2016: Reflecting on 2015 For A Better New Year

Well, this is indeed a new year. Well, not technically. For the earth, yes, but for you, it will be another Thursday night. Actually, this new years will pry be a disappointment like most New Years. I am not a pessimist I am just stating the fact that New Year’s is always better in your head.

Think about it, technically a new year would be when you were born. Because the day you were born is the first day you were aware of time and existence. Therefore, your birthday should be your New Years!

The reason why I am bringing this up is because as we head in 2016 I want to try and change my prerogative on the world and start to take more control over my life. For far too long I have lived in a passive consumer role in my life and not taking charge. I have let others dictate my decisions, my interests, and my routines. I have not been responsible for a lot of things in my life. As such, I have gone with the flow and never really made any strides. Am I a better person than I was last year? Sure. could I be an even better person had I “chosen myself” versus just being ambient and letting the world decide my fate? Yes.

I have been reading an insane amount of books this year. Mostly non-fiction and entrepreneur based, and mostly on how to take control of my life. There have been two major things that I have noticed come up from all of this reading:

  1. Surround yourself with like-minded people that will challenge your growth and support you becoming the best version of you
  2. Choose yourself and pursue things that will make you happy and remove or delegate things that don’t. That way no energy is wasted on frustration, complaining or failing.

Looking back on 2015 and reading through my journal I have found myself to be most involved in self-thought and complaining. Complaining about work my love life, my endeavors, and my tribulations. Although I do have some of my accomplishments listed, most of the time was spent in a solitary and negative place. When I think about what I did vs. what I could have been I realize that this negative and solitary process I went through in 2015 has what held me from reaching that next level. It kept me in a state of ambivalence and complacency. Even though I had read all of these books of both Superstar business people and hard working business acumen, I never really took those lessons to heart and turned those lessons into “actionable content.”

Looking forward to 2016

For the new year, I know that my number one goal I have is to start taking action on the reflections and successes that I have had in 2015. Instead of just letting things be one time events, I want to build upon the strengths that I have actively achieved. To do this is going to take something more of me than I have ever done. Something that has been so difficult. Something that I never in a million years understood or recognized the importance of.

I need to ask for help

It was widely popularized with our generation of in-betweeners (Gen X and Gen Y) that to flesh out our own path and success we needed to go at it alone. We popularized lone warriors and Ronin’s who carved out their own path with little forethought but tons of action risking family and friends for the sake of finding their true calling. All of their success came from hard work and learning everything themselves.

Or so I believed.

My personal values were built upon this precipice of lone warriors out there fighting the good fight. Protecting the innocent and rolling and out of people’s lives. The Doctor, The Man With No Name, Han Solo, Peter Venkman, Wolverine, Ned from Pushing Daisies, all of these characters I saw as strong men archetypes who knew everything and could handle the struggle alone.

As I grow older and not that much wiser, I know that I am starting to learn the difference between these Archetypes and real heroes. I am starting to discern that what makes these characters great is not their chevre or their tenacity but it’s more the people that they surround themselves with. For all of the great characters out there, there was always someone there with them. Someone supporting them, giving them advice and pushing them to be better.

I had always misunderstood what it meant to be the best you can be. It is not just you actively pushing for that, but it’s also having support there to push you and assist you when you couldn’t do it yourself.

Rule of 33%

There has been a “thing” floating around for a while now in the blogosphere called the rule of 33%. IT basically states that 33% of your time should be spent with somebody below you that you can teach, somebody at the same level as you that you can process with, and somebody above you that you can learn from.

Essentially by splitting up your time like this, you can process things both by learning and teaching as well as see life from multiple perspectives. Instead of just going at it alone and getting caught in your own thoughts you can become inspired by those above you and feel empowered by helping those move up.

The true definition of Happiness in 2015 is feeling valued

I want 2016 the year to be where I finally feel valued. Yes valued by other people for my  contributions, but more importantly valued for  myself. I want to be able to feel like the things I am doing during the day make me feel inspired, alive, and that I am contributing to my own personal well being. I want everything I do to be a “hell yeah” instead of a “meh.” I want to be able to direct my direction in life. To move  forward and continually improve on the actions that I take.

