Monday, January 20, 2014

Resolved - 2014 Edition

Are you keeping your resolutions?
Since 2004, I've been cataloguing my New Year's Resolutions in a black cloth-covered journal, purchased for three bucks at the now defunct Borders book store in Sayville, New York. Looking back on these handwritten resolutions, I see common themes that now disturb me. It's not that they're bad goals, per se, but the fact that they end up on the list every year regardless of my level of success in achieving them tells me that maybe it's time to stop including them. After all, it's not much of a resolution if it's perpetual.

What kind of resolutions do I make? Omnipresent on my list (and perhaps on everyone else's as well) is to "lose ten pounds." Whether I was at maximum weight (post-baby, 2007) or minimum weight (2011), that resolution always receives the place of honor: #1. The runner-up is the perennial and always nagging directive to "publish something." Although I've accomplished this with various levels of success from year to year, this resolution won't drop off the list anytime soon either. So how exactly are these "resolutions"? They aren't; they're personal mandates. Ergo, my New Year's Resolution list is in desperate need of a makeover.

Therefore, I have decided to ignore the old standards and create new resolutions for 2014, which will hopefully go a longer way toward improving life for the better. My new-and-improved resolutions are as follows:

1. Enjoy more. My kids aren't going to be kids forever, yet I find myself staring at a blank computer screen frustrated by a lack of inspiration at times when I could be taking the boys out to see or to try something new and fun. My primary goal this year is to be more spontaneous about taking them to the beach (a mere 1-1/2 miles from my home), the park, and whatever-else-have-you. Who knows? Maybe elusive inspiration will strike while we're out having fun.

2. Say more. My mantra this year is "Speak your truth." I have made an unfortunate habit of remaining tight-lipped when listening to flawed reasoning, weak rationales, and abject stupidity in general. Although this practice is grounded in some skewed perception of what makes for good manners, it's corrosive to the soul. I see no reason why I need to continue it. "That's wrong," may be hard for some people to hear, but this year they'll be hearing it from me.

3. Sing more. This may sound stupid, but the truth is that although I sing well (or so I am told), I haven't sung much in public since my college years. Therefore, I have a bunch of friends who have never heard me sing. I'm not sure exactly when I stopped or why. I sang to my babies every day and still sing to the kids when I tuck them in at night. It's well outside my comfort zone to seek opportunities in which I may begin to sing in public again, but that's probably a good thing.

4. Try more. I have a Chinese fortune taped to my computer monitor that says "Failure is only defeat when you stop trying." Truth. Even so, I sent out five query letters in 2013. That's downright pathetic, especially for someone who is trying to sell historical fiction set in the currently slow-selling Revolutionary War period. My new goal is to query at least one agent per week. The worst that could happen is that I'll have more practice in approaching agents. The best is that someone will finally say yes.

5. Read more. I already read a lot, but there's a backlog of books that I've been meaning to read that I'd like to cut down to size this year. My new strategy is to throw a book in my car and read it while waiting to pick the kids up. Call it "repurposing my downtime." I hope it ends with lots of really excellent stories having been devoured.

I have some other goals which fit under the general umbrella of these five resolutions, but I won't list them all here. What's important is that I've realized that I need to change my way of thinking about resolutions. Hopefully, this list will help me live life better. I'll let you know in a year.

What are your NYRs for 2014, I wonder.  Post them below, if you dare.

Above image courtesy of satit_srihin/