Like most people, I like to make yearly resolutions. Like most people, when I make them around the beginning of the year, I tend not to stick with them. Unlike most people, I’ve started making my really important resolutions around my birthday instead.
I’m not sure exactly what it is about switching up the time; maybe it’s the enforced self-accountability, since in a year you’ll be coming up on your birthday again and you don’t want to feel bad about it. You want to be able to look back and say, “my, I spent this year of my life quite well.” Granted, the new year is also a time of reflection and accountability, but birthday resolutions are just that much more personal. Plus, something about everyone else making the same resolutions year after year, and failing to keep up with them within a month year after year, just doesn’t help.
The key to a good resolution is to keep it short and simple. Pick one or two goals, but not more than that. You want to pick something you can really focus all of your spare attention on and keep at it for a year. Exercise is a popular resolution, and for good reason. If that is your one resolution for the year, then it is a lot easier to prioritize exercise and fitting it into your schedule. You have the time, you may just have to reshuffle the rest of your life or cut out something you were doing but not really enjoying. Another aspect of a good resolution is it’s something you can do daily. Daily actions build habits, and within a month it will be a solid part of your life. Plus, focusing on the day-by-day aspect of your resolution will help keep you from being overwhelmed.
Keeping with the exercise example, it’s just 30 minutes a day. You can wake up a little earlier and do it before work. Or find a nearby gym on your lunch break. Or even just a park when you get home; do some lunges, push-ups, pull-ups and a mile jog. And if one day you get sick or there’s an emergency, you can let your resolution slide for the day. The important thing is that you don’t let that missed day (or days) drag you down. Life happens. You can’t plan for everything. But the day your life is back to normal, refocus on your resolution. Day by day. It is, after all, the tiny things we do everyday that make us who we are.
Last year I had a handful of vague resolutions and I did my best at them. But their vagueness did not allow for any real measurement of success, or any real way to keep at it each day. This year I’m taking my own advice and picking one resolution: I will write a thousand words every day.
I’m a writer, after all, but I’ve never been able to acquire that daily writing habit which is so integral to the profession. My aim is to not only establish that daily writing habit, but also to have 365,000 words by the time I turn 26. That amount combined with my word count thus far in life will easily shoot me past the million word mark. This has been touted as the benchmark for when your writing is no longer complete crap, after all. 🙂 365,000 words is also about three novels, the way I write, and three first drafts in one year is a very respectable number.
I’ll update occasionally on where I’m at and how I’m doing, but I promise not to let my 365k goal subsume this blog.