My New Year’s Revelation
noun: revelation; plural noun: revelations
A surprising and previously unknown fact, especially one that is made known in a dramatic way.
I’ve had a revelation.
My resolutions rarely work out the way I’ve intended.
And I don’t think I’m alone.
Last week, I returned to my usual routine at the gym. After a month of too much Greg-nog (no one makes it like my hubby), too many cookies, and zero time on the elliptical, I was looking forward to getting back. When I pulled into the parking lot, though, I was reminded of this time last year. People flocked to the Y like it was Black Friday at the Outlets. Just like last year, the parking lot was nearly full.
I was a “new regular” at gym last year, having just quit my job. At check-in, I remember saying, “Wow! Busy place.” The woman working the booth said, “Oh, it’ll go back to normal in a couple of weeks. People are just here for their New Year’s resolutions.”
I looked around at all the people who had presumably promised themselves that they would work out more often. I actually hoped along with them. For them. I hoped they would keep coming.
But most of them didn’t.
New Year’s resolutions had been made. And then, just as quickly, they’d been given up.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’ve broken resolutions, too. It’s the reason I’ve thought so much about my own resolutions this year. Last year, I resolved to get my memoir half-way written, and I’m nowhere close. So I’ve failed myself, too.
Why is that? Why do so many of us make resolutions, only to have them disappear like a shooting star in the night?
Anais Nin, a writer I admire, once said, “I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.” I understand that point of view – I do. I also find myself constantly trying to improve, constantly questioning what I’ve done, constantly looking for ways to better my world. But still, I’ve made resolutions anyway. Sometimes, I’ve succeeded. But most of the time, I’ve fallen short.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last week. What are my promises to myself for 2017? What do I want to accomplish? And how can I set myself up for success, rather than failure? Unlike Ms. Nin, I do believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s always good to hit the reset button… but only if we don’t hit rewind shortly thereafter.
So this is what I’ve come up with.
Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I’m going to make New MONTH’s resolutions. Every month. Why? Because there are too many unpredictable events in a year. Life happens, and goals change. Maybe the plan that works for us one month won’t work the next. When I look at a year, I bite off more than I can chew. So I will make little resolutions, and I will take baby steps. And then, at the end of each month, I’ll readjust. If it worked, I’ll resolve to do it again. If it didn’t, I’ll change my resolution.
I won’t make generic resolutions. If I am making a change, then I need a plan. I’ve learned that desirable changes don’t just happen to people. You have to dig down deep and work at them. You have to know where you are, where you want to be, and the first step to get there. You don’t always have to outline every step… you just have to know the first one, and commit to making it. Once you’ve taken that first step, guess what? You’re closer to your goal. Then it’s time for step two… your next “new” resolution. I’m not going to focus on the end game. I’m going to focus on getting from point A to point B. If I keep making my way from one letter to the next, eventually, I’ll reach the end of the alphabet. I don’t need to win the game right now, I just need to score a basket. Just kept swimming, as Dory would say.
This is a big one – I won’t beat myself up when I fail. I’ll just try something different the next month.
So what are my January resolutions? I’m putting them here in plain view. If you know me, feel free to ask me how I’m doing with them. And please post your resolutions in the comment section, or email me… and I’ll do the same for you. Sometimes, it really does take a village.
WRITING RESOLUTIONS FOR JANUARY, 2017
I will write one new picture book manuscript by the end of the month. I’ll be joining 12×12, so this will be my #1 resolution every month.
I’ve joined Story Storm, which mandates that I record 30 new picture book ideas this month. I’m proud to say that I’m currently on track here.
Barring some unforeseen illness, I’ll return all manuscripts I’m due to critique within 5 days of receipt.
I’ll submit a manuscript to Melissa Manlove. I’m hoping to get a few more out there, but that’s my minimum.
I will write 500 words per week, minimum, of my memoir.
I will post one blog, minimum (check).
PERSONAL RESOLUTIONS FOR JANUARY, 2017
I will continue to work out at least 3 times a week.
I will drink at least 3 20-ounce bottles of water each day (my goal is more than that, but since I’m currently at only 2, I’d rather not set myself up for failure).
I love my children, and I’m lucky to have them. When they wake me up in the middle of the night, I will not yell. Even when it’s the sixth time. I might cry, but I will not yell.
I will not bring my phone to the dinner table.
When my 6-year-old boy drones on… and on… and ON… about the things that are important to him, I will engage. No, I don’t care about Pokemon cards. But I will try to remember that he does. When he’s in “that space” where he talks (without breathing) about the boss he’s battling in his latest Mario world, I will ask questions. When he wants to talk, he will get my full attention for at least 5 minutes before I patiently explain that I must make dinner.
I will spend less than 10 minutes per day reading the news. Especially this month. I can’t change it, I’m tired of being sad about it, and I’m going to the Million Women March on January 21st – that will be my monthly allowance of political venting. That world will get no more of me in January.
Come on, January. Let’s do this.