2008, I want you to be cool.
December 9, 2007 7:31 PM   Subscribe

2007 has been a year of nothing. How can I make 2008 a year to remember?

As I reflect on this past year, I realize that I basically did a whole lot of nothing. The days just flew by at breakneck speed in a flash of working, commuting, sleeping, eating, doing chores, etc. I don't want to be sitting here a year from now wondering where 2008 went and asking myself why I didn't do anything interesting or fulfilling with my time. I'm turning 30 in March and don't want my the first year of that decade to be a total waste like the last year of my 20's was.

Are there any affordable and fun projects, ideas, hobbies, books, activities that you could recommend to help me make my 2008 a year to remember?
posted by susiepie to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
Read everything that one major author wrote.
posted by jayder at 7:35 PM on December 9, 2007

If you can: Travel, travel, travel. We have a two year old, and the only thing I miss is how easy it used to be to buy a plane ticket and travel at the drop of a hat.
posted by itchylick at 7:39 PM on December 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

There are 20+ weekends next year. Get out and do some exploring of your local area. Profile says you're in north Georgia. Nashville and the Smoky Mountains seem to be in range ... a little fresh air and music never hurt no one.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:43 PM on December 9, 2007

Seconding travel. When I look back at most years, it's the unusual experiences in unusual places that stick in my mind.

Considering you say that routine seemed to suck up your year, this seems especially applicable.
posted by rokusan at 7:43 PM on December 9, 2007

I went caving for the first time last year and have been several times since then. It meant being on my hands and knees and sometimes back/stomach, crawling and twisting around rocks underground. It was the type of thing where if you wanted to get out quick you couldn't. This pushed me beyond my boundaries of comfortable and after I did it the first time something clicked in me and that allowed me to try other things which I was afraid of or felt I couldn't do because I had never been athletic. Then...

I picked up cycling, then running, then swimming. I tried soccer and soon found out that yeah I loved soccer but I didn't like playing regimented games, I liked pick-up games better. I tried kayaking and loved it. Maybe not necessarily affordable, but I borrowed a friend's or rented one. Went camping for the first time.

My suggestion is to get outside. Good luck. I hope to make 2008 better than 2007 as well.
posted by collocation at 7:55 PM on December 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Go to the Olympics in Beijing! It may be on the pricey side but I'm sure you wouldn't regret it if you could swing it.
posted by inconsequentialist at 8:01 PM on December 9, 2007

Since you let time go by without noticing, the first thing you might need to do is take a look at how you apportion time. I am trying to learn to schedule time for myself just as I would time to clean, do chores, shop, etc. Take a day a week, if you can, or two days a month, whatever feels right. And vow to spend those days doing something to grow. It could be anything: go to local parks and museums that you've never taken time to visit. Volunteer at an event. Head to the library and read in a section you normally wouldn't touch. Pick some event out of the paper and go.

It sounds to me like the important thing for you is to be mindful of where your time is going and put yourself back in the driver's seat when it comes to choosing your activities, rather than letting things just happen to you.

Now is an excellent time in your life to cultivate your sincere, deep personal interests. Find out what they are and get into them. Your interests will sustain you through moves, job changes, life changes, downtime, and busy time. They will bring you friends and open worlds. Develop them as soon as you can, indulge in them as often as you can. If you don't know what they are yet, then designate the year 2008 as the year to mine for potential personal passions. Try a little of everything - art, music, outdoors, charity, travel, civic involvement, food, etc. Say yes to everything for awhile.

Fianlly, one concrete suggestion: if you're at all inclined, one thing that has made some standout years for me is to pick a physical race goal and achieve it. Whatever you're into - a bike race, a 5K, a triathlon, a half-marathon, a kayak race - doesn't matter. The enjoyment is in training for it (which provides lots of structure, plenty of enjoyment and new experiences, and some insights in itself) and in the irreplaceable feeling you'll get when you have accomplished it.
posted by Miko at 8:01 PM on December 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Take lots of pictures of yourself and others. Buy a moleskine and fill it up. Get a really awesome tattoo. Watch every episode of an awesome tv series in one sitting. Do some stand-up at an open mic night.

If all else fails, fight club.
posted by knowles at 8:22 PM on December 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

I have two ideas that I think will help.
First, record the cool things that you do in 2008. Whatever method you choose - notebook, sketchbook, camera, video camera, voice recorder - it will be a great reminder for the inevitable times in the future when you won't have the time or freedom to do cool things.

