Ahh, that ‘new year’ smell… As per tradition, this is a time for reflection and projection. A look at the past with an eye to the future.
I did a decent job at my resolutions from last year. I read all the books I intended to, had decent success at my other personal resolutions, but had the same snags with my writing goals that I so often seem to. I wrote up the drafts I wanted to, give or take a dénouement here and there, and did a so-so job at the editing plans I had. But once again, I only did half the submissions that I had resolved to do last January. I did decently with querying, by my low low standards, but again generally stank at submitting short stories.
I think my trouble with keeping consistent on these goals is that they’re just too big- they’re specific, but long term. Most of my non-writing goals are weekly, even daily; at most, monthly. My writing goals, however, are at least monthly. Having an entire month to (dread and) work at something gives me lots of time to procrastinate, and then eventually panic and either do a poor job, or not do the job at all. (In a similar vein, I will write about an equal amount whether I have two hours to myself, or half an hour in a twitter sprint. Why, self, why?)
So now that I recognize the problem, I’m trying a new approach.
I’m currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. (It’s great. Read it.) One of the things that Ms. Rubin mentioned (very briefly and nonspecifically) was that she printed out a resolutions calendar. Genius! I’m probably picturing it all wrong, but I decided to whip up my own resolutions calendar, with small daily goals and no more than two weekly goals. I’m also allowing myself more leeway in the things that I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine with (what kind of exercise is not specified, nor what I’ll be writing each day or even each month), and less leeway on the things that are harder (primarily submissions). These small goals also start small in the early year and gradually build to the goal level, at which point they level out.
To further encourage myself to achieve each of these mini-resolutions, I also put them in checklist format. I am a checklist slave. I will do the most ridiculous things for the opportunity to mark a tiny box. It’s pathetic. But it’s the way I am, and if I need to trick myself into doing the things I know I should be doing, then that’s the way it’s gonna be. (Maybe I should have a daily check box for flossing, too.)
The month of January is currently printed and taped over my desk. And so far so good- three days in and going strong! We’ll see if the calendar is the secret to success for 2016. If I stick with it this year, I have plans to be a little more ambitious the next.
So how about you? Do you do resolutions? How are they structured? What kind of things are you trying to improve this year? I’d love to hear about it!