New Years Notes from the Command Center

Phillip Davis

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What it means to me

People who have known me for a long time know I don’t really “celebrate,” New Year’s Day. To me, it’s a new page on a new calendar. I reflect plenty. I do that around Thanksgiving, then my birthday, and again on Christmas. By New Year’s Eve, I’m all reflected out. Goals come to mind — things I’d like to do more or less of, things I’d like to try, and things I’d like to avoid. I think about my career, finances, relationships, my health — both mental and physical — but it’s a private matter and doesn’t require popping champagne or watching a ball drop.

New Year’s resolutions are a great opportunity to focus on goals and personal growth, but most people don’t keep them. That’s not to say they don’t have value. It’s good to think about your lifestyle, your health, your budget, or whatever else it is you think you need to focus on, but calling it a New Year’s resolution adds pressure. Maybe you made them because you thought you had to. And chances are, you’re setting yourself up, if it didn’t come from a place of honest reflection and earnest intent. I’d be far more impressed by a middle-of-May resolution that came from introspection and made with purpose.

Doing it Anyway

Perhaps it’s my viewing it as a private, introspective thing that causes the pomp of New Year’s Eve to be lost on me. But, what I’ve reflected on, the things I’ve predicted, and the things I’d like to see are for me. I’m also a little afraid to say anything out loud. The world has a funny way of toying with your plans and making you eat your words. I think it listens extra closely on New Year’s Eve. All that being said — and in the season’s spirit and in efforts to keep up a more regular habit of writing for this blog — here is my set of reflections, predictions, and New Year’s resolutions. (Don’t tell anyone what they are. I don’t want to jinx myself!)

Reflections

It was awful. There, I said it. You’ve probably heard me say it before, but it bears repeating. There’s really no part of it I’d choose to relive. Our trip to the Pacific Northwest was quite nice, but even it was fraught with issues. Mental and physical health problems abounded. (I spent far too many days in far too many hospitals and healthcare facilities, visiting family.) There were career disappointments. There weren’t even a lot of great movies in 2023!

There were moments, though, that I discovered some important things — or reaffirmed them in important ways. This year showed me who my friends are. It showed me I have a far greater support network than I thought I did, and there are many people to thank for stepping up when the chips were down. I went through the second half of a terrible school year with a great team, and they continued to be supportive, patient, and understanding when things in my life were coming apart at the seams. The relationship I have with my younger brother and my sister-in-law grew, and I feel like I’ve been a pretty good son to my parents.

If I have one positive take-away from this dumpster fire of year, it’s that I am surrounded by good people who care.

Predictions

Now here’s a scary category. On New Year’s Eve, going into 2020, who would have predicted the unprecedented events of that year? So, for me to predict any events outside my household seems ill advised.

I will go out on a limb and predict that Marvel will make a lot of money on MCU related projects, Bob Iger will make big moves to repair Disney’s reputation with its fans, George R. R. Martin will not finish the last book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and former president Donald Trump will make political waves, one scandal after another. Covid will continue to mutate and bring new and exciting variants. A football team will win the Super Bowl and a baseball team will win the World Series.

Closer to home, I have some optimistic predictions and some tougher ones. I think it’s likely that I find either an alternative career path or a way to make a substantive change in my current one that will bring more satisfaction and dramatically reduced stress. I’m tying this one to a resolution. We’re taking a cruise to Alaska in June. Neither of have ever been on a cruise before, and my wife has never been to Alaska. I predict it will be a glorious trip and we’ll fall in love with cruising. I also predict it’s going to be ludicrously expensive to do all the things we want to do.

Here’s the tough one. I predict I will have one fewer living parent by this time next year. There’s no getting around it. Neither my mother nor father are in good health and we’ve had pragmatic conversations about their outlooks. So, I predict that no matter what comes out well in the new year, it will also be one of profound loss.

Resolutions

Writing this a couple days ago, I paused here. I’d lost the steam and didn’t want to lose the thread entirely. Then–within a few hours of taking that pause–the universe laughed at me, as it often does. Above I mentioned that I stay away from New Year’s resolutions. I left off with the heading “resolutions,” and here I come across an email from Ninja Writer’s Academy about the Fresh Start course which begins today. I signed up. What is all about? Yep, goals and resolutions. It’s a week long course about starting fresh and setting goals. I’m not affiliated in any monetary way with Ninja Writers in any way, but here’s a plug for the course anyway. I’m looking forward to it and to seeing just how thoroughly I have to eat my words.

Travel journals are coming. That’s my first resolution. It’s a simple, straight-forward target. Last year, I released some teacher themed blank journals, and this year I’m going to add some travel journals (or diaries, if you prefer,) featuring photos I’ve taken from own travels.

Write more regularly. I’m not very good at keeping this one up, despite knowing how important creating a regular writing habit is. I hesitate to even put this one down, because I don’t want to have to look back at it and see failure. But, there it is. Maybe committing to it publicly will help.

More social media content. I want to create a community. That’s always been my biggest goal. But it’s hard to create and maintain a community when I don’t put enough content out for people to engage with.

Complete and publish at least one book. I have three drafts finished. One of them needs to be completed no matter how much I dislike the editing and revising process.

Make a change in my career. Whether it’s a change in grade, school, district, or career altogether something has to give. I tried this last spring and it didn’t work out. I need to double down on my efforts and make it happen. There are some tough hurdles to overcome here, not least of which are the guilt associated with leaving teaching, knowing exactly what changes I want to make, and networking. I am bad at professional networking. It feels awkward and make me very uncomfortable, but I know how important it is.

The last I’m going to mention, and it’s probably the same as thousands, if not millions of other people, is taking better care of myself physically and mentally. I need to put myself further up front than I normally do. I don’t say “first” because I know it’s unlikely. But I need to put myself somewhere other than last.

There. That’s plenty. Most of them are not overly specific and I know that good goals are. I’ve spent enough time working on “SMART” goals in my professional life to know what’s missing, but it’s the best they’re going to get, for now.

Is that all?

Yes. Some reflecting, some predicting, and some… resolving. Maybe I will pop a bottle of champagne on New Year’s eve. More likely, I’ll be sound asleep at midnight and wake the next morning cautious.

Don’t look 2023 in the eye. Don’t challenge it. And don’t tell it my plans.

Whatever you to celebrate, recognize, reflect, etc., may the new year bring you everything you hope for. Thank you for reading and best of luck.

Phillip Davis is the author of Peppermint Lightning, Jack-o-’Lightning, and Justice for the Missing. (Sequel coming in 2023!) He is an elementary school teacher, mental-health advocate, long time NaNoWriMo participant, and member of the Ninja Writer’s community.

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