My Year of Sneezing, Chipotle, and Fake Jon Stewarts

Old calendar

I’m not that big on end-of-year summation or highlight posts. When I read others, I’m reminded of how much I’ve forgotten over the year, or how much I missed. Or worse, who died, and how that makes me feel bad all over again.

If I’d thought of it, I would have kept track of something more arbitrary or offbeat, like “How many times over the year I sneezed more than twice in a row,” or “Which days at lunch I reached for the chipotle pepper and then thought better of it,” or “Day I once again was sure that I saw Jon Stewart at the airport, but it really wasn’t him.” Because sometimes those little forgettables are as much a notable moment as having published something in the NY Times.

Mostly I’m simply grateful for having made it through the year, without major losses. Many people didn’t.

However, in reading some of the advice given by Michael Hyatt on attaining goals, I did decide to put a few in writing for the coming year. He convincingly says that putting an intent down on paper (well, in this case electrons) solidifies it in your consciousness: it clarifies what you want and motivates you to take action, among other things.

In that spirit:

  • I will finish the content of my nonfiction “how to see through a writer’s eyes” book by the end of January [preparing it for epub will take a bit longer]
  • I will publish my second novel by the middle of the year [again, going to be a self-pubbed masterpiece—after I do some master-piecing on it.]
  • I will get an article/essay in a national publication by the end of the year [shooting for NY Times. The travel pieces I’ve had in the LA Times and my work in The American Scholar don’t count.]

And a couple of “soft” goals, which doesn’t mean they aren’t hard:

I’m going to try to be more of service to others this coming year. I can too often get in a crabbed, selfish state, which is fear based. As I recently wrote in a comment on a Jeff Goins post, “I spent too much time working from the poverty mindset last year: too much grasping and the hearing of repeated refrains of the tired song of “me.” This coming year I intend to be of more service to people and to stretch the kinds of writing I do.”

So, yes, giving and stretching—not playing it so safe. But still playing: I’m going to drink more unusual cocktails this coming year, because my sweetheart was given an eclectic collection of bitters—what’s better than adding bitters to make all of life seem a bit more sweet?

Hope you guys had a good year, and that this next is going to be a humdinger. And if you want to write a few of your goals in the comments, who am I to stop you?

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9 thoughts on “My Year of Sneezing, Chipotle, and Fake Jon Stewarts

  1. Not how it sounds: I’m making 2015 the Year of Me.

    I’ve worn myself down, spending loads of time sharing what I know with others. Some appreciated it. Many don’t appear to. Either way, it doesn’t get the bills paid and doesn’t get books published or music practiced.

    More time with my hands on the things that matter most to me. Less time trying to convince others of this, that, and the other thing.

    I’m also going to stick with my daily mindfulness (thank you, Mark McGuinness and Resilience.) Give myself the fuel for contentment and then use it to fire up the rockets, rather than spending it all in a campfire for others.

    Less TV, for sure. More quality reading. Health issues for both of us have led to mental laziness the past year. Time to start making the effort again.

    I hope our goals cross paths more often this year, Mr. B. And that, perhaps, our paths cross paths as well.

  2. Joel, I do believe that with the right marketing, we could make The Year of Joel an international smash! Really, though, from occasionally seeing your LinkedIn groups comments, I know how generously, and freely, you offer good advice; and that’s just one corner of your advice universe. I’ve certainly appreciated the sound counsel you’ve thrown my way.

    So yes, concentrate on the essentials. I’m doing a brief daily mindfulness practice myself, and it seems to help (though some days my mind can’t be minded). And salubrious path-crossing is high on the menu. Happy New Year!

  3. I probably sneezed only once a handful of times last year.

    I will finish the revisions I’m working on now by the end of January, and I will self-publish it this year. I may also be crazy enough to think I’ll do that two more times in 2015, but that could be the post-holiday sugar, fat, and carbs talking.

    A collection of bitters sounds like an amazing gift — I may have to start dropping some hints to the people in my life 🙂 Happy New Year!

  4. Natalie, you do have to be careful with the sneezing—with a big one, you could whoosh out an entire story (or at least a plot), never to return.

    Whoa, THREE novels in 2015? Whoever’s doing the talking, whether crazed carbs or not, that’s ambitious. I presume you have the basis for the triumvirate already going, yes?

    Good writing to you (without too many bitters) in 2015!

  5. This year I’ll be spending a lot more time away from the computer in the outdoors. I’m starting with five weeks in Costa Rica. In the spring I’ll spend some time in the Southwest.

  6. John, my girlfriend and I are looking for an interesting house-sitting opportunity for late winter/early spring now, hopefully in a warm spot, like Costa Rica. Southwest sounds dandy too—I love many parts of New Mexico, but haven’t been there for years.

    Staying away from the computer sounds good too—when I stare at it, the dang thing always stares back.

  7. Nice post, Tom. In 2015 I will:
    -Continue the process of integrating my new associate into our dental practice; actually, we had a great meeting on that today and it’s just 1/9, so–check. (It’s a matter of mixing business cultural DNA; we wholeheartedly agree on the dentistry itself).
    -Finish my second novel PureBread, which is gettin’ pretty close.
    -Continue to make a difference for students, patients and my community; also continue the fight against corporate dentistry, which seeks production, not purpose. Hold on to your pulps, people; those folks are dangerous.

  8. And when it comes to the balance of focus on self versus others, this scene from the end of the 1999 movie “The Cup,” in which the Buddhist abbot speaks to his young charges, says it better than I’ve ever heard before or since:


    Can we cover the Earth in leather so it’s soft wherever we go?
    So what can we do?
    Cover our feet in leather?
    Yes. Covering our feet in leather is equal to covering the Earth with leather.
    Likewise, enemies are as limitless as space.
    All enemies cannot possibly be overcome.
    Yet if one can just overcome hatred…
    This will be equal to overcoming all enemies.

    All that is unsatisfactory in this world…
    All the fear and suffering that exists…
    Clinging to the “I” has created it.
    What am I to do with this great demon?
    To release myself from harm…
    And to free all others from their suffering…
    Let me give myself away…
    And love others as I love myself.
    If a problem can be solved…
    Why be unhappy?
    And if it cannot be solved…
    What is the use of being unhappy?

  9. Rick, I have no doubt that you have, and will continue, to make a difference. Thanks for the Buddhist quote: its message is balanced and acute. I’m reading a book by a Buddhist psychologist right now on a unique way to apprehend the world and move on from personal loss and limitation.

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