January has arrived! Cue the resolution making, SMART goal setting, and freezing rain (at least in Minnesota).
Freezing rain aside, I love January. After surviving the holidays and end of year busyness I like to treat myself to a month of indoor activities like books, hot cocoa, cozy blankets, and naps. Oh yeah, and writing of course.
As a writer, January fills me with the excitement of the blank page waiting to be filled. It marks a new chapter wherein fresh beginnings can be made, perfect do-overs seem possible, and anything at all could happen.
There’s a mountain of inspirational blog posts out there that will walk you through realistic goal setting. Typical resolution making fosters an all or nothing attitude. But that’s not really my resolution style. Not that I totally disagree with all those rules and regulations telling you exactly how to plan goals that are achievable, measurable, divisible by prime numbers, etc, etc… Ok, I sort of disagree with that last one. Beating a goal to death just so it fits in some sort of measurable box isn’t my thing. It’s not that I think having a plan is bad, I just choose to focus on a different part of the resolution game, the part that is less pressure and more fun!
The fun part is dreaming up the goal. All goals start out as dreams, and it’s fun to dream. That’s why resolution making is so popular. Humans love to imagine a better future and a better self. We all like the thought of goal setting, but very few actually do set them and even fewer are still working on them by the time mid-February rolls around.
I think that resolutions start out bright and shiny happy dreams but become dull drudgery when we kill the fun with rules, spreadsheets, and all or nothing mindsets.
I’ve been making resolutions since I was sixteen and I used to make them the boring way, and guess what? I never achieved a single goal until I loosened up the rules and started having fun.
Now when I get to the end of a year instead of lamenting what went unachieved I look forward to reviewing my resolutions and making new ones. My log of dream based resolutions is my way of tracking what’s important to me. As I compare last year’s goals to this year’s I get to see what matches, what contradicts, what I’ve accomplished, and how I’ve grown and changed as a person. Perhaps what is most telling are the goals that remain the same. These are the goals that I am committed to enough to come back to year after year. These are the goals I desire passionately, the dreams that I refuse to let go.
Don’t make it a game of all or nothing this year, because in that game the only winner is nothing, that’s just human nature folks. Until we transcend our mortal shortcomings that rule out perfection I suggest making your 2017 goal setting more of a soul searching. Don’t make your goals boring, and by boring I mean SMART – specific, measurable, blah blah blah. Just kidding, go ahead and make them SMART, but don’t forget the fun part, which is the dreaming up of a new passion or a new life. The dream is what will drive you. Write down your dream and pin it on the fridge. Look at it everyday and keep the dream alive.
As I’ve gotten older my resolutions change very little from year to year. My dreams for 2017 are nearly identical to those I made for 2016. And I can proudly say that I made strides toward all of my 2016 goals and achieved two of the big writing goals: 1) Finish first draft of After the Empire manuscript, and 2) Start and finish a new story in NANOWRIMO 2016.
2016 was a good year and I’m hoping for more of the same in 2017. What are your thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions? I’d love to hear about your dreams and goals for the new year.
Stay tuned for 2017 lit events!
Peace, Love, & A Very Happy New Year to all!