We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. – Will Durant
I have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions. On the one hand, I’m the kind of girl who needs all the structure she can get. For those of us with disorganized brains, goals that are tied to concrete dates and numbers are easier to keep top of mind. They create that rush of external stimulation to fuel our interest and keep us motivated. In fact, maybe it’s not just those of us with ADHD. Maybe that’s part of why New Year’s Resolutions are so appealing. A clean slate for a new year, a launching place for us to become better, healthier, more like the best versions of ourselves.
On the other hand, we all probably know that the promises we make to ourselves in January are often broken by March (or, you know… January 5th). I’ll say I’m going to cut out sugar, and I do really well for a few days, getting all smug and self-important. And then, one morning I wake up face-down in an empty tub of ice cream I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER BUYING. I mean, that ice cream could have had a disease. It could have been a serial killer. What was I thinking?? That sense of failure that accompanies not living up to our ideal selves is discouraging, and can lead us toward even less healthy, productive behavior.
So this year, I do have a few concrete goals: fitness goals (at least 180 Jazzercise classes), publication goals (at least one full-length novel out this year, possibly two – more on that later!), writing goals (too extensive and complicated for a parenthetical). They’ve been in place for a while, and I’ve been working toward each of them for weeks or months already. January 1st is just another marker on the timeline for these things, a reminder of where I am and what I want to accomplish.
But I do also have some challenges to myself for this year. If you’re on my email list you know that starting January 1st, you will get to read my next Occupational Hazards novella as I’m writing it. And you’ll even get to have input — like deciding from the very beginning who our heroine will be. This is basically a writer’s version of doing live improv, and I will tell you the truth that it scares me a little. Which is also what’s so exciting. (Want to get in on the action? Sign up for my Distracted Reader emails and the Distracted Reader Facebook group. I’m giving away lots of mugs this year, too!)
On the personal front, I’m trying to get to the bottom of some health challenges, and very aware that eating less sugar and more anti-inflammatory foods would be helpful there. Soooo easy, right? If you were with me a few years ago during the previous sugar challenge, you know I handled it with all the grace and charm of a pissed-off grizzly bear tangled in Christmas lights. So now I’m trying to push myself to make healthy changes without making it an all-or-nothing proposition, and without terrorizing any neighboring parks. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. (Or just watch the news for attempted break-ins at the Toblerone factory.)
Psychologically, I’m trying to keep my filter a little stronger this year. Most creative people I’ve talked to in 2017 have been sharing the same struggle: trying to stay involved and informed about the world without letting frustration and despair keep us from creating. I am committed to reminding myself, forcefully if need be, that what I do (tiny as it is) is part of keeping hope alive through love and laughter and squirmy butterflies. Some days it’s hard to get to a “squirmy butterfly” kind of place, but I’m going to do better this year.
I hope that my children (and Hubs) feel loved and valued every day. I hope I am quick to recognize injustice in the system, and slow to feel slighted or offended by individuals. I hope to spend more time living in the present and less time worrying about the future. And, yeah, the whole sunscreen thing. 😉
If you have goals, challenges or hopes for the year to come, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Wishing you a warm and wonderful 2018, my friends!
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