When a new year starts, we’re excited to start fresh. We make plans and say “This is the year I’ll [insert resolution here]!” with conviction. BOOM!
But as the year progresses, things change. Something urgent comes up. We get busy or as I like to say “Life Happens” – Or we change, and the plans we make change with us. We sometimes end up shelving this year’s resolutions and look forward.
“Next year will be so much better,” we think to ourselves.
2020 really fucked that shit up huh?
Seven years ago I started this blog. Seven years ago I changed my outlook on life. Seven years ago I started a new journey and for better or worse my wife followed suit because without everyone in the house moving in the same direction, trying to live a healthy lifestyle alone does not work. At least not for me.
I could not make a New Year’s resolution. They never worked for me. Just like all the jokes about full January gyms being empty in February, trying to take on too much to make your life better on January 1 never seems to work for many people.
Then I did something different. I shifted my focus to reviewing the year that was ending before I looked at the year ahead. I made a vision board for myself. Small attainable goals. Things I would like to try to do more often than not. No pressure.
No year is without some successes. And I tried to savor those. By the end of December I tried to make peace with myself, and I always told myself that I could change. I can be better. I am always evolving.
To end the year I asked myself 10 questions. I challenge you to do the same. If you are reading this and you take a few moments to do this exercise, I would love to read it. You can email it to me or text me or send it to me or even post it in the comments on this post.
1. What makes this year unforgettable?
I don’t really think there is a great way to put a positive spin on the fact that due to COVID-19 affecting the world, we have all had to adapt. I think the one thing that I will never forget is how we did just that. I did not think that I had it in me, but I know now that I do. It is not without some things that hurt, that I regret, that I wish I could do better with, but we will get to that.
2. What did you enjoy doing this year?
I think if I had to pick one thing that I really enjoy doing this year was being out on the water with my friends, and becoming a boat person. I always knew that I loved being on the water. I just never realized how much I love being on a boat as well. There was no better feeling this past year.
3. What/who is the one thing/person you’re grateful for?
When I’m busy, I often forget to give thanks for my positive experiences. Every day becomes a hurried pursuit for the next success. When you and I practice gratitude for the good stuff, our lives become simpler and happier. This is one thing that I had to work very hard at this past year, because not being in front of all the people I play music for really made me think about things.
I think the proper answer is probably my wife Amber because we did not kill each other through all this. And we were home a lot together in the beginning. But we knew just the right amount of space to give each other, when they push each other’s buttons, and she apparently knew when to make me clean, purge, prepare to have a kick ass basement and even an awesome home office. Things I didn’t know I really wanted till I had them.
But I would think your spouse, should be that person. But I need to extend it even further because I wasn’t on stage, we were in a pandemic where we were told not to be together, and I am a person that needs people. So in the end our circle had to get smaller and smaller and you really needed to weed out the dead weight, you needed to weed out friendships they were just too hard to maintain sometimes, you needed to surround yourself with like-minded people, I even let a few Riddin With Biden wackos into the circle….. Because you know love is love. So my circle knows who they are and I am very grateful for them. From the thoughtful booze drops offs, wood pellet pick ups, door dash dinners, home projects both at the shore and here in Bucks county… they have been there for my family and I….. gratitude.
4. What’s your biggest win this year?
Time. I had time to breath. Band was not playing obviously and I just had time to be places that I wanted to be. I took those acoustic gigs all summer long because I really wanted to sing. Yes we sang over tracks most of the time, but I got to sing which is something I absolutely love to do. My small circle worked with me, never left my side, never missed a show, they would plan boat runs around my schedule but we never felt rushed. I missed performing with the full band very much, it’s nice not having to deal with the drama that some of that comes with. So for me, my biggest win was having time to breathe, time to stretch my arms, being able to adapt to whatever was getting thrown at us.
5. What did you read/watch/listen to that made the most impact this year?
We watched a lot of shows and things that I wouldn’t normally watch. I guess I can tell you a few of my top things from 2020. I can’t tell you that I did not read as much as I thought I would. I want to very badly but other than a few music bios I didn’t.
A few of my favorite albums:
Taylor Swift – Folklore
Chris Stapleton – Starting Over
Bruce Springsteen – Letter to You
Judah and the Lion – Pep Talks Live
Frank Turner – Live in New Castle
A few of my favorite binges:
Tiger King (Don’t judge me it was worth it just for the memes)
6. What did you worry about most and how did it turn out?
I always have some worry in the back of my mind at one point or another. I’ve worried about my jobs, a friend who’s having a tough time, and so on. It feels natural to stress about things I can’t control, but I’ve realized a lot of my worries are unnecessary in the long run.
Looking back on what I worried about and what actually happened reminds me not to dwell on my doubts and fears. I hope it’s a reminder you’ll benefit from too.
But I think I worried the most about is losing my job and then it happened. All the worry in the world wasn’t going to stop me from getting terminated by someone who didn’t even know me.
7. What was your biggest regret and why?
We’re not perfect and we all make mistakes. It’s an uncomfortable truth we don’t like to think about. But facing our failures helps us in positive ways. When we admit and accept our mistakes, we grow. And best of all, we’re less likely to repeat them.
I think my biggest regret this year is my weight gain. I fell into a depression, missed going to the gym during lock down and just let myself go. I wish I was strong enough to use the down time to ride above all this muck and I wasn’t. Now I have to dig myself out in 2021.
8. What’s one thing that changed about yourself?
The fact that we can change is wonderful. There’s freedom in knowing we’re not obligated to be who we always were. That’s a relief.
For example, I cared differently this year. I cared about my relationships and became more patient with people around me. I cared about the environment and how my choices affected it. Fucking water cooler. I also learned to care less about what people thought of me. That’s a tough one for me.
9. What surprised you the most this year?
Life is surprising, and this question always reminds me that’s not necessarily bad. And it’s also a hard one.
I think for me the most surprising was people in general. Maybe I expect too much. But it didn’t matter what side of any argument you were on, so much hate, anger, stupidity and lack of kindness.
We tackled a lot of shit this year… Covid, BLM, Trump, Biden, Riots, Looters, Police, Anti-Vaxers, you name it….. Any one of these is enough for a year.
10. If you could go back to last January 1, what suggestions would you give your past self?
Franco – you are strong. Remember – Can’t stop won’t stop. Keep pushing forward.
Going through these questions is one of my favorite rituals over the last three years when it wasn’t al about how much weight I wanted to lose.
I still get excited about what the new year brings, but I’ve found ending my year like this helps me make intentional changes. It’s cut through the noise of a crazy life, and guided me to match the way I live to my values.
So tonight at midnight remember that the clock holds no power. You do! I can talk about my goals next week. I wanted to end this years writing with good intentions and hope.
Happy New Year my friends.