Monday, January 2, 2017

Achievements, Failures and Rethinking

So goodbye 2016.

This blog has always been used by myself to write letters to myself (when they're not fictional pieces, that is). So I guess in this particular post, I want to talk to both my 2016-self as well as my 2017-self, if I am to be so bold.

What were your biggest achievements of 2016?
I've always struggled with coming up with my own list of achievements. It feels like I'm stunting too hard for my liking if I were to even recognise that I achieved anything. Maybe also because I feel like if I recognised any of my past/current achievements, I'm going to close off any opportunities for myself to be proud of bigger and better things. Sort of like a "eleh, takat benda ni ja pun nak bangga buat apa?" kinda feeling. It doesn't make a lot of sense, me thinking that way. Just because one feels proud of a thing doesn't mean anything bigger or better cannot be achieved or be then proud of in the future. Bukan nak stunt pun, really. It's just a matter of listing the things you achieved this year and keeping it to yourself. It's not stunting. It's keeping track. And I'm terrible at that.

But this year, I'm glad to be able to say that I have things to be proud of. Top on my mind is starting and maintaining a podcast with my wife, as well as participating heavily in another with a friend (which, through the podcast, I've grown closer and closer to). That's a thing. Cue the negativity in my brain saying "eleh, takat buat podcast siapa pun boleh! Ada emel akaun, bukak soundcloud, siap. A ten year old could do just the same," to which I have no response. I guess I like that I've been able to post for twenty weeks (and counting) straight. I rarely am consistent with any of my endeavours, but these podcasts have been a great experience so far. I think my wife played a big role in keeping the podcast consistent. More often than not, she's the one who remembers that we have a podcast to record every week. So kudos to her.

I think another thing that I can say I did in 2016 was the book review thing. I posted a video at the beginning of the year, saying that I'd make book review videos about five specific books in five months, and I did just that. Not only that, I also made videos consistently as well, the most consistent I've been since, like, 2011. So that's a thing.

I also continued my stint as an almost-monthly columnist for The Star newspaper. I guess that's a thing not many can say. It's also a thing I've always wanted to be able to say. But now that I am able to say it, I don't feel that sense of exceeding joy that I thought I would have. I think this is mainly because I can't say that my writing there is among the best of my pieces ever. In that column, I'm mainly limited to talking about social media-related things, when I am growing more and more tired of it myself. I only check Twitter and Instagram regularly (more regularly than I'd like, if I'm honest) and my Facebook account is "hidup segan mati takmaw" at this stage. I'm not on Snapchat, Whatsapp tires me, everything else seems irrelevant. So I struggle with each and every piece, failing to pay attention to what's trending, because for the most part, they're just that: trends. And I have to admit that I am not the most trendy person around.

At this point in this particular blogpost, I decided to go back to my first blogpost last year and read what I had to say. I have to say, I sounded a lot more cheerful and optimistic in that one. Maybe it was because I was super excited about 2016 and all the things that I intended to do. A year later, I achieved some, failed at achieving the others. I'm writing in a more sombre mood right now maybe because I'm a tad tired. Been driving all day to attend kenduri kahwin. Also, my wife's unwell right now, so I'm a little worried about her well-being. And, I've just been listening to Swain's The Long Dark Blue. It's a grunge-rocky album, and although I've only listened to it a couple of times, I really like it. It's also really sad to listen to, so I guess that's why I'm a tad sad.

So what did I fail to do in 2016?
I failed to write anywhere near as consistently as I wanted to. I got in 19 posts in January, 14 in February, 8 in March and slipped right off the horse afterwards. Some months I even leave having written absolutely nothing, so that's terrible. I guess because it wasn't enough of a priority to me to write consistently that I didn't find myself on the keyboard typing as much as I want/need to if I am to call myself a writer. Writing needs to be a priority activity in my life again.

Reading has also been a habit unmade. It's like after the five books were reviewed, I stopped reading books entirely. Not a thing I am proud of in the least. Songwriting took a big-time backseat. I have just not been making songs. At least not in the frequency I want to.

So what's in store for me in 2017?
I don't know, man. My wife tells me I fail to be consistent with the things I want to do because I write them down at the beginning of the year. I beg to differ though. I think it's just plain laziness and slacking off on my part. It's a lack of focus.

I think the problem with having yearly plans is that we rarely live a year at a time. We live a day at a time, an hour at a time, a moment at a time. So yearly plans are great big picture things, but we need a clear idea of what we're doing on a day-to day, hour-to-hour, moment-to-moment basis for us to be able to do those things. And those moments, to me, should be split into 20 minute blocks of time. At any given twenty minutes, I should be focussing my energy on doing one thing and one thing only. Because, I think, it's much easier to stay focussed for twenty minutes than it is for a whole year. So for every twenty minutes that I find myself with free time, I should make a conscious effort to be very clear about what I want to do in twenty minutes and just do that one thing. Living life like twenty minutes at a time. It's a different frame of mind to be in, but it makes sense to me, since twenty minutes is enough time for some work to get done, but not enough time for me to get bored and/or sleepy. a twenty minute nap is also brief enough to not eat too much of my time, but long enough for me to refresh and be re-energised. I don't know if this is going to work, but I think it's worth a shot.

For now, I'm going to go ahead and read FIXI book entries for twenty minutes followed by an episode of the cartoon Archer (I'm only on the first season, so no spoilers please). It'll alternate that way until I get sleepy.

Have a good 2017 everyone.

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