Believe it or not, I didn’t always believe in self-improvement. But that may have been because I didn’t realize the concept existed. For a long time, I spent my time in the moment. That may sound Zen, but it isn’t.

Any given moment was chaos–usually brought on by the aftermath of some kind of self-destruction. There was no peace. Instead, there were brief moments of ecstasy, or what some would call delusions of grandeur, followed by a swift downfall. Those times are behind me now, for the most part.

Since chaos was my state, there wasn’t a good deal of planning that went into the future. There were a few exceptions. For example, I had some investments. And I was able to outline and produce an occasional screenplay and make a short film.

Things finally changed when I chose to become serious about my passion. This effort required (and forcefully dragged me into) organization and near compulsive-levels of commitment to the craft of writing.

This commitment, combined with a deep dive into minimalism, may explain why I made my first resolution a few years back. It was pretty simple: Do more with less. In all aspects of living, I hoped to be more efficient and productive. Much more so than I already was. So, like any proper resolution, it was a challenge to myself.

A year or two later, I made another resolution. I wanted to decrease any remaining procrastination or hesitation, so I came up with this: Do it now! It was short and to the point. There was no longer any time to waste, so I wanted to get up and get going.

I’ve combined the two since then, but I fear that year after year of intense productivity is beginning to wear me down. And that pulling back may be a good idea. I don’t want to lose any of my good habits, but I do want to pursue a new path. That’s why this year’s resolution is to do what makes me happy.

It’s not hard to see that there’s a lot of doing in my resolutions. That much is clear. And whereas this year it may seem like I’m doing something different, I’m not sure that’s entirely the case. I’ll need to do more with less and avoid hesitation while pursuing what makes me happy because that will make me happy.

So, I’m trying to slow down by allowing myself to explore more options and find new ways to introduce pleasure, satisfaction, and contentment to my life. I’m sure I can do those things while maintaining my minimalist philosophy. And if that doesn’t make 2020 a good year, then nothing will.

photo: Mark Daynes


I experienced wide-eyed wonder in my late teens and early twenties while traveling to other countries, but I think the first time I experienced real joy was when my child was born.

This may seem cliché, but I hope the same for you if you’ve not yet had children. And if you’ve been lucky enough to experience joy before the birth of your child, then I would posit that you are indeed a lucky individual. And probably not nearly as jaded as me.

Having a daughter has been the most significant event in my life. I was warned I was going “to fall madly in love” and, subsequently, accused of being “over the moon.” I can’t stress enough the amount of happiness that becoming a parent has brought me.

Granted, it’s early, and it’s already been difficult, at times. I haven’t always gotten the sleep I needed, and being unable to console a weeping infant has not necessarily been fun, but the joy remains.

This is fairly significant, considering I may or may not have been someone who believed in joy previously. In fact, the idea that someone could experience this level of happiness seemed almost delusional.

I’ve experienced pleasure, and I have had fun engaging in certain activities, but this is very different. I now find contentment in simply knowing that my offspring is near. And what I feel that I need to achieve and what I want has been permanently altered. I still have desires and ambition, but the idea that they can give me what I already have is laughable.

I don’t know if it will always be this way, but the notion that it could be is comforting. Simply put, joy has opened a new world for me. And my life as a parent has only just begun.

Photo: Mohamed Nohassi