Why I Don’t Make Resolutions (and what I make instead)

I don’t do resolutions for a new year, because it’s more in keeping to break them. To joke about how soon you’ll fail. To join the masses in abandoning the resolutions to dissolutions.

Even last year, I think I made one offhand in a meeting about how I was learning to do more things left-handed — while that may be true, I didn’t really chart my progress, track my goals, or celebrate my resolution once complete.

I can wave much better left-handed, yay.

For each new year, sometimes I’ll set a goal, something SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound), sometimes I’ll establish a habit.

My weight loss goal was one of these: I started that habit early, and I went from whale to walrus within 9 months — that was powerful.

But it was powerful for another reason:

My best resolutions are habits.

Me being autistic me, once I lock in a habit, it’s hard to break. And it’s amazing when it’s a good habit, like eating right, exercising, financial discipline (or delegation!).

And then the other powerful thing:

The best resolutions don’t always coincide with a new year.

Like this channel, my blog, health, journaling, advocacy, and so much more — I didn’t set about the year with those major milestones in mind. They just happened from good habits, and I’m glad they did, irrespective of when I set about them.

So where does this intersect with autism?

Well, I may have set about baking in some goals and habits for 2021. They aren’t things that will be “accomplished” or “celebrated,” but I can look back and be grateful that I’m using my autistic tendencies for and against myself.

One: Don’t quit.

Hunter, you’ve gotta be joking —

Nope. Despite all the moment, self-care breaks, troughs, nadirs, I find I can usually lean on my autistic “powers” of momentum to carry on, keep the routine, press on, etc.

But what if I just couldn’t?

Now at least I have one more arrow in the quiver, an extra bootstrap to where I won’t be letting myself down when I deserve to press on. It’s an easy goal. Keep trying. Keep at the writing. Keep with the channel. Never stop attempting new things. Be kind until it hurts. Don’t quit.

Two: NO MORE NUMBERS

Yep, I’m leaving my data and analysis career to — NO NO NOT THAT — THAT IS A JOKE.

I realize I’m a mild obsessive over things, measures, success criteria. The details stand out. And the patterns, and the numbers.

If a blog, a post, reel, or video doesn’t have numbers, then I feel like I’ve become attached to the wrong thing — it dampens my mood, casts doubt on my worth, and tailspins me far more than it should. That’s a normal, human thing, but then being autistic, it’s hard to headspin out of it.

Later this year, I realized that if the numbers make me sad, then they should be making me happy.

And for me, that just isn’t right. It’s not what I look back and celebrate or enjoy. Seeing a number go wild isn’t what “does it” for me. It’s the conversations, the engagement, the people given hope and help.

I’m going to go beyond the numbers this year and beyond. I apologize for not celebrating those with you, because there’s other things we should be celebrating. I hope you’ll join me in those instead.

To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram.

I appreciate you reading! I’m including this video for your amusement, because I hope that a “stretch goal” will be to UNMASK more this year. Here’s how this gets started O_O

It’s Never Too Late: A Cautionary Note on Late Autism Diagnosis

I can only imagine the feelings of an autism (or related) diagnosis later in life.

Relief in knowing the why. Comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Peace.

But maybe you feel regret. That you only just now found out. That you lived almost your entire life already without knowing, without help, without being able to answer so many of those whys.

As one who discovered his autism at 16, let me caution you: It is never too late.

Wait, caution? And yours wasn’t late at all. I don’t understand.

As I apprehended my autism, I embarked on a course that I regret, one that I would advise against doing when you find out.

I buried it.

I didn’t want anyone to know. I never wanted to bring it up. I wanted to plunge it beneath the depths of adaption, to “prove it wrong,” to live as if it weren’t something that could affect me.

Please don’t do this.

Being young enough in my formative years, I was just learning to navigate the world as an adult. And I built my vessel underneath many different veneers, gloss, ways to fit in, shaping myself in a way to where I sought conformity but couldn’t assimilate, to embrace a difference without opening myself to that difference.

