Ups and Downs, ‘Uncertain Times’ Edition
It’s been a year since I created my personal goals for 2020 (I like to start early!). Looking back, I’m happy with what I accomplished—losing 20lbs, cooking solo, and managing my money well. Not on the list was moving to a new place, self-publishing a book, and interviewing for a new job. Those ended up being the big projects of the year.
To be real with you all, I made plenty of mistakes, too. They’re not things I’d like to broadcast to the world wide web, but rest assured, I made mistakes as big as my successes. Sometimes it feels like the bad outweighed the good, but these aren’t the facts. And sometimes unfortunate things happen that aren’t even failures. This year reminded me of the need for forgiveness, both for myself and for others.
Digital Minimalism: It’s Holistic
Six months into this endeavor, my series on digital minimalism fizzled out. That’s not to say I didn’t make any progress—I purged a lot of accounts and completely ended my LinkedIn habit, for example. But by that point, some painful things had occurred in the world and in my personal life. Glued to news outlets and social media, I effectively gave up trying to stop my internet addiction.
Why did this fail so majestically?
I see now that I was approaching a holistic problem from just a few angles. I certainly realized that a change in lifestyle was needed, but I didn’t have an action plan for enough aspects of my lifestyle. I focused too much on technology and routine-based changes. I didn’t have a plan for non-technology and non-routine (read: event or emotion-based) factors.
Digital maximalism—or maximalism in general—tends to point to multiple pieces of your life not working together for your benefit. Online advice usually points you to forming better habits and developing self-discipline. This works to some extent; I’ve taken a couple of social media breaks this year and felt better for it. What’s harder than routines, however, is actually improving mental health, so that you break your dependency on the dopamine rush the internet gives you.
Writing a Personal Statement
The other day I watched a lovely interview with YoungMin You, a Christian Korean pianist who creates amazing music videos. He mentioned that he has a personal statement which he reads to himself every morning—a series of reaffirmations (such as his faith and family) and reminders (“drink more water!”).
This, too, is yet another routine, but I’m intrigued. Everyday, we’re bombarded with advertising and messages of all kinds. How often do we take the time to think about what actually matters to us? Could this help me on those days I wake up feeling purposeless and disconnected?
I haven’t written a personal statement yet, but this is something I plan to try.
Goals for Next Year (but Starting Now)
These are some of my goals which I feel comfortable sharing online:
- Diversify my income
- This is a carry-over from last year. 2020 reminded me how you just can’t take your job for granted. I need to have a second stream of income, even if it’s just something small.
- Action Plan: Do something. Literally…starting from zero here. 😆
- Learn basic conversational Mandarin
- There are sooo many languages I want to learn, but I’ve decided to focus on Mandarin Chinese. It is the most spoken native language in the world, and China is trending towards overtaking the US as the world’s biggest economy. This makes Chinese a very practical language, and it will also take more time for me to learn than, say, French. So I want to start now!
- Action Plan: I’ve been using Duolingo since this summer, and I just added YouTube. There is definitely enough free material to get me where I want to be.
- Reduce my digital footprint
- This is separate from my digital minimalism goal. I’m increasingly weirded out by the intrusion of big tech. I wouldn’t say I’m especially “plugged in” compared to other people, but there’s always more I could do to reduce it.
- Action Plan: Continue pruning or simplifying accounts, delete old data that I don’t need anymore.
- Peace-focused living
- Focus on what is good for me (Philippians 4:8) and avoid anything I know is problematic. Rediscover joy in technology. Keep a “brain dump”/no-stress journal to write and doodle in (one of my friends mentioned this and I love the idea). Blog more, scroll less.
- Action Plan: Keep up good routines but tend to my inner life. Be kinder to myself. Drink more water. 😆 (Seriously though!)