If you had asked me about my New Year’s resolutions ten days before Christmas, I would have talked your ear off. You see, I’m a list person. I LOVE lists. I love plugging things into calendars and marking off dates. I love making notes, any kind of notes, as long as they involve paper and some type of ink. Because really, there’s no better way to say ‘organized’ than to have hundreds of scraps of paper lying around scribbled with messages like ‘Dinosaur hunt, Tuesday 1pm’ or ‘green robot’ on them. Occasionally, I’ll jot down something more adult oriented, like ‘God, I need wine!’ Okay, no, I’ve never written that. But I’ve wanted to–too many times to count. Sometimes, I’ll write the same information in *gasp* two different locations. If you couldn’t guess, I am an information freak and the one character trait I can’t get rid of, no matter how hard I try, is I love making lists. I will write things on the list, just so I can cross it off the list. No lie.
New Year’s Eve should be my favorite holiday. What other day are you encouraged to make a list about stuff you want to accomplish? Halloween just wants to scare the pants off you, and then give you some candy as a consolation prize. No lists involved. Christmas and Easter are about Christ–or presents and more candy, depending on your religious affiliation and your age. Valentine’s Day is about sugar and love. But New Year’s Eve? A list maker’s paradise!
My original list started with the photo above and somehow morphed into the most micro-managed list of all time. It included things like:
a) at least five minutes every day
a) read a poem every day
b) read a short story every week
c) read at least twenty pages from a book every day
d) read at least one non-fiction book and one fiction book every month
a) if I’m sick, 5 minutes every day–Five minutes of bicep curls isn’t going to kill me.
b) if I’m healthy, at least 30 minutes every day
c) if I’m feeling great, an hour every day
a) write 750 words (free writing) every day–If I’m sick, I can write about how awful I feel and what I’m going to do when I feel better.
b) write 1000 words in novel every day–unless I’m sick. Too much of a pain to edit all the crap I wrote when I was sick. Remember that alligator?? (look, I know I make a lot of references to being sick. If this strikes you as strange, you must not have small children)
c) write a poem a week
d) write four short stories for the year
e) write two personal essays
f) write at least two times in blog every week. One blog entry, one Jakob’s Journal entry.
5) Submit at least four unique pieces of work for publication
6) Publish Flameborne, the sequel to Ashborne.
7) Laugh every day
8) Be better friends with daughter
9) Be better wife
10) Lose twenty pounds
11) Go on a trip – someplace fun
12) Organize all digital photos
a) move all photos to one central hard drive
b) resize and print all photos I want to scrapbook with
c) organize by month/year/event for scrapbooking
d) clear out phone photos
13) Complete at least two scrapbooking albums by the end of the year
14) Stop worrying so much about health
15) Do something fun I’ve never done before
16) Make at least fifty mistakes
17) Run out of ink for at least thirty pens
18) Encourage my children every day
19) Be a better mom
20) Try at least ten new recipes
21) Chase an idea until I capture its soul
There were more, but I think you get the idea. I want to do everything! I especially love the generic resolutions like, ‘Be a better belly dancer’ or ‘Be a better dreamer’. At the end of the year, who gets to decide if I was a better anything?
Now, I happen to LOVE some of my resolutions. I’m particularly partial to the ones about mistakes and running out of pens. Laugh every day, who can find fault with that? In the end though, most of these are about accomplishments, aren’t they?
I believe in celebrating yourself, but I’ve noticed my culture places too much emphasis on accomplishment. I grew up believing accomplishment equaled worth. I didn’t think I did, but I was wrong. I discovered it when I moved to Sweden. It’s been so difficult to assimilate into a country that doesn’t care about accomplishments. In Sweden, most people don’t care what you do, what you’ve done, or what you’ll go on to do twenty years from now, they care about who you are as a person. Think about that for a moment. If you were to describe yourself, chances are you’d probably start by saying what you do. Try describing yourself without mentioning your profession or accomplishments.
Surrounded by this idea that people have worth instead of what they achieve has changed my attitude a lot. This year, I decided to do something different. I scrapped the list.
I’m approaching 2015 with just two thoughts:
1) Challenge myself
2) Be true to myself
That’s it. From the behemoth list of unrealistic, but lovely, expectations from hell to two simple goals. Why these two?
I want to challenge myself to try when maybe I would have walked by without bothering. I want to push myself, not in a hundred ways, but when I can and for the spirit of the moment. That means I’ll continue reading a poem a day, because I do want to challenge myself. I will try to write every day, but I’ll do it because I want to push myself, not because I want to tick off a box on a list I made two weeks, or even twelve months ago. There’s a big difference. If I run across other challenges, I’ll take them on when, and if, I can (This flash fiction challenge looks fun!).
I want to be true to myself because sometimes, especially when I write, I’m dishonest. I put on a false front. Sometimes when I write, I try to be someone, or something, I’m not. Not on purpose, but it happens. If you ever run across those pieces, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Maybe sometimes you do it, too. I think we all do to some extent. This year, I want to trust myself more and be true to me. I want to say what I have to say, how I want to say it. That’s not to say I don’t want to become better at saying what I have to say. I just want to listen to the voice that’s inside of me and be truer to that voice, not the voice I think others want to hear.
How about you? I know we’re five days into the year, but let’s keep talking about resolutions. Do you have a long list, or a short one? Or did you skip resolutions completely this year?