Second, make it a cool year for someone (or somepeople) else. Find someone you wouldn't normally do these things with (ie. not your SO or best friend(s)). If they aren't into it, move on to the next person. Reconnect with an old friend or find someone that needs some cheering up.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 8:26 PM on December 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

So, you're asking for some things to do other than nothing? This question is ridiculous and deserves to be deleted. So, here are some things that people sometimes do:

Learn to sail.
Study martial arts.
Dig a big hole in the back yard.
Get involved in local politics.
Go out and meet interesting people.
Climb a mountain.
Learn to start fire by rubbing two sticks together.
Take a road trip.
Build a garage.
Take your car to the race track.
Plant a garden.
Make a movie.
Catch a fish.
Learn to throw playing cards with deadly accuracy.
Join the circus.
Take up extreme ironing.
Go swimming in the ocean.
Teach someone to read.
Debate philosophy with a zen buddhist.
Learn to cook Thai style.
Start a book club.
Build a garage.
Take photographs of insects.
Start a small business.
Play poker.
Go dancing.
Look at the stars.
Run a marathon.
Play the violin.
See how far you can hitch-hike in a day.
Ride a bicycle.
Hang out in a local cafe.
Fly a kite.
Learn how to tie six different knots.
Fall in love.
Visit Switzerland.
Learn how to pick locks.
Borrow things from your neighbours.
Write a novel.
Do lots of pushups.
Go to the opera.
Smile at strangers.
Make a quilt.
posted by sfenders at 8:46 PM on December 9, 2007 [10 favorites]

It's too easy to get into a rut - everyone does it.

Plan your goals and write them down. Put them in a place where you can see them every day - even if it's your bathroom mirror. Constantly seeing them will be a reminder to go and and DO these things. We all have things that we'd like to do "someday" but life is short. No better time than the present.
posted by Ostara at 8:54 PM on December 9, 2007

Take care of some financial issue in your life that really needs attention. Whether it's a debt you need to settle or figure out, a nasty habit of living check-to-check, a lack of wealth (assets), frivolous spending or credit card quicksand. Use 2008 to get on top of your finances, and then you might be able to easily do the things people are listing.

(If you've already solved your financial issues, then for goodness sakes, spend 2008 teaching me :P )
posted by cashman at 8:58 PM on December 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Grow as much of your own food as possible or eat more locally produced food
Take some classes
Go see more live music
Go see or rent more foreign, indie or classic films
Learn how to cook a type of ethnic cuisine
Have some dinner parties
Dance more
Read classic books that you haven't read yet
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:12 PM on December 9, 2007

I turned 25 this year, and found myself in a very similar state of mind. My solution was to make a list--"25 things to do in my 25th year."

5 months later however, (and to second Miko's suggestion) the one that has made the biggest difference is to start saying "Yes" when I would normally say "No."

It's based on an old improv technique, and though it's really simple, it has really opened me up to some adventures that I normally would not have experienced.
posted by sambosambo at 10:07 PM on December 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Travel is great but don't think it has to be a long long trip.
Think about taking off for just overnight stays. See a concert in another city on Saturday and return home Sunday. Planning that focus is something to look forward to.
It will be a real treat.
posted by artdrectr at 12:46 AM on December 10, 2007

You sound not-too-dissimilar from myself, a year ago. I'm 29 and will turn 30 next July.

I'm really, really, really glad I took a pro-bono project working with an NGO doing relief and development work in Africa. I'm still doing the same *kind* of work I've done for the past few years, but now I'm doing it to help people get food and clothes, or children get a basic education, or a malaria net. Its an awesome and truly humbling experience. I regularly have people commending me for it, and I can't help but respond that I'm just thankful I was given the chance to do it - it really is that fulfilling - its completely not about me.

I think that's kind of the core of the problem of the malaise I was in (might not be the same as yours, but if I were to describe myself a year ago, I could essentially have cut/pasted your original question above). Life was still about *me.* It wasn't as much about me as it had been in the past, I was volunteering and had good things going on in my life outside of work, but at a deeper, seemingly sub-conscious level, I was still living, working, playing, volunteering, worshiping, dating, traveling, hobbying, and what-have-you, at the end of the day, for my own fulfillment.

