In 1943, American folk legend, Woody Guthrie wrote down a list of promises he wanted to keep for a good year. Not unlike the New Year’s resolutions people make today. The list is an interesting read, and I have a few observations. But first, check it out:

Woodie Guthrie's "New Years Rulin's"Click the Image to View It Larger

Here’s the full list:

  1. Work more and better
  2. Work by a schedule
  3. Wash teeth if any
  4. Shave
  5. Take bath
  6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk
  7. Drink very scant if any
  8. Write a song a day
  9. Wear clean clothes — look good
  10. Shine shoes
  11. Change socks
  12. Change bed cloths often
  13. Read lots good books
  14. Listen to radio a lot
  15. Learn people better
  16. Keep rancho clean
  17. Dont get lonesome
  18. Stay glad
  19. Keep hoping machine running
  20. Dream good
  21. Bank all extra money
  22. Save dough
  23. Have company but dont waste time
  24. Send Mary and kids money
  25. Play and sing good
  26. Dance better
  27. Help win war — beat fascism
  28. Love mama
  29. Love papa
  30. Love Pete
  31. Love everybody
  32. Make up your mind
  33. Wake up and fight

I am sure Guthrie never meant any of us to see this list. It’s intently personal and covers things like simple hygiene, financial decisions, and maintaining family relationships. However, I found it interesting how even Guthrie, who was a musical genius who inspired a generation of folk singers, has to encourage himself in his art. We can see how he wants to keep working hard, how he wants to continue to improve his craft. He mentions working on a schedule and staying productive. This from the father of folk music.

Many creatives struggle and get depressed when they see someone else celebrating their victories. Why does it seem so easy for them, but so hard for ourselves? We wonder why we can’t get something done or why it feels so difficult. But the truth of the matter is its hard for everyone. Even a genius like Guthrie struggled. We can see it in this list.

I think my favorite “rulin” is also some the most important advice we can take from this list and I believe it was the reason Guthrie was so successful with his music. Number thirty-three: wake up and fight. Every day.

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