I always approach New Year’s resolutions with a great deal of caution. It’s so easy to get swept up in the frenzy of goal-making (that has be done by NYE, or else you lose that magical window of time or something) and overreach. Two mistakes I’ve made setting yearly goals in the past are:
1. Not being flexible enough. Often I’ve started the year off convinced that my big writing project should be “Shepherdesses in Saskatoon”, when, really, by June I’m starting to suspect I’d be better off working on “The Lovelorn Laundress”. Or perhaps my enthusiasm for creating illuminated letters has waned and I’d rather be crocheting snowflakes.
Sometimes my goals live me no wiggle room in terms of time. “Write a novel in a month” might be doable for some people–including many many NaNoWriMo winners *grin*–but realistically? It’s not good goal for a homeschooling mom of three who’s trying to sell her house, and likes her sleep and her husband, thank you very much.
2. Taking giant leaps, instead of small steps. Often, resolutions fall by wayside because they were overambitious in the first place. If you’ve been writing in drips and drabbles over the past several months, it’s very hard to start writing two thousand words a day once January 1st rolls around. And if you’ve committed to some big daily goal, the first couple of times you miss it, you fall so far behind that it’s easy to give up altogether. Baby steps build habits.
As I’ve pondered what I want to change this next year, I realize that what I really need is intentionality–to prioritize all that I have in my life, and to focus my energies on the things that are most important to me. I need to eliminate the clutter in my life, and work on creating good habits that will carry me through Life Stuff and be such a part of my routine that I do them without even thinking about it.
I usually post about writing resolutions on this blog, but this year I’ve realized that I need to do other things first, which will prepare the soil for my writing to grow and flourish. So, while writing is on the list *grin*, you have to scroll down to get to it.
So this year, I resolve to focus on and build good habits in the following areas:
Prayer and meditation. Faith is the bedrock of my life. Going without talking to God and listening for Him every day is a recipe for a tired, drained and cranky me, with nothing to give to anyone or anything.
Exercise and healthy diet. Alas, my post-thirty body isn’t able to shed the fat as easily as my 20s body did. But more than just being able to fit into my old jeans again, I want to be healthy, fit, and have energy. So I can, you know, enjoy life and do the things I want to and that are good for me.
Watching five episodes of 24 in a row is probably not one of those things.
The “get healthier” plan consists of portion control, breaking the post-dinner snacking habit (*siiiiigh*), learning that I do not need to say “Yes” to very piece of dessert that bats its eyelashes at me, getting out for a brisk walk as often as I can (challenging, since like the groundhog, I’d prefer to hibernate all winter) and finding some sort of exercise video/class/magic pill/spell that works for me. Still working on the details for that last one.
My family. It might be funny to hear a homeschooling mom say this, but I want to focus on spending more time with my children. More time playing Bananagrams and Go Fish, reading non-school books, doing practical things together like cleaning up and folding laundry… things that don’t involve workbooks and index cards. My 3yo, the non-schooling child, would like some attention, too, in the mornings.
My patient husband also deserves more attention. And, no, watching 24 together doesn’t cut it.
Eliminate the time-wasters. Stuff that doesn’t get used, but that I still have to clean, pick up, put away. So-so books that aren’t more than mildly enjoyable. And the Internet, oh the Internet! Flame wars and train wrecks and rabbit trails and tangents and cool websites and an RSS feed a mile long and… and… So much of the time, I’m a spectator, not a participant. So when I’m online, I resolve to use my time learning and interacting.
Writing! Finally! I resolve to build good writing habits. 700 words a day is my goal when I’m working on a rough draft, otherwise I’ll spend time doing writing exercises, brainstorming, or revising. If I miss a day, I will not beat myself up or try to catch up; instead I’ll get back in the saddle. I’ve got a bunch of projects in the pipeline, and I’ve put the top few on Sticky Notes to keep them at the front of my mind. If I hit on a block on one story, I have other stories I can work on.
And I’m determined to be consistent with keeping up with this blog (I’m even taking a class to help me, eek). Plan is to post M-W-F.
Reading. More non-fiction and classics. I make this resolution every year. Someday it’ll stick. Perhaps. 😀
Dean Wesley Smith on Life Happens, restarting, and failure.
Kristen Lamb on planning for success.
How about you? How do you maximize your chances for success?