Resolving the Resolutions

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I hate New Years Resolutions, and let me tell you why.

Resolutions, as they are popularly conceived, are banal generalities with no real substance behind them. They are hastily uttered to friends over a glass of something that warms the belly on New Years Eve, and are quickly forgotten about in the light of day, when the resolutioner realizes that the idea they were yapping about the night before might actually take some effort.

“I want to lose weight”, “I’m going to be nicer to people”, “I’m going to get off my ass and do something with myself”, are all very vague ideas with no concrete measures of success or failure. Mostly failure.

The theme of Resolutions, however, is sound; the new year brings new beginnings, and it is a good time to start new things. This I like, and can get on board with. So, when the new year comes, instead of making useless resolutions, I think we should set some goals.

Every year, when I start thinking about what goals I want to pursue, I cannot help but reflect on the year just past. This one, in a general sense, was very good to me.

I had a lot of challenges, and saw a few things I wish I could unsee, but I had a lot of successes as well: My wife and I bought our first home together, and for the first time we own something bigger than a shoe box. I had my first book published and was actually paid for my work (not very much, but that isn’t important right now…or so I keep telling myself). I saw a few parts of the world I’d never seen before. I made some new friends, reconnected with old ones, and grew even closer to those people who have been mainstays of my life for years.

All in, all said, this was a good year. But, as they say, we’ve gotta move on, and the world is moving quickly.

As I look forward into the New Year, I’ve got some pretty solid goals, with definite time lines, that I want to achieve. Some of them are ambitious, but they are possible, and that is what I think is key when you’re setting goals. If they’re too easy, you feel no satisfaction in reaching them, but if they are too lofty, then you get intimidated by the scope of it and quit.

That said, my first goal is to finish two rounds of edits on my work in progress: the sequel to my recently published story, “The Watch.” I want to have this done by my birthday (March 21st, in case you want to send me a present). This is going to be hard, but I can certainly do it if I don’t waste too much time on the internet, or watching old episodes of “Duck Dynasty” and “Highlander”.

My second goal is to get the first draft of another story completed, something with different characters that I’m currently working with. I’ve got part of an outline done, and the first ten pages slopped together. It is an interesting story – well, to me, anyway – and I think it is going to turn out really well once I sit down and crank it out. This, I want to have done by the next time I start ranting about how much I hate the concept of New Years Resolutions.

Third, I want to get through the “to-be-read” pile that is taking up so much space on my book shelf. There are only about 19 books there, but some of them are extremely substantial endeavours and will take me a while to get through. Really I’m hoping to read them all much sooner than the start of 2014, but between my own writing/editing, work, and all the other things that steal time in my day, I think the year end is a realistic goal.

Fourth, I want to establish a writers group among a few people who have shown interest in such a thing. Myself and one of my colleagues, Scott, have been talking about it, and discussing, and bullshitting for the better part of the last year, and it is time for the palaver to stop. I would have us meet once a month, share ideas, critique some writing. The actual activities we complete while meeting is currently in flux, but the substantive part of the goal is organizing the monthly meeting. This I would like to have in place and rolling by February 1st.

Fifth, and final, I need to lose 10 pounds. Through illness, injury, Christmas eating and far too much sitting on my ass, my waist line has expanded a little further than it should have. I’m a bit of a gym rat, so getting motivated to work out is no problem for me, it’s more an issue of controlling my diet. My favourite activity is going to the gym and burning 500 calories, and then feeling entitled to eat a whole pizza (about 3000 calories). I have a game plan in place, and a training partner who will ride me like a rented mule, so this should be well in hand. I am currently about 225 pounds, and need to be at 215, and 210 would be better. Once again, I plan on getting there by my birthday (March 21st, in case you forgot).

If you’ve managed to read this far, and put up with my blathering about what I want to accomplish this year, then you’ve done me a great service. In sharing these goals with you, my friends, I have made myself accountable to you. If I don’t manage to reach these goals by the time I have indicated, you can call me on it and yell: “You didn’t do what you said you were going to do, you lazy bastard.” Then you can sit in judgement and make me feel bad about myself…and no one wants that.  

As we move into this new, hopefully exciting, New Year, abandon the idea of Resolutions, and set some solid goals for yourself. Then, share them with someone so they can hold you accountable. Share them with me if no one else wants to listen, and I’ll send you an email checking in and calling you all sorts of ridiculous things (like a one-eyed, bow-legged, crusty-faced monkey herder), should you fail to achieve them.

Thanks very much for everyone who has read this blog over the past year. If I’ve not given you any serious thoughts or good ideas, then hopefully I’ve at least made you laugh, and hope to do so again in the New Year.

Let us move forward together, and all reach our goals.