With 2020 coming to an end, you are probably coming up with a list of resolutions for the upcoming year. If you haven’t yet, don’t. Resolutions don’t work — at least not for me.
When I used to set them, I would always get the same results, which was by January 3rd, I ended up hating myself even more because I could not stick to my silly resolutions. Yes, I have some things I would like to change in my life, actually a lot of things, but putting more pressure on myself rarely worked.
Real change has always come slowly and with the generous support and help from other people. As improvisers we understand that it’s important to work with other people. After all, we chose an art form that’s dependent on support from others. But we sometimes have a hard time applying that concept to our lives.
So, instead of making a goofy list of resolutions that I know I am not going to keep and feeling worse about myself, here are list of 10 things I want to do more of next year. And I hope that by writing them out, and I can begin the process of making some changes.
- I Want to Ask for More Help From Others
My success is in direct proportion to how often I ask for help. I do it a lot more than I used to, and it’s still scary. Whenever I ask for help, all sorts of negative messages pop up in my head like, “I am a bother” and “I don’t deserve it,” but once I get over that, which is not easy, things usually turn out better than I expected. And sometimes I even have to call two or three people, because I need a lot of help.
- I Want to Help Others More
One way that I feel better about asking for help is by helping others when they ask me for it. It give me a chance to feel what’s like when I ask others to help me. And what’s even better is that for the 15 minutes that I’m on the phone with them or responding to an email, I am not thinking about me, me, me all the time, and that is a relief. I definitely need to do this more.
- I Want to Listen More
Oh, I love to talk. I have so much to say. And I am constantly trying to prove how important I am. But when I am supposed to be listening, I am preparing some fact or anecdote to prove that, when it comes to improv, you are talking to the smartest guy in the room. God help me, I need to listen more.
- I Want to Compete Less with My Friends
I have been competing with my famous friends for years and losing badly. It’s my own fault I set it up that way, because I am coming from a place that, “I am not good enough,” and I never will be unless I achieve what they’ve achieved. The system is rigged against myself and I did the rigging. It’s cliché as hell, but in the arts, the only person I need to compete against is myself. We are all on our own paths, and I need to be constantly reminded to stay in my own lane, or I will drown. Am I getting better? Am I making progress? My wish for this year is to only focus on those two questions, and not worry about whether my friends are doing “better” than I am.
- I Want to Be More Present
Being more present and mindful are such buzz words these days, but I’d still like to have more of both in my life. It’s hard for me to be present, on stage and in life. Improv certainly has helped, but for someone like me who is constantly having conversations in my head, being present is a challenge. Even when I am with people, I’m often thinking about something else — just ask Lauren when we are having dinner. I think being present for an artist is about loving the process regardless of the results. So many times I am focusing on where a project will take me rather than where I am in the moment, which completely takes all of the joy out of whatever I am doing. So this year, I’m really going to try to be more present.
- I Want to Take More Risks With Less Shame
If you know me, you knew this would be on the list. What would my life look like if I did not feel guilt and shame all the time? For me, shame is a mood-altering substance. It knocks me on my ass and stops me from going forward. It causes me to avoid opportunities and stay tiny and afraid. Since I am a perfectionist, I avoid taking risks so I won’t feel shame. But if I was somehow able to let go of feeling shame all of the time, I would be able to take more risks in my life and with my art. This year, I am hoping to take more risks and to feel a little less shame.
- I Want to Keep Trying New Things
One good thing that came from the pandemic was that I tried new things: canoeing, horseback riding, apple picking, board games, puzzles, and walking in nature. For actors, improvisers, storytellers or any kind of artists, it is important to try new experiences. That is our inspiration. And you don’t have to be good at math to understand that the more new experiences you have, the more inspirations you will get.
- I Want to Keep Learning
What if I approached every conversation, regardless of how experienced the person is that I’m talking to, like I had something to learn from them? Lately, I’ve been practicing shutting up more when I talk to people, and I’ve been learning a lot. For example, I’ve talked to improv teachers all over the country who’ve only been teaching for a quarter as long as I have, but when I shut my mouth and turn off my ego and ask them questions, I always get inspired with a new game or exercise they share with me. Reminder for 2021: You don’t know everything Jimmy.
- I Want to Be Grateful for the Little Things
If there’s one thing the pandemic has showed me, it’s to be grateful for the little things. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we got together with our good friends the Winers in their backyard, wearing masks around a roaring fire and enjoying some hot chocolate. Since it was only 19 degrees out, we only lasted for about half an hour, but even in that short amount of time, I felt so grateful for their friendship and the time we did get to spend with them.
- I Want to Be More Relaxed
Bill Murray once said, “The more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything: the better you are with your loved ones, the better you are with your enemies, the better you are at your job, the better you are with yourself.” When there is no pressure on me in performing or teaching, the more fun I have and the more open I am to my students and the audience. I’d like more of that this year.