I used to be one of those people that made resolutions every year and would feel bad that, come January 30th, most of them hadn’t even started. My struggle is that I hold myself to high standards, reach for lofty goals, and constantly battle with the simplest of those. This week, I’ve been doing my best to start off the year as I mean to go on. But there is also a part of me that accepts the natural trajectory of the season. Winter is a time for reflection, reading, home, hibernation, keeping warm – at least in the UK. To me, it feels as if winter is a time to slow down, rather than speed up, as resolutions would have us do.
Resolutions are not made and broken in one month. You keep trying, through the year, to find the appropriate place and season for them. Winter is a good time, for me, to write and read. I’ve often found this contrast difficult – the contrast between wanting things to change, wanting to have all the energy and zest to do everything on my list. But you can’t change everything at once. Learning from how I used to feel and do things means that I’m trying not to be so hard on myself this year. If one day doesn’t go as well as I wanted it to, there is always tomorrow. I can always make up the word count. I’ve written five thousand words in one day before, and whilst I don’t recommend it, I know I can do it. If I miss a blog post, I can make up for it the following week.
At the same time, it’s the small achievements that stack up in a week. Two essays a week is good, even if it isn’t one essay a day like you aimed for. Each thing that is written and finished – a chapter, a blog post, a short story – is a step towards something. You may have to re-assess how much you can do in one week, or work on the things that support your work (like getting enough sleep, self care, doing other creative things for a change of pace). All through this I have to remind myself that this is good – this is moving forwards. This is my pep talk to myself, and hopefully a pep talk for anyone needing a mid-January boost.
I’ve been reading a number of good blog posts and articles this week, that have informed my way of seeing the year ahead, and the place I’m in. In particular, for writers and creatives, Chuck Wendig has a number of great posts so far this year – two that stuck out for me are ‘Your 2016 Authorial Mandate Is Here: Be The Writer That You Are, Not The Writer Other People Want You To Be’ (strong language, probably NSFW…!), and ‘Self Care for Writers: Some Tips!’ – both great. I’ve also read two other great articles, ‘How Will This Year Be Different Than Last Year for You?’ by Andy Mort at Sheep Dressed Like Wolves, and ‘The Five Things I Do To Give My Goals a Fighting Chance’ from The Art of Simple. They both have a different take on what it means to make goals and resolutions.
So if you’re struggling, like me, to get going on your goals and plans for the year, don’t worry – have a look at the articles above and remember that it takes time for things to fall in place. Be patient with yourself.
‘There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself.’ – Lemony Snicket.