I love the hoopla surrounding New Year’s Eve, the countdown to midnight, the noisemakers and the playing of Auld Lang Syne – all of it a boisterous farewell to a year, whether a personal success or not.
New Year’s Day is a more serious day, at least for those of us who feel obligated to make those annual resolutions.
It took me four tries to go to the gym, but in the middle of 2012 (not on Jan. 2), I started going twice a week, and by early 2013 amped my effort to every other day of weight lifting. I was motivated because I started seeing results – fewer body inches and smaller clothing sizes.
It took me three tries to do NaNoWriMo. I said I’d do it, but then came up with avoidance excuses until 2013, when I wrote 51,000 words in November. I told enough writer friends, posted it on Facebook and blogged about it that I felt obligated. Once I started, I was motivated because my daily efforts resulted in the words I needed to reach my goal.
And it took my two tries – it would be convenient if I could think of something – but I have to diverge.
I found I was never good at following through on New Year’s resolutions, at least those that required me to change a behavior immediately on Jan. 1. Change takes time and adjustment, motivation and discipline.
This year, I’m taking a new approach to annual goal setting, thanks to advice I got from an interview I conducted last month with Joan C. King, a writer, coach and speaker who works in the field of neuroscience.
King recommends coming up with a theme or idea for the year, such as finding ways to make things easier, doing things to be more expansive or choosing a state of mind of joy, calm or curiosity.
In 2012, I wrote out a writing contract outlining my year-end goals with smaller monthly/weekly progress goals. I asked two questions for my check-in progress report: Are my weekly and monthly goals being met? And do any adjustments need to be made?
The problem was I filed away the contract and didn’t look at it all year. I should have printed it out, laminated it and put it in my laptop sleeve.
That’s what I’ll be doing for my 2014 contract. Taking King’s advice, I will carry out my writing goals around the theme of joy. That way when I sit down to write, edit or do the other work of the writing life, I won’t think of it as work. I will look for ways to make writing joyful, changing how I approach writing to keep it fun, interesting and challenging.
Thinking of joy, not goals, makes me want to start in on my list of five: writing another novel, editing my current novels, conducting research for my memoir, writing and publishing my short stories, and finding a literary agent all seem exciting to me now.