“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.”
– Melody Beattie
I don’t really like resolutions. I think we’ve overdone that word. I like the sentiment of trying new things, and being a better person.
Resolutions – I don’t know, they’re almost a joke at this point. Have they always been this way? Or did people actually make a resolution intending to follow through throughout the entire year or at least for the first six months? It seems that whenever I hear someone make them, practically everyone in fact, they’ll state their resolution and then say something to the effect of, why bother or, as if, or I’ve already broken that one!
I rarely see anyone taking them seriously, and I think that has more to do with society than our personal willpower.
Watch less television.
Less screen time.
Go to religious services.
All are valuable, all are important, but I think that when we call it a resolution, we’re automatically setting ourselves up for failure.
Did you make resolutions this year? Yeah. Even the way we answer the question is with that Debby Downer voice, setting up the depression of stopping a habit rather than beginning a new focus.
Last year, I discovered two words that I really liked: focus and intention.
What will I focus on this year?
What are my intentions for 2019?
My plan is to use those words and those sentiments and make it part of my writing plan*. That asterisk is for me to explain that for most people they have business plans or school plans. I know that my writing is my business, but the words business plan don’t work for my mindset. As a writer, words are important to me on all levels, so for me my writing plan is my everything, my professional, my getting it done plan. What is your plan?
I’m going to spend the weekend thinking about my intentions, my focus, and my writing plan, and I will fill you in sometime after Sunday.
The Weekly Prayer Project – this is a book that my husband got me for Christmas. I’ve only just started reading it this morning. It’s divided into seven sections, and can be used in order or jumped from one to the other. My intention is to read the week’s pages on a Wednesday, and then contemplate what it’s asking me to journal. I will probably do the journaling before the weekend, and then read what i’ve written in the days before the next Wednesday. I have decided that I will read from each section for seven weeks, and then go back to the first. For example, today I read week 1. Next Wednesday (1/10) I’ll read week 8. On 1/17, I’ll read week 15, and so on. On 2/21, I’ll go back to week 2, and begin the format again.
365 Days to Happiness – These are nice, short blurbs offering suggestions to finding happiness. They are little things to do or not to do. Again, as I keep coming back to this week, choose what works for you. When I skimmed through the first couple of pages, I read on Day 2 to fill in your planner. I laughed because I do that literally at midnight on the first. When yesterday arrived, and I actually read day 2, I discovered that in addition to filliing in my calendar, there was a surprise suggestion that I thought was wonderful, and so I did that yesterday. My point is, even the most mundane, seemingly routine thing can surprise you.
Grace by Max Lucado – another daily prayer book with prayers for both the morning and the evening. The version I have has room for a few lines of journaling. I have such a hard time writing in books that I usually just read this one. It is still filled with inspiration and time for mindfulness.
The Word Among Us – this is a worship aid that my church gives out every month. It lists all the daily prayers, and has a few articles for the cover topic that are usually very interesting. I have had a digital subscription for about three years now, and I enjoy it very much. Since I would take the paper copy from my church, I thought this was a way to go paperless.
Give Us This Day – Similar to The Word Among Us. This has a daily reflection as well as a daily introduction to a person of faith. There is also an app that can be used to read your subscription. I’m trying out the first thirty days free for this month to see how it fits into my other meditations.
The Writer – This is my professional go-to, and the only writing magazine that I subscribe to. Like the planner below, it has taken me years to figure out what works, and this magazine is the most comprehensive, covering every writing topic imaginable and of use.
Mead Day Planner – this link take you directly to Mead’s website. The photo is similar to the planner that I have and have been using for a couple of years now. I got mine at Target. I use the monthly for whatever needs to be on my calendar, and I use the weekly for writing and blog planning. It’s taken me years to figure out this system and discover that it works for me.
[Editor’s Note: When I’m including links, I usually will use Amazon, mainly because I use them for most of my online shopping. I receive no compensation from them. That is true of all recommendations unless otherwise stated.]
We can be lazy. Or we can be motivated.
We can lead. Or we can follow.
We can be visible. Or we can hide.
We can create. Or we can destroy.
We can do. Or we can watch.
We can cry. Or we can laugh.
We can be everything. Or we can be nothing.
Whatever it is, whatever’s at stake, whatever it takes, we must choose.
Choose to be compliant. Or defiant.
Choose to believe lies. Or facts.
Choose to lie down. Or rise up.
Choose to be cruel. Or kind.
Choose to wait. Or begin.
There could be so much good in this year, so much returned, so much shared, so much recovered, if only we choose it.
I’m still looking for my mantra, but my word for 2018 is CHOOSE.
Create, build, write, do, be, rise, lead, vote…CHOOSE.
New year, new beginnings. For some of us this is our second or even third new year. I’ve always made my resolutions or goals list in the fall at the Rosh Hashanah holiday – the Jewish New Year.
