I’m always a bit nervous making New Year’s Resolutions. I start off gung-ho with high expectations for myself, and they rarely pan out. “This’ll be the year!” I say. “This’ll be the year that I accomplish my goals! Or at least half of them! Or maybe one or two! Some! I’ll be happy with some!”
And of course, that lasts for about a week, then one by one, the goals start dropping off. So I’m not going to make resolutions this year. I am, however, going to reflect on some things that I’d like to do differently, and I’m going to lay out some ideas on how to go about it. How is that different than resolutions? Well, it’s not really, but I’m not going to use that word anymore because the amount of pressure it carries behind it is self-defeating. Words are important. They have more weight than you would think for something that’s made of nothing more than scratches on paper or sound-waves in the air.
I’m going to list four things – just four – that I’d like to work towards, and ideas for how to successfully go about it. Here they are:
Read More Books
Last year, I set up a Goodreads book challenge of 50 books. It seemed like a small number compared to the 100 book challenges I was seeing other people set up, and therefore pretty attainable. Then about halfway through the year, I changed it to 30. I could do that, no problem. I mean, I love to read. How could I not get through 30 books in an entire year? You know how many I’ve read? I’m too embarrassed to tell you actually (*cough* 16 *cough* soon to be 17 *cough*)
What’s wrong with me? I love books! And I’m a writer, and part of writing is reading! Shame on me! Honestly, I don’t know. For some reason I found it difficult to focus on reading this year, and not for lack of wanting to. I have stacks of books sitting here waiting for me to read them – all books that I bought this year, mind you, and have been very excited about. But I haven’t opened them.
I’ve been given an ultimatum that I can’t buy any new books until I’ve read at least half the stack that I have. And guess what? I got a bunch of Amazon gift certificates for Christmas that I’m itching to use. So I need to get reading, don’t I? So I’ve come up with a system. Here’s what I’m going to do: Each time I pick up a new book, I’ll take the page count and divide it by fourteen. That number will be my page goal for each day. That’s a book every two weeks. If it’s a short book, I’ll divide the pages by seven. If it’s long, twenty-one. If I don’t make my page count for the day, big deal – so I take a little longer to finish the book, who cares? There’s no pressure here, just a general goal. Reading, after all, should be fun.
Write or Revise Everyday…
…Even if it’s just for five minutes. I’m done setting up target dates for this novel – I blow right past every one, so apparently that’s not my best way to work. Instead, I’m just going to try to work on it every day. I think in the end, that will be more productive than stressing myself out trying to meet my deadline and then not touching the manuscript for days, sometimes weeks because I get burned out and depressed each time I fail to meet my goal. “Slow and steady wins the race,” am I right? Of course someday I’m going to have real, actual, editor-induced deadlines (fingers crossed!) and I’ll need to know how to meet them, but in order to do that, I need to learn good work habits first. I’ll revisit the idea of setting deadlines for myself as motivation once I get a better feel for what speed I work best at.
Notice I didn’t say “lose weight,” or “drop a pants-size.” I’d like to do those things of course, but what I really want is strength – both physical and mental. I mean, I’m no weakling, but I feel I could do better. I want to lift more weights. I want to keep up with my healthier friends on all the hikes we want to go on this summer. I want better willpower to accomplish difficult tasks. I want to be more patient. All these things take either physical or mental muscle, so how about I work towards increasing what I’ve already got? The only plan I can come up with for this is to just do it. Lift weights, do pushups, climb stairs, get back into yoga, meditate, etc.
I want to get rid of stuff. We have so much stuff. So much clutter. Baby things we’ve been hanging onto. Paperwork we no longer need. Books we no longer read, and likely never will again (that one’s going to be tough). Electronics that don’t work anymore (I’d blame my husband for that one, but I just thought of a few that I’ve tossed in my nightstand so I guess I’m part of the problem too). Toys the kids have grown out of. Old clothes.
It’s not that we’ve been hoarding. It’s not THAT bad. But we’ve been slack about going through stuff the last few years and it’s starting to show. So I think the plan is going to be to take a box, and everyday put some things in it, then every week, take that box to a local charity. Easy-peasy, just gotta do it.
And that’s it. Four things I’d like to work on. There are others too, but I’m sticking with four. Four is attainable. Four is realistic. All the other things that I can think of go back to improving on those four areas first. For instance, I want to be better organized – that’s easier to do with less stuff. I want to be better about getting things done in a timely manner – that goes with mental strength/willpower, and also is related to my reading and writing habits. I just need to apply the same principles.
So there you have it. How about you? Anything you’d like to work on this year? Feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
Oh yeah, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!