New Years’ Resolutions. We all make them. Even when we staunchly refuse to acknowledge them, claiming they are only another chance to measure our failures when we reach the next December 31st and find those promises unmet. Still, in the back of our minds is that little list we all keep of achievements we “should” accomplish. Yay thus the danger inherent in the damnable word “should.” It undermines our love and acceptance of who we are at this moment, admonishing us that we are not enough and must be more–more successful, more kind, more intelligent, more beautiful, more well-liked. Instead, our “shoulds” list launches us into self-doubt, insists that we speed up, not slow down to count our blessings and feel joy.
So maybe, instead of denying all of these little insidious “should” thoughts that snake around our head on a daily basis (I’ve had at least a dozen this morning and it’s barely 9am), we can choose to list them out on paper, or type them into our computer, and find a new label for these suckers. Something like:
THINGS I’D LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH THIS YEAR AS LONG AS DOING THEM WON’T DRIVE ME CRAZY AND I REMEMBER I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN DO EVERYDAY AND APPRECIATING MY LIFE THIS VERY SECOND
or, a little more sucinctly
NEW YEARS MUSINGS; THE THINGS I’LL DO IF I CAN AND, IF NOT, THEN MY LIFE IS JUST FINE NOW
These alternate titled lists deflate the power of these “shoulds”, acknowledging that they’re bopping around in our heads, but do not mean the ultimate measure of our worth.
We still have self-discipline and willpower, and inherently know which goals are important to us. If our health depends on them, or the people in our lives would truly suffer if they remain undone, then we will try our best.
It’s the many smaller less crucial “shoulds” that get in our way. Mostly because they come with a silent qualifier that if we do not accomplish them it means we are bad, or lazy, or incapable, or hopeless, or stupid, or (you fill in the blank with almost any negative adjective).
I have a list, including goals both related and unrelated to my writing career. It goes something like this:
*Submit manuscript #1 queries to at least a dozen e-publishers and a half dozen print publishers
*Submit manuscript #3 queries to at least a dozen agents and half a dozen editors (both e and print publishing houses)
*Join Facebook and improve my prowess at networking and connecting to others, inside and outside my writing life
*Organize my phone/contact book
*Keep exercising to maintain my health (we all know how easy it is to fall off the bandwagon with this one even if we’re currently on the bandwagon)
*Finish my current manuscript (#4) and write a synopsis for it
*Submit manuscript #4 to at least three contests
*Be a better mother to my children (now that’s a simple goal, right? – rolling eyes.)
*Be a better wife to my husband (ditto)
*Become more involved with my local RWA chapter, volunteering more often
*Figure out how to use my cell phone for the ten thousand other functions it does beyond sending and receiving calls
*Keep blogging on my website and adding new links and information to the already existing pages
*Become a better housekeeper (Here I’m laughing hysterically because I will never do this. I hate cleaning and organizing. If I have any compulsive characteristics none of them exist in this arena.)
*Get the first floor of my house painted.
*Find a way to add income producing hours to my current non-writing job without reducing the quantity and quality of time I spend with my family and on my writing life (a set-up if I ever smelled one).
And the list goes on, but these are the major thoughts that flit through my head as I type this blog. So now they’re down in print. Will I accomplish some of them? Probably. More will be a work in progress. Starting a new year is an exciting and hope filled venture and I do best at beginnings. Middles are okay. Endings get me stuck. Perhaps the key is to not have such definitive expectations for what endings entail. Some of my goals I’ll let drift away, and that’s an ending in itself. Maybe not the ending I hoped for, but one I can acknowledge and then move beyond.
So come next December 31st when many of these “should” expectations have not been completed, I can still celebrate the finish to my year and close the book satisfied. I did the best I could, probably accomplished other things I never intended, and, if I was lucky, enjoyed myself a bit along the way.
Happy New Year to all!