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2011: Year of Unpredictability

December 1, 2011

Towards the end of last year I decided that 2011 would be my year of living unpredictably.

I am by nature a creature of habit. I like routine, predictability and patterns. I am easily worried and confused by change, spontaneity and unpredictability. Come to think of it, I’m generally just easily confused. But routine and predictability are crutches I have used in the past to avoid excess confusion. If I stick to well-worn familiar routines I generally won’t get too confused. But this is a poor solution. Stick to routines all the time and you’ll never do anything new. And, even worse, you’ll never learn to cope with the unpredictability of life.

So 2011, I decided, would be my year of going with the flow. I would try to be more flexible, more agile. I took as my new mental mascot a nimble mountain goat. A mountain goat is a master of agility and flexibility. No flat pastures? No problem, I’ll just trot up that precariously steep pile of rocks to get to that patch of near-vertical grass I can see. Oh, wait that wasn’t even grass? Never mind! it is some kind of green vegetation, I’m a goat, I’ll eat it and enjoy it!

As it turned out, it was lucky that I wanted to embrace the chaos of life this year, as rather than working a single full-time job I’ve ended up juggling a casual job, a part-time job and my own art business. Being willing to go with the flow has been essential. As the months have gone on, I’ve gradually improved at channeling my inner mountain goat, and it has been invaluable to learn that I can cope successfully without a routine, and more importantly, that I can cope even if I have very little idea what the future holds. This year I’ve learned to worry a whole lot less. Instead I’ve learned to trust in my goat-like ability to find a path to sustenance.

I’ve also learned a lot of tricks that can help when you live a life without routine, as many casual workers do. I’ve learned to keep my phone charged and handy. I’ve learned to keep a bag packed and ready just in case I’m asked to work. I’ve embraced eating brunch and “linner” to accommodate shifts that straddle normal meal times. I’ve learned to stick to a fluid routine in which I trust that I will find time to accommodate tasks I want to get done, even if I don’t know exactly when. Most importantly, I’ve learned to stop over-multi-tasking. I used to often listen the radio when I was cleaning, read the paper while I ate breakfast, listen to music while I walked, and do little jobs while my computer turned on. But, I’m finding that when I don’t do these things, I feel more mentally agile the rest of the time. My brain feels fresher and clearer if I let it rest more. Which brings me to my challenge to myself for next year…

In 2012 I want to overcome confusion. I’m easily confused and often overwhelmed, but in 2012 I’m aiming for mental clarity and comprehension. How I am I going to achieve this? I really don’t know. I’m just trusting that if I channel my inner mountain goat well enough, somehow, I’ll find a way.

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