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A New Year, A New You?: Focus On You and the World Around You Will Change Too

Ah, do you smell that?

The distinct aroma of a fresh start.

With the New Year just hours away, now is a great time to reflect on where we’ve been and where were going.

On a personal level, 2018 was a great year. I achieved a major bucket list goal, to publish a book.

Three times.

I produced my two most successful audio dramas to date, the second season of Subject: Found and the Who Killed Julie? series. Both of them broke different download records for me.

My writer podcast, Horrible Writing, continues to break its monthly download records and I’ve had the opportunity to speak with some of the biggest writers in the independent space, as well as New York Times and USA Today best-selling authors. The podcast also spun off a Facebook group, Horrible Writing Writer Support Group, a wonderfully supportive place for over 100 writers to commiserate, console, critique, and celebrate.

There been some dark times over the year. Aren’t there always? This year, though, was a little more disappointing because of the nature of the experience.

I drifted away from using Twitter as much because of the incredible levels of discrimination and toxicity I found, in addition to general malaise and negativity. Seeing so many people who claimed to be victims actually acting as perpetrators of toxicity was disturbing on a deep level and impacted my writing. So I did what I had to do: I protected my creative muse and moved away from the platform.

And that’s why I share this article with you, in hopes that it will give you something to consider as you move forward into the new year. You may not have any ambition to write, to create, but you deserve to be a happy person.

Writer or not, use 2019 to be a true year of change for you. Focus on you (because you can’t change anyone else) & the world around you will change.

Challenge yourself to not blindly follow popularity contests and people with platforms who you specifically identify with. Examine the comments they make and fairly critique them. Imagine if they were saying those things about you or a loved one. Would those sentiments still be okay? Are they healthy for you to expose yourself to?

Challenge people who claim to stand for others, but who do so only at the exclusion of even a single group.

Give to the world. It will give back.

Remove all toxicity. Entertaining negative people, even by ignoring them (that magic mute button isn’t so magic) simply allows them to perpetuate their negative behaviors. Removing them from your circles and your life not only draws a line on what you’re willing to tolerate, but it sends a clear signal to them that what they’re doing is unacceptable. You only get one trip on this rock and you have no obligation to toxic people—yes, even if they are family.

Be skeptical, but be forgiving.

Try to do something kind for at least one person every single day. Some days may be easier than others, so keep the big picture in mind.

And never, ever, forget to be kind to yourself. The world is full of negative and toxic people waiting for an opportunity to criticize, lambaste, and ridicule. Put them where they belong, in the past. Be kind and understanding to yourself when you don’t accomplish to the level of your expectations (or someone else’s). When you are consistently kind to yourself, you’ll find the energy to lift others.

Remarkable things may happen over the next 365 ¼ days. The wonderful thing about life is that you get to write your own path. We don’t always get to decide what happens to us but we do get to choose how we react to it. The more you cut out toxicity and display empathy and positivity, the easier those behaviors become and the more your behaviors positively influence those around you. It spreads.

In 2019, I’m choosing to spread positivity and empathy while ignoring all the toxic people I’ve been exposed to. I’m doing it for my books, my audio dramas, and I’m doing it for me.

Because I deserve it.

As do you.

You’re about to take your first step into the New Year; which path will you choose? Be the writer of your own Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story.

Uh, there’s nothing like the smell of a fresh start in the air.

Happy 2019!!!

Originally Posted: December 2018

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