2016 is going to be a different year for me. Going into this fake passage of time I have come to learn and try to take everything that I have learned from the last year to improve and be better.
2016 is the year I Choose Myself and be the James that I want to be. Not the James that the world is carving out to be me.  

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With trepidation and excitement I look forward to Star Wars on Friday

Agh, I never thought this day would come. Okay, so I thought this day would come, but let’s be real here. Its actually happening! A new Star Wars movie is coming out and I could not be more excited! From that first major chord in the Star Wars opening theme to the hum of the lightsaber first igniting I mean you can not feel a sense of awe and wonder like you did as a child.

http://mrhipp.tumblr.com/image/116908174063

Although I have a slight fear about the movie sucking (due to ostensibly high expectations that not even God at this point could reach) I am still going in with hope. JJ Abrams has been very good about holding the best secrets close to his chest till the reveal. From everything that we have seen come out in the trailers it has been little new and all old. He is pushing our nostalgia buttons right where he needs to to get us to fall in love with Star Wars again. And I feel he was reluctant enough to take the mantle to know he has to create an amazing story to move the Universe forward.

Hey remember the Millenium Falcon? Well it’s here! Lightsabers? The fucking glow! Hey, you want to see stormtroopers, x-wings, and the desert heroes journey again? Well here you go, its Star Wars silly!

Part of me applauds Mr. Abrams for the work that he has put into this movie. Instead of just trying to make something “new” and “unique” he is pandering to the masses of fanboys foaming at the mouth and eagerly pawning over any little snips of information that come out. But the other part of me worries that he may push that line of nostalgia ala Terminator Genisys or Jurassic World. Both movies, when left to stand to their own devices, failed miserably because the emphasis was on nostalgia and less on telling a quality story.

Hey remember that great scene in Jurrasic Park with the kitchen and jello? It’s right there! Hey, do you remember the really cool terminator that turned into liquid silver? He’s gonna fucking punch Arnold! Like in the second movie! Remember that? It’s cool if you don’t this is almost a shot for shot remake.

You see where I am going with this?

What fascinates me and is different about this new Star Wars movie i  that with those other nostalgia movies that have come out this year, there wasn’t as much expectation for success or so much pressure put on them to perform like Star Wars. Sure there are fans of Terminator and Jurassic Park. Hell, even the new TMNT movies were a throwback, but they don’t have the dedication and mass following like Star Wars.

I think a lot of that comes from what Star Wars means to so many. Unlike many other cliche’d stories Star Wars hits every fanboys buttons. Cowboy Westerns, Smugglers/Pirates, Samurai, Space, Damsels in Distress, Swords, Knights, Cops, and revolutionaries, Star Wars is this perfect amalgamation of all fandoms put into one. It balances so many genres so well into a fully cohesive story that actually makes some sense. The movies and even the extended universe have fully fleshed out a whole universe that everyone can feel like they are a part of. Instead of the focus being on the one destined hero, Star Wars made everyone feel like they had potential, like everyone had an integral part to play in the story.

And that for me is what makes Star Wars so special. Instead of it just being a story about the “destined” one to fix everything and everyone lives happily ever after, Star Wars empowered anybody with the chance to do something good. Han Solo, classic example, was a smuggler who was able to become the hero of the story. Wedge Antilles, went on to lead his own Squadron on missions that impacted the universe. Hell, even Jar Jar Binks went on to become a Senator and lead his world into a time of political prosperity!

I remember finding Star Wars when I was a kid. I remember watching these movies and feeling inspired. I remember thinking about all of the lightsaber fights I had and how many times I wished with my heart of hearts I would be able to one day fly an A-Wing. I remember that when I watch Star Wars, I have hope. Hope in myself and hope in creating beautiful stories in my own writing and in real life.

Star Wars to this day is one of my biggest influences in life and lately I feel like I have been letting it down. But hopefully, the Force willing, JJ Abrams has done the fans proud and created a beautiful movie that builds off of what we love and expands the story to inspire a new generation of heroes.

