2019: looking forward

Resolutions, goals. Goals, resolutions. Who knows.

I went back and re-read my resolutions from last year, and they still generally apply. I think I’ve done a pretty good job with my mindset this year, but there’s still always more work to be done. Most of my systems started degrading and falling apart after the Europe trip, and it was hard to get things back on the rails totally. Which makes sense, but I want to figure out how to make my own systems and structures more robust and much less fragile.

But resolutions are different from goals.

I think of goals as discrete tasks that can be accomplished. I think setting goals is almost more difficult than making resolutions (though the difficulty of execution may be flipped there) because it’s very easy to fall into a trap of working towards something that isn’t actually helpful.

For example, word count. It’s important to recognize that a word count and a complete, coherent work are two different things. Fulfilling a word count doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve completed a story. Which isn’t to say that word counts aren’t helpful — they very much can be if you are using them to measure what they should measure. But I think that there has to be a clarity there that is often missing when I talk to other people about their goals and when I’m thinking about my own.

My plan this year is to have three month goals, revisit and re-evaluate, and then refocus periodically throughout 2019. Most of the three month goals are project related goals. Originally, I had come up with some deadlines for certain things, but then I realized that most of those were completely arbitrarily decided. I don’t have enough context for how I work and what this whole writing process is to set reasonable timeline goals.

Continue reading

next year’s words await

I’ve started viewing resolutions differently than I did before. I used to conflate resolutions with goals and treat them the same, but I think that having a distinction between the two is helpful.

A resolution is a decision, a firmness of resolve. A goal is something discrete that you aim at and that you can break down into smaller chunks of progress.

This year, my resolutions are things that I think will move me more towards the person that I want to be. In no particular order, here are my resolutions for 2018. (The header on the dedicated post page is a snapshot of my journal/planner spread for this – yep, I got sucked into the world of bullet journals.)

  • Resist entropy.
    • Always know why I am doing something.
    • Focus on process and refinement.
    • Keep distractions at a minimum.
  • Be healthy.
    • “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – Michael Pollan
    • Focus on movement and feeling rather than numbers.
    • Eat with joy and savor each bite. Don’t eat to feed emotions or in avoidance.
  • Embrace kindness.
    • Learn how to treat yourself well.
    • Approach things with openness and good faith.
    • Be honest, with yourself and with others, about what you need. Trust others to respond in kind.
  • Create anyway.
    • There is no mood or muse, only the war of art. Some days will be hard.
    • It’s okay to be envious. It’s not okay to be jealous.
    • Let go of extrinsic reward. Focus on improvement.
  • Have courage.
    • Find community.
    • Don’t let fear or complacency keep you from what you want.
    • Stare into the deep. Name it. Then let it go.
  • Live joyfully.
    • Cultivate mindfulness.
    • Stop. Appreciate. Feel gratitude.
    • Own what you love without shame.

Within each resolution, I have goals that will move me closer to the state of being I want to achieve. And then I can break each of those goals into smaller steps that I can work on.

For me, I think the “resist entropy” command is going to be one of the more important things. Particularly the minimizing distractions part. In the last couple of months, some of my routines got a little sloppy and I wasted way too much time lurking on Twitter, watching YouTube videos, or just generally mindlessly looking at internet. A lot of it is about identifying a bad habit and then figuring out how to change your environment or mindset so that you can break that habit (a good framework for this is in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg).

So I’m building some disconnected time into my morning routine – no internet stuff before 2pm or so.

I’m working on being more mindful of that prickling “fear of missing out” that makes me check my phone for texts or new posts or whatever – I’m going to let myself sit with that, name it, and then let it go. I’m turning off the notifications on my phone. Rarely is something so urgent that I have to check on it immediately; most things can sit for a while until I’m ready to attend to them. I’m largely sure I’ll be okay if my phone isn’t within arm’s length all the time.

Finally, I tend to keep books around me pretty much all the time. So if I find myself mindlessly interneting and wasting time, I’ll pick up a book instead (more on my absurd TBR later).

I feel ready to move things forward, and I feel more prepared than I have before. Here’s to 2018!

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.

– T. S. Eliot