I did it and I liked it. This time last year I poked fun at the concept of New Year’s resolutions while simultaneously questioning the logic behind those too lofty to achieve or too meager to mean anything. During the week that followed I made my first resolution and later in the year a second. In retrospect I’m very happy with the results but they didn’t arrive without sacrifice and effort. Also the resolutions made weren’t committed to without careful consideration.
First, I looked to history for guidance. So many failed resolution stories I’ve heard include the following words, “…life happened.” I aimed to build enough wiggle room in my schedule and budget to account for the random unexpected and resolved to examine my shortcomings until a namable culprit remained to justify missing the mark.
Secondly, I divided my goal into mini-goals throughout the year’s first ten months. November and December I counted primarily as a loss because of the delightful dizzying burden of the holidays and family. And while I ended up working on my writing resolution all the way to the end of the year, I’m certain if I’d considered those last two months a normal part of my schedule I’d still be working on it.
Thirdly, I worked at it and tried to treat those blocks of time, money and other resources as already out of bounds for any other purpose. This became harder as loved ones accustomed to using those resources willy-nilly came to grips with my determination to see the thing through. One of my resolutions involved ending decades of deficit spending in our house. Our credit card debt had floated upward over the years. Although my earnings covered the monthly expenses I began to see my retirement plan stretching out beyond my golden years and beginning in a pine box. I tried my best to maintain a cordial discourse and point to the data behind my desire. My other resolution’s resources were easier to obtain since it really only involved self-sacrifice. Rather than a leisurely evening television or reading a good book while my wife was at work, I wrote more than ever before. In the end I managed to mail in my latest manuscript, Aether Legion, by this most recent New Year’s Day.
Finally, I periodically revisited my goals and compared them to progress made. In the rare occasions where I found myself falling short I redoubled my efforts. By making these regular assessments I didn’t find myself having to make up for months of slippage, rather weeks. In those instances where I found myself blaming the ambiguous ‘life happened’ category, I looked harder and probed deeper. Many times it boiled down to my own inherent laziness or pleasant distractions. Small corrections make for useful opportunities to build good habits amongst the bad.
So as much as this time of year brings thoughts to new goals and new resolutions I also look back on chapters closed and finish lines crossed. For now the juxtaposition of crossing this numerical divide leaves me satisfied and excited with anticipation.