Stretching/Straining Creative Muscles

There is this really stupid scene in Girls where Lena Dunham is bitching about her job at GQ. She is sitting there freaking out that her working at a very affluent advertorial job has somehow inhibited her creative spirit. That having a nice paycheck, free food, and other amenities is killing her passion and wasting her talent as a “voice of her generation.” In fact, she goes as far to quit, TWICE, to better pursue her passions and non-stifled creative process. At the end of the episode, when she has finally resolved to try and do both the sell out writing gig and creative writing at home, we see her passed out over her computer with a blank page open.

When I watched this episode I wholeheartedly agreed with Salon’s article of the episode and thought that this was Ms. Dunham’s best look at the reality of trying to make it as a creative writer. Even more so trying to make it as a creative person in a world full of hot models, free bagels, and the unending reality of growing up. It was really interesting to see through Lena’s eyes this thin veil that was put over all of her coworkers eyes that somehow this job is given them that (paycheck) creative outlet to satiate their needs. Instead of her character enjoying the amenities and disregarding that little itch everyone feels when their creative spirit starts to die, we see in an over dramatization of the rebellious nature one feels when they realize they are being trapped in a cage. Although it was played up for humor, I find myself constantly thinking about that episode and finding myself wishing I could be as reckless and irresponsible as Hannah! Maybe not leaving GQ, but being able to actively speak up when I feel that the world is not aligning with the support of my passions.

When sitting down and finally trying to put myself into that creative zone after work sometimes, actually most times, I feel like Hannah at the end of that episode. The day has completely drained all reserve creative capacities. Instead of sitting down to create the “next great american novel” or hell, even writing down 10 ideas, I find myself sitting in front of the boob tube and just recuperating all of that burnt energy at work.

Work and what you do is supposed to be fulfilling. And sometimes it is, but what I really connected with in this story line for Hannah, was the fact that even doing something that you feel is socially defined as success can and will usually not match up with your personal ethos. No matter the luxuries, the benefits, or the salary, if it doesn’t match up with your goals in life, it is not a good match. And instead of creating the opportunity to have an emotional or creative outlet, so much of your energy is wasted on trying to force a good thing to be the right thing.

A good thing to the RIGHT thing.

Much of what happens in life is this pervasive march forward to death. We are constantly reminded that we are moving to in a straight direction with finite time to the same conclusion. And although we talk about living every moment like its your last, we are actually living a life of complacency and acceptance. As we continue our straight line, we start to compromise who we are and want to be to accept the system is our life. We slowly start to accept the benefits and amenities we receive as fair compensation for our sacrifice of personal growth and value. We trick ourselves into positions that on paper say we are helping people but ultimately don’t give us any meaning. We create a system of acceptance over appreciation of the dynamic.

As I am trying better to stretch my creative muscles and my writing muscles I seem to always find myself staring at a blank page with little to say because I don’t have the energy to put action into my words. But when I am writing I feel alive. Instead of that buzz of life I feel from pursuing my creative endeavors, I have chosen to give my energy to something that leaves me unfulfilled. And in doing so I have created a system of compromise and uneasiness because I wasn’t strong (or naive) enough like Hannah to see through that veil. I am allowing that itch to become normal and submissive to the assumptions that we all make of life instead of forging my own meaningful and rewarding experiences in life.

Ultimately, what I need to remember as I try to refocus my energies into my passions and my projects is that when choosing myself I have to address what I want out of life and can not let myself get disillusioned. Even if I have a title or job description that says I am helping people, in my heart I know I am not helping anyone. That my world is becoming smaller and smaller. That my routines are becoming less engaging and more like watching a clock tick down. I have to be able to be strong enough to let go of things that are not giving me that feedback and energy and ultimately pushing me forward to find what I consider  rewarding in life, regardless of financial incentives or benefits. Now I can’t be idealistic and expect my parents to pay for everything, but when we talk about “taking responsibility” I have to be able to take responsibility for myself and what I want success to be.

If I feel that at the end of the day I am burned out with little less than nothing to give to what makes me want to live, well then, I have my energy misappropriated and need to get that back. I need to be willing to take drastic measures, improve my life, and learn to walk away and let go of the titles, the benefits, and the projects that are vexing and instead redistribute that energy into what I consider “rewarding”