That all (or, at least, most of it) changed significantly when I came to Africa. When I saw people that will only eat one meal a day, probably for the rest of their life. When I saw brown drinking water for the first time, in person. When I saw children who will never see a television. When I held an AIDS orphan that was found under a freeway overpass by a traffic cop.

Leaving my cushy corporate salary, my fun life in NYC, my great apartment and all my nice friends and entertainment and clothes and nights out and everything else that made life so...what life was... suffice to say it was the best decision I've ever made.

I thought when I first had delusions of coming here that it would be a temporary thing - that I'd do some good and then go back and keep building my 401k, invest in real estate, find a wife, have kids and a 3 car garage and a boat and...and...and... now I find myself wanting to walk even further away from it all. I want to empty the storage unit I left behind and give everything but the books to charity. I want to entertain delusions of getting involved in child soldier rescue / rehab, and then I want to marvel in it as that becomes a reality too.

Back to you - you had two "lists" in your question:

working, commuting, sleeping, eating, doing chores

fun projects, ideas, hobbies, books, activities

I'd humbly submit that even if you do begin to incorporate the latter, they will soon just be fused with the former. You're looking for the answer in things, but you're already doing things. Different things isn't the answer. The answer isn't in things. The answer is in a new approach to life. Or at least it was for me.

I hope you find what you're looking for.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:51 AM on December 10, 2007 [3 favorites]

1. Go take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Basic Rider Course.

2. Get a cheap, small motorcycle and a full set of safety gear.

3. Start riding the backroads on weekends or whenever you get a chance during the week. Before long you're going to start thinking about plotting longer trips.
posted by azpenguin at 6:51 AM on December 10, 2007

Short answer: write down a bunch of things that you want to do, or that you've always wanted to do, but have just never gotten around to or gotten up the courage for... and actually do them.

Or, learn a craft. Doesn't matter which one, as long as it's something you're interested in and will commit yourself to improving in. When my years start to blend and fuzz together, I can look at something I painted in 2003 or crocheted in '05, and it anchors me and helps me remember what else I was doing at the time. Plus, I've got groovy home decorations and blankets and hats for it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:54 AM on December 10, 2007

Following along with Metroid Baby's first suggestion, take a look at "Your Best Year Yet" by Jinny Ditzler, or the condensed version of the 10 questions at bestyearyet.com.

In short, review your year for your successes and failures, then set up goals for the new year. Review those goals regularly to keep them on your mind so you will work toward them.
posted by flexiblefine at 7:38 AM on December 10, 2007

Life is what you do, and the best way to do fun stuff is to set goals. I set a bunch of New Year's resolutions last Jan. 1, and spent all year working to accomplish them. It was great.

This year I resolved to, and did:
* Run 3 miles in under 27 minutes (I was at about 33 minutes at the start of the year)
* Read two classic English-language novels from each decade of the 20th Century.
* Skiied.
* Slept outside at least four nights.
* Completed a long, difficult and challenging hike.
* Ran a race longer than 5k.

It's also a lot of fun to look for new ways to be active and push yourself. Take classes, join a professional networking group, start reading events listings on craigslist and force yourself to go to weird things.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:01 AM on December 10, 2007

Scour the internet for recipes containing garlic. Make a different one each evening. If you miss a day, do two the next day. By the end of the year, you will have achieved 365 DAYS OF GARLIC.

For the rest of your life, you will be able to tell exactly what foods would be improved by garlic, and how much garlic to put in them. You will be familiar with different strains of the plant, where to get the best stuff near you, the way its chemicals interact with other chemicals, the history of garlic cultivation. You will know how to make a whole slew of entrées, appetizers, and yes, even desserts that you never knew existed. Whenever any of your friends has a question about garlic, they will go to you, because you will know more about garlic than ANYONE ELSE YOU KNOW. You will be referred to as "The Garlic Queen", and you will command respect.

And best of all, you will be able to look back at 2008 and shake your head and laugh and say, "Man... what was I thinking?"
posted by Greg Nog at 11:22 AM on December 10, 2007 [7 favorites]

Don't embrace apathy; start today.

Otherwise you are giving yourself permission to fail by not even starting and continue to embrace your beige life.

Carpe diem. Not in a month, but now.
posted by oxford blue at 2:57 AM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

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