Growing Pains

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.

Cosy Socks

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.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. I used to be the same way when I was younger. Over the years I’ve learned exactly what you’re saying here–be patient, take one step at at time, as long as you’re going in the right direction. The key is to make your goals reasonable and achievable, or you’ll forever be disappointing yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Liz Ward says:

      Yep, I think it’s been hard to let go of that mindset of wanting to do it all at once, but luckily with time and experience you learn those lessons. I hope you have a good year and also achieve some of your goals.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dan says:

    We’re only two weeks into the month so plenty of time yet to turn things around. Of my resolutions – reading, fitness, creating, genealogy – I’ve done a little bit of doodling on the computer and started talking about the challenges I want to sign up for at the end of the month. My track record with talking about things is they never happen, but in this case I’m making promises to people who will benefit from my efforts so there’s more impetus to follow through.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liz Ward says:

      It all counts! I think we’re both too hard on ourselves sometimes, and I just know we can do it. It’s only January! 🙂

      Like

  3. Track Queen says:

    Sounds like you’re actually doing a cracking job! Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not making progress as quickly or efficiently as you might prefer to… It’s always good to remind yourself that you’re at least attempting to make changes. I think it’s equally important to remember that we can’t always accomplish our goals in leaps and bounds. For most things, we instead find we have to take one step at a time. So, good for you for taking those steps, however small you may see them to be! Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liz Ward says:

      Thank you for commenting – and absolutely, I think we are all too hard on ourselves sometimes. I’m looking forward to trying things this year and writing as much as possible, so I already feel like I’m getting there. I hope you have a good year and achieve some of your goals too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Andy says:

    Yeah, you’re so right! It’s all about feeling like you’re moving as you say. I think we put so much pressure on this one time in the year to feel like it’s when everything has to change, but I like to think of it as more like an opportunity to alter the direction we’re facing, to reflect on our compass and position ourselves ready to begin walking in ‘the right direction’ again. Sounds like you’re doing a great job – the kind of self-awareness you have is the best kind of foundation for change too! Transformation is underpinned by habits.

    There is general consensus between psychologists that changing a habit takes about 66 days. During that time will power is invoked, which can be draining because it’s a choice. This is why they say don’t change more than one or two habits at a time…otherwise you end up burning out and giving up. Once a behaviour becomes a habit you do it without thinking, and you can look at changing something else. Even if you were to concentrate on one habit at a time you can change 6 significant things in a year. Wow! With the long game in mind we can do huge things!

    Thanks for the pingback on my article, it’s been lovely to come and discover your blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liz Ward says:

      Thanks for commenting Andy – and no problem, I read your blog regularly and really enjoy it. I’ve heard of the 66 day rule – thanks for reminding me of it! Have a great year 🙂

      Like

  5. Rach says:

    I like your approach of being patient and lenient with yourself (I’d probably think about it as having self-compassion). I’ve set myself half a dozen or so loose goals / resolutions / growth areas for the year. I know if I try to get started on them all at once it’ll never work – like half a dozen people all trying to head out the same door at once and getting jammed in together instead. So I’m staggering each goal over a month or two to give myself a chance to either complete it or get new habits properly embedded in my life before I tackle the next goal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Liz Ward says:

      I like that image of too many people getting jammed in the door! You’re right, it is self compassion. Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Rach says:

        Thanks! Same to you 🙂

        Like

  6. daleydowning says:

    Good for you for not making resolutions….I gave up the idea a while ago, too. Focus on the goals, but celebrate progress bit by bit, yes. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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