Unresolved resolution tension

New Year’s Resolutions are a fraught topic. There is no shortage of posts and articles out there telling you not to make resolutions. Some say to set goals instead. Others talk about how no one ever succeeds at resolutions, so you shouldn’t set them. Others insist that getting out of the mindset of setting resolutions will somehow miraculously make you into the kind of person you want to be, and so on. Then, of course, there are the pedantic jerks who insist it’s all meaningless because the calendar is an arbitrary thing, anyway.

And while I get a good laugh out of the memes declaring that being technically correct is the best kind of correct, I’m also fully aware that one can be technically correct while being completely wrong. It doesn’t matter that it’s arbitrary if you find meaning in it. As Zen Master Unmon asked the monk, “The world is vast and wide. Why do you put on your robes at the sound of a bell?”

A few years back a friend shared her decision to take a lesson she’d learned from training pets and apply it to herself. She identified specific habits she wanted to change, and made her resolution to replace each with a better habit. Since then, that’s how I’ve been setting my annual goals. And for a couple years I also pledged to write monthly reports on this blog of how I was doing. The first year I made very solid progress on two of my four goals, while doing only so-so at the other two. So I set similar goals, one designed to further improve on the two which I had done well with, two slightly different ones to keep attacking the bad habits I had failed to change, and a fourth new goal. Once again, I made good progress on two of the goals, and not so much on the other two. Then last year, for a variety of reasons, I decided not to post my new goals publicly, and not to post the monthly reports.

I’m not going to do a recap of how the 2016 goals went, other than to say that not posting monthly reports led to a much worse success rate last year. I did keep track of my lack of progress, but I have to admit one reason why was each new month I would have the thought that I should make a post about how I was doing on my goals, and then I would remember the reasons I had decided not to do it this last year. I also have to confess that the insurgence of white nationalism and other forms of bigotry that were encouraged by the election did a lot to both distract me from the goals, and contributed to a lot of backsliding.

I have set some goals for the year. I’m going to post them here. I plan to post a monthly progress report. Some parts of this year’s goals are kind of continuations of some of the previous goals, but I’ve trying to change the focus to see if that might help. Each goal has some initial tasks I’m assigning myself to try to foster new habits.

My goals for 2017:

  • Don’t get mad, get busy. It has always been the case that I find it easier to rant and get outraged about injustices and the like in the world than to actually do something about them. It’s going to be really tempting to share links to outrageous news stories, or memes about the outrageous people, and so on during the next four years. Which isn’t going to fix anything. I don’t want to backslide any further from the progress I made with my Reduce the Outrage goal and its sequels, either. My tasks are: write about about things I love, including artwork and writing created by some of the fabulous people I follow; listen to music and audiobooks more and podcasts less; spend at least half of my lunch break writing; set specific monthly writing/editing goals in each check-in; write at least one blog post a month about organizations we can donate to that are fighting the good fight.
  • Reduce, pack, and prioritize. We now officially know that we have to find a new place to live this year. We have some parameters on the timing, though there is still some uncertainty on that front. Last year we did some clearing out of things we don’t use any more. We need to do that more aggressively for the next couple of months. The initial goal is to go through the book cases and filing cabinets and clear out unneeded stuff.
  • Take care of us. Not that I don’t do this, but we both have a tendency to let things slip. My initial tasks are related to some specific medical things that aren’t urgent, but need to be dealt with. I am going to remain vague on the details of this one.
  • Submit and publish. I’ve been in an unending iterative loop of proofing/editing one novel for an embarrassingly long time. I only submitted stories for three calls for submissions last year (and collected three rejections). I need to submit more. I haven’t been able to figure out a reasonable number of submissions to set as a goal, particularly with how much time and energy is likely to be sucked up with the move. So initial task is to organize how I’m going to find calls for submission and set reasonable targets for the novel revision/finalization.

Finally, my specific tasks for January are:

  • While packing away Christmas stuff, reduce the number of RoughTote™ containers full of old ornaments, et al, by at least two.
  • Figure out Writers’ Night schedule.
  • Write at least four blog posts about things I like.
  • Make a list of places that post calls for submissions.
  • Finish the current stage of the copy edit pass. There is a list of unfinished tasks with specific piles of pages of prioritized notes.
  • Finish going through the bookcases in the computer room, and get through at least one filing cabinet.

6 thoughts on “Unresolved resolution tension

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