Don’t hide yourself.

It severed me from many who would have understood, many more I could have helped, cut me off from a community of need. It was madness.

But still I found grace and graceful people. I built long lasting, life-defining relationships as I opened myself up; the more true I became, the more fulfilled I felt. With co-workers, peers, teachers, rare friends, and my future wife. If only I’d seen that it was a real me they probably saw and not the masked and mysterious marauder I was making myself out to be.

My caution is this: when you find out, don’t bury yourself out of regret.

Your life was not a wasted and confused mess.

I learned it the hard way in reverse, wasting fruit and sowing confusion by being less open about my autistic self. There were myriad mercies and blossoms of blessing in the dark sand, fertile and waiting for me — in this I was fortunate to love and be loved and do good, to shine the more true lights through the cracks of armored pastiches of fear and shame.

This is my lesson. And it’s not even mine.

It isn’t too late for you.

It wasn’t too late for you.

Be you.

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Oh hey, don’t miss my latest video! To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram and/or Twitter.

This Season’s Autistic Positivity Tools

I’m not your typical “positivity guru.”

I don’t have time to measure whether a glass is half full or empty. I don’t think of who has it worse, because I can think of who has it better. And I don’t count blessings, because their quantity has nothing to do with their quality.

So when I share some of my autistic positives, they’re not gimmicks. They’re not tricks in the sense of generating wealth by pulling a coin out of a child’s ear.

When I talk about positive outlooks and tools in autism, I’m referring to actual, replicable, tangible things that help my autistic experience.

See that gigantic tree? It’s not just a tree. It’s a tool. I enjoy this tree.

So every morning, I make a point to plug it in first thing. I’m the last to see it lit each night and the first to see it lit each morning. Why? Because I love the way it looks, and I intentionally put time into making it visible in my memory and my routine.

So that’s one tool: a big good thing in the routine. And it’s sorely needed this season!

This holiday has brought to mind a few more. I’ll share some:

Say ‘Yes’ and complain later. I can way more often say no to a lot of things. I’m practically Dr. No, like my father before me. But when it’s coming time for Christmas events with my kids, I’m just lightly brushing it with logistical though and saying ‘Yes.’ I’m not overthinking. If it’s a short event, yes. If it’s cute, yes. If it’ll make the kids smile, yes. So even though I froze my nose off at an outdoor tree lighting ceremony, I captured a small pocket of good memories and deferred the far fewer complaints afterward. Sometimes you have to know your map and where you can make the shortcuts.

Embrace what you love amidst what you don’t. I had to endure a bit of an awkward, uncomfortable change in one of my routines, where there were going to be some different events, seating arrangements, and transportation detours for an event. But despite all that, I didn’t have to drive. So I applied that tool with force, hugging that small and lovely fact with both my arms: I don’t have to drive. I DO NOT HAVE TO DRIVE! Sure, it might be insignificant and not enough to make up for the rest of the odd arrangement, but, y’all — I didn’t have to drive. And I loved it, and I hyperfocused to embrace it.

Tell yourself how funny the story will be. One of the reasons people find me funny — I’m an advanced “coper” with many faults, slights, wrongs, and tragic turns that age well into comedy. I’m often more sad than I ever let on to people. I’ve spent more of my life frowning inwardly and laughing outwardly. But then I think, “Gee, if things weren’t so bad, where would I get my jokes from?” Other than my daughter pooping through her tights and leading me through a calamitous episode doing haphazard laundering with a soap foam dispenser in a public restroom, I don’t have a recent story to recount. I just remember that in the moment, despite how sharp the awkward conversations and autistic abrasions may feel, if I can just live to tell the tale and practice my comedic timing, then at least I can tell a few good yarns at the next uncomfortable party I endure.

I’d be interested in some of your tools too! To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram.

Oh, if you’re still here, would you consider subscribing to my YouTube channel? I’m well-taken care of, so I don’t need any “buy me a coffee” donations — but you’d make my day with a subscription. It’s far less expensive! Thanks ^_^