Another year drops into our laps and while we’re all baffling over where time went, I’m looking at the next three hundred and sixty five days with the sort of trepidation that indicates that yes, this is another year closer to the inevitable and another year to engage in that morbid little danse macabre that sort-of looks a little like a Charlseton on steroids. Time is fleeting, and all that, and we’re shuffling all the more quicker to the point in time where the only thing we will be shuffling is the dirt over our heads.
If you can’t put on the brakes, you might as well recognize that you’ve got the power to do things differently this time around, rather than engaging in the perpetual cancan of doom. I don’t have one foot in the grave yet, but believe me, I think of my epitaph often. It’s a good reminder to do the things I want now while I still have the chance; I still have time to switch things up and breathe a little life back into these cantankerous bones. (Cha cha cha, motherf*cker.) I commit to this for the next three sixty five: This is the year everything changes.
Change can be a scary thing. In the tarot, it’s the Death card that signifies a major shift in lifestyle or perception. A skeleton grins back at you when you draw the card from the deck. It’s a little freaky, but it doesn’t necessarily mean, “Time’s up, sucker!” While the change I’m talking about isn’t axe-murderer scary, it can be intimidating enough that the temptation to skive off before locking in a routine and turning those changes into a habit is far too easy. I’ve learned that making small improvements sometimes adds up to really huge ones.
For example: I committed to writing 475 words a day on Wake the Dead a couple of months back, allowing myself occasional breaks to recalibrate. This usually constitutes a couple of days off to read or watch movies (and not screw around on my laptop at the same time. It’s entirely possible that I multitask too much.) Sometimes I need to step away from the manuscript because it gets jumbled and I start writing filler instead of trying to move the story along. A day or two off helps, then I come back to it fiercer than ever. Sometimes I scare myself and I heed a little time to reset and stop having nightmares. This process requires two ounces more willpower and determination than the latter. It’s only funny to me because if I don’t write for a few days in a row, then I end up having night terrors. There’s a happy medium somewhere but I’m still trying to find it.
Those 475 words were cake. It became the “low” goal, while the unofficial, “I’m so awesome I can do anything” goal was to lap 1,000 words a day.
The lesson: I learned that I can coast through 1,000 words after a nine hour workday. Sometimes I have to scribble loops around it to get warmed up, sometimes I need to pause to research or find inspiration. (I use Pinterest a lot while recording research and inspiration. Check out my Wake the Dead board; it’s a little obsessive.) But it’s possible, and the words themselves actually aren’t complete crap. Delightful! I found that I started looking forward to getting home and getting back into the novel. I want to know what happens. I want to keep writing. It became routine, and because I started small, the bigger word count was a cinch once I passed that first 500.
Other times, you just have to throw yourself into the deep end and swim for dear life. Getting up at six a.m. to go to the gym falls into this category for me. It’s going to hurt, and getting up when its still dark out makes me cranky, but I know it will be worth it as long as I keep doing it. So I tell myself to suck it up and get out of bed.
The point: this year I am on the verge of something amazing, and this is the year I intend to ride it out, letting it evolve into the next incarnation of my life. I’m going to put in the work. I’m going to listen to my instincts, and I’m going to fight for the things that I want; working towards my goals every step of the way.
I am scary determined.
Goal Setting for 2014
If it’s written down, it’s a goddamn promise to yourself so you better make it happen
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Finish the first draft and first revision of Wake the Dead
This is the year it happens. This is the year the novel gets finished. This is the year where I can say by the end of it, “I made a thing!” I’m very excited now that I can see the end in sight. It’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of hard effort and a lot of mental coaxing so the muse cooperates, but I can’t wait to see Wake the Dead finished so I can begin querying. I can’t wait to share this story with you.[/five_sixths_last] [one_sixth][icon color=”Accent-Color” size=”large-2″ image=”icon-book”] [/one_sixth] [five_sixths_last]
Read at least 50 books
There was a year not so long ago where I read two hundred and twenty books in three hundred and sixty five days. Then I got a job. Then I started writing a book. I need fuel for the fire, ladies and gentlemen! I need to cram my head with ideas so I can keep producing, and for that, I need to get my hands on a few good books that I don’t want to discard after the first three chapters.[/five_sixths_last] [one_sixth][icon color=”Accent-Color” size=”large-2″ image=”icon-calendar”][/one_sixth] [five_sixths_last]
Blog at least once a week
You would think that this is the easiest thing on this list. Honestly? I realize consistency will pay off in the long run, but sometimes I don’t see the engagement happening and I get discouraged. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have anything to say. Therein lies the challenge: my head is stuffed with ideas; it’s only a matter of translating them and sharing.[/five_sixths_last] [one_sixth][icon color=”Accent-Color” size=”large-2″ image=”icon-plane”][/one_sixth] [five_sixths_last]
Travel someplace I’ve never been before
In 2013 I visited California, Utah, and Arizona. This year, I feel like going a little farther from home: Europe is definitely happening in the fall, and maybe someplace in the Southern United states? I’ve always been interested in visiting Savannah, and if I’m heading south anyway at any point, I might just take a little detour and go exploring.[/five_sixths_last] [one_sixth][icon color=”Accent-Color” size=”large-2″ image=”icon-road”][/one_sixth] [five_sixths_last]
Take the road less travelled, have an adventure
I’m all for exploration: nothing too dangerous, you understand, but sometimes you have to poke around to bang the doldrums out; and sometimes that means turning over rocks or peeking into dark closets where something potentially lurks. I’d like to have some big revelations this year by experiencing something different than the usual. That means stepping out of my comfort zone a bit.[/five_sixths_last] [one_sixth][icon color=”Accent-Color” size=”large-2″ image=”icon-food”][/one_sixth] [five_sixths_last]
Exercise daily, get stronger, eat right, lose weight, feel awesome
This is one of those things that function as a foundation for everything else. Overindulge, and you feel like shit. Consistently overindulge, and you consistently feel like shit. I don’t need to be a gym rat to feel good about myself, but a big more strength and a decent diet where I’m not drinking my calories would be a great start. I’m looking for consistency and balance, and those are the hard parts, sometimes.[/five_sixths_last]
Did you make resolutions this year, or did you resolve to not resolve to do anything? If you built your own list this year, show me what you’ve got. Leave a link in the comments and I’ll compile the best submissions I get.