Last year, I did a reassessment of those resolutions and goals just before Advent at the “Catholic New Year,” the beginning of the liturgical year.
And then another reassessment on January 1st.
Overkill, I know. But I like the idea of a new start during Back to School. That could be my Jewish heritage or that I was a teacher or that I have kids i n school for the last sixteen years and there is so much focus on starting the new year for school, buying new supplies, meeting new people. After all of that, January 1st seems to be forced reconciliation of the year’s failures and how we can do better. We all go ahead with some sort of resolution and then we guess how long before we break it.
On Friday, I mentioned some goals I wanted to work on, and I’ll be starting today with two books (see resources posted this coming Wednesday).
I also plan on scheduling specific writing and planning days. That doesn’t mean I can’t make changes or miss a few for various reasons, but it’s good to see on paper where my focus is so I can adjust and adapt along the way.
Part of new beginnings are new attitudes.
Self-care will take a higher priority.
Taking quiet time for prayer and reflection as well as recharging the writing batteries.
On a professional note, this is the month I want to get my CV in order and redo my business cards.
I’m really excited for this year.
I mentioned last week that I’m looking for a mantra – something to take me through the year and motivate and inspire me. That hasn’t come to me yet, but I did find a word. I’ll share that tomorrow.
What am I looking for in the new year?
More tea, more candles, more writing. More quiet time for mindfulness.
One of my pet peeves for myself is constantly on the lookout for a new calendar even while I’m already using a new calendar. I am never satisfied with the planner that I have. Except for 2016. That was the first planner that I used for all twelve months. I’m going to try again this year. I’ve got a different design, but the same exact style, size, and binding, so I have high hopes. I use the monthly section for important dates, you know, like a calendar, and I use the weekly pages for planning my website, blog, and writing.
So, that’s first. Next Monday, I will spend most of my day filling in all of the dates that I’ve been listing in a notebook plus birthdays and retreats.
Once again, as I am wont to do, I’m going to add some weekly topics, perhaps a monthly theme tied into a weekly series. I like to find what people find interesting and enjoyable. Or even worthy of discourse. All suggestions welcome.
One of the things that I discover after every major liturgical season is how much I miss the daily devotional books. I’m currently reading the one for Advent and Christmas, and I enjoy the daily thoughts that I can meditate on, whether they affect my prayer life or my writing life; both are really balanced against the other, and interchangeable. Interconnected. Unfortunately, that book will end with the Baptism of the Lord (January 8th).
My husband bought me the best, most thoughtful Christmas present. It is a weekly prayer journal. There is a short reading, a Scripture, and a space to jot down thoughts. I always think that I want to do this daily, but that is usually too overwhelming and forced. This weekly format seems perfect. It’s also a personal test for me since I am always hesitant to write directly into a journal like this – I will usually do the exercises on a separate paper or notebook so the original remains perfect. That is so not the objective, but I’m trying.
I also discovered a book offer in my emails for daily reflecting and exercises. 365 Health and Happiness Boosters Kindle Edition by M.J. Ryan. I’m going into it with a reasonable expectation to only do what I choose to do. I’ll read it daily, and see how it and I feel.
In building my own program of mindfulness or whatever the kids are calling it these days, I am seriously contemplating writing a yearly format book. I know it sounds braggadocios to say, but often I like parts of several books, and can’t find one that works best for me, and think that I could do it better. I know there are others who’ve mentioned this to me as well. That was the feeling I had when I created and published my original travel organizer.
I’d like to get back in the custom of attending the daily 9am mass, barring any weather or work-related conflicts. In doing so, I’d also like to stay for those rosary prayers as well.
Spend less money.
Express myself better, especially politically.
Teach a writing class.
Join a board of education committee.
Stay ahead with a writing schedule and putting together a quarterly editorial calendar. I’ve tried this before, but what I’ve been doing the last few weeks seems on the whole to be working – planning, writing, scheduling those posts and writing others. Keep better track of my published pieces and word counts.
Work on my Wales book.
Outline my House book.
Do good. Be good.
Be kind. Create art.
Give myself a mantra. (Those are already taken.)
Looking back on 2017 and how much I’ve advanced in my writing and motivation needs to start before the year even began. For Halloween 2016, I dressed as a journalist, complete with reporter’s notebook and 1950s fedora. The election year had been a difficult one for journalists and the press in general, moreso than the usual kidnappings and murders that they face yearly all across the globe. Theirs is not an easy job, but where would we be as a society without them? The maligning they received at the hands of Candidate Trump, and continues with him as President is horrifying, not only to this country’s First Amendment, but also to this country’s value we put on knowledge and information; checks and balances.
