1. It is ok to be anxious about a new beginning, but also, be willing to concede control.
As one gets older, it is usual to become increasingly concern over one's life direction; unlike the years during and immediately after college, I no longer feel I have that luxury of time to be moving around aimlessly while not building my way towards a solid profession and financial future, even as, at the same time, I find myself kicking back against such constraints. It is scary to strike out on one's own after having spent 8 years working within a sort of structure, from the PhD through two academic jobs (in a manner of speaking, as we know that there is a lot of unstructure within that structure). However, I remind myself that I had worked different careers long before the PhD and it is time now to call back those experiences and skills I have had while going forward in learning new skills and techniques. Now it is all about using the intellectual capital accumulated while drawing on past experiences to design something for myself. But it is ok not to have a fixed plan, but to let things take their natural course, however hard it is (and which is something I, a control-freak, need to learn to work with for my own good). For the next year, I foresee a life no less busy, but which I hope, will help me work towards greater fulfillment intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I look forward to having a different relationship to the world of ideas, scholarship, and creativity.
2. Thinking short-term and long-term
3. Doing something outside your usual as a symbolic act
I actually spent the last day of 2016 doing something outside my usual pattern, simply because I wanted it to be symbolic of the kind of person I hope to become by the next year. The last two years had been spent either preparing for an academic job, or applying for a few academic jobs I was able to without jeopardizing existing work. This year is quite different in that even though I did work, it is work I am doing for myself rather than because I am expected to, and it is not the kind of work done merely to make me feel better about myself professionally. Of course, I also took time off to enjoy non-work stuff on my own accord, which is something I cannot remember doing since 2012. Back then, I was either doing activities with others as expected of me (not that those activities were not fun, but they were also a form of escape), or spent the new year sitting home and feeling glum or pensive (in a pessimistic way). This year's new year's eve is all about being and not having to be something.
4. Preparing for that transition
The past month has involved a lot of mental and physical preparation for all the unexpected and new things that will happen the next year - slowly clearing out old mental and emotional junk, reflecting on what drives me to do certain things, finishing up the old jobs I had acquired back in the day when I was still going down a specific path, and doing a lot of reading as well as going back to activities I have not had time to give to. Of course, since I had less than a month to do all that, I couldn't do much, but I am happy to have gotten started, and I hope these will all build into my theme the next year. I am excited about being able to do the things I keep putting in the burner but at the same time, a sense of trepidation as to how I can find support for doing these things.
5. Saying goodbye to the old and moving forward without regret
I think this is the hardest for anyone - cue all the nostalgic songs that people sing in new year eve's parties. To do that also means being willing to accept yourself for who you are (warts, failures, and of course, all the positive stuff), knowing that all of your experiences produce the person that you are today, and that is the person you need to work with. As all the first four listicles suggest - letting go of any form of attachment is hard - even if you think you are not attached to most things, you will still find that you have attachments, even if that attachment is not within your usual association with what attachment means. I am glad to have gotten to that point where I am no longer letting regrets pull me down but I still have some ways to go. It is possible to give yourself time to learn to let go without pausing in your move forward. In fact, I would say that moving forward is the salve to letting go of the past without running away from the latter.
Even if many consider 2016 to have been a difficult year, with all the things going on politically and beyond, an appreciation for life will help one to find the strength to move forward and to build better things in place of all that are depressing and hopeless.
Happy new year!