. I think it sharpens the mind, putting time and effort into something that has an element of “mastery” to it. It also gives you something to show off or talk about, which is also key to not being boring.

Don’t Stop

When I was younger, I looked forward to a time when things would be less hectic and I’d have time to relax without school+work+band practice+whatever I had going on at the time. In hindsight, that was an utterly moronic notion. The most boring person I ever was, was shortly after college where I ended up in a job where I did nothing but work un-godly amounts of hours. I became conversant in one thing: my job. I stopped reading, writing, listening to new music or anything that wasn’t work related. In some ways it was necessary, and maybe to be the best at something it is. For me, it’s just not worth it. We weren’t born to be workers, we were born to be people dammit. And people are meant to do lots of things besides make money. Now I spend as much time as I can away from work to focus on my interests and hobbies. I’m studying and practicing both pool and chess. I’m reading more than I probably have since college. In fact, I just subscribed to 4 different magazines the other day to try and expose myself to new ideas.

So there you have it, my New Year’s resolution. If I remember, I’ll try and do a retrospective at the end of the year and see how well I did with it.