I have always been a fan of journalists and news reporters, and my choice for two Halloweens ago was a reminder of that love, but also of what was at stake at the following week’s election. We can see how prescient that choice was.
It’s been a long year. L–O–N–G.
I’ve had a few missteps and missed deadlines on the blog, but I’m happy with how far i’ve come, the changes I’ve made, and confident in the changes still to come in the new year.
I’m grateful and appreciative for every follower, every like, and every comment. Each one helps me to grow just a little bit more as a writer.
I now also consider my attempts at art and photography as part of my writing and my writing life.
I participated in Nanowrimo, and I was very satisfied with how much was written in those thirty days: over 35,000 words. As I’ve said before, I didn’t make it to the 50,000 word goal, but I do have 35,000+ words more than I had on November 1st. I’m looking forward to creating outlines and editing and more research in the early parts of the new year to get my book on its way.
I have also decided to send a letter of intent to a local continuing education department and teach a six week class on writing. The workshops, and my contributions to them, not to mention this blog, have given me the confidence to believe that this is a next step in my writing life.
In reading too many books that I feel I could have written, not so much better, but differently and valued, I believe I have another book in me, this one specifically on journaling. Or writing. Or inspiration. It’s still in flux.
This looking back will have me looking forward by the end of the week. Stay tuned.
It’s not just about breaking bad habits or starting an exercise regiment. Don’t forget to nourish your soul and your spirit. That can mean spiritually, which can refer to a deeper religious mindfulness or it can be secular – something to keep your mind and body in balance as you tackle new things this new year.
For all of us, this will be a challenging year because of the new US presidential administration, regardless of who you voted for. This post is not meant to be political, but it is certainly a factor in many people’s lives. I would recommend to everyone reading this to get on your cable or dish network’s version of On Demand and watch the most recent black-ish episode entitled Lemons. It really does give a good look into what people of all backgrounds are feeling, and may help some of us who don’t understand the anxiety and fright to understand it a little bit better. It’s not even about changing minds; it’s about empathy and continued discussion.
For some of us, this is also our third new year since summer ended. Back in September and October was the Jewish New Year, and at the end of November when Advent began was the Catholic New Year and the beginning of the liturgical calendar and of course, we’ve just celebrated a global new year on January 1st. Coming up on January 28th is the Chinese New Year, celebrated by many Asian countries as well as in places like the US, Canada, and the UK where Asians live in greater numbers.
I’ve actually used each of the three previous new years to set goals and then reevaluate them when the next new year approaches. I find that setting three or six month goals, or a combination of both is a good way to not only stay on track, but also a good way to not burn myself out with too much new activity and change all at once. Another good reason is instead of just giving up on resolutions that didn’t work out too well or were to much at the start, we can reflect on what went wrong, what went right, and how do we continue down the path of change or sameness and adjust our goals accordingly.
Some suggestions that I’ve used in the past (or have been recently suggested):
1. Journaling – Words, Art or both. Simple journaling can be a list of what you’ve done for the day, a list of goals and how they worked out, bullet journaling for those of us that are not into lengthy writing.
2. Jars to keep track of the good things throughout the year. I did this one year, and I loved reading all the good from the year before on New Year’s Eve.
3. Wish Jar. What are some of the things you want this year? Did you get them done?
4. Prompt jar. This is great for writers or artists who sometimes need a pick me up. It’s a good idea to drop some of our extra ideas into this jar for those dry times. We all know feast or famine.
5. Surprise Me Jar. Take a walk. Go out for coffee or tea. Go to the park with your camera. We all need spontaneity, but not all of us are spontaneous. This can often help.
6. Quotation Jar or Pouch. When you see or hear a good quotation or get a good fortune cookie, drop it into the jar or pouch and when you’re not in a good space or need a little motivating help, choose one randomly and read it. You can also use this opportunity to write about it, Instagram it, draw it, or photograph it. I was wary of Instagram, but I find that I enjoy its central visuality a lot more than I expected to. I use it nearly every day and then find a way to share those visuals here.
7. Once-a-Months. Once a month, randomly or scheduled, do something you normally don’t do. My family reads comic books, but I don’t. A few months ago, I picked up The Rough Riders. It was something different, and I enjoyed it. If you’re not an outdoors person, try a nature walk or go to a local park that’s still close to civilization. A third suggestion would be for the church-goers. If you only worship in a formal setting, look up local shrines or other religious places in your area that you’ve never been to and sit quietly, meditate, pray a rosary or something that fits into your life.
Last year, my husband proclaimed TSN – Try Something New, and he and we did. It was different and we kept open minds about each other’s hobbies and interests.
One of my 2017 resolutions is to do more art so one of the things that I’ve done in the past week has been these two art pieces. The second one is similar to my I’m ^still With Her word art that I did in the fall after the election, which I’ve been enjoying more and more.